Celtic overcame St Johnstone yesterday at Hampden with a late goal by James Forrest. It was enough to set up a potential final against Hibernian which would be a an occasion that Bertie Auld would have looked upon with satisfaction.
In fairness to St Johnstone, they paid their own tribute to the late Walter Smith who recently passed away, adopting the Wattenacio style favoured by the former Rangers former manager, which almost destroyed Scottish football a.few years ago.
In the end it was their novel and refreshing remuneration policy that almost killed the game, but Walter’s contribution on the field cannot be overlooked.
The Green Brigade played their part yesterday, with a magnificent 67th minute tribute that brought a tear to the eye which was probably as much to do with the smoke, but at least that gave anyone who did shed a tear an excuse for any show of emotion.
I’d add a picture or two but my dear wife has tidied up and I’ve no idea where my laptop is, so I’m cobbling this together on my phone. If I woke her at 7 on a Sunday morning she wouldn’t just tell me where it is, there’s a chance she’d move it to another place that would leave walking difficult.
Celtic were that much better yesterday in a number of ways.
A couple of early enthusiastic challenges on Saint’s Chris Kane let him and his teammates know that Celtic were going to give as void as they got, and as the players knew that with Nick Walsh as referee they were going to get booked at some point anyway, they made it worthwhile.
Except for Kyogo, who got booked when his studs damaged the Hampden turf.
Saints didn’t alter their style, they can’t, and continued to try to bully their way through the game, and indeed almost scored when Joe Hart dilly dallied with the ball, seemingly unsure of what tondi next, allowed O Halloran a lunge at goal. It went wide, but had one or two of us thinking of Gordon Marshall, the keeper who only on retirement discovered he was actually allowed to use his hands.
In the end, didn’t matter, and the first real target of the Angera was hit.
Celtic are in the first domestic cup final of the season, and despite the ramblings of some in the media, such as Mark Guidi, who despite 8 trophies out of ten at Hampden in 5 years, suggested Celtic had a Hampden hoodoo, that’s as much as we could ask for at this stage.
After the AGM, the papers picked up on what was clearly a crowd pleaser line from chairman Ian Bankier, who had said referees were a matter of “deep concern”, and Nick Walsh again proved it to be so.
Whilst Bankier will feel he’s done his bit by mentioning it, there must be a real effort to draw attention to and take some form of action over the level of incompetence on show yesterday.
Stephen Welsh was a victim.of an assault by Sean Rooney’s elbow, which wouldbhave merited a sending off anywhere else in the world, and what went largely unnoticed was his ..and indeed endemic…refereeing style of evening up the stats by booking a number of Saints players late in the game.
Booking Celts early means they are forced to play within themselves, whereas a later booking allows more enthusiasm for longer.
It doesn’t matter now, but may later on in the season.
Elsewhere, the second semi final is today, and new Rangers have a new manager in Giovanni van Bronckhurst, who has taken tje job , it seems with eyes wide open.
Then again, if he was looking at claims such as the one made in the week where four of the five most valuable players in Scotland ply their trade at Ibrox…David Turnbull is the only Celt in the top five, then he might be in for a shock.
The report, clearly sanctioned as a sort of January sales promotion, is part of a wider narrative that tries to hide the problems over the river, and to avoid comparisons with another club who had the same loose and carefree attitude when it came to matters fiscal.
Our board may be despicable, they may treat us like something they stepped on in the street, but they do know how to run a business.
Doesn’t make them any less a bunch of self serving ignorant bastards, but at least we’ve still got our club
Next up are Bayer Leverkusen, and if Celtic can get a point, then we might well have a shot at staying in the Europa League, and maybe even a run in the knockouts.
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but apart from the result yesterday, the most pleasing aspect for me was that the players seemed a little more streetwise yesterday.
They knew what to expect amd knew hiw to deal with it.
For all the pretty football we’ve seen under Ange Postecoglou, there were signs that there was a rod of steel running through the team.
Fitting indeed on the day we paid tribute to a legend.