Scott Brown challenge echoes through the years


The moment Scott Brown threw himself into a challenge on the edge of his own penalty area, laser-like in precision, to dispossess Barry Robson, brought the memories flooding back.  Barry was regarded by many as a journeyman when he signed for Celtic alongside Georgios Samaras in January 2008.  A month later he scored against Barcelona in the Champions League knock out stage and was well on the way to convincing the Celtic support of his ability.

At the time, Scott Brown’s fortunes were different.  He’d arrived the previous summer, a £4m buy from Hibs, but had yet to acclimatise to the central midfield role at Celtic.  In the spring of 2008, Celtic were well behind in the title race, and playing poorly.  Robson was on the bench with Brown given midfield responsibility.

The script for that season was written by a gifted hand.  As the season reached a climax, Scott was suspended for three games, punishment for a rash of misjudged tackles throughout the season.  Gordon Strachan turned to Barry, who was made for the moment.

Seven years ago Barry Robson could tackle, in fact, he could foul, without being noticed.  He brought determination and menace to a team which was questioned in the CQN comments section for an apparent lack of leadership.

Two of our last five league games that season were at Celtic Park against Rangers.  Rangers had a games in hand but the effective gap was 10 points, Celtic needed five wins, and even then their chances of winning the league were regarded as remote.  Towels were thrown everywhere.

The first, a midweek game, memorably started with Barry Robson putting a thumping challenge into Christian Dailly in the opening minutes.  The tone was set, Celtic were there to fight for everything.  Rangers thought they had the point they needed, their manager offering high-fives in the technical area as they cleared the ball late into added time.

I still can’t quite believe what happened next.  In the 95th minute Gary Caldwell threw a long ball into the Rangers box, which was won in the air by Scott McDonald, the smallest player on the field.  McDonald headed across the face of goal for Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink to head into the net.  Celtic survived to fight another day.

11 days later Celtic Park saw an equally dramatic game.  Scott McDonald (scorer of incredibly important goals) put Celtic ahead but the season looked to be in tatters as Rangers struck back with two goals direct from corner kicks.

1-2 down in a must-win game it was an uphill struggle, but McDonald struck again two minutes from the break to level the game with the assistance of a deflection.  The second half was a tense affair, so much was invested in one game of football, but one man was made for the moment.

McDonald broke free inside the box and was hauled down by Broadfoot.  Barry Robson stepped forward to take the penalty, it was the defining moment of his career.  If you’re in Celtic Park early enough before kick-off these days you can still hear the echo of the roar that went up when his penalty hit the net.  His celebration was unforgettable.

It’s remarkable that Barry is still performing at this level so many years after his peak but yesterday’s decisive challenge by Scott Brown demonstrated the enormous leaps our captain has made since becoming a Celtic player.  We need players with that fight and craft.

Many of us are still telling stories of the 1985 Scottish Cup Final. A goal down, Celtic roared back to beat Dundee United with a Frank McGarvey diving header. Frank’s offering the jersey he wore that day for auction to raise funds for Maryhill Foodbank. It’s a genuinely unique piece of Celtic history, for a very worthy cause. Check it out here.

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  1. Geordie Munro on




    There was a guard of honour yesterday??







    Kenny Clarke.

  2. Paul67



    Excellent blog. If ever there was a best of times from the worst of times 2008 was it.



    I remember watching the winner go in v Rangers watching in the Bar Aladino just around from where I sit now.



    Nice connection between Robson and Brown. Great professionals.

  3. Greeninbingley on

    “Barry Robson was like an onfield avatar for Strachan himself.”



    What a great line.



    I loved the bite that both he and Paul Hartley gave us.

  4. Melbourne Mick on

    Hello again all you young rebels.



    What a great weekend for us in Oz, Saturday spent with great


    tims down at Mornington, Sunday morn. watched the wee mhan


    score another cracker for his team and back for a mothers day


    lunch where my son produced a lovely bottle of Glenfiddoch


    Nadurra ( gaelic for natural ) the only downside was telling the


    wee fella that it was almost certain John Guidetti was for the off


    but he took it rather well and said ” it disny matter Papa av been


    watchin wee Jinky oan utube and your right he was amazin so


    a want him oan ma new strip ”




    Watched the game at night through half closed eyes and was


    singing away to myself after a great show of passion and fight


    from the bhoys, now lets see what some of the young kids have


    got over the next couple of games.


    H.H Mick

  5. Thought at the time that Robson was lucky to get away with that elbow on Dailly.



    He did score against Barca but my memory of him in Europe was him running round like Corporal Jones, way out of his depth.



    Great for the SPL, though.

  6. owen



    I have kind-of erased most memories of the bold Caldenbauer – but when he is mentioned I only seem to remember 2 passes.



    That one and the one for Naka! :-)

  7. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Robson and Hartley,still had a couple of years in them ,when they left CP.

  8. The Battered Bunnet on

    Barry Robson is a great example to any kids that development isn’t a straight line.



    Released as a youth by Rangers, he then toured the lower divisions with ICT and Forfar for a couple of years, before getting into the ICT first team squad at 22 years old.



    From there, 3 years with ICT in the SPL, onto Dundee Utd aged 25, before moving to Celtic at 29 years old.



    Championship winner, Champions League player, Scotland cap, and he’s still playing, winning the League Cup with Aberdeen last year at 35 years old, all in a career consigned to the dustbin at age 18.



    The talent’s in there. It just takes its own time coming out.

  9. Geordie Munro on

    Good read Paul. Thanks.




    Barry Robson was a great signing. Raised a few eyebrows at the time but quickly bought himself some time by scoring about a minute into his debut.



    We should buy players from utd in January more often :)

  10. Blantyretim



    Sorry I missed your text about going to the PV yesterday



    Was at my daughters on Saturday had a wee drink through to Sunday morning went to bed at 11am, missed everything



    It was good to get a blow out mate its been coming for a while, anyhoo need to go, catch up soon :/

  11. A cynic would suggest PL has been on the phone to Paul67 for some help with ST renewals. No-one pulled it out the bag that season like Robson. His elbow on Dailly in the first few minutes of the first game set the tone for the team to fight til the end.



    Superb stuff … if you haven’t renewed already, what’s stopping you?

  12. mullet and co 2 on

    Barry would make my second 11 of players I liked that could do a job. Scott Brown is fast getting up to the first 11.



    At one stage this season I would have had Barry back to show some of the boys how to get stuck in and move. He may be old but the flesh is willing.


    I think Barry’s affection for Celtic grew when he played for us and saw some of the decisions that went against us. He was also the Celtic patsy when 4 or 5 Rangers players withdrew from International duty. Barry was told he was injured and went home. Barry said there was nothing wrong with him and Celtic agreed and played him against Rangers that weekend.


    On other Scott’s, what’s the odds on the wee Aussie atoning for Fir Park by sticking Sevco out of the play off final?

  13. Clashcitybhoy on

    Paul 67 / all



    I wouldnt mind seeing Barry Robson back at CP.


    Accepting that Broony and Nir are our first choice midfielders, we have actually been relatively fortunate with injuries in central midfield and left back, and haven’t had to deal with more than 1 injury at a time.


    I know he is coming to the end of his career, but , he knows the club, knows the league, and if we get into CL next year and pick up injuries or suspensions, having Barry around maybe only for 5/6 starts and 9/10 subs appearances, could be a lot more beneficial and cost effective than signing a project who takes a year to bed in



    Also if we played Hederson in central midfield, in say early cup games he would make an ideal minder / mentor

  14. The first of those games it looked like my wife was going into labour with our first child . False alarm. I was keeping in touch through updates on CQN but the reception was terrible and then as was often the case when a big event occurred the site would crash . Seemed like an eternity before finding out JVOH had scored .


    Baby was born by the second game but complications meant mum and son were still in hospital , again CQN supplied the result.


    Watched the title being won at Tannadice on TV with my new baby son sleeping in my arms . Silent jumping about as the winner went in and a tear in my eye at the celebrations at the end.


    Happy happy days.

  15. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    No worries Marspapa


    Deserved big man



  16. Can anybody remember any Celtic game ever that Craig Thompson refereed that was a decent game to watch



    Just decent will do – not expecting fabulous

  17. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    As any ole country music fan should know, today is the feast of St Gangulphus.



    ‘ he was subsequently killed by his wife’s lover, who wished to remove Gangulphus as a possible interference to the adulterous relationship’

  18. I was living in Australia when JVH netted the injury time winner at approximately 6:30 on a Gold Coast morning. I ended up in the front lawn which fortunately was walled so nobody could see me although they certainly heard me.



    My two dugs cowered under a sunbed and they obviously thought I had finally flipped as my missus and her daughter appeared with worried expressions.



    I then got showered, dressed, had breakfast then off to work with a big smile on my face.



    When I got home, my step-daughter laughed as she described how the neighbours had earlier been asking them if they had heard the strange early morning shouting. They apparently thought someone was on fire.

  19. bournesouprecipe on

    Was it really thirty years ago ole Frank ( the rubber man ) McGarvey bent yon header into the Celtic end at Hamdump (formerly Hamdumper) and the great cloud of summer stour


    blew up, over Kings Park.



    Great header, great jersey, great gesture, two black eyes from the dirt and new trainers needed for every game.



    Well done Mr McGarvey.

  20. Geordie Munro on

    Charlie mac,






    The 6-1 game v utd early in the season wasn’t bad




  21. bournesouprecipe on

    Who would you have put your money on to win in the shoulder to shoulder between Barry Robson and Stefan Johansen?

  22. Gerryfaethebrig on




    13:50 on 11 May, 2015



    Canny see Barry Robson being a Ronny signing even in his heyday, hopefully Broonie will take Liam H under his wing, think GMS & SA are already under our captains influence actually think with Nir, KC & Johansen the middle of the park is pretty strong

  23. "mouldy67" supporting the fearless Oscar Knox on

    Hello team, would be looking for your help to spread the word about campaign;



    “The 8th May 2015 will mark the first anniversary of our friend’s child, Oscar James Knox, gaining his Angel wings. To celebrate Oscar’s short but memorable life, we’ve organised a 223 mile bike ride over three days.



    We’re using this opportunity to help another young child who desperately needs support: and fast. Eileidh Paterson needs £100K by June in order to receive specialised DFMO cancer treatment in the USA. That treatment is not currently available in the UK.



    On Saturday 16th May 2015, the cyclists will leave Forres, Eileidh’s home town, bound for Inverness. There, they will take in the SPFL match between Caley Thistle and Dundee United, raising awareness of neuroblastoma, and in particular Eileidh’s plight, before setting off south to Glasgow, and Celtic Park, home of Wee Oscar’s favourite team.



    We have set up this team page to raise awareness and much needed funds. Our team have a common goal to raise money for the Neuroblastoma Childrens Cancer Alliance (NCCA UK). The team are Steve Taylor, Kevan Lawler, Iain McGovern, Robert Campbell and Paul Muldoon.



    We are football fans of different teams with a common goal: to make a difference for Eileidh in wee Oscar’s name.



    We would like to ask for your help by donating to Eileidh’s campaign.









    Text EPAT50 £1-10 to 70070



    The Highland Cycle Team.”



    Thanks Mouldy67

  24. In work on the Monday after the 1985 cup final win. A Gers man tells me, “There is no way McGarvey was trying to score with that header.”



    “I know,” I said. “He was aiming for the corner flag but mis-timed his dive.”



    Stupid huns.

  25. geordie munro



    14:00 on 11 May, 2015


    Charlie mac,






    The 6-1 game v utd early in the season wasn’t bad









    How come he didn’t get demoted for that?

  26. Paul



    Thanks for this lovely piece.



    Does anyone else have the same recollection as me…



    That headed ball from Skippy to JanVennofHess…in my mind’s eye the scene takes on all the properties of a movie scene, where the ball slows down in mid air. Eyes of players watch it; desperate, hopeful looks of fans watch it as their eyebrows ascend into their hairline. Multiple camera shots of Skippy’s header, the looping ball, the looks of stranded defenders as they realize that they have left someone unmarked, the gleam in Jan’s eyes when he knows that the ball is his. Then the connection in the floodlight’s glare, the sweat spray, the mandatory closed eyes at point of contact – then silence – for what seemed like a full minute.






    Anyway, that’s what your words inspired in me this morning.



    I know, I know, I really need to get out more or get to bed earlier or change my medication.



    Yesterday was so good. Guts, a little skill when we could, but the will to win was evident throughout the team.



    BTW Barry Robson as coach would scare the bejaysus out of most pros.



    Hope he’s done his Uefa badge at Largs :o)

  27. Greeninbingley on

    Completely off-topic, but I am sitting in a pub in Leeds, waiting for the airport train to Manchester and then Oslo, having spent the morning at the memorial service in Centenary Square Bradford for the victims of the Valley Parade fire 30 years ago.



    Harrowing doesn’t begin to cover it. I wasn’t at the game but I should have been – I was called into work at the last minute. My ex-wife was. She escaped without harm, onto the pitch, but she lost her uncle and an old family friend. It was a terrible, terrible day.



    She had nightmares for 20 years about the things she saw. Probably still does, for all I know. 20-odd years later she told me she wanted to go back to see a game – she couldn’t face going back till then – so we went.



    Sitting in the totally-rebuilt, EPL-standard stadium, she just stared at the new stand. She lasted about 8 minutes of the game before she just quietly said to me “can we go now please”.



    God bless and keep all the victims of that awful day – the living as well as the dead.



    Sorry for glooming the blog.

  28. Geordie Munro –



    My abiding memory of that 6-1 victory was me sitting in the Kerrydale Suite after the game raving about our brilliant new signing Berget.

  29. Gerryfaethebrig on




    14:11 on 11 May, 2015



    No gloom at all, nobody should go to a game of football and not come home, sad stuff but nice post

  30. Clashcitybhoy on




    I agree that Barry R is not the sort of signing you would expect from RD, but, i would rather him than a project, and i suspect a contract worth £3/4k a week would secure his services. With no transfer fee that would , imho, be good value.



    I dont see anyone in our squad capable of fitting in for Broony if he got a long term injury.


    This year our season never really started until he returned from injury


    Henderson is, i think still 2 seasons away from being a 40/50 game a season player, and i dont like Johansen in a middle 2.



    On Johansen, I am a great believer in shopping where we have had good value before, and the Norwegian and Swedish market is one I would raid again as players adapt well, cope with the league and climate, and in most cases, are good value

  31. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    Greeninbingley- you have nothing to apologise for.



    The Bradford 56 should be remembered every bit as much as the Hillsborough 96.

  32. Great article. So glad to see both Broonie and Robson acknowledged as they both so richly deserve.



    Have been telling the wee Mhan for the last few years to watch the old man in red cos he’s a canny operator to this day.



    HH jamesgang

  33. bournesouprecipe



    14:01 on 11 May, 2015


    Who would you have put your money on to win in the shoulder to shoulder between Barry Robson and Stefan Johansen?






    The more so as Robson saw him coming and hit equally as hard. I liked that. A lot!



    HH JamesGang

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