Sandman’s Definitive Ratings: Celtic at Swinecastle


“Thoughts are tyrants that return again and again to torment us. Thoughts, and Celtic chucking it. Again….”Emily Bronte

BANE – 4/10 – Criminal. Well, he is a supervillain. After composed and timely play, coupled with a fine save, he ventured into no-man’s land like a shell-shocked batman (see what I did there, military rankings and comic-book shtick fans?) and the big bomb blew him and us out of the battle. Only point in his favour – was never a free-kick in the first place but when you’ve got a Bluenose like Madden sucking on his whistle such late ‘indiscretions’ are to be expected.

Anthony Ralston second right celebrates scoring for Celtic at Tynecastle. Photo Jane Barlow

TONY THE TIGER – 7.5/10 MOTM – What can one say? Grrrrreat! Almost spilled my Frosties as Tony channelled D10S and produced a goal from the 1986 World Cup Finals to set us on our way to another…defeat. Shame such a strike is lost in depression. His all-round game needs refinement but there’s no lack of will to succeed, and glimpses of class to raise eyebrows. And hopes.

Greg Taylor centre in action during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle Park, Photo: Jane Barlow

GREGGS THE BAKER – 4/10 – Oh dear. A space-filler, much like his sausage rolls. But they’re also a culinary wonder of the world. Greggs, conversely, looks to have gone backwards towards the unremarkable journeyman label he shook off to join us. Poor touch, passing vision absent, upper body strength letting him down time and again as he was shrugged off the ball, or bettered in challenges.

Celtic s Carl Starfelt right attempts a header towards goal at Tynecastle. Photo: Jane Barlow

STAR LORD – 4/10 – Well, that’s the Galaxy busted. A crushing debut for a guardian of… well, not a lot. Scampered across like a crazed racoon as he failed Sunday League Elementary lesson number 1 – better out the park than in the net. And it subsequently went in the net. Tried to make up for it in the second half by scoring directly into his own net, but was foiled by Bane, then Craig Flaming Gordon Who’s Not Good Enough For Celtic Anymore produced a wonder save to deny Star Lord a face-saving debut goal and me 20/1 on him scoring a header. In-between he saw far too much of the ball at his feet for a centre-back and neglected to organise/pick up Soapy Soutar for their winner. Maybe we should have signed the talking tree instead.

BITTON – 6/10 – The one-finger assassin returned to the first eleven and it seemed a decent call – given the amount of possession our backline had we needed his precise passing abilities. He didn’t err too much; makeshift defender is his forte. The main fault lay further up…

EDDIE TURNBULL – 3/10 – Showing all of his 98 years (deceased). If you’re going to suave your way into a game, you need to be tuned-in and buzzing from the start. Suaveness is the idiosyncrasy of truly great midfield players – Pirlo oozed suaveness on the ball, BUT, crucially, suaveness was NOT the mindset of the great Pirlo. His footballing mind broiled with the fury of swan’s legs below the waterline. Lesser players always think they can imitate but don’t realise the distinction between internal process and external aspect.

Eddie failed to impose himself at all, floating around ineffective, less suave and more messing-about. His lack of presence and connection let the whole midfield model down; Left Calmac and Soro toiling, out-numbered, to service the widemen; was the reason our defence saw so much of the ball. You got to get into it hardcore from the start, youngster – get on it like a real Pirlo, not the Phiss-Poorlo we saw last night.

CALMAC – 7/10 – Another fine showing from the skipper. Needed to be everywhere as Eddie T misfired, was everywhere. Only thing preventing his total domination of the ball is his current fitness level – still got a higher notch in him.

Gary Mackay-Steven and Celtic s Ismaila Soro battle for the ball h at Tynecastle. Photo: Jane Barlow

MAN OF – 6.5/10 – Terrific grafter, in the Broon mould of drive and commitment. In tandem with Calmac provides a great platform for creatives. But, as covered, swamped tonight yet managed a combative edge.

James Forrest left and Liam Boyce battle for the ball at Tynecastle. Photo: Jane Barlow

JAMESY – 4/10 – Struggled all game until back on his favoured right side late on and able to stretch his…legs. Thought he’d saved a point, but denied by Craig Flaming Gordon Who’s Not Good Enough For Celtic Anymore. Only an ugly 5 thousand in the aptly-named Gargoyle Road stadium tonight, so Jamesy wasn’t wasting the wang on such undeserving specimens. That will come with more game-time, which he evidently needs after a season zipped-up. Sorry, sidelined.

Alex Cochrane tries to get between Anthony Ralston and Liel Abada Photo: Malcolm Mackenzie

ABADASS – 4/10 – Hmm, never thought it was possible to sand-dance on that surface. Mud-dance maybe. This one’s got a bit to prove after his debut CL goal. Hoped for some sparkling play last night to roast them, but nothing transpired aside from a few moments of promise that frittered away, wasteful or spurned. Just a bhoy, in a new land, may need some bench-time to settle and focus.

Odsonne Edouard attempts a shot on goal at Tynecastle. Photo Jane Barlow

FRENCH EDDY – 5/10 – He was corralled by some unforgiving brutes all night and starved of decent service by malfunctioning wings and midfield creative. Yet, for the neat touches and occasional flashes of dynamite, he’s still holding something back – for Brighton probably. So why’s he starting anyway?


MR KOBAYASHI – N/A – Sent from the Far east at the behest of Kaiser Soze to sort the Bears. The man Griff refers to as ‘Japanese Eddy’ was (reluctantly it seemed) thrown in to win the game and ended up playing as some sort of defensive midfielder as Celtic legs gave way.

CORPUS CHRISTIE – N/A – Late on for impact. Did get a shot off, that was comfortable enough for Craig Flaming  Gordon Who’s Not Good Enough For Celtic Anymore.

ROGIC – N/A – Suddenly appeared down the left in injury time without prompting, and I thought ‘Big Oz has gone loco and run onto the park for aggro!’

ANITA DOBSON – 6/10 – So what do you do, Ange? Stick? Twist? Get on a plane for Sydney? Halfway through the second half, when Abadass blew a great break with a cross as poor as any Bluenose trying to fake his way into confession (And there’s not enough time left in eternity to hear-out that), you could see the boss rage at his misfortune. And as for his first experience of an ‘honest mistake’? Offside law bends differently in Scotland, Ange…

Set up a side with ambition, two wingers and two forward-thinking full-backs, then watched as specific players failed the entire enterprise from the start and questionable fitness levels (ah, the legacy of the good old times…) meant momentum could not be maintained. So we’ll wait some more galling weeks to see if the Queen Vic’s
in good hands or the new landlord’s a rogue without a winning game-plan.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson centre speaks to the fourth official as Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou left looks on. Photo: Jane Barlow

OVERALL – 5/10 –  Replicants on the park and frothing bigoted mutants in the stands. Always a brave camera crew deployed at these fixtures, and it was sad to see the toll the Edinburgh leprosy epidemic had taken on the crowd. We gifted a lead then, as ever against these irritants, dominated, equalised, and should have won it; Another game we should have won. Three in a row.

However, it still remains overall encouraging to see the shape and vision Ange brings – trouble is we need the players to test it out as a functioning unit. Last night the few let down the many. We move on, frustrated, rebuilding, hoping, teeth-grinding, as we keep our ire in check and try and give the new boss breathing space to carry out his thankless task.

Once again, shame on you, Pistol Pete, Lennony, et all for letting standards slip so abjectly – YOU know who you are; and I’ll never let you forget.

Go Away Now.


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


  1. I really can’t understand how many chances has Forrest and Bitton to get again Bitton to slow on the ball plays square and liability in Defence doesn’t even get off the ground at second goal as for forrest waste of space never excepts responsibility and passes the buck rather that take people on he’s a senior pro in the squadb

    • Seriously dude Forrest never played bad for his first full competitive game and played much better when switched to the right. Abada was mostly poor on the night and Ange should have switched sides with him and Forrest midway through the first half. Bitton played ok also and his passing from the back was much needed. Neither players were the reason the Celtic lost. The second goal Bitton and Starfelt have 3 players in-between them and this has caused Celtic issues for years in set plays and has never been addressed

  2. Marked a bit high for Bitton, was it not him that either lost his man or never jumped for the cross that lead to the second goal.

    • Pablo Minibar on

      He’s not a defender nor is he known for heading the ball, why on earth would he be marking Souttar? Hearts had their 3 tallest players sandwiched between Bitton and Starfelt, Celtic seriously lacking in height and any team doing their homework will take advantage of this. Not blaming anyone but Ange will need to smarten up on the defending and lack of height, trying to score more than the opposition wont cut it in the SPFL

  3. Why us Edouard starting? Erm because he is still the best striker in Scotland and as long as still a Celtic player will be played. Even though still not at his best he linked up in almost every one of Celtics efforts on goal. The other which people do not see as most supporters are ball watchers is his movements off the ball and the fact the he will on most occasions take 2 defenders with him which frees up space for other players. Currently we do not have another striker who can do this.

    Regarding Brighton Eddy not keen on them and I did not think he would be and they will be in a relegation battle next season

  4. Ian Colville on

    I thought the new, attack at speed, playing out from the back, possession style of play would be exciting to watch, but to see Starman and Biden playing keepball in front of the 18 yd line was tedium personified. 60% of the ball is no good if all you do with it is pass back and fore between your centre backs, while the opposition regroup and close down the space. Oh for an Ayer-like gallop into a gaping midfield space. I see no ships, said Nelson, looking the other way. I see no progress says this fan, looking on in tears.