Martin O’Neill’s first leg of the treble, glorious thoughts flooding back

Today’s piece on The Celtic Star with memories of this day in 2001 brought many glorious thoughts flooding back.

When Martin O’Neill was appointed manager I knew deep down that this would be special. When Didier Agathe scored the crucial last minute winner at Dens Park on Sunday 10 December 2000 I was certain that we would win the league. Quite simply I had no doubt. Even at that point my hopes of the treble were becoming much more. I really believed that it was on.

We were scoring goals for fun and piling up the points. On the way we beat Stranraer in the Scottish Cup. Wednesday 7 February dawned and I was confident of defeating Rangers in the League Cup semi-final. The Bhoys did not let me down. Two goals from Henrik and one from Big Chris were more than enough to outdo a single counter from the Ibrox Brigade and so we were in the final.

How to obtain four tickets! I was desperate to be there and could not contemplate going without my boys. Eventually I phoned the Celtic ticket office and explained that I was not a season ticket holder but wondered if there was any possibility of tickets. An extremely pleasant and helpful lady told me what I already knew but gave me the telephone number of the hospitality department. That started a wonderful relationship with the Kerrydale Suite, the Number 7 Restaurant and on one occasion the Captain’s Table plus a short period when we had season tickets.

Having made that next phone call I was like a caged lion waiting for my lads to return home from college and school so that I could inform them that we would have tickets for the match. I had spoken to another lovely lady who told me that she had to sell first to those who had hospitality season tickets. Their purchase deadline was the Monday following my call. She had put my name on the waiting list and asked me to call back on the Tuesday. I could almost taste the tickets. I asked if she could give me any hope to pass on to my sons. She replied, “Let me put it this way. I know how many hospitality members that I have. I know how many names are on the waiting list including your four. I know how many tickets I have to sell. That last number is greater than the total on the two lists. Excitement unconfined!

Roll on 18 March! A fantastic experience! We sat on a table with six others two of whom were Jim Carr and his son. We struck up a conversation with them which lead to many meetings in the Kerrydale Suite and on the seating deck during matches. (Jim, if you read this let me know how you are.)

While we were eating several ex-players were meeting and greeting. We chatted to Ronnie Simpson, God rest him, who was sure that we would win but that with Kilmarnock being “a stuffy team” it would not be easy.

The match was amazing. Henrik had given us a half time lead. The second period was to produce a real Hugh Dallas special. His decision to send off Chris Sutton was, in Martin O’Neill’s words, “very harsh” to say the least. We buckled down and were not to be denied. Two more from Henrik sealed the victory.

Returning to Celtic Park was extra special. There was much discussion of Chris Sutton’s sending off. I was very strong in my opinion that it was the worst sending off that I had seen since “blanket” coverage of football had hit the television screens. I added that previously we had suffered this type of action when the cameras were rarely around to show what was being given. Now officials had to remember that scrutiny could be made. I was sure that Mr Dallas had forgotten that. Despite all of that the atmosphere was electric. When Martin and some of the players brought round the trophy for us all to see it was just wonderful.

The drive home was a dream. The day was something never to be forgotten. Due to family commitments I had not been able to attend many matches for some time. Now I had taken my sons to Hampden to lift the Scottish League Cup. We had enjoyed the first class hospitality at Celtic Park, met Ronnie Simpson and chatted to him. Made friends with another Celtic fanatic. It doesn’t get much better than that.

And the treble was definitely on!


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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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

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