It was a day of celebration. Almost 60,000 made their way to Paradise, more than a few suffering from a little bit of over indulgence. A few never made their buses and will have a ticket waiting for them when the new season begins.
Two coaches left Dunblane within a few minutes of each other around midday today, one had a police escort. Martin O’Neill sat at the front, he was on his way back to Paradise , this time to sit in the away dug-out as manager of Ireland. On the other bus it was the music that was Irish.
He was going to honour a Celtic legend, who came along after he left the club and for the past eleven seasons has been a truly inspirational footballer and leader at Celtic. MON managed his Celtic team rather than Celtic and as a result he got the very best out of them.
So it has been with Scott Brown, probably the next Celtic manager after the current boss – another Irishman Brendan Rodgers has concluded his history making business in the East End of Glasgow. Henrik was there too. Another Celtic legend and one who wore the famous number 7 jersey with a distinction only Jimmy Johnstone has reached in most fans’ lifetime.
And we were saying goodbye to another Number 7 – Paddy Roberts – whose injuries this season has resulted in less game time and a realization that the club and the player are going to have to go their own separate ways for now anyway. He signed off with a goal and the warmest of receptions or a player who has been loved in every sense of the word, by everyone at Celtic. The affection for Paddy Roberts has been 100% genuine.
But it was not a day for the Number 7s to be centre stage – even special ones like Larsson and Roberts. It was a day for the number 8, the skipper, Scott Brown.
The Double-Treble winning captain looks a little bit embarrassed by all the attention at the end of the match that finished honorees even at 2-2. Griffiths and Roberts got the Celtic goals after the Irish had twice gone ahead.
There was an atmosphere of celebration for the victorious day before, if not a touch of fatigue for those that had late ones. Scott Brown entered with his three children, all darning the new Celtic kit, through the guard of honour before the players stood for the Soldiers Song and You’ll Never Walk Alone – which were passionately sang before kick off.
Roy Keane and Martin O’Neill had a youthful Irish side with a spine of seasoned internationalists who would have been itching to play at Celtic Park, none more so than James McLean. McLean performed well and was appreciated by the Celtic Park crowd. With West Brom’s relegation, could McLean be an option in the summer? The player would certainly love that to happen.
Then it was Paddy Roberts’ farewell. The 21-year-old is expected to return to Manchester City after 2 and a half years at Celtic Park and signed off with a goal in the second half.
However, any anguish at the loss of Roberts would be momentarily forgotten when the King of Kings again graced the hallowed turf. Larsson was given a reception fit for a king, but the fact he was there showed the respect he had for Scott Brown. Larsson nearly found the net but for a good stop by the ‘keeper in the Irish goals.
A scoreline of 2-2 represented good value for those that came to celebrate Brown’s career thus far and they would’ve been excited by the 32-year-old’s words at full time when Brown promised that Celtic would continue to improve next year.
The Celtic family – we were discussing that this morning and it is well worth a read HERE – came together for one last time before the summer break , much needed for our players, and celebrated the double treble one last time.
The music being played in the stadium as the team walked around to applaud the supporters was – what else – Beautiful Sunday and it was another Beautiful Sunday for captain marvel Scott Brown. He’s won the lot again and we’ve got the t-shirt to prove it. You got yours?