The brilliant Hampden record that shows Celtic can't fear showpiece occasion

By Euan Davidson

November 19, 2021

We’ve been so collectively caught up in the Hampden antics of St Johnstone last season, that the Celtic record of recent years has been somewhat forgotten.

Yes, Callum Davidson’s side were excellent last season. A domestic double is evidence enough of that. From a shaky start to the season, St Johnstone vaulted themselves into a position where they could celebrate cup wins and compete in Europe.

Very good, and you have to say fair play. However, Celtic are still unbeaten at Hampden since 2016. That game, famously, was the one that sparked the Celtic board into life, hiring Brendan Rodgers in the summer [BBC].

Since then, Celtic have turned Hampden from a source of nerves to a fortress. And as two teams with impressive records in Mount Florida go up against each other, the anticipation is off the scale.

Let’s take a look at the Celtic’s record, though:

That really is astounding. The last game in front of fans, of course, was a League Cup win over Rangers. Christopher Jullien put Celtic ahead, with Fraser Forster’s impeccable penalty save securing another trophy win.

Last season, two delayed Scottish Cup games were navigated successfully, but not without difficulty. Hearts, at that point a Championship side, gave Celtic a huge scare. Ultimately, Kristoffer Ajer’s decisive spot kick secured a Quadruple Treble for the Bhoys.

That was surely the closest anyone got to beating us at Hampden since 2016. Our last League Cup semi-final in front of fans, though, might give us the biggest hope for tomorrow night.

“Hampden will be a very different place on Saturday” | Jackie McNamara previews crunch Celtic semi

“Hampden will be a very different place on Saturday” | Jackie McNamara previews crunch Celtic semi
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Like they will tomorrow, Celtic had a number of Hampden debutants. Bolingoli, Jullien, Elyounoussi and Frimpong were all making their mark at the national stadium that day. It was a thumping win, with Hibernian unable to handle Celtic [BBC].

Celtic should be approaching tomorrow’s Hampden visit with utter confidence

So, yes; the St Johnstone record at Hampden is good. No getting away from that.

But ours is better. Any concerns that Celtic’s new players will cower under the lights seem misplaced, and against any prior evidence.

If anything, it’s brought new levels from some. Jeremie Frimpong and Mohamed Elyounoussi were imperious in the aforementioned game against Hibs. The likes of Olivier Ntcham, Odsonne Edouard and Scott Sinclair needed little incentive to be decisive at Hampden.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

The same should ring true for Kyogo Furuhashi, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Josip Juranovic et al. They’ll have Callum McGregor leading them, and the experience of Joe Hart from the back to lead the way.

Admittedly, Joe Hart hasn’t always had the best time of it at Hampden. But he won’t have Leigh Griffiths taking free kicks at him this time.

There’s every reason to be confident without complacency tomorrow. St Johnstone will give us a huge test, and no doubt about it. Both our recent form and our streak at Hampden count for a great deal, though.

It should be an absolute cracker.

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