STRANGE things occurred the last time today’s foes Motherwell provided the opposition on Flag Day at Parkhead.
Celtic won 7-0, a rookie full-back who would be sold for £25million netted his first goal, a teenage debutant made history and was hardly seen again and the manager and his assistant left the club immediately after the trophy presentation.
It was May 15 2016 – exactly six years tomorrow – when Ronny Deila was in charge for his final match, John Collins was also about to say farewell, Kieran Tierney got the ball rolling with the opener and Jack Aitchison became the club’s youngest-ever player at the age of 16 years and 71 days old.
ON THE MOVE…Tom Rogic eases away from the challenge of Motherwell’s Mario Gomis.
He came on as a substitute for Tom Rogic in the 75th minute and slammed in the seventh goal inside 120 seconds.
Incredibly, Jack was born in the year 2000 – so becoming the first Celtic goalscorer born in the 21st century.
Breathlessly, he informed us: “It’s amazing – even scoring with my left foot. I NEVER score with my left.”
It was his first – and last – goal for the club before going on a series of loans at Dumbarton, Alloa and Forest Green Rovers and is now on the books of Barnsley.
THAT’S MY BHOY…teenage history-maker Jack Aitchison is congratulated by Ryan Christie after his debut goal.
Tierney went on to establish hmself as a first-team regular at left-back before his record-breaking move to Arsenal in the summer of 2019 while likeable Deila is on the brink of leaving MLS club New York City for Belgian side Standard Liege.
With the imminent departure of Rogic and Nir Bitton, who announced they would be leaving the club yesterday, only Callum McGregor, who played the entire 90 minutes against Mark McGhee’s Fir Park outfit, and James Forrest, who remained on the bench, are still at the club.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, author Alex Gordon opens his files to look back at the conclusion of another title-winning campaign with an edited extract from his fifteenth Celtic tribute book, ’50 Flags Plus One’, a publication dedicated to the club’s previous 51 untainted championships.
THERE was one last opportunity for the support to witness ‘The Ronny Roar’. On a clear, balmy afternoon at Parkhead on Sunday May 15 2016, Ronny Deila held aloft Celtic’s forty-seventh championship to rapturous applause from thousands of joyous supporters.
Motherwell had just been dazzled by their opponents and had capitulated in a 7-0 mauling in the final Premiership encounter of the Norwegian’s second – and final – campaign as manager of Scotland’s title kings.
Deila smiled and waved as he accepted the acclaim from thousands of beaming expressions amid a shimmering sea of green and white flags and scarves.
FAREWELL…Celtic fans’ heartfelt message to departing Ronny Deila.
A couple of hours later, he was being driven to Glasgow Airport by John Collins, who had been his assistant during his valiant, but ultimately vain attempt to make the transition from Stromsgodset to Celtic. It had proved to be a leap too far.
The affable exiting team boss thanked the former club midfielder, shook his hand and headed for the departure lounge and the next flight to Oslo. In hindsight, it was a dream that had been doomed from the start.
Amid the silverware stutter, though, Deila had delivered two flags to take the sequence to five in a row and the support will be forever grateful for that contribution.
Three days after the infamous Scottish Cup exit on April 17, Deila announced he would be stepping down as manager of Celtic.
SILVERWARE SUCCESS…Tom Rogic proudly holds aloft the Premiership trophy.
A BIG HAND…Nir Bitton applauds the Celtic support.
“It’s vital the club comes first and instead of me being the focus, hopefully now the team and the club can be the focus as we enter this final important period of the season,” he said in a prepared statement.
“It was an absolute privilege to be named manager of Celtic, such a wonderful football club, and I have enjoyed my time here immensely.
“There have been some great times and I am delighted that we have brought some trophies to the club.”
GOAL-DEN BHOY…Kieran Tierney celebrates his first strike for Celtic. Mikael Lustig joins in.
The club’s forty-seventh championship – and the fifth in succession – was duly delivered on May 8 with a 3-2 victory over Aberdeen at Parkhead. Somehow the performance summed up fairly neatly Deila’s two seasons in charge.
There was style and substance for almost an hour with Celtic coasting three goals ahead, but then the players, with little guidance from the admiral of the fleet, somehow navigated themselves into choppy waters and just managed to dock before being holed below the waterline.
A victory that should have been secured by a far greater margin had become needlessly complicated. Bobby Madden’s full-time whistle had been more than welcomed by the 47,877 crowd.
MIDFIELD BATTLER…Callum McGregor in a tussle for the ball.
PRIZE GUY…Callum McGregor proudly displays the newly-won silverware.
Patrick Roberts netted twice in the first twenty-one minutes on a day of celebration to ease the evident pressure. Mikael Lustig added a third four minutes after the turnaround and the Celtic Park choristers were in full voice. Without warning, the team lost its bearings and the visitors found themselves with the opportunity to take the game to the champions.
Celtic were not helped by the introduction of the erratic Efe Ambrose for the injured Charlie Mulgrew and uncertainty quickly spread across the back four. Niall McGinn pulled one back in the fifty-eighth minute and the home side’s advantage was cut to one when Andy Considine netted six minutes later.
There were a few frantic scrambles in front of Craig Gordon before the conclusion and the celebrations.
Deila went through his party piece with three quick thrusts of his left fist accompanied with the yell of “Yes!”.
CHEERS – AND CHEERIO…Ronny Deila says goodbye with a league title.
CUP THAT CHEERS…assistant boss John Collins with the fifth title in a row.
Minutes after the final whistle, he said: “We have shown we are the best team in Scotland. It’s a very, very good achievement. We have lost important games, that makes the season a little more grey than white, but in the league we have been very, very consistent and we have not lost since we played up at Aberdeen in February.
“It’s been two long seasons – I’m not used to having so long seasons – it’s been tough, but it’s good when you cross the line.”
He reflected: “It’s a special place to be here in Celtic, in paradise, so, of course, I am going to miss it.”
One week later, following a 2-1 reverse at St Johnstone, the final curtain dropped on the season with the 7-0 victory over Motherwell. The ups and downs of Ronny Deila’s two years sitting side-by-side.
TEENAGE KICKS…Jack Aitchison thumps in his history-making strike.
FOR THE RECORD: The goalscorers in the 7-0 romp over Motherwell in May 2016 were Tierney (21), Rogic (26), Lustig (28), Armstrong (50), Roberts (54), Christie (59), Aitchison (77).
TEAM: Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Ambrose, Tierney (sub: Izaguirre 56); McGregor, Johansen, Rogic (sub: Aitchson 75); Roberts, Christie and Armstrong (sub: Janko 84). Unused subs: Bailly, Bitton, Allan and Forrest.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Motherwell this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.