Jim Craig – Celtic’s first away win in Europe for 9 seasons

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Tommy Burns was manager when a Celtic party flew to Georgia on this day in 1995 for a Cup-Winners’ Cup tie against Dinamo Batumi, a side that few in Scotland had heard of, far less knew anything about.

As Celtic had failed to make the European scene the season before, everyone was under pressure to do well and on the evening, the team rose to the challenge.

In hot and humid conditions, twice the Georgians took the lead twice and twice Celtic fought back.

After a Rudi Vata cross had ricocheted off a Georgian defender, Andy Thom volleyed home from 10 yards in 21 minutes to make the score 1-all; then in 39 minutes, after some nice work by Phil O’Donnell, Simon Donnelly got the second equaliser from 14 yards.

And just three minutes from time, from a Tosh McKinlay throw in, Willie Falconer sent a cross into the box, the Dinamo keeper punched it out but only as far as Andy Thom, who knocked it in to give Celtic a 3-2 victory, the club’s first away win in Europe for 9 seasons.

John Neil McDonald, born on this day in 1931 in Glasgow, left the RAF in October 1951 and became something of a sensation at Petershill Juniors, scoring an average of two per game as a centre-forward.
Celtic snapped him up in December 1951 but John only managed two appearances, and two goals, over the following two seasons – interspersed with loan spells at Kilmarnock and Leith Athletic – before moving on to St Mirren.

Jim Craig

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