WELCOME once again, folks, to the third instalment of CQN’s EXCLUSIVE new feature which will appear here every Saturday.
‘ALEX’S ANGLE’ will go behind the headlines with Alex Gordon, the former Sports Editor of the Sunday Mail and Chief Sports Sub-Editor of the Daily Record when they were the biggest sellers in Scotland.
The veteran newsman will reveal some tales from his journey through the inky trade while giving his view on current topics.
READ ALL ABOUT IT…Alex Gordon and Davie Hay signing copies of the author’s tribute book to the Celtic legend and Billy McNeill, ‘Caesar and The Assassin’, which was published by CQN in 2014.
Alex has also authored fifteen books on Celtic, the team that has always been closest to his heart, including co-writing the autobiographies of legends such as Bertie Auld, Tommy Gemmell, Davie Hay and John ‘Yogi’ Hughes.
His other Celtic publications include ‘The Lisbon Lions: The 40th Anniversary Celebration’, ‘That Season in Paradise’, ‘Caesar and The Assassin’ and ‘In Praise of Caesar’, his tribute to Billy McNeill.
Here is Alex’s third EXCLUSIVE CQN column.
I’M IN CHARGE…Joe Hart reassures Carl Starfelt his is fit enough to continue at Tannadice five months ago.
IT was all too easy to ignore the role Joe Hart played while Celtic dismantled Dundee United
9-0 the last time they were at Tannadice in August last year.
As the ball strangled itself in the hosts’ net nine times for the champions’ record away triumph in the Premiership, the goalscoring plaudits were shared equally between Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada as they each notched a hat-trick.
Naturally, you couldn’t keep Filipe Jota out of the spotlight and the Portuguese maverick also contributed with a deft flick in the first-half. Defenders Josip Juranovic and Carl Starfelt were compelled to join in the avalanche and they, too, got on the scoresheet.
So, all talk after a whirlwind 90 minutes-plus on Tayside was about the flamboyant, adventurous Celts who had proved irresistible and unstoppable.
THE CALM BEFORE THE BLITZ…captain Callum McGregor and keeper Joe Hart shake hands with their Dundee United opponents.
Cast your mind back to the second minute, if you can. With the scoreline blank, Hart was brought into action when the Hoops rearguard switched off as the home side took a shy at the corner flag on the left.
The ball was worked to Glenn Middleton who spun before whipping in a netbound 12-yard drive. The 35-year-old keeper displayed lightning-swift reflexes to get down to his left to push the effort away.
As Hart frantically grabbed at the ricochet, United striker Steven Fletcher flew in fairly recklessly in a bid to connect with the momentarily spilled ball. The 75 times-capped former England international No.1 fearlessly launched himself to hold onto the sphere to repel the raid and keep his goal intact.
The well-travelled forward caught Hart on the top of his head with a wayward boot and was correctly booked by referee Steven McLean for dangerous play. Some would have said Fletcher was exceedingly fortunate not to be dismissed with a straight red card.
BLOODY MARVEL…Joe Hart’s head wound is examined by Celtic medical staff after his injury on Tayside.
Hart, obviously groggy, was attended to by Hoops staff as he sat up in his goalmouth. Blood poured from the wound and it looked game over for the shotstopper.
The thought of an early retirement from the action obviously hadn’t been entertained and he refused to leave the field. Following a delay of almost seven minutes, the game restarted with Hart still in position. Kyogo opened the scoring in the 15th minute and the rest, as they say, is history.
The true worth of Joe Hart to Celtic was crystalised in that flashpoint moment.
“I was just doing my job,” he said modestly afterwards. “That’s what I’m there to do.”
GROGGY – BUT GOOD TO GO…Joe Hart opts to continue playing against Dundee United.
The entire dynamic of the encounter that gloriously sunny afternoon on Tayside would have altered if Hart hadn’t reacted with agility and bravery inside 120 seconds.
You always remember the good saves from a bad goalkeeper.
In reverse, you will always remember the bad goals conceded by a good goalkeeper.
Easy for most of us to remember the aberration in Germany with Hart’s ill-judged pass straight to the RB Leipzig player.
Let’s face it, Joe Hart hasn’t exactly spoiled us for choice, has he?