Back to the Fixture: On This Day – December 21st

Welcome to the second installment of the new “Back to the Fixture” series. Following on from yesterday’s debut – in which we revisited a 1-0 home win over Partick Thistle, we once again travel back in time for another 1-0 win at Parkhead, although this time it lies upon the other side of the 21st century, when Dundee United visited in 1996.

Our winner that day came from the late, great Phil O’Donnell; the Bellshill-born midfielder was the only one on target with a towering header from a brilliantly crafted Simon Donnelly cross.

Video courtesy of @LilZe_7

December 1996 marked a tumultuous spell for Celtic. They hadn’t lifted the SPFL for eight years at the time, and the pressure was on the Bhoys’ to keep theRangers at arms length. Having gone without a win for three games, the pressure was on then manager Tommy Burns to perform having not had a spell of league form this bad since the disastrous 1994/95 season., and they’d not topped the table in six weeks.

Just a few weeks prior, Celtic had come under intense investigation procedures , owing to “taxes paid on transfer dealings going as far back as 1989” – which marked the start of the rot of the Celtic board of old, and resulted in Fergus McCann taking over the club with just 24 hours of life left. The club were still feeling the benefits even now, and it was telling on the field.

Nonetheless, O’Donnell massively helped Burns’ cause with his first goal of the season and his first appearance in fourteen league games in front of the 46,483 Bhoys’ that day, and although it wasn’t routine, it was a step in the right direction.

The Celtic team that day was: Kerr, Boyd, McKinlay, O’Neil, Stubbs, Grant, Donnelly, O’Donnell, Hay, Thom, Cadete – enough to give off a certain reflective shudder, compared to the quality of the side now.

Despite the win, it ultimately wasn’t enough to catch theRangers, and their quest for ten titles in a row continued. However, the following introduction of the enigmatic Dutchman Wim Jansen, and an even more impressive Swede – by the name of Henrik Larsson – put an end to a Glaswegian side winning a tenth league title in a row. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself this year.

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