Hearts 3 Celtic 4 – Champions overcome Hearts, Walsh and VAR frauds

It is a shame that such a game as this one – a credit to both teams, incidentally – has to be dominated by VAR. One really can only range oneself with Ange Postacoglou and John Hartson to complain about things, but then you can only shrug your shoulders and say that it is what it is.

Robbie Neilson, the Manager of Hearts made a very perceptive point when he said that the presence of VAR discourages the referee from making a decision, lest he is immediately made a fool of.

At the risk of sounding old fashioned, I really think we have to allow referees to make decisions. Apart from anything else, how long is a football match going to last now?

But let’s talk about the game. A splendid three points for Celtic at a difficult ground in front of a nasty crowd who weren’t even very good at giving the ball back when it went out of play (Albert Kidd still hurts, I’m afraid).

The anti-social stuff did not really extend to the Hearts players, I am glad to say, for it was a clean and sporting game, and really, if one hadn’t been quite so tense, very enjoyable.

It proved once again that Celtic have character and the ability to fight back even when they do not get the breaks. There is a cohesiveness about the team that is really very noticeable and also very attractive with some really good passing moves.

We took all four goals well – what a wonderful Billy McNeill type header from Giakoumakis! – and really should have scored more with Aaron Mooy in particular a sinner, but then again he knows that more than anyone!

The defence had its moment of weakness, and we will really have to make a point of NOT tackling anyone in the box in circumstances where a penalty might be awarded by the whim of VAR.

VAR was possibly right in both cases, but there was certainly an element of doubt in the first one. On the other hand, although I have seen some crazy handball decisions given, Celtic were surely disgracefully denied a clear stonewaller of a penalty at the end of the first half.

Daizen Maeda left celebrates with Celtic s Reo Hatate after Celtic’s third goal of the game during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle on Saturday October 22, 2022. Photo Jane Barlow

Jock Stein said so long ago that the only way to get the better of ‘crazy’ refereeing decisions was to be so far ahead that it doesn’t really matter.

His words all these years ago are even more true now in the days of VAR. Is there an appropriate word for the collection of all those who make the decisions? A junta? A cabal? Or even a lodge, perhaps?

Greg Taylor of Celtic scores Celtic’s winning goal during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle. Photo Neil Hanna / Sportimage

Anyway, we will just have to live with it. Let it not detract from the fact that it was a great game and a great performance by Celtic. Shakhtar Donetsk come to town on Tuesday and then we go to Livi on Sunday. Bring ’em on!

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.

1 Comment

  1. Problem is that VAR still leaves discretion in the hands of officials to make decisions. In fact, VAR could legitimate even more ‘honest mistakes’ for two reasons. First, two people are now involved not just the referee so discretion is extended to more than one official. If the two officials ‘agree’ then I can hear commentators patronisingly ask Celtic supporters what is the problem? Second, technology is seen as value free, that technology never lies, its neutral, so again more patronising comments about not understanding that technology never lies. So today Ralston had a goal disallowed and a stonewall penalty was denied, some neutrality!