BBC Scottish Cup Classics – The thing that struck me was how well the Celtic players did

Last night’s Scottish Cup final classic on BBC Scotland was Hearts v Gretna in 2006. I had forgotten a lot about this final, but the thing that struck me was how well the Celtic players did. Craig Gordon – we should have kept him! – was superb, Paul Hartley was all over the field and it was a great pity he got the red card near the end (but the Gretna player was equally culpable), and Stephen Pressley had a great game as well.

And then there was our old friend Dougie MacDonald (remember him?) who missed as blatant a penalty as you are ever likely to see. That would have saved the penalty shoot outs, but then again, people love watching penalty shoot-outs unless of course you are a supporter of one or other of the teams, or worse still, a player who misses his penalty.

Leanne Crichton and Rose Reilly were correct to say that losing a penalty shoot out stays with you all your life, for we have bitter memories of that semi-final of 2016, the Cup final of 1990 and a few of us can recall with anguish the 1972 European Cup semi-final against Inter Milan. So goodness knows what the Manchester United legions are going though this week. But we have been there as well.

It was a bizarre Cup final with envoys of the Lithuanian navy protecting the Chairman of Hearts (and who would have thought they would ever see that at Hampden Park) and Rowan Alexander dressed in full Highland regalia, described ludicrously by Janey Godley as “Robbie Burns”. Robbie Burns never saw a kilt in his life, I don’t think, for Highland dress was proscribed by the Hannoverians, in the same way that you couldn’t wear anything green in Ireland. (Is there not a song about that?)

The punditry was awful. Rose Reilly and Leanne Crichton as least know the game, but that chap with the leather jacket, dark glasses and the old Celtic scarf talks some rubbish at times, and someone really has to have a word with Janey Godley, and tell her that she is brilliant at her Nicola Sturgeon impersonations, but not quite so hot on football.

Gretna FC came and went with astonishing speed. It would have been lovely if they had won the Scottish Cup that day. As it was, it was even more romantic than a Gretna wedding, as the girls said. But most Gretna marriages last longer than Gretna FC did. The story behind them is a fascinating one, and I remember going to Motherwell and Livingston to see them play Celtic in their home fixtures. That is another unbelievable thing that happened with Gretna! Pity they lost that Scottish Cup final. An even greater pity was that Celtic with a Chinese player playing his debut at centre-half and a man who is now back in the frame for our Manager’s job also playing for Celtic for the first time, went out in the first round that year to Clyde ! All that is true, by the way!

Still, full marks to the BBC for this series. Sorry to be a bore about it, but any chance of Celtic v Dunfermline in 1965 next? Peter Grant could be the pundit!

David Potter

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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