Aug 282013

125 Years of August 28th


Tommy Callaghan scores a cracker at Ibrox 1971


And so, here we are, hours away from Celtic’s biggest game of the season so far. We all know that our visitors, Shakhter Karagandy, currently hold a two-nil lead, but what does history have to tell us about August 28th and a Belgian roller coaster?

Well, Celtic will play their twenty-fifth match on August 28th tonight. Previously, the Hoops have made twenty-four appearances on this date, winning sixteen games, drawing four and losing four.

Of these sixteen victories, Celtic have won ten of these by a margin of three goals or more, with notably large victories against Airdrieonians, Queen’s Park, Third Lanark, East Fife, Dunfermline and Brechin City coming along the way. 1971 also saw a comprehensive three-nil victory over Rangers at Ibrox (pictured above).

In fact, the Hoops have scored seventy-three times in these twenty-four matches (an average of 3.04 goals per game), conceding twenty-three (an average of 0.96 per game), and have only lost once on this date since the end of World War Two.

Regardless, what does this all have to do with Belgium? Well, on August 28th 1997, a group of twenty-six people were trapped on a roller coaster in the country as the vehicle came to an abrupt halt midway through a loop, leaving all of the passengers hanging upside down for approximately ninety minutes.

Now, that same ride had done it’s job countless times previously, but for some reason it went on the fritz that day.

Equally well, most people (bookmakers included) expected Celtic to travel to Kazakhstan and come away with a victory, and if not that, a draw. Likewise, most folks thought Celtic would score an away goal.

And yet, despite that, Celtic lost by two goals to nil to a side most people had never even heard of prior to this season (let alone seen).

In a sense, we tried to zip through a loop on the roller coaster track in front of us and we got stuck at the top, which is where we find ourselves today – hanging upside down after ninety minutes, unsure of whether we will push forwards and race into the lucrative, prestigious Champions League, or roll backwards to it’s little brother, the Europa League.

One thing is certain though, later tonight, the roller coaster will start to move again once more – the atmosphere at Celtic Park will be electric, and countless more will find themselves screaming at television screens across the globe – I just hope we move in the right direction.



Below, you can find all of the results from Celtic’s previous outings on the 28th August:

lost 1-0 v hibs 1909
won 5-0 v airdrieonians 1915
won 2-1 v aberdeen 1920 (McStay penalty wins the day for the Celts)
won 6-1 v queen’s park 1926
won 6-0 v third lanark 1935 (hat-trick from Jimmy McGrory)
lost 2-1 v kilmarnock 1937
won 3-2 v queen’s park 1940
lost 3-1 v partick thistle 1943
drew 2-2 v hamilton 1946
won 2-1 v hearts 1948 (two goals from McPhail are enough to see the Celts triumph)
drew 2-2 v falkirk 1954
won 6-1 v east fife 1957
won 3-0 v dundee united 1965
won 3-0 v morton 1968
won 3-0 v rangers 1971 (Dalglish, Callaghan and Lennox silence the Ibrox crowd)
drew 3-3 v arbroath 1972
drew 2-2 v motherwell 1974
won 2-1 v arboath 1976
won 7-1 v dunfermline 1982
won 7-0 v brechin 1985
won 1-0 v partick 1993
lost 2-0 v basel 2002
won 4-0 v dunfermline 2005
won 2-0 v st mirren 2011 (two early goals from Gary Hooper give Celtic the victory)

Aug 272013

Celtic Prepare For Their Biggest Game Of The Season So Far



Welcome to 2013-14. Yes, whilst several domestic leagues are only entering their second or third weeks, Celtic are preparing to face Shakhter Karagandy once again in their ninth competitive match so far this season. With a two-nil deficit, several injury concerns, a lack of goals and a propensity for some defensive slackness of late, things could certainly be better at Celtic Park.

However, hope springs eternal.

Whilst Celtic had to make one of the longest conceivable away trips in ‘European’ football last week (I use the word ‘European’ loosely considering Kazakhstan is an Asian country), their opponents, who are currently staying in an Argyle Street hotel and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city, have now had to do the same.

Now, there has been much talk of ritual sacrifice and “One Direction” today (sigh), but the match tomorrow is, of course, the only thing we should all be concerned about this evening. With an incredible amount at stake (and I don’t just mean financially), tomorrow’s match will have a significant bearing on Celtic’s season, regardless of the result.

On Twitter today, the general mood seems to take one of two forms – nervousness and confidence – and in many cases, the two are mixed together to some degree. Having asked how people were feeling about the match on the aforementioned social media site, this became very clear, with certain supporters saying they were “not the slightest bit nervous” whilst others told me they were “concerned” and even “terrified”.

Leaving that point for a moment, let us look at history. Celtic have found themselves returning to Celtic Park two-nil down from an away leg four times in European competition. On three of these four occasions, against F.C. Koln (1992-93), Sporting (1983-84) and St Etienne (1968-69), the Hoops have been successful with regards progressing to the next stage of the competition. Only Real Sociedad (1982-83) have managed to defend their two-nil lead.

Now, no Kazakh side has ever reached the group stages of the Champions League. Undoubtedly, this is the best chance a team like Karagandy have ever had, and they will know that. The attitudes they embrace tomorrow night will likely contribute to the eventual outcome of this fixture.

If they are cool, confident and composed, then it will take a monumental performance from Celtic to overturn the deficit. However, if they are nervous or uneasy, they will be much more likely to make mistakes which the home side will (hopefully) be able to capitalise on.

For this reason, everyone in attendance tomorrow night will likely do their best to make Celtic Park as hostile an atmosphere for the visitors to play in as possible. Of course, if the Celtic players do not perform themselves then all of this will likely be in vain.

Personally, I feel that history is on our side, statistics are on our side and the vast majority of the support will be on our side, but critically, at this point, the scoreline is most certainly not. The players on the park must stand up and give their all in an attempt to change that.

It isn’t a case of all or nothing tomorrow night, as the Europa League would provide a safety net of sorts should the worst happen, but in terms of finance and prestige, the gap between the two competitions is huge. Nobody will even want to consider that at this stage.

The time for talking is almost over. Let’s do this Celtic.



P.S. After a lengthy absence, I’m delighted to say that the website will be updated and back to normal in the coming weeks, with articles and content being added at the same pace as in previous seasons. Included in this will be our annual charitable appeal, information for upcoming away trips to Europe and a couple of interviews with some rather interesting people. Oh, and more about pies.

Thank you all, as ever, for your support.

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