"Let's not do the huddle"; Celtic pre-match ritual off cards for now

By Euan Davidson

January 16, 2021

Callum McGregor couldn’t get his players to do the legendary Celtic Huddle on Monday night.

Today, that looks like it’ll continue to be the case. The iconic pre-match ritual looks to be out of bounds for the foreseeable, with football authorities clamping down on physical contact.

McGregor, who led the team against Hibs earlier in the week (BBC), had to help his youthful colleagues through the game, and a pre-match Huddle might have helped to settle any nerves. As it was, an improvised, distanced version was used.

The Celtic academy graduate spoke about the advice he was given about the Huddle. He said (Daily Record):

“Our Covid guy, the physio and Tim Williamson asked us to do that. We just try to show and do the right things as much as possible.

“For the Livingston match I will just take the directive from the club again. I will see what we can do and then take it from there. It’s their decision.”

“It was strange but I just tried to keep it short. It loses a bit of its appeal when you aren’t that close together.

“I tried to do most of the talking before the game and then it’s about the football when we get on the pitch.

“But the Huddle is symbolic in terms of Celtic so we want to keep that going, even we can’t do it properly. We will just take it on a game by game basis.”

Celtic did an improvised huddle on Monday night / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic v Livingston: huddle and celebrations ruled out

Tony Mowbray brought the Huddle to the club during his spell in the early 90s (Celtic Wiki). The future Celtic manager felt that it would represent a show of unity to the supporters, galvanising the starting XI and intimidating the opposition.

Obviously, it’s become a huge part of Celtic’s pre-match routine. In normal circumstances, the huddle is met with roars of approval from supporters, both home and away.

It’ll be sad and unfamiliar to see the Bhoys not taking part in the ritual before kick-off against Livingston today, especially in circumstances which would benefit from the gesture.

Goal celebrations have also been called into question as Covid causes further football mayhem. Gavin Strachan offered a funny response to criticism of post-goal antics, which football authorities have been looking to stamp out temporarily.

Strachan said yesterday (Celtic FC/YouTube):

“Having been there and… not scored that many goals, I know the feeling when you do score a goal, sometimes the adrenaline takes over a little bit. But they will be reminded of their responsibilities.

“It will be something that’s mentioned to them before the game. It’s not easy but we’re not in easy times. I think the players are aware that certain sacrifices have got to be made.”