Celtic Supporters Celebrate Their Past And Look To The Future
Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of attending the latest in an increasingly long line of events hosted by the “Celtic Graves Society” to commemorate Celts, both players and staff alike, who are no longer with us. Having been to a number of these now, the increase in the number of attendees has been a joy to behold, and I am sure the popularity of such gatherings will only lead to more and more people coming along in future.
Fergus McCann’s presence at both Kilsyth Cemetary and later at Celtic Park were very much appreciated by the majority of the support, and having helped to save Celtic Football Club in one of its darkest hours, I believe he was due each of the warm welcomes which he received.
As for the man we gathered to remember, I have no doubts that Jimmy Quinn would have been a footballing sight to behold had any of us been fortunate enough to have seen him play. Finishing his career with 216 goals to his name in 331 appearances for Celtic, he remains the Football Club’s second highest league goalscorer, second only to the indomitable Jimmy McGrory. Rightly so, he is often remembered for his sensational 1904 Scottish Cup Final hat-trick which dragged the Hoops back from two goals down to deny Rangers their second consecutive triumph in the tournament. However, there was so much more to the man who helped Celtic to a then record breaking six Scottish League Championships in succession, and I would urge anyone with an interest in the subject to read some of the litany of work which has been written about his exploits over the years. Trust me, you will not regret it, for the man was a Celtic legend worthy of a title which is perhaps banded about too often in the modern day.
A few hours later, everyone at Celtic Park and all of those watching on television or computer screens around the world were treated to the best Celtic performance of the season so far. Few would have predicted such an assured performance and dominant scoreline prior to kickoff, especially when one considered that Dundee United have already registered victories against both Aberdeen and Motherwell so far this season, keeping clean sheets on both previous outings. However, those bold, optimistic few who predicted a big home victory were proven right in remarkable fashion, as Celtic drove their way forward to a six-one win. Goals from debutant Jason Denayer, Kris Commons and Stefan Johansen gave the Celts a three-nil lead at half time. Two of these three scores came from corner kicks, but one of the most fluent passages of play came in the run-up to Jo Inge Berget’s shot which crashed off the crossbar. As is illustrated below, clever interplay between the Honduran full-back Emilio Izaguirre and the Norwegian midfielder Stefan Johansen propelled the ball up the left wing, before a deft pass through the heart of the Dundee United defence from Anthony Stokes set up Berget, who was unlucky not to score his first Celtic goal.
Critically, the team showed a determination and desire which has been missing at points during earliest days of the 2014-15 season, and this was reflected in the rousing standing ovation received by the home side as they strode off the field at half-time. Subsequently, instead of resting on their laurels and playing out the remaining forty-five minutes in a conservative manner, the Celts continued where they had left off, almost adding to their tally within minutes of the restart. Again, when the goals did arrive, two came from set pieces, with Anthony Stokes free kick beating everybody in the box and Jo Inge Berget powering home a header for his first Celtic goal sometime later. Finally, with only moments left in the tie, a breakaway started by Jason Denayer and James Forrest led to a second goal for Berget.
With every passing fixture, it is becoming clear that Ronny Deila is gradually beginning to stamp his mark on Celtic not only in the squads which he selects, but in the manner his sides attempt to play. These are likely the first small steps towards a distant footballing vision for the new Celtic manager, but after Saturday’s performance, few within the fan base will not be feeling more positive than they were a week or two ago. All in all, it was a fine day all around in Kilsyth and Glasgow, and now focus turns to Slovenia and Maribor. If the mood within the Celtic support is anything to go by, the players and coaching staff will have been buoyed by yesterday’s display as we all have. We can only hope that our reinstatement to the UEFA Champions League qualifiers will pay off.