Celtic’s unprecedented cup run is now consigned to history.
“Don’t cry that it’s over, smile because it happened.”
It’s an idiom that’s more common on dishtowels and fridge magnets, but sometimes clichés are used for a reason.
Celtic fans are now left to reflect on a glorious era in the club’s history. The 35-game run in Scotland’s domestic competitions was a gift, rather than an expectation. It was going to end at some time.
In fact, maybe it’s better to have ended it at an empty Celtic Park than a bouncing Hampden. That might’ve been harder to take.
Still, there are so many great moments to reflect upon. There’s also the small matter of a Scottish Cup Final to look ahead to this month. It doesn’t have to be all misery; let’s look at the best bits from the Treble Treble.
James Forrest v Aberdeen
Betfred Cup Final, 27/11/16
Celtic really never looked like losing their first Cup Final under Brendan Rodgers.
In complete control from the first whistle, Rodgers’ Bhoys kept the Dons quiet with crisp passing in the midfield. Tom Rogic was at his clinical best (you’ll see more of him later), but it’s this finish from James Forrest that’s the pick here.
Receiving the ball barely into Aberdeen’s half, Forrest had a lot to do here. Marauding forward, the winger suddenly found himself just inside the 18-yard-box. With three Aberdeen players tracking his run and Moussa Dembelé on his left, Forrest takes the shot on.
Inevitably, it’s a corker. Driven low past Joe Lewis in the Dons goal, Aberdeen heads all over Hampden drop. This was the goal that settled any Celtic nerves, and gave the Bhoys a comfortable lead in Mount Florida.
Fun Fact: Kolo Touré made the bench for this final, one of two medals given out in the legendary Ivorian’s final season as a professional. While he didn’t make the bench for the Scottish Cup Final, he can take comfort from his two FA Cup and and one African Cup of Nations medals.
Tom Rogic v Aberdeen
Scottish Cup Final, 21/5/17
I don’t know about you, but I watch this goal back relatively often.
It had everything, didn’t it? The lightning bolt, Craig Gordon’s collapse of relief, Tom Rogic running into the crowd. It’s a beautiful moment for any Celtic supporter, and a particularly painful one for the Dons.
Aberdeen were no passengers in this match. When Johnny Hayes converted in the 9th minute of this Scottish Cup Final, it looked like Celtic still had the Hampden jitters.
Armstrong drew us level two minutes later, but from the 12th minute to the 90th, this was an immensely nerve-wracking fixture. Both teams had chances and really should’ve scored more.
Tom Rogic, who scored in that season’s Betfred Cup Final, won’t have planned this moment any better. It’s cliché to say that this was destiny, but in that moment, it really felt like someone upstairs was directing the action.
Watch it again and try not to feel something. I’ll give you a minute.
See? I told you. It still works.
Fun Fact: Tom Rogic won a competition to become a footballer in 2011. Starring alongside 7 other young hopefuls in Nike’s The Chance, Rogic impressed and won the opportunity to live and train as a footballer for a year. Sirike Dembélé, Karamoko’s older brother, did the same after disappointing spells with Dundee United and Ayr United.
Kieran Tierney comes back to lift the Cup
Scottish Cup Final, 21/5/17
If any moment summarises KT’s time at Celtic, it’s surely this one.
After taking a horrific elbow from ex-Aberdeen bruiser Jayden Stockley, Tierney needed dental surgery to straighten his teeth, as well as stitches to his lips and gums.
The left-back and boyhood Celtic fan surely wouldn’t be back to see Celtic lift the Scottish Cup; the Bhoys were 1-0 down at the time. Winning this game wasn’t a given.
However, through the aforementioned touch of magic from Rogic, Celtic sealed the Treble under Brendan Rodgers, in his first season at the club.
Tierney told the whole story to Open Goal, and if you’ve not heard this anecdote before, where have you been?
KT’s personal dentist, a Celtic supporter, just happened to be at the Final. Rushing to the dressing room, he took charge, making it clear that Tierney’s injuries would require immediate surgery.
In a daze, after listening to much of the Final on the radio, Tierney managed to pull himself up the Hampden stairs, through crowds of disappointed Aberdeen supporters. Eventually getting into the national stadium, he got his hands on the trophy and was the last to receive a medal.
If anything summed up the spirit of that team, it was this exact moment. We still miss Kieran Tierney.
Fun Fact: Kieran Tierney was born in Douglas, Isle of Mann. The Isle of Mann is the first place in the world recognised to have given women the vote, in 1881.
Marvin Compper’s moment in the sun
Scottish Cup 6th Round, 03/03/18
It wasn’t all Hampden Cup Finals and confetti, you know.
Celtic had to earn Cup success just like everyone else; playing through the rounds and facing teams like Greenock Morton.
In March 2018, the most unlikely scenario occured: German centre-back Marvin Compper saw action for Celtic. Not only that, the Bhoys kept a clean sheet.
I don’t know if we’ll know for a long time what happened with the big defender at Celtic. Signed for around £1m in December 2017, Big Marv said all the right things. He talked about silverware, Celtic being “kind of a religion” and doing his best.
Ultimately, he didn’t really get a look-in.
Nevertheless, Compper did have his moment in the sun. Celtic fans will remember where they were years from now when they’re asked about Celtic’s 6th round defeat of Morton. Many will say “not at Celtic Park”. It was by no means a sell-out.
Still, it’s important to recognise everyone that took part in the Treble Treble. Here’s looking at you, Jeremy Toljan, Dorus de Vries, Christian Gamboa and perhaps most inspiringly of all, Marvin Compper.
Fun Fact: Marvin Compper was born in Tübingen, Germany. German writer Johann Goethe briefly stayed in town, and his visit is commemorated by a plaque that says “Hier kotzte Goethe” (Goethe puked here))
Edouard seals it
Scottish Cup Final, 25/05/19
Where were you when this went in?
I can remember vividly; the Hoops Bar on the Gallowgate, with my Dad. We just looked at each other in total shock for a millisecond, before jumping in to each other’s arms. The pub was so loud in that moment, it was as if a plane was taking off.
It’s probably my favourite moment of being a football fan in general. Barcelona was wild. Stopping the 10 in 97-98 was beautiful. Venegoor of Hesselink’s heroics at Tannadice is up there. Nakamura v Man United. Countless Larsson strikes, all worthy contenders.
However, in terms of the utter dominance Celtic had, this was a defining moment. We had been chasing the game for large spells, but with one Lustig pass, Hearts were broken. Edouard calmly slotted home and in the 82nd minute of a difficult game at Hampden, Celtic were prospective Treble Treble winners.
A lot of folk who support other Scottish clubs say that we should expect to be this dominant. The wages we pay, the signings we make, Rangers being way off it for most of the decade… it should be easy, right?
Well, no. You see, it’s not quite as simple as that. Football isn’t a game of Monopoly. Sure, Celtic would have been expected to win this Final. That said, being expected to do it and actually doing it are two very different things.
Just for a second, ignore the noise. Disregard everything that’s happening with Celtic in this moment, and instead, revel in this one. This was the moment of the Treble Treble. We might never see anything like this again.
Fun Fact: Edouard famously said in an interview with CelticTV “I don’t book”, in reference to reading. Actually, the Frenchman has been booked: 9 times in his professional career at the time of writing.