Thu, 28 May 2020
The 9iar Chronicles - Season not the ten 1974/75
Two Cups - but no Ten-in-a-Row
Celtic were to miss out on a world record of ten consecutive League championships this season and had to be content with the two domestic cups and the Drybrough Cup in it's last year. This season saw the retirement of Billy McNeill and the departure on free transfers at the end of the season of the last true veterans of the golden age with the release of Jimmy Johnstone and Jim Brogan. The only remaining Lisbon Lion at the end of the season was Bobby Lennox.
Celtic did not travel abroad for any pre-season games this season but used the Drybrough Cup and domestic friendlies to sort the team out. There was an embarrassing one-off trip to West Germany to play Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen which ended in the joint highest defeat under Jock Stein so far. Interest in the Drybrough Cup was faintly raised when the final threw Rangers and Celtic together with the game ending in a draw and Celtic winning the rights to the Cup 4-2 on penalties. This was the last season this Cup would be played though it would return in 1979. The performances were somewhat jaded and lacking in enthusiasm one normally expected from a Celtic team but this was put down to a short inter-season lay-off period with the World Cup and Scotland's involvement in that also taking place during the shut down. Added to this would be that Danny McGrain had returned from the World Cup having been diagnosed diabetic.
The League Cup saw Celtic in Group 4 with Motherwell, Dundee Utd and Ayr Utd. The format had been changed with one team qualifying from each group for the Quarter finals and the rather silly offside rule used in the Drybrough - only being offside beyond the 18 yard box - persisted with even though it was disliked by all. In the second game Celtic received a shock losing to Ayr Utd. The jaded performances were for real and Jock Stein found himself with three immediate problems :- a goalkeeping crisis, a vulnerable defense and the strike force misfiring. These all needed to be addressed. None could be addressed with immediate effect. Celtic, however, duly put the results together to qualify for the quarter finals with a game in hand in the Group Satge and were drawn against Hamilton Academicals managed by ex-Celt Eric Smith. A 2-0 win at home followed by a 4-2 away win saw them comfortably through to face Airdrie in the semi final. This was a turgid affair settled by a single goal from Stevie Murray in the second half. Hibernian had also made it through all the way and the final was a classic Celtic performance with Dixie Deans scoring a hatrick as well as Joe Harper also getting a hatrick and ending on the losing side.
That was one Cup in the bag done and dusted by the end of October. Already Celtic had seen George Connelly walk out and state that he was quitting football. He did relent and returned to train and eventually win a starting place again in November and December. But the assessment of the team had seen Jimmy Quinn, Vic Davidson, Jimmy Bone and Andy Lynch all told that they could leave on frees. Also by this time Celtic found themselves out of the European Cup at the first hurdle. A 1-1 draw at home achieved after the sending off of an Olympiakos player was not enough and in the flare and smoke of the Athens game Celtic went down 2-0.Olympiakos were an unfancied side and they duly made their own exit at the next round. Was this an indication of European fragility? The side that had won the big cup, made the semi final twice and had been described as European attack masters looked woefully out of sorts.
What happened in the League to lose the tenth successive title is really a continuation of the faults that had been seen at the start of the season being cruelly exposed in the second half in the New Year. By that point Ronnie Glavin had been signed after much beating around the fee from Partick Thistle. At the age of 23 he had been the Jags captain and leading player as well as a Scotland U-23 cap. Signed in November for a club record of £80,000, Glavin had been a target for a number of clubs and Partick Thistle, under manager and ex-Celt Bertie Auld were looking to cash in. Glavin arrived to add extra firepower and to help Dalglish who was turning out to be easily the most competent and rounded player in Scotland. After a successful scoring debut he found it not as easy as first thought to fit into the team and in January he found himself dropped as Stein wrestled to find a winning formula again.
The catalyst that started to bring the house tumbling down was the 3-0 loss to Rangers at Ibrox in January. Celtic did not play too badly but there were too many first team players that failed to hit form and this was worrying. With a further 4 points dropped in the next five games which included dispiriting draws away to Arbroath and at home to Dumbarton. With the goalkeeping crisis much in evidence Peter Latchford was recruited from West Bromwich Albion. Latchford came up and played in a Friendly and in wizard time he was duly signed on an initial loan deal and saw out the rest of the season as first choice keeper. At times the support and Jock Stein must have thought what they had taken on as Latchford was prone to the occasional howler and soft goal. But he would develop substantially from this his first season at Celtic. Despite trying everything the crisis could not be averted and Celtic would drop a further 13 points in 10 games to finish third behind Rangers and Hibernian. Needless to say this was a shock to the supporters who had come to see over the last 10 years the Championship as a permanent feature at Celtic Park and the League programme kicking off each season with the raising of a new Championship flag.
The reality was that the flow of players coming through had dried up. Though Dalglish was without doubt the most accomplished footballer in Scotland he could not do it all by himself. The midfield lacked a David Hay type player. George Connelly, whilst a gifted sweeper and defender as well as having exquisite skill, was now emotionally fragile. McNeill was reaching the end of his career as too was Jim Brogan. Add to that a lack of bite upfront, despite Paul Wilson having his best season ever, it was more a collective malaise within the strike force that saw them missing chances and playing underpar when before they had been the Green Machine.
The retrieval of the season came with the Scottish Cup winning 3-1 against Airdrie who were in their first Cup Final since 1928. By this point the League had already been lost so it was with absolute faith that Jock Stein sent them out onto the Hampden pitch knowing that they would return with the cup. At the end of that game Billy McNeill announced his retirement.
If the club felt low at having to bear the loss of the tenth successive League title then they could console themselves with two trophies at least. Things could not get worse. Could they?
Direct download: The_9iar_Chronicles_-_Season_not_the_ten_197475.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:35pm UTC
Wed, 27 May 2020
The Rugby League Podcast!
Welcome to the Celtic Underground Rugby League podcast. Listeners will be wondering why a Celtic fans podcast is talking about rubgy league - because we want to.
Although born in Scotland, all my relatives are from Cumbria and specifically, for those who know the area they are from an area steeped in rubgy league history - Whitehaven, Cleator Moor and into Workington.
When I grew up my mum’s dad was in to horse racing and Rugby League, Working Town Rugby League to be precise. He obviously entertained football chat with his Celtic daft grandkids, but for this man from the mines, League was the sport for him. It ingrained in me the concept that league was proper rugby and as I grew older and saw Union as the Toffs sport but arrogantly referred to as Rugby I retained that soft spot.
I’m not an avid watcher but I’ll look in when it’s on and will watch the Grand Final every year. I have always felt League and the towns where it is based have a close affinity of the central belt of Scotland where football is so strong and so I thought I’d do a podcast with an expert, providing a bit more detail on what the sport is, why it is different (and better) than Union and what better time than now in lockdown with limited sport but the Australian NRL starting up this weekend.
Thu, 21 May 2020
A Double and Nine-in-a-Row
The most outstanding accolade of the season was the completion of nine League championship titles in a row closely followed by reaching the semi-finals of the European Cup for a fourth time they had reached that stage or beyond since 1967. For a club the size of Celtic in a nation the size of Scotland this was exceptional. That they never went on to the final was down to the cheating aspects of their semi-final opponents, Atletico Madrid, and the left-over taste of the nature of the games with them has remained with the club and supporters ever since 1974.
Mon, 18 May 2020
The Celtic Underground Top Ten season 2017-18
A topical podcast this week as we review the top ten players for the 7th season of the current 9iar….but don’t worry, the first 20 mins are disccusing the fact that tonight, as we record the podcast, Celtic are officially champions of Scotland AGAIN and have officially achieved 9iar AGAIN.
First up we have a very special message from the manager to all our listeners (yes, we actually do) and then we have a 20 minute chat about achieving 9iar and how it is better than expected. From there we get to the meat and bones of the podcast and discuss your votes for the 2017-18 CU Top Ten.
You may wonder why it is season 2017-18. Well, we collated the votes but unfortunately I was too busy with work and nevergot around to actually recording the podcast. We must have a complet record and so the podcast is recorded. We will be doing 2018-19 and voting is open now (until midnight on 10th June) for the 2019-20 season Top Ten and Samars moment. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org
The voting was as follows;
Wed, 13 May 2020
The 9iar Chronicles - Season 8 1972/73
(Courtesy of The Celtic Wiki)
The New to the Fore.
So close to being a Double; so close to being a Treble! And in the end a record consecutive eighth League Championship title. Season 1972-73 should have been the season when the club-developed players of the Quality Street Gang became the new Lions. It was the best season so far for them, with Kenny Dalglish showing himself as the most exciting footballer in Scotland at the age of 22; where George Connelly had it all and was very nearly an ever present in the side; where Davie Hay showed what a great utility player he could be,the emergence of Danny McGrain as a great overlapping full back.
But it was also the season of the wayward youth, with Lou Macari - spotted and developed by the club - demanding more and then heading south when he didn't get his way. Suppoprters opinions of Macari tend to be tainted by the later period when he returned to the club as manager between 1993 to 1994. As a player for Celtic, Macari was a superb goal scorer and poacher. But he was a very different kind of beast from players of the Lions era. Macari had not only quickly endeared himself to the Celtic support but had made the full Scotland international team early and had been on international tour to the States and to Brazil. He had married in St Patrick's Cathedral, New York, and it was very clear he did not like the fishbowl life of football in Scotland. In the closed season he had played in Brazil for Scotland with Tommy Docherty as Scotland manager and Docherty had woven him tales of football south of the border. At the start of the season when he returned to Celtic he began or continued to make demands for better terms. As the season wore on towards 1973 these demands continued and unrest began to ferment in the dressing room. Finally Jock Stein and the Board had enough in December. He'd been injured through much of November and came back for the away game against Dumbarton in early December and then he was out with 'flu and a 'stomach upset' and out over the Christmas period. This coincided with a crisis period at the club with Jock Stein taken into hospital with a cardiac scare. By the New Year Macari was on the transfer list. It was no longer a question of 'if' he would go but 'when' and 'where' and 'for how much'. Would it be Liverpool where he was a guest at their home match after inspecting the club facilities. But it was to team up again with Tommy Docherty, now manager at Manchester Utd, that he always wanted and there he went for £200,000. (There is a very good appraisal by St Anthony of Macari's playing time at Celtic here.)
Such was the surfeit of riches at the club at the time that it could be argued that his departure was barely missed. And the £200,000 his transfer brought in allowed the purchase of Ally Hunter, Andy Lynch and Steve Murray.
The season had begun with the sterile competition that was the Drybrough Cup, with altered offside rules, with Celtic losing to Hibs in the final, the game going to extra time after Celtic pulled back three goals to level the match at the 90. But Hibs found the gaps in extra time and lifted the trophy.The League Cup also had changed format somewhat with teams now seeded in the Group stage and winners and runners up going through to a home-and-away second round before the quarter finals. Everything went well till Celtic met Dundee in the quarter finals. In the away leg Dundee had scored after 20 minutes and then withstood strong Celtic pressure to carry a single goal advantage to Celtic Park. There, a weak linesman and referee Bobby Davidson contrived a 3-2 scoreline which saw a replay on a Monday night at Hampden. The Bhoys made no mistake here and ran out 4-1 winners. A semi-final win over Aberdeen set up the final against Hibernian. And on the day Celtic ran up against Stanton in great form. Two Cups played. Losing finalists twice!
And the third Cup would go the same way. It began well with 4-1 and 4-0 wins against East Fife and Motherwell respectively. At the quarter final Celtic played Aberdeen who came to bore everybody to death. On top of that Jimmy Johnstone lost the place and was sent off. The replay at Pittodrie was nearly as boring - except on 86 minutes up came Big Billy and the ball was headed in the back of the net. Dundee, as in the League Cup but this time at semi final stage, and for some reason Aberdeen's defensive tactics caught on and Dundee bored everyone to death with a 0-0 draw. The replay saw a continuation of dull football but a tactical switch which saw Hay switched to defense and Connelly to midfield resulted in Jinky receiving the ball and scoring two good goals and Dalglish getting one. And so.... on to the final against the auld enemy in their centenary year. A cut-n-thrust game in which Connelly scored a penalty (in the light of a succession of missed penalties in previous games from other Celtic spot-kick takers) saw Forsyth on the goal line where Brogan, who had just been subbed, would normally have been, steal in and nip the ball into the net. Celtic tried to get back the goal but it was Rangers cup. Three Cups played. Losing finalists thrice!
The League was tighter than it had been for a while with Celtic topping out by just the one point but a huge goal difference margin.Throughout the season there were periods when the team played less well as a unit and that aweful sin of profligacy in front of goal raised it's ugly head again. All this contributed to the punditry and journos doubting Celtic's ability to take the title this season and continue with the Green Machine the following season.
In Europe, Celtic ran up against one of last season's teams - Ujpesti Dosza of Hungary. Last season they had met when the Hungarians were only starting their season. This time they were well warmed up and Celtic found them too good in Budapest. A 2-1 win at Celtic Park was countered by a 3-0 loss in Hungary and Celtic were out at the Second Round.
Dalglish, Hay, Connelly, McGrain and Macari have already been mentioned. The veterans also had their part to play. Big Billy was Captain Dependable as ever. Jim Brogan was missing more games through injury but when he was in he made the perfect left back to Danny McGrain's right. Bobby Lennox might see a good few sub spots this season but he still had lethal speed and his knowledge of the game was special in a forward. And Bobby Murdoch was noted when missing and his cool head made for reflection on the game when he played. The goalkeeper crisis was 'real' till the arrival of Ally Hunter from Kilmarnock who would have an outstanding first season between the sticks. His sureness inspired confidence in those in front of him. Jinky had off and on periods throughout the season and for his off periods he paid for by being dropped. The luxury of the team with so many good players was that it could and was tailored for conditions and teams.
At the end of the season there were those who asked if Celtic could go on and do it again the next season or if the newly resurgent Hibernian or Dundee or, god forbid, Rangers would make a serious challenge next season.
Thu, 7 May 2020
SPFL TO RFC - WTF?
It’s here, the dossier that everyone (well everyone in scottish football) was waiting for. The evidence, the whistle blower, the reports of bullying, the substantiation, the smoking guns, deep throat, the bombshells that would lead to the resignation of the CEO were all…well NOT there.
Unfortunately RFC seem to confuse questions with evidence and fact with opinion.
Following it’s publication, their CEO (who sits on the SPFL board that is so useless) appeared on Radio Clyde. after his appearance I’m even more confused as to what it is they want an inquiry into.
Anyway, we set about trying to disect it the whole mess. I am joined by Anthony Murray and David Low to look at this as objectively as Celtic fans can.
Wed, 6 May 2020
The 9iar Chronicles - Season Seven, 1971/72
A Blend of Old and New
Season 1971-72 was a significant season as it really marked the start of a new chapter for the club, of players that had begun to appear the previous season but made their true marks this season. It also marked in truth the end of the Lisbon Lions era (but not the memory of that great team) with the departure of so many that had made up that team. The Main Stand had been substantially rebuilt and upgraded during the closed season and was formally opened by Jimmy McGrory on the 1st September 1971 with a game against South American Champions Nacional of Uruguay, Celtic running out 3-0 winners.
By this point Celtic had already lost the inaugural Drybrough Cup to Aberdeen. This was an interesting competition historically as it marked the first time that outside private sponsorship was seen in the professional game in Scotland. In the League Cup, Celtic qualified from the Group stage of Rangers, Morton and Ayr Utd. with resounding wins over Rangers home and away. The 'home' leg which was actually played at Ibrox because of the final work on the new Main Stand at Celtic Park, was significant in marking Kenny Dalglish's first first team goal. There would be many more. In the away game Celtic thoroughly demoralised a Rangers team that thought they had the beating of Celtic after an even first half. Quarter final and Semi final wins over Clydebank (marked by Brian McLaughlin's debut) and St Mirren followed to give a final at Hampden against a newly promoted and envigorated Partick Thistle. The result was not expected. With Billy McNeill absent, the Jags went 4-0 up by half time. Thistle were on fire and the 4-1 result and loss would mark a turn at Celtic and bring about arrivals and departures.
The days of the Lions were gone. The emerging talent was the Quality Street Gang and the prime examples were Kenny Dalglish, Lou Macari, Davie Hay, George Connelly and Danny McGrain. Out had gone John Clark - a crisp and reliant reader and thinker of the game who had become the sweeper - and Steve Chalmers at 35 years old. After the League Cup Final loss they would be followed by John Hughes and Willie Wallace to Crystal Palace and Tommy Gemmell in December with John Fallon going to Motherwell in 1972 and Jim Craig heading for South Africa at the end of the season. In came new buys Dixie Deans, regarded as a steal of a buy from Motherwell at £17,500, and for the perpetual blind-spot of goalkeeper came Denis Connaghan from St Mirren. But it was the young gang, recruited and developed through the lean years who Sir Robert Kelly had asked the fans to be patient for who took on the new mantle of Celtic and won the Double of League and Scottish Cup this season.
Jock Stein had the team playing a fluid system this season with as ever, everyone ready to both attack and defend so that players could switch and everyone to a greater or lesser extent could be a 'utility' player. No one exemplified this so much as Davie Hay and Dalglish. Both could play anywhere on the park, were elegant and confident on the ball, could pass accurately over distance to supply the killer ball and could shoot and score goals. Davie Hay had emerged earlier and would play anywhere in the team. Dalglish really became THE player this season, at home up front or supporting in a withdrawn midfield role. To be able to release an international full back of the stature of Tommy Gemmell meant that Jock Stein was confident in the resources that he had at Celtic Park. Jim Brogan continued to play well and was a veteran giving advice and support. Jim Craig's final season saw him make 28 first team starts and he would probably have continued to be picked for the first team had he chosen to stay. Furthering his career in dentistry, the warmer climate of South Africa and new challenges called, however. Jimmy Quinn had been at the club since he was 16 and had first been used as an out-and-out striker but the previous season had seen him turned into a fast overlapping defender and this was further developed this season. He did well. Danny McGrain looked like he was ready to step up and but for an unfortunate clash of heads and the resulting fractured skull would have become a stand out this season. He had to wait but he was clearly going to be the business.
The two supreme veterans that held it together were Billy McNeill and Bobby Murdoch. Cesar impressed so much this season that he won his Scotland place back under the new international manager Tommy Docherty. His cool head in the centre of defense and his power were rarely beaten and if he did have an off-day then the team suffered. Bobby Murdoch was as important as a playmaker as McNeill was as a defender. These two knitted the younger players into a unit and continued the Celtic tradition built up over seven League titles of what was required from a Celtic team and a Celtic player.
Worth mentioning too is Tommy Callaghan. He had probably his best ever season for the club in 1971-72 and ran his heart out as a water carrier and attacker as well as being a tireless midfield player. Never a fans favourite, he sometimes found himself the brunt of the terraces' ire but his performances this season were collosal and his hard work allowed the finesse of Dalglish, Macari, Hood, Lennox and Johnstone to shine.
In the goalkeeping stakes things were still as obscure as ever in the blind-spotted Stein's mind. Not since the glory days of Ronnie Simpson had he felt so uncertain about the feller in front of the onion bag. Evan Williams had started as first choice, but Gordon Marshall and Denis Connaghan were brought in to challenge, and rejected. A young keeper Tom Lally had been brought over from Sligo Rovers but had played more games for Morton on loan than at Celtic. Lally would leave the following season. Both Marshall and John Fallon left to fill spots at Aberdeen and Motherwell when those teams experienced injury crises. Added to these can be the youths that were picked up during the season. - Neil Carr from Maryhill Juniors; Stefan Gryzska from Whitehill Welfare; Leif Neilsen - an experienced Danish keeper who was in dispute with Morton and released by them on a free; and Tom Livingstone who had been a youth international keeper and was released when he lost his first team spot with Cumbernauld Utd. To these would be added more and it would remain a troublesome position for some time - till the Big Man made his final club signing.
This was a very interesting season - the blend of youth and vigour and experience; A Double Season; so nearly into another European Cup Final; players competing for positions and keen to show what they could do; a wealth of talent that had been developed by hard training who were fit, confident, competent and keen.
It would be interesting to see how the club would develop.
Tue, 28 April 2020
The 9iar Chronciles - Season Six 1970/71
Merely Champions? Merely a Double? The End of an Era?
Celtic won their sixth successive League Championship and the League and Scottish Cup Double - the 7th time they had achieved this. But many folk were now shaking their heads and saying that the team was not what it was. The problem appeared to be less in what was on display but how the team achieved it's wins and the manner of those wins.
Celtic had invested heavily in youth in the past and in the development of players through from youths and Juniors through to first team players. Sir Robert Kelly had warned Celtic supporters in the fallow years to be patient and to wait for the youngsters coming through. That wait had resulted in the Lisbon Lions and the years of fat which preceded this season. Further investment in youth saw the emergence of the Kelly Kids and the Quality Street Gang and these were the players that were breaking through throughout this season and who would take the club forward. The problem was that these young players were seen in performance against the ageing Lisbon Lions squad and the games were judged by Lisbon Lions standards. Time had not stood still for the Lions. Though Ronnie Simpson, the oldest of the Lisbon Lions, had retired at the end of the previous season, it was at the end of this season that the major departures of the Lions began. Bertie Auld, Stevie Chalmers and John Clark all moved on - a situation that would have been thought impossible back two seasons past - and they would soon be joined by others. But their time had come they needed to and had to move on for the team's sake. Jock Stein realised this and throughout the season he carefully assessed all the playing staff at the club - who was in, who was available, who was coming through. And change was inevitable to preserve the talent of the club and to continue to move forward and to challenge for glory.
Thu, 23 April 2020
Covid or Novid
As you will hear, this is not our usual Celtic Underground guest - for a start she doesn’t go to games… More importantly that attending Celtic games however, she is working to save lives. Haley (my niece) is a nirse currently working in A&E, sometimes in general accodent & emergency, other times (liek this past week) on the Covid19 ward. To use the hospital jargon, she is either Covd or Novid.
Don’t worry, the content won’t unnerve (it might even put your mind at rest) for example A&E’s are quieter than normal.
She talks through what you might find if you go to hospital for whatever reason, what some of the symptoms are to look out for, how here and her colleagues are coping and, of course, the situation with PPE.
Tue, 21 April 2020
The 9iar Chronicles - Season Five 1969/70
A brilliant season that was nearly incredible!
When you look at that list of season accomplishments above you would have to conclude that it was so close to being a very successful season. The Double was very nearly a treble and close to a European quadruple. The truth is in the detail.
The one word that many people use when describing this season is 'complacency' The League was won by a clear 12 points from second placed (again) Rangers. Four league games were lost, three of them at home to Hibernian, Hearts and Aberdeen with the one away loss to Dunfermiline. The team played for the most part 'within' themselves and this led a number of observers to state that at times the team were over-confident and complacent in their handling of the game.
However, as the podcast confirms, this was somewhat unfair
Tue, 14 April 2020
The 9iar Chronicles - Season Four 1968/69
TREBLES ALL ROUND!
An extremely successful season, the second treble season and the 6th League and Cup double. Only two blips dotted the horizon. Those were the quarter final loss to AC Milan, who went on to win the European Cup this season, and losses home and away to Rangers in the League. They still finished five points behind in second place in the league, a result that again prompted whole scale changes across the river. The other loss in the league was at home to Morton at the end of the season. A total of 29 games were won with 89 goals for and 32 against and the points total was 55. The previous season had seen 30 wins with a massive 106 goals for and 24 against and 63 points.
Celtic had been one of the first clubs to protest against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. This led to the eastern Bloc teams pulling out of the competition and led to a redraw of the First Round. Celtic faced St Etienne who were beginning to come to prominence in Europe. Missing Bobby Murdoch and Tommy Gemmell they lost 2-0 away which was a major fright. A furious Stein vowed to go for all-out attack in the return game and the Celts gave no quarter running out 4-0 winners at Celtic Park to go through to face Red Star Belgrade who had failed to withdraw with the rest of the Eastern Bloc teams. They won 5-1 at home with Jimmy Johnstone running riot in the second half when told he might not have to travel if Celtic got a four goal advantage and then Johnstone-less held out with a 1-1 draw in Belgrade. and so on to the Quarter finals against AC Milan. The away leg in the San Siro was played in a snow storm in atrocious conditions and ended 0-0. Celtic were now being feted to go on to a final against Manchester Utd. But it was not to be, when Billy McNeill blundered early to allow Prati to score. Manchester Utd, by the way, lost to AC Milan 2-1 in the semi final.
In the League Cup Celtic qualified easily from the group stage winning all their games in a group with Morton, Partick Thistle and Rangers and were the best performing qualifier from all the groups. The Quarter final saw Hamilton Accies put to the sword with an aggregate score of 14-2. With a 10-0 win in the first leg Jock Stein felt confident enough to give many of the younger staff a run out with the average team age being 22. Onto the semi against Clyde which proved to be a hard fought match which was only settled by a goal from George Connelly, on as a substitute for Joe McBride. The final at Hampden was delayed due to a fire and when finally played in April Celtic destroyed Hibernian 6-2. Six goals up in 75 minutes they took their foot off the pedal for the last quarter of an hour allowing Hibs to score two goals.
The Scottish Cup started with the first round proper against Partick Thistle away and Celtic let a comfortable 3-1 lead slip away to a 3-3 draw. The Big Man wasn't happy in the least and conducted an in-depth investigation demanding more from the players. The replay was never in doubt with every forward scoring in a 8-1 win. The second round saw Celtic drawn away again against Clyde. In a match that probably should not have been played Celtic drew 0-0 with Ronnie Simpson carried off with a dislocated shoulder which would see him out for the rest of the season. The replay was won 3-0 on a heavy and muddy pitch. The quarter final saw them drawn at home against Willie Ormond's St Johnstone. This proved to be an excellent game where the Bhoys showed all their fighting spirit to come back when St Johnstone equalised. The semi was against Morton who scored first but then had no answer to the brilliance of Jimmy Johnstone. And so onto the final against Rangers. This was Jock Stein at his best outwitting Rangers and out-thinking Davie White.
Throughout the season Jimmy Johnstone and John Hughes were outstanding on either wing both proving themselves to be world class players. Jimmy managed to get himself suspended by the club for shouting at the bench and throwing his shirt when he was substituted in the League game against Dundee Utd. The story still leads to much hilarity when told but was serious at the time. Jock Stein would regularly throw the curve ball at the opposition by having John Hughes run out in the number 11 shirt and then play him at centre forward. Bobby Murdoch won the Scottish Player of the Year award, Willie Wallace finished top scorer. And finally Robert Kelly was given and accepted a knighthood on behalf of the club.
All seemed good at the club with the lack of knighthood for Jock Stein transferred to one for the Chairman and on the field a vivacious, attack-minded Celtic team and more quality youngsters coming through.
Sun, 12 April 2020
Aitch is retired!
I love having guests on the podcast. Most of the time we have myself and the usual team of guys discussing the events of the day affecting our cub however every so ogten we get guests on to provide us with a little something extra. What makes the guest so great is that they give up, what usually ends up being 2 hours+ of their day to be “interviewed” by a complete amatuer and they do so willingly and for free. What is also great is when the guest has so many stories that I run out of time to ask all the questions that pop into my head and that was the case with Andrew.
A great guest who was at Celtic during an incredible time, Andrew has some brilliant stories to tell. so many in fact that we will need him back on again because, after 90 minutes I ran out of time.
I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed recording this.
Tue, 7 April 2020
The 9iar chronicles - Season Three 1967/68
The Second Greatest Season EVER in the History of the Club - and a Double season.
After the highs of 1967-68 it would be difficult to know how to go forward with the club. That Jock Stein had a vision of where the club should be was without doubt. He had clearly shown that the club could move forward with suitable backing and one voice. That direction was most clearly in Europe and to be recognised as a great and formidable club. And for this reason Europe and the participation in European competitions was THE most important thing. That is not to say that the other games were non-important. If Jock Stein was anything, he was competitive and aspirational. Having done it once, he wanted to do it again.
It seems almost inevitable as nemesis follows hubris that having won the competition at the first time of asking that the following season the team should fall at the first hurdle. But that's what happened. In Dynamo Kiev, they met a team as well prepared and ready to fight as Celtic were. At home in the first leg, they lost an early goal and then a second, both from errors made by Celtic players and though the effort was all-out in the second half they could only find the one goal. Stein had been looking for a win and by a clear three goals to give him the margin for the return leg. As a master of 'attack being the best form of defense' the away leg would have to be all-out attack. What happened was that though Celtic charged, the game was sorely affected by the pernickety refereeing of an Italian and the Bhoys never got a good clear run to build up the constant pressure of 9 men capable of scoring. And then on 59 minutes Bobby Murdoch was sent off for a second yellow card. A seemingly decent goal was then disallowed and Celtic found themselves knocked out.
With an abrupt termination of European competition this season, the necessity to qualify for next season was paramount. The League HAD to be one. There was just no two ways about this. The team embarked on a winning streak which lasted till the 2nd January and the game against Rangers at Celtic Park. Rangers were two points ahead in the League. The stage was set and no one was more keen than Jock Stein to put Celtic back where they belonged. What happened was to haunt John Fallon for the rest of his career. Two goalkeeping errors allowed Rangers to draw 2-2 and the nip-and-tuck would go on right to the end of the season. In the end it was Rangers that blinked. It was for them to lose the title which they duly did, missing out in crucial games allowing Celtic to continue to maintain their League win record and take the title with a rousing performance at Dunfermiline.
The drive for the League Championship this season established records. The team produced a post-war record of 63 points to win, 5 more than the previous season, and in doing so they lost only one League game. They did not score as many goals with 106 as opposed to 111 the previous but they conceded less - 24 against 33 in 66/67.
In the face of this success it might therefore be thought churlish to complain but there was something different about the performance this season. Despite the number of games won the team appeared to be less imperious than it had the year previously. Jock Stein recognised that no team could stand still and measures had been taken to bring new players through. There was a good crop of youngsters developing but this would take a little time. In the mean time Celtic still had a team capable of attacking with 9 men and defending in depth when required.
Of the other three competitions, Celtic were knocked out of the Scottish Cup at the First Round - something that had not happened since 1952 - by the team that would go on to win the trophy - Dunfermiline. Celtic retained the League Cup after qualifying from a group containing Rangers, Dundee Utd and Aberdeen - another nose rubbed in the dirt. And when Rangers withdrew from the Glasgow Cup citing fixture congestion the word everywhere was that Rangers were afeared to face an in-form Celtic. Celtic duly retained the Glasgow Cup.
Perhaps this last excuse needs bearing in mind when considering the Intercontinental Club Championship games against Racing. There is no doubt that Jock Stein wanted to win this. Even in the face of the debacle after the second leg in Buenos Aires It was Jock that insisted on playing the replay in Montevideo. Robert Kelly was all for returning home. But how would the public have seen a statement like that? In the end it was probably the players view that they could beat Racing which turned opinion to playing the replay and what happened made Jock Stein regret his decision to go ahead with the replay. In the face of the film of the incidents being shown around the world the club had no choice but to censure the players. But what people throughout had failed o see was the utter intimidation and dirty behaviour that Celtic had faced from the Argentine side throughout the three games. And the patience and fair play of the team finally broke and led to the incidents.
So what we have then is a great season in many ways, but flawed and not perfect as say 1967-68 had been. It still represented a phenomenal achievement. Celtic were playing total football with local players all from within 20 miles of Celtic Park long before the phrase became popular and in relation to the Dutch.
The next season as always would present new challenges.
Fri, 3 April 2020
Tale from the Celtic Wiki plus the radio commentary of the goals
There is little introduction required for Celtic fans of this game - 25th May 1967. Celtic 2-1 Inter Milan.
This 9iar extra features a return of The Human Torpedo and a Tale from The Celtic Wiki and the radio commentary of the goals from the game.
Thu, 2 April 2020
The 9iar chronicles - Season Two 1966/67
This is the second in our nine in a row diaries and it is the story of the most remarkable season - The greatest season ever in the history of the club and one of the greatest seasons of any football club anywhere.
• League Position – 1st - Second League title in a row
Every competition that the club entered it won. There can be no better season than 1967. The first North European club to win the European Cup since the competition started in 1955. The FIRST BRITISH TEAM TO DO SO.
The previous season had been good but this season was outstanding. Jock Stein deservedly won the title of Best British Manager for the second successive season. If other teams had sat up and looked at Celtic and their manager during the previous season, then with the win in Lisbon the whole of the world became aware of Jock Stein and Celtic.
The foundations for this outstanding success had already been laid the previous season. At the start of 1966-67 the final touches were put in place with the purchase of Joe McBride from Motherwell. Joe went on to have an outstanding goal scoring run before knee trouble put pay to his further appearance at the turn of the year. This pushed Celtic into the transfer market again and Jock Stein identified Willie Wallace as the man who could take over where McBride had left off and continue the goal scoring progress that Celtic had made.
The key to ALL the success of the season stood firmly with the belief and clear vision that Stein laid out. This was a team. It played together as a talented team, not just eleven talented individuals but a cohesion that came from trust and acceptance of fellow players and belief in the greatest manager. Jock Stein thought deeply about the game. He analysed every team that Celtic played and had a plan for every game and every opponent. The players were told to listen and to follow that plan and woe betide those that did not do what the Big Man said. But the Big Man's analysis was generally spot on and with his back room staff they prepared a fit lean playing machine that could hang together, knew how to fight back and knew what was needed. Never before had this been seen in football. And the world recognised it when Celtic beat Inter in Lisbon. It was a win for the future of football.
The names of Jock Stein, Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdock, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Auld, Chalmers, Wallace and Lennox will never be forgotten.
Sun, 29 March 2020
The UK (and most of Europe) lockdown continues but that never stops the Celtic chat. This week I am joined by someone who I have met many times at post game Celtic press conferences and someone I have been meaning to get on for some time - John Gallagher.
John is a former professional footballer who played and coached at a level below the top flight but far above the standard most of us could only dream of however the main reason I have John on the pod is because John generates the Opta stats at Celtic home games.
In this pod John explains exactly how those stats are created and gives an insight into how that makes you see things a little differently.
I am joined from Bratislava by @antonymurray25 and we quiz John on his time in the lower leagues and his time at Opta.
Tue, 24 March 2020
The 9iar Chronicles - Season 1965-66
This current period we are hoping to achieve the magical 10+ in a row and eclipse the 9 in a row done by another Glasgow team through the 1990s. Biu of course they were not the first club to achieve that level of success. The first Scottish team to win 9iar were the magical Glasgow Celtic, managed by the incredible Jock Stein and the first season in that run was 1965-66.
Celtic has been in the wilderness of the Scottish game prior to the return of Jock as manager in the spring of 1965 and this season marked his first full season back at the club as manager and the first season which saw major successes finally come Celtic's way.
The clear difference in the performance of Celtic prior to this season and hereafterwards was the role of Jock Stein as manager. He drove the club and the players to new heights. It was not so much that the players were different before and after his arrival (discussed in the previous season review). It was more that the training and direction given by a peerless manager and tactician of great skill inspired better performance and a team sense that meant the difference between losing games and toughing them out; between drawing and getting the odd goal in a win; between fighting back when under the hammer. Stein was a supreme preparer for games and a master tactician with a plan for every game and the ability to read a game and where things needed to be changed. Furthermore he believed that the team should prepare properly. Every player knew what was required of him. Every player knew how to play and every player was aware of the importance of his teammates and where they would be. Practise and fitness were all part and parcel of delivering that performance and as Jock Stein was very much a tracksuit manager, he believed that he AND the trainer trained the team - not just the trainer. Having emphatically enforced that he and he alone picked the team to the Board, he made sure that the team were prepared and that the team that he picked was the right one. Furthermore players were now meant to be practised professionals. Full backs were encouraged to overlap; forward lines were to be seen as fluid and interchangeable; outside forwards were meant to get forward and cross and wing halfs controlled the game's flow.
There is no doubt that Jock Stein's presence turned the club around. Many might argue that it was the players that did this - but of this season's players, only Joe McBride was directly acquired by him. All of the others were already at the club when he arrived. That alone marks the importance of Jock Stein to Celtic. The players were there - all they needed was pulling together and direction to become what would go on next season to become the Lisbon Lions.
The League title was a nip and tuck affair right from the off and was not decided fully till the last game of the League. It saw Celtic taake the flag from Rangers by 2 points only dropping one point at home and losing four games away. But it was not so much the numbers that added up but the performances throughout the season in the League. This was a team that did not take losing lying down - and that was a BIG change. There were still occasions when they could miss the target and have shot after shot sail past the goal, but these were rare and noteable when they occurred. All the commentators from the time said not only how strong the team were but also how fit and keen they were to win.
This season was the first that this team had really and truly played together inspired by a great manager. Next season would be something else!
Thanks to The Celtic Wiki for the preview text - enjoy the podcast.
Thu, 19 March 2020
We are in unprecedented times and that requires an unprecedented quality of guest and so this week we have an actual brain surgeon on the podcast!
Originally @pablo567 was going to be on to discuss heading of the football and dementia however with the current crisis we thought it would be better to have him on to discuss how the SPFL wrap up the season. We discuss at length when and why Celtic will be crowned Champions.
In addition to the football we also manage to squeeze in why having a free at the point if use health service is such a wonderful thing to cherish and we mention briefly Covid-19, why you should switch off the news and how were are going to get through this (and wash your hands)
Fri, 28 February 2020
On Thursday night Celtic played Copenhagen and during the game we decided to give them a little thank you for being such good hosts the previous week. So we took 3 goals, tied them up in a parcel, put on a lovely bow a gift wrapped the best present we could…
Yes we are so generous that we gifted them safe passage to the last 16 of the Europa League by making an absolute pigs ear of the home leg following the 1-1 draw in Denmark.
In this podcast we pick over the bones of Thursday night’s game and discuss team selection and the system we played. I provide my descriptions of the goals after being at the game and refusing to watch any highlights and Antony (who braved that job) gives me his review of my description.
Enjoy…(if you can)
Thu, 13 February 2020
Podcast Xtra - Celtic 5 Hearts 0
Tonight Celtic thumped Hearts by 5 goals at Celtic Park with the atmosphere greatly enhanced with some late goals just down the M77 at Kilmarnock meaning that the lead at the top of the table is now 10 points.
After the game Neil Lennon, Jozo, the Hearts manager and a Hearts player spoke with the press. The Hearts manager rambled and I’m not sure he’ll be their answer. It was a great night.
Sun, 2 February 2020
It wasn’t until nearly the 80th minute today against Hamilton that Celtic fans could start to relax today and had we not achieved that win and capitalised upon RFC dropping points at home to Aberdeen then the recriminations over the (lack of) activity in the January window would have been unbearable on scoial media however the manager made key substitutions in the second half and we went on to score 4 goals and continue our 3+ goals a game since the return to league activity following the winter break, but the main chat in this podcast is about the January window.
We are top of the league. We have won 10 out of the last 10 trophies available and we have the best squad in the country. Despite all of this fans were anxious in the last few weeks following the Dec 29th defeat and there were strong calls for some experienced players joining the team and that didn’t happen and so Antony Murray joined Harry for a chat about the window.
Sat, 1 February 2020
Celtic have returned to SPFL action in positive fashion, scoring 9 goals by knocking three past each of Kilmarnock, Ross County and St Johnstone. We have scored more goals and gained more points than all but 4 of the seasons this century after the equivalent number of games and with our progress in Europe and already a domestic trophy in the cabinet we remain on course for another remarkable season.
With all of this the angst and frustration among many in our support is difficult to understand and so I called up @antonymurray25 to review the last 2 domestic games and preview this Sunday’s game against Hamilton.
We don’t discuss the transfer window because that’s for another podcast which will be out very soon.
Sun, 19 January 2020
2010 – 2019 was the Celtic decade. It started in an inauspicious manner with us limping along through the season with a failing manager and, 3 months in, a 4-0 thumping by St Mirren meant enough was enough and a change was made. Neil Lennon took over the reigns on a temporary basis, won 8 league games in a row and was given the job full time. The decade ended with a manager leaving, Neil Lennon being given the job on a temporary basis, seeing us through to the 8th title in a row and getting the job full time.
In between all of this we has some amazing times, our rivals died, we won 8 titles in a row, we had an invincible season and we have won the last 10 domestic trophies – quite a decade.
With the last ten years being such an amazing time in our history, we decided that we would have a podcast looking back and we’d try to pick out 10 key games/moments/events that really defined the times or were a unique event that set in motion the events to follow but we need your help…
I am joined on the podcast by to experienced Tims who, to paraphrase the song, know their history (Robert and Alan). Between the 3 of us we come up with roughly 20 defining Celtic moments but we need to compile a list of THE top ten.
You may love all our proposals but you may have your own ideas. Whatever, we need your votes so please email email@example.com or tweet me @harrybradycu ; Eddie @Celticrumours ; or post on Facebook
Wed, 8 January 2020
We’re still in the limbo-land of the winter break and whilst the players are training in the hotbed of the birth of World Ward III we here at CU Towers thought there needed to be a half year report card for the hoops. We therefore decided we needed a panel of esteemed football experts to review the season so far and in the best Juke Box Jury fashion ascribe whether it had been a hot or a miss.
After getting various knock backs we dialled up Duncan and Lachie to review the season so far. It’s broken down into the chunks of transfer window, Europe, League Cup and League.
After we review these the conversation gets into quite a ramble about the transfer window, the players who may move on and the positions the guys think we need to strengthen.