Yesterday saw Celtic lift the league trophy for another consecutive year without breaking a sweat. The title was won back in September when we dismantled Rangers at Celtic Park, and it was apparent that no one could touch us as we steamrollered our way to another successive championship honour.
We’d known since last autumn that the title was staying in the east end of Glasgow, and it was never in doubt.
That wasn't the case nine years ago today, which was our last of the last day triumphs, and even the most optimistic Celtic fan would be forgiven for writing off the possibility of that weeks beforehand.
5th April 2008. Celtic 0-1 Motherwell. Three games on the bounce we hadn’t found the net and we were now six points behind Rangers, who were going for the QUADRUPLE, and they had two games in hand over us. Scott McDonald threw a fit as he was replaced by Samaras on the hour mark, the fans looked to have had it with Gordon Strachan and called for his head during the game and the atmosphere at full time was poisonous. The consensus among the support was that there was no chance this Rangers team, led under the pragmatic dinosaur Walter Smith, could blow it now. They had won their previous thirteen league matches in a row, and the next day they visited Dundee United, set to increase the gap to nine points.
However, it was that day everything changed for them, and how fitting that it was at Tannadice, the setting for an emotional night six weeks later. The EBT Express went off the rails in Dundee, drawing 3-3 with Craig Levein’s energetic United side, who had taken the lead three times and bossed and bullied the game against them. It was the match that showed Rangers were vulnerable and the equivalent of Rocky Balboa cutting Ivan Drago. They weren’t some machine after all, and Barry Robson especially must have watched that particular game, assessing the weaknesses of their side.
Up until that match at Tannadice, they had been getting away with bullying other teams in Scotland. Their sleekit off the ball digs and overly exuberant challenges had saw them dominate games and grind out win after win despite having the creativity and flair of a Lad Bible editor and ten days after that entertaining game at Tannadice, we FINALLY played them at their own game of blood and snotters and came out on top. Barry Robson, ten seconds into the game, flung his elbow into the face of Christian Dailly and everything had changed. Rangers and their players had never experienced this Celtic team get in their faces and fight dirty, and Robson’s tactical thuggery set the tone for a vital 2-1 win, with friend of the blog Jan Vennegoor Of Hesselink scoring that iconic winner to spark wild scenes and leave this Rangers team reeling under the huge pressure of fighting on three fronts at such a crucial stage in this season.
Celtic won their next five matches, while Rangers dropped points at Easter Road and Fir Park, and against all the odds, if Celtic won at Dundee United on May 22nd, the league trophy would stay at Celtic Park!
The decider was played on a warm Thursday evening, on an emotionally charged night at Tannadice, as one week beforehand, Tommy Burns passed away, losing his life at the age of just 51.
Tommy was simply one of the men that you would automatically think of when you heard the word Celtic and he was a role model on and off the pitch for anyone connected with the club. I take pelters for asking guests who come on GIGPOD if they had a good relationship with Tommy, but it’s important to still talk up just how remarkable a man he was and at the time when he passed away, the heated and intense rivalry between both clubs fighting for the league had taken a backseat, to play respect to a guy who, in his own words, was just a supporter who got lucky enough to play fitba for us.
So, back to the game, we were all united as one and put our entire focus on backing this team, who had done us proud and mortified us in equal measure throughout the campaign, for one last push for this title. This was pre social media though, and it’s probably for the best that Twitter wasn't around then, with the minimal division among the fans being some passive aggressive rammys on Celtic messageboards.
After surviving an onslaught from the Terrors, news filtered through that Aberdeen had scored against Rangers at Pittodrie, and shortly afterwards we made the breakthrough, at long last, when a Paul Hartley corner was bulleted home by Big Jan, and when the Dons made it 2-0, we had done the unthinkable! We had done three in a row and we did it for Tommy.
To date, it’s been the last title that we have secured on the last day, and it had been the most memorable since 97/98, ten years previously. Will 2017/2018 be another last day epic won by the good guys ? Highly doubtful, as I cannot see anyone in Scottish football being able to challenge this Celtic team for a long long time. I’d love to see it go down to the wire, with us pipping whoever mounts the challenge to the post, but with the manager and squad we have in place just now, combined with the resources already at our disposal, we won’t see a final day situation any time soon.
2007/2008 – TYB, it was a belter. Eventually.