“Great Night,” Celtic’s match winner Joe Ledley recalls beating Rangers on this day in 2011

Joe Ledley scored what turned out to be one of the most significant goals in Scottish football on this day in 2011. His wonderful header was the only goal of the game and gave Celtic the win they needed to leapfrog Rangers at the top of the SPL.

Celtic had trailed Rangers by a considerable margin just a few months earlier and at one stage were 3-0 down at Kilmarnock and Neil Lennon was sitting on the bench considering his future as the league challenge looked to be over before Halloween.

But a remarkable second half recover gave Celtic a point in a 3-3 draw and that signalled a recover as Rangers began to falter. The Ibrox side, under the control of Craig Whyte had flopped in both European competitions meaning that money was in short supply down Govan way – these flops should NOT have been allowed to happen, as the SFA wrongly awarded a licence to Rangers to play in European football despite having unpaid social taxes, the issue that later became known as Resolution 12.

After that 3-3 draw at Rugby Park on 15 October 2011 Celtic’s league results looked liked this ahead of the match against Rangers at Celtic Park on 28 December. 2011.  Aberdeen were beaten (2-1) at Celtic Park but Hibs frustrated Celtic in the east end of Glasgow in a goalless draw.  At this stage Celtic were an incredible 15 points behind Rangers but had two games in hand and the papers were already proclaiming the Ibrox side as the Champions Elect.  Yet after drawing with Hibs at the end of October Celtic won every league match over the next two months to end the year TOP of the league – and therein lies a lesson for 2020/21 season folks. Just win the games Celtic, just win them!

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Back to November 2011 and Celtic recorded 4 straight wins at Motherwell (2-1) and up at Inverness (2-0),  before two home victories over Dunfermline (2-1) and  St Mirren (5-0) as one the runaway league leaders and then current Champions Rangers continued to falter.

Into December  2011 and it was another 4 straight wins for Neil Lennon’s side ahead of the ‘Old Firm’ showdown on 28 December (yes, it was still a thing in 2011). Dundee Utd were beaten 1-0 at Tannadice, Hearts lost by the same scoreline at Celtic Park before Celtic won 2-0 away to St Johnstone and then Kilmarnock were beaten 2-1 on Christmas Eve at Celtic Park.

Next up was Rangers on 28 December 2011 where Celtic needed a win to go top. Little did we know that when Joe Ledley’s header settled the match in Celtic favour it would be the last time ever that rangers would top the table. Celtic were heading to the title that would start the push for Ten-in-a-Row. Rangers were heading towards the graveyard – Administration by Valentines Night and Liquidation by the summer.

Joe Ledley this morning tweeted about this ‘Old Firm’ win saying just two words “Great Night” and so it was Joe, so it was!

And folks remember where Celtic were at the end of October 2011 – trailing Rangers by 15 points with two games in hand and where we ended up on this day in 2011. And we’ve never looked back since them.

Can history repeat itself? Yes, if Celtic keep on winning then it will. And as for theRangers, the former club lost a huge lead in the league and went bust. If Celtic can do it again then you never know what will happen across the city at the debtdome…

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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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