‘Tis the Season to be Jolly, Celtic | Celebrating the Best Festive Derby Moments

This article is from Edition Nine of The Cynical, our free online magazine.

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Georgios Samaras, for all that I loved him, was one of the more frustrating players we’ve had on our books in recent times. On his off days he’d have you tearing your hair out knowing there was a performance in there somewhere if only he could’ve found the desire to put the effort in. Then when he did turn it on there was just something special about him.

He brought Celtic some huge European goals and that fantastic last minute overhead kick winner against Aberdeen in the 4-3 thriller in Glasgow, but this New Year fixture was quite possibly his best outing in the hoops. Whenever you find yourself gooey-eyed and half an hour into a YouTube binge of Celtic’s best moments (we all do it) this goal is always the one I go back to; that Ledley assist, that flick past McGregor, that run into the fans, that commentary. All culminating in those iconic scenes with the full Broomloan stand going wild.

 

Only eight weeks prior to this tie, Rangers had a 15 point lead they looked in no hurry to let slip. On commentary duty that night, Ian Crocker aptly stated “Celtic can smell Rangers” as the line-ups readied themselves in the tunnel. This night seemed almost too perfectly set-up to be as special as it was; a rare chance to play your biggest rivals under the floodlights; only a single point separating the teams; a win would topple Rangers off the top of the table and claim Celtic’s place as the best in the league.

It was still goalless after 51 minutes when Charlie Mulgrew prepared to send in a corner. Step up Joe Ledley, who rose above the surrounding opposition to meet the ball and fire in a superb back post header to give the home fans the only goal of the night. Celtic Park erupted as Ledley sprinted alongside the Jock Stein stand in elation, thumping the Celtic crest on his shirt.

The crowd built up to a deafening rendition of ‘We Shall Not Be Moved’ in the minutes afterwards as play kicked off again. That goal was the moment that sent Celtic on the road to becoming Scottish Champions that season – the first of the current seven titles in a row.

 

As spectacles go, this wasn’t a game that lives in the memory for the skill and flair on show. It was a freezing, icy day in Ibrox and the weather didn’t lend itself well to leaving the pitch in prime condition for the free-flowing display we’d all have liked. Nobody cared in the end, with the three points nabbed on Rangers’ home turf extending Celtic’s lead at the top of the table. For much of the 90 minutes players were left sliding left and right without much scope for either side to threaten much on goal.

Rangers had a goal disallowed due to a foul on Artur Boruc early on and it wasn’t until well into the second half the ball hit the back of the net again, this time from a cracking lightning shot into the top corner courtesy of Scott McDonald. Carnage amongst the celebrating travelling fans ensued, and the Gers shuffled on home with their faces tripping them. Merry Christmas indeed.

 

In what was the first game of the club’s centenary year, this particular derby took on even more significance as Frank McAvennie bagged himself a brace to increase Celtic’s advantage over reigning champions Rangers to seven points. This was Macca’s first stint with Celtic, but his second Glasgow Derby. A few months previously at Ibrox, he found himself involved in a major controversial clash which resulted in three red cards and eventually a court case.

Thankfully the only drama on the pitch this time around was his excellent goals, volleying in the opener in the dying minutes of the first half. His second was headed home to clinch the win, prompting the packed terraces to erupt into singing “Happy Birthday Celtic”, marking a special day for a special club.

 

This article is from Edition Nine of The Cynical, our free online magazine.

Download the magazine here:

ePub version (great for smart phone readers)

PDF version


Frankie Mitchell is a Glasgow artist and Celtic fan, with a big interest in Italian football. Her drawings, illustrations and designs can be found on her Redbubble page at www.redbubble.com/people/madebyfrankie


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