While the focus as been on the latest ridiculous decisions taken by the referee and his sidekicks in the VAR-van and also on the transfer window with highly regarded players leaving and a new arrival seemingly imminent, there was another point from the weekend that really should be talked about.
When Celtic played Greenock Morton in the Scottish Cup on 3 March 2018 Brendan Rodgers was the manager and the now Leicester City boss was heading towards his second Treble in a row. Those of us who were there got the chance to see Marvin Compper’s entire Celtic career come and go, start and finish in 83 minutes before he was replaced by the current Celtic captain.
Brendan Rodgers had players like Kris Ajer, Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown, James Forrest, Tom Rogic, Scotty Sinclair and Moussa Dembele all starting with Odsonne Edouard and Charlie Musonda coming off the bench along with Callum McGregor and some of the unused substitutes that afternoon were Mikael Lustig and Paddy Roberts.
Morton, as happened on Saturday brought a sizeable support up from Greenock, roughly the same 2200 that filled the away corner on Saturday afternoon. The attendance that day back in March 2018, the week before that incredible 3-2 win at Ibrox, was just 18,255.
If we allocate 2,255 to Morton fans that means that just 16,000 Celtic supporters attended that Scottish Cup match for a Celtic team that delivered an Invincible Treble the year before and was on its way to securing a Double Treble that season.
When you compare that to the latest Celtic v Greenock Morton match in the Scottish Cup on Saturday, a game which had a 12.15 pm kick-off to accommodate a live broadcast on BBC Scotland, then the size of the crowd was “astonishing” to quote a senior Celtic official I spoke to earlier today. In previewing the Scottish Cup last Friday Alastair Johnston talked about the 60,000 supporters who would be at the game, and we pointed out that it would probably be more like 30,000. Well we probably met Alastair somewhere in the middle with just over 40,000 fans being at the game on Saturday (40,011 to be exact).
“It was astonishing” our source at Celtic said, adding: “Demand for games seems to be crazy just now, I couldn’t believe the attendance for the match at the weekend considering it was before January pay day! Lots of families there taking the kids which was great to see.”
That’s an incredible 21,756 more Celtic fans than attended the game against Morton in 2018 and that really is worth talking about. with the size of the Celtic support more than doubling. And if credit is due then it must surely go to Ange Postecoglou and what he has done for the club since his arrival, the players he has signed, the style of football that the team is playing. Bertie Auld used to say that Celtic players had to entertain and this current team is certainly doing that.
The size of the Celtic support for a Scottish Cup game at Celtic Park against Morton jumping from 16,000 in 2018 to around 38,000 at the weekend is indeed a huge compliment to Ange Postecoglou and his team.
Writing in The Scotsman Andrew Smith had this to say on the attendance at Celtic Park on Saturday.
“The interest in watching Celtic is currently higher than it has been at any juncture this millennium. It is beyond dispute that Postecoglou’s exciting brand of attacking football is truly box office. On Wednesday night, Celtic posted the sell-out signs for their hosting of St Mirren. No-one could recall a midweek game not involving Rangers or a European team where effectively every seat in the 60,000 had been paid for (even if far from all season ticket holders end up sitting on them),” Smith noted and incidentally this is another opportunity for The Celtic Star to mention our request for Celtic to introduce a Ticket Exchange Scheme.
“Likewise with the 40,011 crowd that attended the Morton tie. Assisted by a superb turn-out of the Greenock faithful that exceeded 2,500, the figure was 10,000 in excess of any such home Scottish Cup tie since this century. Consider the closest parallels. When Morton came to Celtic Park for a quarter-final in the competition five years ago, the contest was watched by only 18,255. They were also at the same stadium for a last-eight clash in 2016. A mere 14,858 turned up then.”