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 Three of edited extracts from Celtic author Alex Gordon’s tribute book, ‘The Winds of Change‘, which was published by CQN in 2015.
A TRULY astounding crowd of 60,253 turned out at Parkhead to witness the 3-0 victory over a St Johnstone team that had managed to beat Celtic three times the previous season.
Statisticians claimed it was the biggest attendance for a league fixture in a decade. The average football fan’s thirst for entertainment was always unquenchable and Barnes’ outfit were by far the biggest draw in town.
Once more, the game was just about done and dusted in the first half-hour. Johan Mjallby claimed a rare goal in only six minutes and Mark Viduka hit the second. Morten Wieghorst joined in with the third only five minutes after the break.
In the midst of all the joy and gaiety, Lubomir Moravcik was reassuring his new legion of fans that he could function without the aid of mentor Jozef Venglos. In fact, Barnes was already a confirmed admirer of the Slovakian sorcerer.
He singled him out after his display against the Saints and said: “Am I impressed by Lubo? I am impressed with him even when I see him in training. He is almost as old as me and he is just such a fantastic and gifted all-round footballer.”
In fact, Moravcik was 34 at the time, one year younger than his new Head Coach.
CLASS ACT…Lubomir Moravcik fires in a left-foot drive.
A week later, on August 15, Barnes unexpectedly witnessed the team’s first plunge to defeat of the season when Dundee United won 2-1 at Tannadice. Efforts from Craig Easton and Billy Dodds had the Tayside outfit two goals ahead at half-time.
It had been a puzzling performance from Celtic in the opening 45 minutes. One scribe observed snidely: “So, Celtic are not invincible, after all. In fact, there is reason to suspect they still might be seriously flawed.”
United asked questions of the central defence, a luxury not afforded to either Aberdeen or St Johnstone who were otherwise engaged at the other end of the pitch. Johan Mjallby and Olivier Tebily formed the partnership in front of Jonathan Gould and, on this viewing, neither looked comfortable in each other’s company.
Tebily’s positional sense alarmingly deserted him on occasions and that was the case when a completely unmarked Dodds lobbed Gould for United’s second goal.
SAINTS ALIVE…Eyal Berkovic in action in the 3-0 win over the Perth club.
Barnes had some work to attend to in the dressing room at the interval. It was the first time he had been placed in such an awkward position. Did he have the nous to turn things around?
There were no immediate changes, but new boy Stiliyan Petrov made his league debut when he was introduced to the fray in the 68th minute as a substitute for Morten Wieghorst with the team still two goals adrift. It probably wasn’t the baptism the young Bulgarian had anticipated.
With time running down, it looked obvious to throw on Mark Burchill beside Viduka and allow Larsson to roam around behind the front two. Petrov, though, was the only change that afternoon.
With nine minutes to go, Berkovic drilled in a handsome goal from the edge of the box after United failed to clear a Moravcik corner-kick.
NEW BHOY…Stiliyan Petrov made his debut at Tannadice.
As the contest edged towards its conclusion, Vidar Riseth passed up the opportunity of a leveller. A troublesome shot from Moravcik was juggled by keeper Alan Combe into the air and hovered perfectly for the Norwegian to head in from close range.
Unfortunately, he displayed the attacking instinct of a defender, his timing was a little awry and the chance was lost. The consensus of opinion, though, was that an equaliser would have been unfair on the home team.
Barnes said: “United made it difficult for us and we gave away two bad goals. We lost in the right way. We tried to do the right things and we created chances.
“If we had lost 2-1 having not played well and they had peppered our goal, then I might have questioned our system. But that did not happen.”
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss Result That Changed The Course Of Celtic History: Part Four.