Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Hoops? Aye, They Did It Again.





Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Sunday 23 October 2011 at Celtic Park, Glasgow
Result
Glasgow Celtic 2 Hibernian 1
Competition
Scottish Premier League
Hopping
Second half of a Scottish weekend hop
This match in one sentence
Celtic did just about enough to overcome a robust challenge from a very physical Aberdeen side.
So what?
Celtic remain third, a point behind Motherwell and ten behind Rangers, but with a game in hand over each.  Aberdeen stay seventh.
Something random




1967: Manager Jock Stein with the European Cup
 

Brother Walfrid founded the club in 1888
Evidence of the history and tradition of the club is everywhere to be seen.  To be fair, it’s a very impressive arena.
The drama unfolds
This game will have been well documented elsewhere by now for all interested parties, so a brief commentary and impression will suffice here.

Recent results, not least a Rangers win at lunchtime, made this a tense must-win occasion for Celtic.  To be fair, they worked themselves into a dominant position and had the vast majority of possession in the first quarter.

Their intricate triangles around the Aberdeen box often fell apart at the last step, but after 17 minutes one move worked and left Ki Sung Yeung with enough time and space to finish from the left-hand corner of the six-yard box into the opposite corner.  1-0

This settled the nerves, and Celtic went on to dominate the half.  Beram Kayal looked an impressive presence in midfield, and Charlie Mulgrew led by example in defence.  However, they did not have sufficient guile or composure to add a second goal before the interval.  1-0 at half-time

The atmosphere changed again when Aberdeen equalised early in the second half with a goal by Ryan Jack.  1-1

The home fans became less patient with Celtic’s probing and possession-protecting play, and the game became more fractious.  Here’s an example of the home side’s response.



Relief came when Mulgrew got on the end of a header from a set-piece to fire into the roof of the net with 20 minutes left.  2-1

Jack was sent off for a second bookable offence and the home side held on for the win.  Deserved enough for territorial domination and technical superiority, but not that convincing.  Aberdeen had received four other yellow cards besides Jack’s pair.  Final score 2-1
A snippet from the programme
A series of pieces on Bobby Murdoch are included, #7 in a series on the Celtic greats.  He was in the team that beat Inter Milan in Lisbon to become the first British side to win the European Cup.
“I joined the club in 1959 from school and signed professional in 1962.  From the start it was hard work, but we were all brought up from the same area.  We stayed with the club and grew up together.  We all came through the third team and the second team and then the first team together and more or less had played against each other at school level.  So the average age when we won the European Cup was a good average age.  That night in Lisbon was a dream come true.  I cried; I was in tears coming off the park.  I remember doing a radio interview, I think I said something like, “We came here to show you how to play attacking football against the Italian defensive-minded people.”  I think the squads were smaller in our day, but the difference really is the pace of the game.”
What I learned today
This was the most “political” football event I have attended for some time.

Outside the ground, I had already had a leaflet thrust into my hand about a “Fans Against Criminalisation” Demonstration – this was about opposition to the Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill.  The leaflet argues that football is being unfairly blamed for wider sectarian or alcohol-related crime which is already covered in law, and that Celtic fans “have even more reason to be fearful about the Bill”.

We started the formalities with the Red Cards against Racism that I had seen at St Mirren the day before, again warmly applauded by almost everyone.

During the game, most of the singing at any given moment in the ground was led by the Green Brigade.  The club was originally very much involved in the creation of the designated zone for this group of “ultras”, but a quick scan of the news websites shows that there have been some incidents that have polarised opinion and are apparently causing the club to review their position.  The Green Brigade openly supports the republican side of the political debates over Ireland and Northern Ireland, and members clearly feel that they are being unfairly targeted by authorities.
What Next?
An FA Trophy replay on the way back south tomorrow evening – Curzon Ashton v Farsley, who meet again after a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

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