Celtic Support’s Message to the Maestro, You’ll never walk alone Jozo

The wonderful thing about football is there’s always another game just around the corner. When on a roll that allows momentum to build and after a defeat and opportunity to right some wrongs.

When Celtic play St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup quarter final tomorrow I’ll bet there will be more than a few Celtic players looking to consign Thursday nights Europa League exit to the history books and simply move on. As supporters we’ll get that opportunity also.

Thursday was a self-inflicted defeat. We lost in the main due to individual errors and questionable tactical decisions however this Celtic side have more than earned the occasional aberration.

On 27 November 1994 Celtic lost The League Cup final to First Division Raith Rovers. After a 2-2 draw following extra time the match went to penalties. As we all know Celtic were desperate for a trophy having been without silverware since a 1989 Scottish Cup Final win over Rangers.

Captain Paul McStay missed the all-important penalty that led to Celtic’s defeat. It was incredibly harsh on The Maestro. A man who had stayed with Celtic through some dark times indeed when many would have headed for new challenges. Such was his love for the club and the support he stayed on to fight for the cause.

Celtic’s takeover after a long Celts for Change campaign had been completed in the March of that year. The league Cup Final was going to signify the rebirth of Celtic as a credible challenger in Scotland again. It wasn’t to be.

Three days later Celtic and their captain travelled to Easter Road for a league encounter with Hibs. McStay may have been concerned as to the reception the team would receive and perhaps more than a little concerned his own reputation had been damaged. He needn’t have worried.

The Celtic support showed their appreciation and forgiveness holding aloft a message to their captain that read ‘You’ll never walk alone Paul’. It was a proud moment to witness.

I had just left home and had moved to Edinburgh to start a course at Edinburgh University and had moved into a flat share a couple of months before. I was living with a chap from a Scottish family who had all his life until then been living in Berkshire. I was trying to introduce him to Celtic.

I’d already dragged him to Celtic games and I took him that night to Easter Road with me. We had watched that League Cup final together, he knew how much I had hurt the previous weekend. He must have thought going that night, that the atmosphere may not be entirely positive.

To this day he tells me the moment he became a Celtic supporter was the night at Easter Road where the away Celtic support got right behind one of their own. He remains an avid follower today.

There has been a lot of anger and criticism directed at Celtic since Thursday night and some of it has been justified whilst some overblown. Jozo Simunovic in particular has taken the brunt of that criticism alongside of course the manager.

What is clear is that Celtic have up to thirteen games remaining in this season. So far Neil Lennon and his players, in the 12 months since Brendan Rodgers left the club has exceeded our expectations. In these remaining matches they can reach both 9-in-row and potentially a Quadruple Treble.

Those players and this manager have got us to this point. Through all the adversity of February last year and up to now it has been a predominately successful and entertaining Celtic team to watch. Thursdays defeat whilst disappointing is in no way as critical as that defeat on the 27 November 1994.

Paul McStay in action at Easter Road, the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

If Celtic fans can show the level of loyalty they did to Paul McStay that night they can certainly forgive the likes of Simunovic and Lennon for errors far less damaging to Celtic’s reputation.

Confidence will be dented, the backlash will have been picked up on but come Sunday 3pm at McDiarmid Park, I’m certain the Celtic support will show these players how much they are valued.

You’ll never walk alone Jozo.

Niall J

Rather than show that older Raith Rovers win here is their most recent cup final victory…

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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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