Back to the Fixture – December 31st

As we approach the final furlong of this horrific, treacherous and ultimately underwhelming atrocity of a year, we’re going to try to lighten the mood one last time in 2020 by selecting a rather overwhelming win from years gone by.

Today’s episode of Back to the Fixture sees us all the way back to 1988, when Hearts were the visitors to Paradise on New Years Eve. Having gone two games without a win either side of a 3-1 win at Fir Park, Celtic got back on track in a resounding 4-2 win against our Edinburgher counterparts.

Billy McNeill’s men were the defending champions of the Scottish Premier Division that year, but things weren’t looking so rosy in their aims to retain the illustrious trophy. By the time 1989 came around, Celtic had won the second most games in the league and drawn the joint-least; but unfortunately their downfall had come about as they had lost 7 of the 20 games they’d played up to press – more than any side in the top-half, leaving them five points behind theRangers in a 2-points per win season.

They managed to get back to winning ways against Hearts, however. Billy Stark opened proceedings with a scrappy overhead kick; as elegant as it was, it was only awarded due to the eagle eyes of the linesman who noticed it had marginally gone over the line to give Celtic the advantage. Hearts drew level with a penalty, but were quickly quelled by the clinical Mark McGhee who raced onto a through ball and dispatched a sweet half-volley coolly into the corner of the hapless Hearts goal.

Hearts again equalised through a fortuitous John Robertson effort, however Celtic were determined to give themselves a New Year’s resolution – and their resoluteness paid dividends as Mark McGhee once again put the Hoops’ infront – in no small part thanks to some hard work down the left hand side, resulted in McGhee convincingly heading an effort into the back of the net with the goal at his mercy. The game was sealed by a couple of braces, with Billy Stark once again getting on the scoresheet, in what was to be his penultimate goal for the Hoops’ before his move to Kilmarnock with a bouncing half-volley which crept in off the upright.

The season ended in league heartbreak – theRangers won the league with even Aberdeen progressing into the UEFA Cup by four points ahead of McNeill’s men. The Hoops’ did, however, manage to hold on to the Scottish Cup that year with a 1-0 win over Rangers at Hampden Park – meaning that it wasn’t a trophyless and ultimately meaningless season for the Bhoys’ in Green.

The Celtic team that day was: Bonner, Morris, Rogan, Aitken, McCarthy, Whyte, Stark, McStay, McAvennie, McGhee, Burns.

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