Transfer window: Scottish-based players catching the eyes of other clubs

January 30, 2018


Celtic striker Moussa Dembele’s future remains unclear
“The January transfer window will soon be closed, to the relief of many managers given that a number of Scottish-based players are attracting admiring glances. It’s a case of now or, well, the summer for clubs looking to strengthen for the season run-in or those looking to profit with players’ contracts running down. In Scotland, the days of high-profile deadline-day transfers are now few and far between. Yet in this window there remains interest in a number of players at leading clubs. Here’s a run down of the individuals likely to be in the news over the coming days…” BBC


Scottish football’s crisis of confidence

January 4, 2018

“When Alex Ferguson was appointed Billy McNeill’s successor as Aberdeen manager in the summer of 1978, it had been thirteen years since a team outside of the Old Firm were crowned champions of Scotland and the Glasgow giants had already racked up sixty seven league titles between them: their reputation as the country’s preeminent force well established. Given the weight of historical context and the fact the 36-year-old Ferguson had recently suffered the ignominy of being sacked by St. Mirren, casual observers may have expected he would ease himself gently into his new position in the North East. Those who understood the psyche of the Govan-raised firebrand knew better. …” Football Pink


Hampden custodians Queen’s Park face anxious wait over national stadium review

January 3, 2018


“Sir Alex Ferguson and Scottish FA performance director Malky Mackay – just two of the former players, and well-kent faces, who helped Scotland’s oldest football club celebrate their anniversary. But, as Queen’s Park come to the end of their 150th year, they enter 2018 needing even more influential backing as they face one of the biggest challenges to their own longevity – and that of their famous home, Hampden Park. Scottish football owes its existence to that meeting at 3 Eglinton Terrace, Glasgow, on 9 July 1867, when Queen’s Park’s first president, Mungo Ritchie, used his casting vote to choose their current name instead of The Celts. …” BBC


Celtic: Hearts deliver ‘boot up the rear’ to Rodgers’ ‘invincibles’

December 21, 2017


“Had you ventured into the Tynecastle Arms on Saturday night and asked every last Hearts fan in the place for their most optimistic scenario for the meeting with Celtic the day after, the chances are that none of their boozy dreams would have been as big and as fanciful as the trippy reality. Harry Cochrane was 10 years old the last time Hearts beat Celtic. Fellow midfielder Anthony McDonald was 11. For 20 games going back five-and-a-half years, Celtic had lorded it over them to a painful degree. Eighteen victories and two draws; 62 goals scored and nine conceded. …” BBC (Video)


Motherwell 1 Celtic 1: Scott Sinclair saves Celts’ unbeaten record with dramatic late penalty

November 30, 2017

“Celtic can take their sequence of successive unbeaten domestic games to 67 – that iconic number for the club – against Motherwell at the weekend after coming within a few minutes of defeat in Lanarkshire, where Mikael Lustig’s own goal put the Steelmen ahead. For the second time in three days against Celtic, the Fir Park outfit were undone by a penalty kick – again involving Scott Sinclair – although this time converted by the winger after Andy Rose had been judged to have fouled Callum McGregor. …” Telegraph


Hibernian 2 – 2 Celtic

October 1, 2017


Callum McGregor opened the scoring and later levelled with his sixth goal of the season
“Hibernian came close to ending Celtic’s now 58-game unbeaten domestic run on Neil Lennon’s return to his old club. The former Celtic boss saw his side fall behind to Callum McGregor’s sweet first-half strike. But two thumping goals from Scotland midfielder John McGinn put the visitors ahead with 13 minutes remaining. But they could only hold the lead for three minutes, McGregor tucking home an equaliser before Scott Sinclair went close to a late winner for the hosts. Celtic remain top of the Premiership, on goal difference from Aberdeen, while Hibs drop to sixth, but level on points with fifth-placed Motherwell. …” BBC


Premier League results: Man City win at Chelsea, Fellaini and Kane score twice

October 1, 2017

“The top three all won in the Premier League on Saturday as Manchester City defeated Chelsea in the late game to reclaim the top spot that had briefly been taken away from them earlier in the day. Kevin de Bruyne smashed a stunning second-half strike past fellow Belgian Thibaut Courtois as Manchester City leapfrogged Manchester United on goal difference with a slender 1-0 victory. …” BBC


Races tighten in La Liga, Serie A; Manchester City stumbles again

January 19, 2017

“While the Bundesliga continues to remain on break, the title races came alive in two of Europe’s other preeminent leagues as Real Madrid and Juventus both slumped to surprise defeats to reignite the drama atop La Liga and Serie A. In England, Pep Guardiola has more problems to deal with at Manchester City, which is now out of the Champions League spots and 10 points behind Chelsea in the Premier League. Meanwhile, there is a new owner in Ligue 1 at one of France’s clubs hoping to rebound and rediscover greatness. This is what caught our eye around Europe this weekend. SI


Celtic’s rivals face mission impossible; Rob Maclean picks his team of the (half) year

January 4, 2017

“The big problem for Rangers and Aberdeen in trying to play Scottish Premiership catch-up is that runaway leaders Celtic are no sitting target. Manager Brendan Rodgers had some chilling words for the chasing pack after Celtic ended 2016 with their third Old Firm win of the season so far. If they beat St Johnstone in their first game after the winter break, they’ll be 22 points clear at the top after 21 matches. Rodgers says his team, already far too good for any domestic challenge, will be even better on the back of the January shutdown. Celtic will aim to get the title won at what could be a ridiculously early stage, take their first steps towards completing a treble and further strengthen the squad for another crack at the Champions League next season.” BBC


Guardiola wants Manchester City to be perfect in crucial Barcelona clash

October 31, 2016

“Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City side they will have to play “almost perfectly” if they are not to suffer again at the hands of Barcelona and leave their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages at serious risk. Two weeks after Guardiola’s team lost 4-0 at the Camp Nou, the sides renew acquaintances in Manchester with City’s manager knowing that another defeat against his former club could have costly repercussions given the standings in Group C and the possibility of Borussia Mönchengladbach moving into second position by beating Celtic.” Guardian (Video), Guardian – Champions League


Scottish football: five things we learned at the weekend

October 31, 2016

“There promises to be one almighty scrap for runners-up spot in the Scottish Premiership. You might say it’s a bit sad if we’re getting excited about the fight for second place but Celtic are in a league of their own and next best does bring with it a place in Europe and a decent chunk of prize money. I would expect Aberdeen and Rangers to battle it out for that consolation prize but wouldn’t be shocked if Hearts or St Johnstone are contenders as well.” BBC


Rangers 0 Celtic 1

October 23, 2016

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“Celtic will play Aberdeen in the Scottish League Cup final after Moussa Dembele secured a late victory over Rangers in the Old Firm semi-final. Brendan Rodgers’ side had the better of the Hampden match with Scott Sinclair, Tom Rogic, Dembele and Stuart Armstrong drawing saves from Matt Gilks. Erik Sviatchenko had a goal disallowed for Celtic and Sinclair’s free-kick was touched on to the bar by Gilks.” BBC

Rangers 0-1 Celtic: Player ratings from Billy Dodds and Pat Bonner
“Moussa Dembele’s late goal was enough for Celtic to beat Rangers 1-0 in the Old Firm Betfred League Cup semi-final at Hampden. Brendan Rodgers’ side will face Aberdeen in the final on 27 November. Former Rangers striker Billy Dodds and ex-Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner were at Hampden and gave their verdict on the teams.” BBC

Celtic vs. Rangers – more than just a game
“The Scottish League Cup semi-final will be the latest instalment in the Old Firm rivalry, which has cemented itself as one of the fiercest games in world football. That’s because for so many people it’s more than just football, with politics, sectarianism and football making for a lethal mix. Originally, Rangers were formed in 1872, and it wasn’t until 1888 when Celtic were founded by the Irish community who had moved to Glasgow to escape conditions back in their homeland. That ensured Celtic would be the team for Irish and Catholic families, whilst Rangers had a staunch Protestant following.” Football Pink


Gulf in class evident for Barcelona, Bayern Munich in Champions League openers

September 15, 2016

“The build-up to this season’s Champions League was dominated by talk of the disparity in resources between the haves and the have nots of European football and two of the superclubs playing on the first day of this season’s group stage did nothing to dispel that. Favorites Bayern Munich and Barcelona cruised to 5-0 and 7-0 victories over Rostov and Celtic, respectively, to kick off this season’s competition in style.” SI – JONATHAN WILSON


NutMeg

September 15, 2016

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“It’s not a book, it’s not a magazine. It’s somewhere inbetween, and something completely new in Scotland: a quarterly subscription-only long-form publication filled with top-quality writers, great articles and fascinating stories. And it’s all about Scottish football.” NutMeg, Facebook, twitter


‘Celtic have disappeared off into the distance and left Rangers behind’

September 12, 2016

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“All that was missing from the home fans was the collective, and mocking, cry of ‘Ole!’ as each pass found its target. It was late in the game at Celtic Park. Rangers were one down in numbers on the field after Philippe Senderos’ red card, one down on the touchline after Davie Weir, the Rangers assistant manager, was sent to the stand, and 4-1 down on the scoreboard after Moussa Dembele scored a hat-trick and Scott Sinclair scored in his fifth successive domestic match for his new club.” BBC


Solidarity at the Stadium

September 1, 2016

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Celtic fans on August 17, 2016.
“The headlines that reported on August’s Celtic–Hapoel Ber’er Sheva football match didn’t cover the importance of the game — although it was a qualifier for the Champions League — nor the quality of the play, despite it being an entertaining encounter that Celtic won by five goals to two. Instead, it was the Celtic fans who grabbed everyone’s attention. They had been warned that if they raised the Palestinian flag inside the stadium, the Union of European Football Association (UEFA), which prohibits political messages at matches, would fine the club. There had even been rumors that police would arrest those carrying the flag.” Jacobin


Scottish Cup semi-final: Rangers v Celtic Player ratings

April 17, 2016

“Rangers are through to their second cup final of the season after beating Celtic 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra time. So how did the individual players on each side fare? Former Rangers and Scotland midfielder Stuart McCall assesses the performances of the Ibrox side, while former Celtic and Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Pat Bonner rates Ronny Deila’s players.” BBC


Former Chelsea, Everton, Tranmere and Scotland star Pat Nevin speaks to The Football Pink

April 17, 2016

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“Former Chelsea, Everton, Tranmere and Scotland star Pat Nevin speaks to Mark Godfrey of The Football Pink. He talks openly about his upbringing in Glasgow, playing for the infamous Ken Bates at Chelsea, his time on Merseyside with Everton and Tranmere, representing his country 28 times and his current life as a TV pundit and analyser. He also discusses in great length his love of music and his involvement in various political issues.” Football Pink (Video)


Drastic changes are needed at Celtic but will the board listen?

March 6, 2016

“Top of the league with ten games to go and still in with a chance to win the Scottish Cup, you would expect supporters of such a club to be happy with their lot, but this is Celtic we are talking about and expectations are not being met. Booing has replaced cheers at Celtic Park, as the stadium once dubbed Paradise is turning into a Hieronymous Bosch scene. Performances under manager Ronny Deila have been woeful, the players struggling to do even the basics of what is expected of a professional football player and above all else – there is a lack of entertainment.” Scotzine


New pretenders to the Scottish throne

February 14, 2016

“It’s a sign of the times up in Scotland when nobody seems all that bothered about one of the most newsworthy deals of the January transfer window. Rangers Football Club have finally found a near namesake of the Dutchman they’ve been singing about for decades. And this is no Pierre van Hoojidonk, or Giovanni van Bronckhorst. Young Billy King has joined the ranks at Ibrox, after decades of his namesake featuring in tattoos, verse, and T-shirts on the terraces. Billy King’s signing has been pushed out of the headlines by the performances of some of Scotland’s lesser lights and former giants rising up again to the froth of the Premier League.” Football Pink


Euro 2016 power rankings: every team assessed before draw

December 10, 2015

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“The Euro 2016 draw takes place in Paris on Saturday and Jonathan Wilson looks at all the teams, putting France at No1 and Romania at No24” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Celtic 6 – Dundee 0

September 20, 2015

“Celtic delivered a timely reminder of their commanding nature with an impressive sweeping aside of Dundee. The visitors could not suppress Celtic’s cutting edge or endeavour, and were quickly two goals behind thanks to Tom Rogic and Leigh Griffiths. Emilio Izaguirre took over the scoring after the break, striking twice and also missing a penalty. That was a rare moment of relief for a subdued Dundee, who conceded further goals to Scott Brown and Nadir Ciftci. Soon after this game kicked off, Aberdeen scored to lead 3-0 at Tynecastle. The Celtic players would have been unaware of that fact – although plenty of the home fans were following events on the other side of the country – but they are alert enough to the pressure being applied by Derek McInnes’s side.” BBC


The spirit of ’96 – When Tommy Burns’ heroes revived Celtic

September 14, 2015

“If Celtic’s great teams are measured in terms of trophies won, the 1995-96 side should have quickly become a distant memory. It is difficult to imagine parents and grandparents regaling children with tales from the season when Tommy Burns’ Celtic lost just one league game but still failed to win the league or any, in fact, any other trophy. Jock Stein’s 1967 Lisbon Lions, Billy McNeil’s 1988 Centenary double winners and Martin O’Neill’s 2001 treble winners feature more often when looking back at the great Celtic sides of the past 50 years.” backpagefootball


Celtic and the Decline of Scottish Football

September 3, 2015

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“But it looks like the decision to send the club to the bottom tier of the Scottish football pyramid may just be finally hitting home that it has been a hindrance for the overall domestic picture in a country that is worlds away from its big-spending British neighbours. If you look at the game in Scotland logically and sensibly, there is very little quality throughout the four divisions, especially in the top-flight, where it is essentially a race to finish second best behind the worst Celtic side in a long, long time.” Outside of the Boot


Champions League: Celtic weakness cruelly exposed in defeat

August 26, 2015

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“In the minutes after Celtic’s lame exit from the Champions League, the mixed zone at the Swedbank Stadium was like a hospital ward for damaged footballers. The visiting team trooped in with their pride hurting not just because of what their driven opponents from Malmo had just done to them but by what their own manager had said about them. When Ronny Deila accused his team of being ‘scared’ and ‘frightened’ on the night, it was as firm a kick to their collective solar plexus as anything the Swedes visited upon them.” BBC


An insight into Football Scouting: Interview with Neil McGuinness

August 19, 2015

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“Neil was a professional scout with Celtic for many years and has worked under Neil Lennon and Ronny Deila. He has now taken a role working for the Qatar national team at the Aspire Academy. His role there is to scout for the players who will potentially represent the Qatar team at the World Cup in 2022. He was responsible for bringing in the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Stefan Johansen in terms of signings at Celtic. We thank Neil for his time and valuable insight.” Outside of the Boot


Henrik Larsson: Humble and hungry for success as a manager

August 14, 2015

“He walks into the room overlooking the pitch at Helsingborg’s Olympia stadium, sticks out his hand and apologises for being late – about two minutes late. To most of us, it’s nothing but, then, Henrik Larsson has never been like most of us. To a footballer whose greatness was built, in part, on the back of impeccable timing, two minutes is two minutes too long. He hasn’t changed, not much at any rate. He’s 43 but still looks fit enough to waltz on to the pitch at Celtic Park and light the place up one more time. Football is now something he plays for fun with his mates once a week in an over-35s league. But his new life as a manager? That’s a different story. That’s the thing that envelops him now.” BBC


Broken Hearts looking to consolidate on their unexpected quick return

August 3, 2015

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“It’s been a rollercoaster few years for Heart of Midlothian Football Club, but after financial rescue and a surprise runaway success in the Scottish Championship last season, what are the Jambos’ realistic aims for 2015/16. MATT LESLIE looks at the campaign ahead. The new Scottish Premier League season gets under way this weekend and Hearts fans will be delighted at the return of top-flight football following a year’s absence.” Football Pink


Interview – Legendary Football Manager striker Ivica Strok

August 1, 2015

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“It’s not often a lowly football writer such as myself gets invited to interview a footballer, let alone one who is considered one of the greatest strikers of all time. So, when I was invited by CALM, a charity aimed at preventing suicide in men, to sit down with the one and only Ivica Strok naturally I jumped at the chance. Yet despite weeks of methodical research, reviewing hour upon hour of YouTube footage of the some 855 goals, picking through the numerous explosive quotes in press archives; I still felt an intense sense of trepidation. Ivica Strok is, of course, a legend of the game; a teenager from Zagreb for whom Celtic Park became a home, where, over an illustrious career, records were brushed aside and statues erected; but he’s also renowned as one of the most outspoken personalities in the game, a man who rivals Roy Keane in his candidness.” backpagefootball


Scottish Premiership ins and outs – Summer 2015

July 20, 2015

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“With Celtic, Aberdeen, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and St Johnstone all involved in European competition qualifying, several Scottish Premiership managers have a particularly short close season during which to reshape their squads. Champions Celtic are the only club with the financial muscle to splash significant amounts of cash in the transfer market and started their summer recruitment by paying £1.5m to Manchester City for central defender Dedryck Boyata. However, it is Dundee who have had the most significant turnover of playing staff so far.” BBC


Celtic – Everything’s Gone Green

June 18, 2015

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“So Celtic duly won their fourth consecutive Scottish League title in May in their first season under young Norwegian manager Ronny Deila, who had replaced the very successful Neil Lennon the previous summer. Despite this fine achievement, there was also disappointment, as the famous Glasgow club failed to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League, even though they had two bites at the cherry, having been reprieved after Legia Warsaw fielded an ineligible player, only to crash out against Slovenian champions Maribor. This was in stark contrast to previous great nights in Europe. As recently as November 2012, Celtic beat Barcelona 2-1 in front of a packed Celtic Park, as they made their way to the last 16 of the Champions League. Many believed that this would be the platform for greater things, but the club has not progressed since then, as they did not make the best use of the European cash windfall. Instead, they sold three key players at the end of that season (Victor Wanyama, Gary Hooper and Kelvin Wilson) and failed to adequately replace them.” The Swiss Ramble


Celtic cousins – How are Ireland and Scotland the same yet different?

June 13, 2015

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“At the end of a long, often arduous, domestic season for most of Europe, only in UEFA would it make sense to schedule a run of Euro 2016 qualifiers for this coming weekend, 12-14 June. Yet so it comes to pass that Ireland and Scotland clash in Dublin this evening with a huge amount at stake in Qualification Group D.” backpagefootball

Scotland fight on and dream on after messy Dublin display
“You counted them from the first minute of the Euro 2016 qualifier against the Republic of Ireland – the Scotland blunders, the moments of uncertainty, the epidemic of misplaced passes that took hold of Gordon Strachan’s team for 45 minutes. You watched some of it in disbelief and some of it in anger and confusion. Where did this weakness come from? Who stole Scotland’s serenity?” BBC


The title race that could have been

April 24, 2015

“Although most Aberdeen fans would agree that the thought of the Premiership trophy being held aloft at Pittodrie this year was far-fetched, I’m sure there will still be some wondering if this year was really their chance to do something a bit special. Aberdeen have had another fantastic season this year. While last year’s rampant revival under Derek McInnes brought them the League Cup and their highest league finish in seven years, this season the team and the club have gone a step further in taking second spot in the league. They have been consistent and ruthless in dispatching teams in the Premiership, racking up an unbelievable 19 clean sheets so far as well. This is definitely title-winning form but Celtic sit eight points ahead of the Dons with only five games to go. While nothing can be ruled out, it does appear that Aberdeen will need to settle for second place.” Scotzine


We Went There: The Return of the Old Firm Derby

February 3, 2015

“There was a certain halfheartedness to the way Celtic manager Ronny Deila celebrated his club’s victory over Rangers after the full-time whistle, performing his now customary fist-pump routine in front of his own fans. Bragging rights don’t mean so much against such helpless opposition. The blue half of Hampden Park — the age-old, neutral battleground between Glasgow’s two bitter rivals — had emptied long before, leaving behind nothing more than the lingering air of factionalism and toxic bile that comes with every Old Firm derby. Police arrested 12 fans for alleged sectarian breach of the peace, with scuffles between supporters running into the night across the city.” Grantland


When all the off-field distractions are set aside, Ireland to edge a tight encounter

November 14, 2014

“This was a fixture that, from the outset, seemed destined to be overshadowed by events off the field rather than the actual football being played. There was always bound to be a hostile reception for Glasgow-born Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy on their first visit to the city in the green of Ireland – though Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, to his credit, did his best to defuse the situation by calling for a ‘pantomime’ atmosphere. McCarthy’s withdrawal owing to a persistent hamstring injury – the same injury that kept him out of the previous games with Gibraltar and Germany – has defused the situation somewhat, though McGeady is likely to receive a mixed reception at the stadium he elated for years with Celtic. Wednesday night’s bizarre scenes whereupon a known associate of Jack Charlton managed to do himself a mischief, which required hospital treatment, while making some sort of elaborate protest against Roy Keane has added an uncalled-for element of the bizarre.” backpagefootball

Gordon Strachan v Martin O’Neill: More than Celtic connections
“Football followers with a romantic notion could be forgiven for finding themselves overwhelmed by Scotland’s meeting with the Republic of Ireland on Friday. Martin O’Neill, if anyone needs reminding, returns to Celtic Park, a stadium where he was, and still is, worshipped for the success he brought to the club. He will come up against his successor as Celtic manager, Gordon Strachan, who, though not held in quite the same regard by the supporters as O’Neill, nevertheless achieved a great deal in his time in charge.” BBC


Remember the name: Celtic’s cult-hero & Sweden’s golden boy, Henrik Larsson

November 3, 2014

“For fifteen years Swedish lower-league side Högaborgs was the home of one Henrik Larsson. The prolific striker joined the club when he was just six years old and worked his way up to the senior side where he made his debut at age 17. He scored 23 goals during his three years in the first team before a trial at Benfica (then coached by Swedish manager Sven-Göran Eriksson) led to his departure in 1992.” Outside of the Boot


The sporadic Scottish football round-up: First installment

September 24, 2014

“Hello and welcome to the first of a semi-regular review of the Scottish football season so far by your friend in pie Meat Filled Pastries (@MFPTasty). So what’s been happening up north, well apart from the whole referendum business in many respects it’s business as usual, well almost. Let’s review. European competition is something that starts in July and finishes in August north of the border, St. Johnstone repeated last years feat of beating a team that some people of heard of only to be knocked out by a team only yours truly and anyone looking for Slovakian bargains in Football Manger will have heard of while Motherwell went one better and didn’t even bother winning a game against a team nobody had ever heard of. Aberdeen fared better comfortably beating Daugava Riga, who one assumes were part of Latvia’s attempts to integrate rugby into their national sporting curriculum, before perhaps getting the best Scottish result in Europe so far this season by beating Groningen over two legs.” The Football Pink


Soccer Fans Supply Strong Voice in Scottish Independence Debate

September 15, 2014

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“In this city defined by the rivalry between its two biggest soccer clubs — Celtic and Rangers — there were no team colors on display Sunday night as fans filtered into a gloomy pub to watch Scotland play Germany in its first qualifying game for the 2016 European Championship. There is, however, more than soccer to talk about at the moment. Scotland is wound tight, waiting to uncoil next week, when the country will vote on whether it should be independent from Britain. The debate has generated the kind of tension and engagement usually reserved for soccer rivalries in Scotland, and in fact the country’s stadiums have become key battlegrounds for the yes and no campaigns.” NY Times

Scotland – when politics and football clash
“The Scotland independence referendum centers mainly on political and social issues, but as is often the case, the implications run far below the surface. One such area is the beautiful game itself. While many follow football in an attempt to forget about the problems of the world, the current climate in Scotland makes it impossible to ignore the reality of the impending referendum – from aggressive chants to verbal attacks on Scottish players, Scotland’s football takes first stage on the referendum.” backpagefootball


Celtic manager Ronny Deila urges authorities to look at Scandinavian model when scheduling league calendar

August 24, 2014

“As Ronny Deila prepares his Celtic side for Tuesday’s crucial return leg of the Champions League play-off against Maribor – at stake is a place in the group stage for the third successive season – the Parkhead manager called for Scottish football to give itself a better chance of European success by moving the domestic season into line with the Scandinavian leagues. Deila has made plain his concern about Celtic’s pre-season commitments – he claimed that they contributed to player fatigue in the 6-1 qualifying defeat against Legia Warsaw, which was overturned because the Poles fielded an ineligible player – and he expanded the theme when musing upon the implications of success against Maribor.” Telegraph


Scottish football: Who will win what in season 2014-15?

August 9, 2014

“The new Scottish football season is just hours away and there have been some major changes since this time last year. No Neil Lennon in the Celtic dugout after leading the Parkhead men to three successive titles. A top-flight without Hearts and Hibernian after both suffered relegation last term. The promotion of Dundee at the end of last season does, however, mean they will face city rivals Dundee United in highly-anticipated derby matches in the Premiership. And the top flight’s loss is the Championship’s gain in terms of the Edinburgh derby, with the two capital clubs joining Rangers in what should be a hotly-contested battle for promotion. So, how will the new campaign pan out? Here, BBC Scotland reporters and pundits offer their opinions on who will take the four league titles and the two major cups.” BBC


New characters introduced to familiar Premiership story

August 7, 2014

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“Unpredictability remains the most elusive quality in the Scottish Premiership. Nobody supposes that Celtic will fail to win the title for the fourth consecutive season, even if there is a new manager in place who will have to adapt to working in a different country as well as at a new club. The presence of Ronny Deila at Celtic Park does, though, add diversity to the intrigue that the top flight is capable of. The Norwegian suffered a major setback as Celtic were eliminated from the Champions League at the third qualifying round stage on Wednesday against Legia Warsaw. He must now hope that the effects of that disappointment do not linger.” BBC


World War One: Sporting stories of bravery recalled 100 years on

August 5, 2014

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Heart of Midlothian started the 1914-1915 season with a 2-0 victory over Celtic after giving their all.
“They were the sporting stars of yesteryear. Captains, team-mates, local heroes. Many of them went from the playing field to the battlefields of World War One, never to return. Monday marks the 100th anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war on Germany. It was at 23:00 on 4 August 1914 that Britain entered into one of the costliest conflicts in history, and the fighting continued until 11 November 1918. Here, BBC Sport recalls some notable stories – from whole teams who joined the armed forces to a modern-day international inspired by his ancestors’ wartime deeds.” BBC

Hearts, the team that went to war for Britain
“On 4 August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. Eleven days later a full house at Tynecastle cheered Heart of Midlothian to victory over Celtic, the defending champions beaten by the young pretenders of the Scottish game. War seemed a long way off on that summer’s afternoon; somewhere for a foreign field, not the football field.” Independent


Scottish Premiership ins and outs – summer 2014

July 21, 2014

“The World Cup has not even ended and yet the new season is already looming large for Scotland’s top club sides. Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes in particular has had little time to sit back and enjoy the action from Brazil, never mind the summer sunshine, with his charges first into action on Thursday 3 July, when they hosted Daugava Riga in the first round of Europa League qualifying. McInnes moved early to secure goalkeeper Scott Brown from Cheltenham Town and defender Ash Taylor from Tranmere Rovers while turning Shaleum Logan’s loan from Brentford into a permanent move.” BBC


The Quality Steet Gang: The Greatest Celtic Team That Never Was

March 24, 2014

“As the ink dried on his Anfield contract in August 1977 and another record-breaking cheque was inevitably cashed by the Parkhead powerbrokers, the departure of Kenny Dalglish signalled the end of a golden era at Celtic Park. Only ten years earlier, his green and white hooped predecessors had blazed a trail around Europe, bringing the ‘Big Cup’ home to British shores for the first time after a spectacular, quintessentially underdog victory against the mighty Internazionale of Milan. In just two years, Jock Stein had worked his own brand of sorcery on this hitherto unspectacular group of footballers and crafted them into the champions of Europe with only the minimum of domestic acquisitions. But as he stood at the pinnacle of European football, Stein already had designs on Celtic’s next generation of home-grown talent.” In Bed With Maradona


‘Hardest Bastards in Football.’ Neil Lennon

March 12, 2014

“Born in Lurgan, Northern Ireland in 1971, Neil Lennon is a true Celtic fan. From his youth he set his heart on one leading his beloved Glasgow club to the top spot in Scotland. Well, it now seems certain that Lennon will be doing that again this season, seemingly for the umpteenth time and after years of turning out solid performances as a player and then subsequently as manager. It has though, not been the safest of jobs over recent years and it is for this reason that Neil Lennon is being inducted.” The Illustrated Game


The art of the goalkeeper well and truly mastered in Scotland

February 27, 2014

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Craig Gordon
“The keeper: the last line of defence. With a hapless player between the sticks conceding goals comes easily, winning games does not. In Scotland something seems to be working its magic on the training pitch, with a succession of keepers receiving great plaudits and having much success. Jim Leighton; Andy Goram; Craig Gordon. All names which send the Tartan Army dizzy with delight. But why, with the recent failings of the national side as a whole, can the goalkeeper always be relied on with a sense of pride? It is a fact that has been overlooked by the big national media corporations; when the English bemoan the errors from Joe Hart, Scotland’s keepers continue to provide standout performances.” Backpage Football


The Far Post: In Glasgow, a Rival’s Lament

December 12, 2013

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“Last year the sad, mad, brutal and beautiful series known as Celtic versus Rangers came to an end after an unbroken 125-year run. Proud Rangers—one of the oldest, grandest, richest clubs in world football—simply ran out of money. The reasons why this happened would not be unfamiliar to sports-watchers anywhere on earth: greed, envy, and overspending all played a role. There were unique local wrinkles—the Scottish media all but ignored the calamity at the same time as it was being masterfully reported and dissected by anonymous bloggers, especially the unnamed author of a suspiciously well-informed blog called Rangers Tax Case. But the demise of the august club, which was sent to the lowest league in Scotland last year, raises more universal questions for those of us who, like the RTC blogger and me, wear Celtic’s green colours. Should we gloat? Should we grieve? What does it mean to support a team whose greatest and only rival is gone?” ROADS & KINGDOMS


Celtic suspend fans after damage to Motherwell’s Fir Park

December 9, 2013

“Celtic have suspended 128 fans from their matches and relocated 250 season-ticket holders following damage caused to Motherwell’s Fir Park on Friday. Seats in the South Stand were damaged while smoke bombs and flares were also thrown during Celtic’s 5-0 win. The Green Brigade group of fans on Sunday said it regretted the scenes and admitted that it should have better policed its section of supporters.” BBC


Tommy Burns: the man who bridged the Old Firm divide

November 17, 2013

“The more-than-a-century old rivalry between Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers is well established in the minds of football fans the world over. The colourful, boisterous, sometimes violent, scenes when the two sides meet are Scottish footballs biggest export, beamed to millions of people in hundreds of places from New York to New Caledonia and beyond.” World Soccer


Tommy Burns: Bigger Than the Old Firm

November 13, 2013

“The more-than-a-century old rivalry between Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers is well established in the minds of football fans the world over. The colourful, boisterous, sometimes violent, scenes when the two sides meet are Scottish footballs biggest export, beamed to millions of people in hundreds of places from New York to New Caledonia and beyond. The social, cultural and religious backdrop, the almost monopoly-like vice on Scottish silverware and the close proximity of the two clubs to one another does nothing to alleviate the ferocity of the Old Firm Derby, rightly considered among the top three derbies in world football by Sky Sports, World Soccer, Fox Soccer and several other well-respected media outlets. Yet despite the omnipresent hostility and well pronounced divide one man was so well-regarded that he could command respect in both camps, a rare feat, which arguably made him bigger than the ‘Old Firm’ label given to the two clubs. His name was Tommy Burns.” In Bed With Maradona


Celtic churn out mature Champions League win over Ajax

October 24, 2013

“The 2-1 victory over Ajax was achieved not as the result of a vintage performance by Celtic but one that reeked of Champions League know-how. Where last season Neil Lennon’s inexperienced side failed to defeat a very beatable Benfica team in their first outing, this time round they churned out a win that gives them genuine hope of repeating last year’s feat of reaching the last 16. Lennon may have lost the services of enormously important players like Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper since the last campaign, but there are increasing signs that, on this stage, Celtic now have a maturity that might yet compensate for the loss of such talent.” BBC


Cesc Fábregas seals Barcelona win after Celtic’s Scott Brown is sent off

October 2, 2013

“It is a stern enough test to face Barcelona with 11 men, let alone 10. Celtic discovered precisely that. Anger was the overwhelming emotion in Glasgow’s east end after the dismissal of the Celtic captain, Scott Brown, proved the defining moment of a taut encounter. Brown’s departure on the hour was sufficient to hand Barcelona the impetus they needed to secure victory by a single Cesc Fábregas goal. It was a success they barely merited from a match that regressed into the realms of the bad tempered for the closing 30 minutes.” Guardian

Barcelona struggle without their Messi-ah
“Considering Lionel Messi plays in a squad of all the talents, Barcelona as one-man team might seem a far-fetched concept. However, many a footballing force has faded without its main man. Ajax fell sharply once Johan Cruyff departed in the 1970s; only recently have Napoli become a European force since the 1991 day when Diego Maradona fled Neapolitan life in drug-fuelled disgrace; Manchester United have never been quite the same after losing Cristiano Ronaldo.” ESPN


Bojan still struggling to find his feet

September 18, 2013

“It certainly isn’t the group of death; it’s not even the second-most exciting group in this season’s Champions League. But there was something rather magical about Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax and Celtic — four previous European Cup winners — being drawn together in Group H. Even before Celtic, from the fourth pot, were drawn alongside their more illustrious opponents, the three other sides together already provided an intriguing group. There’s the ideological link between Barcelona and Ajax, and past finals between Barca and Milan (1994) and Ajax and Milan (1995).” ESPN – Michael Cox


Anthony Stokes inspires a fine 3-1 away victory for Celtic at Hearts

September 14, 2013

“Even with Hearts in their current, diminished state, Celtic would never hand-pick a trip to Tynecastle immediately before a Champions League tie. What that in mind, Neil Lennon can consider this as a job well done in Edinburgh. The Celtic manager watched his players claim a victory they deserved over a Hearts side who, in fairness, offered more resistance than could have been expected. Gary Locke, the Hearts manager, is worthy of continued credit for his guidance of the administration-hit club as those off the field edge towards a deal which should return local ownership to these parts by Christmas.” Guardian


Celtic’s fightback against Inverness shows we can beat Shakhter Karagandy, says Scott Brown

August 27, 2013

“Unless Celtic’s players produce their best performance of the campaign to dislodge Shakhter Karagandy from their 2-0 advantage at the halfway stage of the Champions League play-offs, it looks as though inspiration will have to come from another capacity crowd in the east end of Glasgow when the Kazakhs arrive for the return on Wednesday.” Telegraph


Loving Arsenal, Away From the Numbers

August 17, 2013

“I spent the weekend in the most pleasant way an Arsenal fan can spend a weekend that falls within the summer transfer window: perusing YouTube for a contact high off the fumes of past glories. The complete Invincibles season. The wizardry of Dennis Bergkamp. Legends of the Premier League: Thierry Henry. Cesc Fábregas ‘Pass Master’ compilations. Michael Thomas’s stoppage-time goal-into-breakdance-windmill/caterpillar-celebration as Arsenal win the league over Liverpool at Anfield on the final day — the final seconds! — of the 1988-89 season.” Grantland


The new Scottish Premiership season – the fans’ view

August 2, 2013

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“At the start of the new season, the first of the Scottish Professional Football League, how are the fans viewing their teams’ chances? We spoke to supporters of all 12 clubs in the top flight – rebranded as the Scottish Premiership – to find out how they thought the season would go.” BBC


Celtic’s Saturday Afternoon At Brentford

July 29, 2013

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“Apparently, last Saturday, I and hundreds of others went on a hooligan rampage and “destroyed” the West London suburb of Brentford, while attending a pre-season ‘friendly’ between weakened sides from Brentford’s League One club and current Scottish champions, Celtic. That last event was actually how I spent my Saturday afternoon; which I why I was very surprised to discover my role in the first. Let’s get some things straight straightaway. The behaviour of the 6,000+ Celtic fans at Brentford was raucous and loud both outside and inside their Griffin Park ground. Some of it was, frankly, wrong; fireworks and drunks on the pitch during the game, for example. However, I would be hard pushed to describe it as worse than the behaviour of many of the football crowds I have observed in, ulp, 40 years watching the game at various levels. In fact, in some aspects it was fabulous. And I would certainly not describe it in the emotive terms used by others of a, shall we say, non-Celtic persuasion – many of whom were nowhere near London, let alone Brentford, last Saturday.” twohundredpercent


A Plea for a Scottish Football Pyramid

June 11, 2013

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“For now, we should be grateful, in spite of the ravages brought about by parachute payments, that movement up and down the divisions in England is a relatively fluid process and generally based on achievement on the pitch. Not so North of the Border. Here, Niall Slater, a man who previously exposed the far right leanings of Paolo Di Canio a full two years before anyone in the mainstream media became interested and serves as front man of emerging beat combo and stars of the upcoming Truck Music Festival Dallas Don’t puts pen to paper having tired of bending people’s earholes in person on the subject of the Scottish pyramid – or lack of. And he doesn’t support Celtic or Rangers…” twounfortunates


How is wrestling at corners interpreted in different European leagues?

February 13, 2013

“… If you are English and ask anybody in Russia about wrestling at corners, the discussion inevitably turns to a World Cup qualifier in Ljubljana in 2001. With the score at 1-1, Slovenia won a last-minute corner. The referee, Graham Poll, twice prevented it being taken to warn Russian defenders about shirt holding. When the corner finally came in, Viacheslav Daev tussled with Zeljko Milinovic and Poll, his patience gone, gave a penalty. While shirt-pulling and wrestling certainly goes on in the Russian league, the hangover from that decision means that it is seen as very much a British obsession. Jonathan Wilson” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson