I wasn’t at the 4-2 game against Oldco on 21 May 1979, when “10 men won the league, tra-la-la-la-la.” Martin42 is still dealing with the consequences of going without me, but I endured the 0-3 defeat 20 years later that saw the title go to Ibrox.
In the intervening 19 years the authorities in Scotland have done their best to ensure we do not have a potential league winning game between Celtic and either of the Rangers group of clubs, but here we are. There may never be another opportunity.
That Celtic team in season 1998-99 started poorly with new manager, Jo Venglos, working among one or two strong personalities in the dressing room, but by the springtime we were flowing and a title challenge was on. When we met Newco on 2 May, a win would only give us an outside chance of the title.
Then came the news that we would play with a rookie, Scott Marshall. The result wasn’t Scott’s fault, but the chance added a pressure to a defence which already had Stephane Mahe, for some of the game, anyway. We could not handle the pressure. Oldco stuck to task and won comfortably.
This was a time when titles in Scotland were decided by sheer brute force. David Murray’s Rangers’ aggregate income for the four seasons which followed Celtic’s title win in 1998 was £180m – but they spent £282m, an average loss per season over four years of £25m.
The Rangers way of doing business was working. It delivered titles and denied you and me football success. There were many reasons to dislike how they did business. Liquidation would take another 13 years, but the consequences of financial irresponsibility were always inevitable.
Newco will walk into Celtic Park on Sunday with their own version of Scott Marshall, Jak Alnwick, who has made just two senior appearances (no clean sheets) since arriving in Glasgow 18 months ago. We need to make sure he endures a torrid afternoon.
After watching Graeme Murty earn two draws at Celtic Park I have a bit of respect for what he can do there. He should not be underestimated, few managers arrive for their third visit undefeated, but the man is so embattled right now, his ability to prepare a team must be significantly impaired.
By contrast, Brendan Rodgers gave a tactical masterclass in the recent games at Ibrox and Hampden, costing Murty any chance of securing the Newco manager’s job long term. For Brendan, Sunday is all about getting the job done as early as possible, before preparing the squad for the cup final, which is only three weeks away.
I know it’s greedy to ask for too much when we are within touching distance of a second successive treble, considering we only won two in 48 years before last season, but I really want this one. Let’s do it for everyone who was at Celtic Park on 2 May 1999, or who lived through the years when David Murray and Dave King sat on an Oldco board which lost £35.3m with a turnover of only £44.8m. Contemporary times show that some lessons cannot be taught too often to those who refuse to learn.
The same people are strutting around our game with the same sense of entitlement. Show them how to win the league with style and within budget, Celtic.
Raffle to play in an 11-a-side game at Celtic Park, closes 15:00 today, Friday 27th
An incredible opportunity to play on the hallowed turf at Celtic Park around the end of the current season 2017-18, in Club sponsor Intelligent Car Leasing’s match.
You will be provided with complimentary Celtic kit and receive the full match-day experience including arrival through the front door, access to the dressing room and proudly walking down the tunnel to enter the famous field of play.
Both squads will be managed by a former Celtic player. Date 16 May, 11:00 kick off. All monies raised will be donated to Celtic FC Foundation, a registered Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (number SC024648).
To enter the raffle, make a minimum donation of £5 to the Foundation at this MyDonate page. Then send your donation confirmation email to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The opportunity to play on Celtic Park is just beyond words. I did it a few years ago, the memories will live forever, as will the photographs. The experience of preparing in the dressing room, as so many greats have done before, was fabulous.
You can enter for yourself, or gift the prize to someone you know aged 18 or over. Competition closes in just a few hours at 15:00, so enter now!.