YOU were there to see it. When you look back on the great teams, the great seasons, the team who established a new British record of 69 games in domestic competition unbeaten, will fill your heart with joy. This team, The 69’ers, eclipsed the Centenary Team by some distance and will measure alongside the Seville Team in our annuls, second only to the Lions.
They are that good.
There is more than just being good. They have been incessant. They suffocate the life out of opponents. They played fast, attractive, football and when they sensed a vulnerability, they went goal crazy. They never gave up.
Eclipsing the club’s 100-year-old unbeaten British record last month took an emotional toll. After this, a late winner against Ross County, an industrial Cup Final win and that unforgettable late show at Fir Park suggested the players needed a new chapter. You and I discussed getting through December after a near thing at Easter Road, but the players just couldn’t climb another mountain.
It ended emphatically, amid two defensive slips and a stonewall penalty. Despite being three, then four, goals down, the players had the hunger, but not the imagination, to overcome the odds one more time.
The run has been a joy. Scott Sinclair announcing himself at Tynecastle in August 2016, then Moussa doing the same with a hat-trick a month later. In a little over four months of starting his first league campaign, Brendan watched his team score four or more against seven Premiership opponents. These were not just victories, they destroyed opponents desire to be on the field. 14 of 38 league games during that campaign saw four, five or six Celtic goals.
In 69 games across two seasons, one moment unquestionably towers above all others. Celtic were on the verge of a truly unique achievement: an Invincible treble, but the 2017 Scottish Cup final hung in the balance with two minutes remaining. One slip, and the most impossible of achievements, then in touching distance, would disappear.
Tom Rogic carved Aberdeen open and dinked the ball over the keeper in a delicious finish to a magnificent season. They did it! League Cup, League and Scottish Cup winners without losing a game. That Final could have been won as easily as the 3-0 League Cup win over Aberdeen earlier in the season, but fate would gift us a dramatic conclusion. Grown men cried.
Celtic winning the Premiership this season is the surest thing in sports betting. Their odds, 1/33, reflect how the betting companies can invest your money for the time they hold it, rather than any prospects of Celtic not delivering. A bet on Celtic winning the league is not actually a bet, it is a savings account.
We have planned to address the short-term issue of remaining unbeaten for too long. Now we can focus on being ready to defend the Scottish Cup, our trip to Russia and perhaps more European adventures. We will overcome Brechin City at home in the Cup next month, leaving four games for a second treble, while the January transfer window will bring the opportunity to add depth to the team.
Brendan, in the words of another great Celtic manager, you and your players have been utterly brilliant! Thank you.
*There’s still time to get a signed copy of Jim Craig’s new Lisbon Lion Diary, Right Back to 67, in time for Christmas. And we will also give you a free copy of That Season in Paradise, signed by fellow Lisbon Lion Willie Wallace. Just order Right Back to 67 today at www.cqnbookstore.co.uk