CELTIC face an eight-game obstacle course as they bid to win their twelfth title in 13 years.

If Brendan Rodgers seeks any advice on how to plan ahead for the ultimate silverware success, he could ask club ambassador Davie Hay.

The Parkhead legend knows exactly what it takes to win the flag after successfully manoeuvring his way through soccer’s minefield to the finishing line. The former player and manager achieved the feat after a breathtaking finale to season 1985/86.

In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, the Hoops great, speaking to his long-time friend and author Alex Gordon, who co-wrote the icon’s best-selling autobiography, ‘The Quiet Assassin ‘, details the extraordinary run-in to a tumultuous, topsy turvy campaign.

Hay, 76, told all in his life story which was published in 2009. Here is the third instalment of his recollections from his best-selling book.

The Celtic icon recalled:

“We beat Dundee 2-1 at Dens Park and then we had four consecutive draws against St. Mirren (1-1), Hearts (1-1), Dundee United (1-1) and, the most remarkable of the lot, the 4-4 deadlock with Rangers at Ibrox. I have to admit that it didn’t look like championship-winning form.

“Somehow, though, I had a good feeling about my team and my spirits were uplifted by the mood of the players in the dressing room and training. I sensed they fancied their chances.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN…Davie Provan has the Dundee defence on the run.

“I was aware their determination was on a par with my own. We were zeroing in on the league. We had gone out of the League Cup at the third round stage after drawing 4-4 with Hibs at Easter Road. It went to penalty-kicks after extra-time and, unfortunately, Pierce O’Leary thumped his effort into the crowd and that was that.

“We went to Edinburgh to again face Hibs in the third round of the Scottish Cup and we scored three through Brian McClair (2) and Mark McGhee. Alas, someone left the backdoor open and Peter Latchford conceded four. Europe didn’t last long, either, as we went out 3-2 on aggregate to Atletico Madrid.

“So, it was the league title or nothing.

“After that extraordinary 4-4 stalemate at Ibrox, we had eight games left to play. I told my players: ‘We can take the championship if we win all these matches.’

“I reasoned: ‘Hearts will surely slip up somewhere along the line.’

“My prediction turned out to be accurate, but, my goodness, did they leave it late.

“Brian McClair, with a hat-trick, and others from Tommy Burns and Big Rambo, Alan McInally, gave us a 5-0 victory over Clydebank at Kilbowie as we embarked on our exciting excursion to the flag.

NO OLD PALS’ ACT…Roy Aitken clears from former team-mate Frank McGarvey in Celtic’s 2-1 win over St Mirren.

“Mo Johnston and Burns were the men who brought in the points in a 2-1 triumph over Dundee and it was tight in the next game, too, as we overturned St. Mirren by the same scoreline, Murdo Macleod and Paul McStay on the mark.

“Three down and five to go. Johnston got the winner against reigning champions Aberdeen at Pittodrie on April 12. On the same day Hearts beat Dundee United 3-0 in convincing fashion. Were they ever going to trip up?

“A week later we got our revenge on our double Cup conquerors Hibs by winning 2-0 at Parkhead with goals from McClair and Owen Archdeacon.

“Then all eyes were on Tynecastle the following day for a live televised game. Aberdeen were Hearts’ visitors that afternoon and I also knew Alex Ferguson, even with his team out of the running for the league, would never allow his players to give anything less than 100 per cent endeavour and effort in any game.

“Naturally enough, I was delighted when the Dons drew 1-1 in Edinburgh. That dropped point – you only got two for a win back then – would prove fatal.

“The strain was beginning to tell on our rivals.”

* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the fourth dramatic instalment in the epic 1985/86 title battle.

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