LIAM BRADY was named as Billy McNeill’s successor as Celtic manager in June 1991.
The charismatic Irishman arrived with a dream for the club, but his vision had become blurred by the time he departed in early October 1993.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, author Alex Gordon opens his book files to look back at an intriguing and compelling chapter in the club’s history.
Here is another edited extract from Alex’s tribute book, ‘The Winds of Change‘, published by CQN in 2015.
STUBBORNLY, Liam Brady refused to throw in the towel. Celtic were now trailing the Ibrox side by ten points and were also adrift of Hearts who were due in Glasgow three days later.
‘There’s still a chance,’ urged the manager. Ninety minutes later, the league race, as far as Celtic were concerned, was over.
The Tynecastle side, under the cosh for most of the first-half, scored two goals in a minute and went onto win 2-1. The dozy back lot contributed heavily once again to the team’s misery. Just before the hour mark, Chris Morris and Mark McNally got involved in some suicidal passing just outside their own penalty box.
The defenders were treating the ball like a live hand grenade and John Robertson intervened, passed wide to Tosh McKinlay who picked out Scott Crabbe and his curling effort completely eliminated the stretching Gordon Marshall. Sixty seconds later, the keeper was fishing the ball out of the net after Robertson had set up John Millar.
ON THE WAY OUT…blunder Bhoy Tony Cascarino’s stay at Celtic was cut short by boss Liam Brady.
John Collins pulled one back near the end, but, once again, the Celtic fans streamed out of the ground in silence while 7,000 Hearts fans whooped it up. Tony Cascarino never started another game for the club and was swapped for Chelsea left-back Tommy Boyd in February.
Brady now had seventeen largely meaningless league games to look forward to. That hadn’t been in the script back at Tannadice in August. Remarkably, the team, with the pressure off, embarked on a sixteen-game unbeaten run until the last match of the campaign when they went down 2-1 against Hibs at Easter Road.
The highlight, naturally enough, was the 2-0 victory over Rangers at Ibrox in March; Brady at last tasting the joys of an Old Firm win. Even better, it was thoroughly deserved against a Walter Smith team that had been odds-on to stretch their unbeaten run to twenty games.
The heavens opened over Govan that grey afternoon, but nothing could put a dampener on an illuminating Celtic performance. Charlie Nicholas got the breakthrough goal with a scorching first-time drive from the edge of the box after Scott Nisbett had frantically headed a Chris Morris cross into his tracks.
PLEASED AS PUNCH…Charlie Nicholas celebrates a goal against Rangers.
Nicholas belted it with his right foot and the rain water was shaking loose off the net behind Andy Goram before he could move. That pulverising effort in the thirty-second minute gave the visitors the initiative at the interval, but, in truth, they could have been three in front at that stage.
Gerry Creaney missed with a badly-placed header from close range and Tom Boyd, making his first appearance in the hectic Glasgow derby, might have netted when he sneaked in at the far post to get on the end of a Nicholas right-wing cross, but he screwed his effort off target from six yards. Even this early in his Hoops career, it was evident scoring goals was not going to be the defender’s forte.
Three minutes before the hour mark, the Celtic supporters were taunting their Rangers counterparts with chants of ‘Easy…Easy’ after Brady had witnessed his team doubling their lead.
GOVAN GLEE…Rangers keeper Andy Goram is helpless as a low shot from Gerry Creaney sizzles into the net for Celtic’s second goal.
Paul McStay drifted in from the old inside-right position, shrugging off Nigel Spackman, before sliding a pass in front of Creaney. He moved away from John Brown, steadied himself and then rifled a low right-foot shot away from Goram. Celtic controlled the encounter throughout and Gordon Marshall had one of his easiest afternoons of the term.
Nicholas said, ‘Liam Brady simply told us to go out and play. He knew we could do this, turn it on against Rangers. He told us to have no fears. Listen, we’ve lost here 5-1 and 4-0 in recent years and there must have been a dread about coming back to Ibrox. But after this win we’ll be looking forward to returning to Ibrox.’
It was an impressive display from Celtic and had the fans wondering of what might have been if the ball had bounced for them earlier in the campaign.
In the end, though, eight defeats and ten draws consigned them to third place, ten points adrift of their old foes and one behind Hearts when it was still two points for a win and one for a draw.
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the next riveting instalment of the Liam Brady story – only in your champion CQN.