24 March 1991 – From St Patrick’s Day Massacre to a Palm Sunday Humiliation – Celtic 3 Rangers 0

Following on from The Celtic Star’s look at some of the better moments and players in Celtic’s early 90’s barren years today we look at The Palm Sunday humiliation from 1991.

Just a week after the St Patricks Day Massacre which we covered yesterday, Rangers returned to the scene of the crime and were looking to, from their point of view, right a few wrongs.

Celtic celebrations at the St Patrick’s Day Massacre

It had now been two and a half years and nine previous encounters since Celtic had won a derby encounter in the league. The Scottish Cup tie win for Celtic had extended rangers 10 year cup wait the previous Sunday. It was time to lay a few ghosts to rest.

Back in the day prior to websites like The Celtic Star, Celtic fans used to have to wait for the latest edition of fanzines for their alternative fan based views on all things Celtic.

The most prominent of those marketed and marked the occasion with a tribute to the ill-disciplined Rangers side who had disintegrated a week before during the St Patrick’s Day Massacre. The ‘Not the View’ fanzine gave out red cards to the crowd pre-match and Rangers Scott Nisbet duly obliged by getting himself sent off and leaving the pitch to a sea of aforementioned red cards from the crowd but more of that later.

The game itself saw a lot more football played than the previous week.

Joe Miller had the first opportunity on seven minutes to hurt the Rangers rear-guard. He won a free kick down Rangers left hand side, he had in fact been fouled in the build-up but as he broke clear with the opportunity to play the ball into the box referee Smith called the game back for the initial foul, much to the frustration of Celtic players and fans.

There was something ironic then when from Joe Miller’s resultant free kick Gough’s defensive header was dropped by Woods in the Rangers goal. Gerry Creaney moved for the ball as Woods in his desperation hauled down the Celtic striker who was looking to hook the ball into the net, this time the advantage played into the hands of Celtic when the ball fell kindly for Anton Rogan who took advantage and scored.

For the next few minutes Joe Miller turned on the style dancing around players like he could do when he wanted. It looked like Celtic were turning the screw and turning on the style.

However the Celtic winger had one more cross that Creaney turned just wide before Rangers themselves took complete control of the next half an hour at Parkhead. Thankfully for all their efforts they couldn’t score.

Johnston headed past after Spencer fed Nisbet wide. Pat Bonner stepped up and grabbed almost everything from the air while commanding his box as best he could under regular Rangers onslaughts.

Nisbet again crossed from a Gary Stevens pass. Paul Elliot’s high boot into the face appeared enough to worry Ally McCoist as he shut his eyes and headed wide at the far post as Bonner again moved across to cover.

Richard Gough then had a header off the line from McStay. Bonner from the corner made a superb save.

The Paul Elliot-Richard Gough battle saw both players booked late in the first half but neither player had asked for anything, the referee could have let it run. Mark McNally was booked for a foul on Spencer, though it could easily have been for his dodgy 90’s barnet, and as Celtic made some sort of late first half revival Joe Miller swung in a corner that St Patrick’s day hero Dariusz Wdowcyk put an attempt just wide.

The start of the second half again saw Rangers in the ascendency. Johnston was fouled by John Collins in the shadow of the main stand. Nisbet played the ball into the box and McCoist managed to get a touch on the ball and play into the path of Rangers John Spencer. It looked the easiest of finishes but Spencer appeared to panic and although he did get the shot goalwards, Paul Elliot blocked the ball short of the goal line. It was the moment where Celtic woke up and went on to dominate proceedings.

Celtic broke up the park and Tommy Coyne drove into the box. He managed to get round the keeper but over-ran the ball. It looked like the chance may be gone but Coyne was coolness personified as he turned himself back into an angle where he could pass. He found Joe miller darting between two defenders and Miller tapped the ball into the net to put The Hoops two goals up. It was a goal Miller’s performance deserved and the assist was sheer determination and endeavour from Tommy Coyne.

With daylight between the sides rangers ill-discipline returned. Scott Nisbet committed a hideous tackle from behind, off the ground and straight into the calf off Paul McStay. It was a brutal assault and ref Smith had no choice but to send Nisbet off. The Rangers man had the cheek to look surprised at the decision. It was a wild challenge and Nisbet walked off to the ‘Not the View’ inspired red card display from the Celtic support.

Ian Ferguson and Richard Gough both could have seen the same colour of card. Gough in particular very lucky indeed considering his earlier booking.

Gerry Creaney looked like he’d made it 3-0 from a McStay cross but it was called offside.

Rangers had two further chances. Bonner flapped from a throw in and Spencer once again had a tap in but Anton Rogan continued his hero of the day performance by clearing off the line. Mo Johnston then found himself straight through on goal but shot pathetically straight at Bonner. Very nice indeed.

There was then an opportunity for Joe Miller to get his brace but the Celtic winger could only hit the side netting.

Joe Miller was however involved in Celtic’s third goal. He fed Paul McStay who delivered a devastating cross for Tommy Coyne. The Celtic striker met the ball well and powered a downward header into the keeper’s bottom right corner. 3-0 Celtic and the Palm Sunday Humiliation was complete.

Two victories in a week over our greatest rivals. A tough season was starting to look like there was promise ahead.

The Celtic team on the day was as follows: Bonner; Wdowczyk, Rogan, McNally, Elliott, Whyte, Miller, McStay, Coyne, Creaney (Walker, 82min), Collins (Fulton, 86).

Goals: Rogan (7), Miller (53), Coyne (85)

Scotsport brought us the extended highlights. That’s well worth taking some time out to revisit. Incidentally after beating Rangers twice in a fortnight, Celtic were at home to Motherwell the next week and lost 2-1. There’s a newspaper clipping below on the match report – check out who wrote it! That result on the back of two wins against Rangers sums up perfectly just how difficult a time this was for the Celtic support.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parhead's gates.

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