Celtic’s 50 Flags – Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink rose like a bird

The sunny weekend of 10/11 May 2008 saw both teams win with Rangers beating Dundee United controversially at Ibrox (Dundee United were denied a blatant penalty and had a legitimate goal chalked off by referee Mike McCurry) but Celtic replying with a good 2-0 win over Hibs. The following midweek was reserved for Rangers UEFA Cup final against Zenit St Petersburg in Manchester.

They lost and their fans rioted badly.

The following day Tommy Burns died. To their eternal credit, Walter Smith, Ally McCoist and some others from Rangers FC turned up at the funeral in a Roman Catholic Church a few days later, but, by this time, Celtic had gained the initiative in the League race.

On Saturday 17 May, Rangers, still struggling to cope with their defeat in Manchester and the worldwide condemnation of their fans’ behaviour, travelled to play on the awful pitch of Motherwell, and could only draw. Celtic fans watched this tense game on their TVs, but full time brought the realisation that Celtic were ahead on goal difference, even if Rangers beat St Mirren on Monday, as they duly did.

The SPL and Setanta TV had decided that both final games were to go ahead at the same time on Thursday 22 May.

Celtic went to Tannadice knowing that they would be OK as long as they won and Rangers did not hammer Aberdeen at Pittodrie by some improbable score.

0-0 at half time in both games, but who can forget the animation among the Celtic infiltrators in the Dundee United stand spotted on TV telling us that Aberdeen had scored?

Immediately after that, Paul Hartley took a corner in front of the Shed and, and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink rose like a bird to head home. (Highlights below).

It was a memorable night, and a memorable finish to a scarcely believable campaign.

David Potter

Extract from Celtic How the League was Won 49 Times by David Potter, which we have been featuring on The Celtic Star throughout the International break.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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