BILLY McNEILL beamed and said: “I think the fact it was St Patrick’s Day meant an awful lot to the fans. So, maybe St Patrick was watching that afternoon and decided to give us a hand.”
The Celtic manager was reflecting on a sensational 2-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final triumph over Graeme Souness’ Ibrox side on March 17, 1991 at a packed and rocking Parkhead.
It was to become known in Celtic folklore as “The St Patrick’s Day Massacre”.
The action descended into a stormy, violent encounter when the visitors completely lost the plot as their hopes of a domestic clean sweep were torpedoed in a truly astonishing 90 minutes in the east end of Glasgow.
Souness watched in abject misery as THREE of his players were sent off by referee Andrew Waddell as they attempted to intimidate a rampant McNeill team that were in control when all hell broke out.
The Hoops grabbed the initiative in only six minutes when the leaping Tommy Coyne outjumped Richard Gough to glide a header into the path of Gerry Creaney.
The bustling striker didn’t even break stride as he took aim and fired an unstoppable angled right-foot volley beyond the helpless Chris Woods.
JOY BHOY…Gerry Creaney, scorer of the opening goal in the 2-0 Scottish Cup triumph on March 17, 1991 – the game that became known as ‘The St Patrick’s Day Massacre’.
In the 37th minute, the England international keeper was picking the ball out of the net again following a 40-yard whizzbang free-kick from Dariusz Wdowcyzk.The Polish defender walloped in a ferocious deadball effort that took a nick off Terry Hurlock as the ball raged high into the net.
Parkhead exploded in joy – but there were some crazy events throughout a rollicking afternoon that saw the hosts reduced to 10 men and the visitors to eight.
OFF! First to go was Peter Grant when he charged from the wall in an attempt to block a free-kick. The midfielder had just been booked to give away the award. The match official produced a second yellow to Grant’s utter dismay.
OFF! Hurlock was next to be banished and the English midfield destroyer could have no complaints. He lashed out with his right arm and caught Coyne flush on the jaw. Waddell didn’t hesitate as he flashed a red card.
OFF! Mark Walters was next to go and once again the luckless Coyne was the Celt on the receiving end of some rough treatment. And, once again, the ref didn’t think twice in administering punishment.
OFF! Astoundingly, Mark Hateley became the third Englishman to be banished after the standside linesman caught him as he became involved in an off-the-ball incident with Anton Rogan, who was booked for his part in the flashpoint.
In the midst of the bedlam, the Celtic support sang throught an epic confrontation: “Happy Birthday, St Patrick.”
TEAM: Pat Bonner; Dariusz Wdowczyk, Paul Elliott, Derek Whyte, Anton Rogan; Joe Miller, Peter Grant, Paul McStay, John Collins; Tommy Coyne and Gerry Creaney.
ST PATRICK’S POSTSCRIPT: Celtic met the Ibrox team in a league game at the same venue a week later. They went one better as they emerged victorious 3-0 with goals from Rogan, Miller and Coyne.
Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone from CQN!