CELTIC suffered the most humiliating result in the club’s history in this month 24 years ago when they lost 3-1 to Inverness Caley Thistle at Parkhead.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, we look at the fall-out of the inexplicable Scottish Cup exit and examine the games that led up to the catastrophic result – and the welcome transformation that propelled Celtic into a new era.
Here is Part Four of edited extracts from Celtic author Alex Gordon’s tribute book, ‘The Winds of Change‘, which was published by CQN in 2015.
FEVERED brows among the concerned Celtic support following the unexpected loss at Dundee United were soothed again when Hearts arrived in Glasgow and were sent back to the capital in disarray after a 4-0 thumping.
Alan Stubbs was now fully rehabilitated following an operation for the testicular cancer which had been diagnosed following a random sample at the end of the previous season’s Scottish Cup Final.
The popular Englishman was welcomed back to the middle of the rearguard alongside Oliver Tebily while Johan Mjallby moved into midfield. The home fans in the 59,607 crowd were delighted to witness a swift return to form with Mark Viduka and Henrik Larsson combining superbly again.
The Aussie and his Swedish frontline sidekick got the first-half goals and Eyal Berkovic claimed two midway through the second-half.
Barnes, charm restored after the Tannadice hiccup, said: “I was not surprised with our quality of play. We played some great one-touch football and I’ve got to be happy with that performance.”
There was no respite for Barnes, especially with Rangers winning all five of their league fixtures in the month of August while Dutch newcomer Michael Mols, a £4million summer signing from Utrecht, hit four goals in a 4-1 win over Motherwell.
RED ALERT…Lubomir Moravcik prepares to dazzle Aberdeen defender Derek Young.
September was ushered in with a hard-fought 1-0 win over troublesome Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, so often a graveyard for Hoops’ hopes. The only goal was notched by 19-year-old Mark Burchill who started the game in place of the injured Mark Viduka.
The keen youngster bent his run superbly to get on the end of a Craig Burley pass and, with the Kilmarnock defenders desperately claiming offside, he carried on into the box before sizzling a low drive away from Colin Meldrum in the 72nd minute. The overall performance wasn’t pretty, but it was productive.
The same could also be said for the next league game, another away fixture, this time against Hibs at Easter Road. The Edinburgh side’s manager Alex McLeish had brought in Marseille’s 1993 European Cup winner Franck Sauzee from Montpellier to add midfield finesse to his newly-promoted line-up.
After losing three goals in the previous fixture to Kilmarnock, McLeish thought the Frenchman’s subtle skills would aid a defence that often lacked composure. That was the theory, anyway.
YOU’RE HAVING A LAUGH…Henrik Larsson manages to get a wry smile from referee Hugh Dallas.
Just before the interval, Sauzee flattened Larsson and was booked by referee Hugh Dallas. Ten minutes after the break, sophistication again deserted the acclaimed international as he clattered into Vidar Riseth. Off went Sauzee and, within moments, Celtic were leading.
Moravcik swung over the resultant free-kick, Larsson, at the near post, headed down and Viduka applied the killer touch in front of goal. Ten minutes later, the skilful Aussie repeated the feat and it was game over.
Barnes had selected Dmitri Kharine ahead of Jonathan Gould and dropped Craig Burley in favour of Regi Blinker and afterwards explained: “I was not taking a chance in a Premier League game as this is still our most important objective this season, but I wanted to have a look at them to see what they could give us.
“There are 18 to 20 players at the club who have as much right as anyone to a place in the team.”
Celtic were still packing them in and a remarkable 60,033 turned out on Saturday, October 16 which transpired to be an eventful afternoon for the club – they ran riot, scoring seven goals for their highest tally of the campaign and Rangers’ run of eight successive victories came to a halt against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park where they had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
Poor David Preece, the Aberdeen goalkeeper. Signed from Darlington in the summer, he conceded five goals on his debut when Celtic hammered them on the opening day of the season.
This time Henrik Larsson and Mark Viduka claimed hat-tricks after Eyal Berkovic had opened the scoring. The netminder was taken to hospital following the game for an exploratory test after receiving a knock on the head.
The goalie claimed he couldn’t remember a thing. Boss Ebbe Skovdahl may have been experiencing the feelings of a condemned man after the humbling, humiliating loss, but he could still summon up a moment of mirth.
“I wish I could say the same,” he smiled ruefully.
The brutal taking apart of the Pittodrie side was their biggest hiding since they had capitulated 8-0 on the same ground in 1965 when Big John Hughes – the original Yogi Bear – ripped them to shreds while enjoying a five-goal spree.
SCOURGE OF THE DONS…Mark Viduka celebrates after netting another goal against Aberdeen keeper David Preece.
John Barnes wasn’t entirely satisfied and complained: “At times we gave the ball away too sloppily. Better opposition would have made us pay for that.”
The Head Coach mentioned no names, but Olivier Tebily was certainly living up to his early nickname of “Bombscare”.
And Barnes was right – superior teams would have helped themselves to a few goals with the opportunities that were being presented haphazardly with lamentably slack passing around the penalty box.
At Rugby Park, it was a 73rd-minute goal from Michael Jeffrey that salvaged a 1-1 draw for Kilmarnock and derailed Rangers who had opened the scoring in the 16th minute through Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
Ibrox gaffer Dick Advocaat fumed: “The way we played we were lucky to get a point. There was only one player in my team who did okay and that was Craig Moore. All the others weren’t on the park.”
Clearly, the Little General didn’t react too well when things didn’t quite go according to plan.
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss Result That Changed The Course Of Celtic History: Part Five.