Sandman’s Definitive Ratings: Celtic at the Vale of Tears


“Some places speak distinctly. Certain dank gardens (Ibrox) cry aloud for a murder; certain old houses demand to be haunted (Ibrox again); certain coasts are set apart for shipwrecks.” Robert Louis Stevenson.

Joe Hart  shakes hands with Borja Iglesias  after the Europa League, Group G match. Photo Joaquin Corchero

ROXIE – 7.5/10 –Saved everything within range, one quite brilliantly. A night when the keeper is set-up to be heroic, only for his defence to turn the siege of Stalingrad into the massacre at the Little Bighorn.

Celtic s Anthony Ralston, right, heads the ball past Betis Juanmi. Photo Miguel Morenatti

TONY THE TIGER – 6/10 – Roustabout with Ralston. Torrid time as they concentrateda lot of attacking movement down his side, but Tony knowsno surrender (see what I did there, degenerate interlopers?) and you know you’ll get hand-to-hand combat until the death. Popped up to maintian his Larsson-esque scoring rate, gave us hope and gave us snarling competitiveness to the end.


Carl Starfelt of Celtic  in action against Real Betis. Photo Jose Luis Contreras

STAR LORD – 5/10 – No thanks. Can’t cover a run, can’t clear a corner. Basic defensive errors. Again. Find myself regurgitating maxims every time he gets involved – ‘better out the park than in the net’; that header from which they hit the fourth is an amateurish shocker (update, a case of mistaken identity here from Sandman as it was actually Turnbull not Starfelt who headed the ball). Knocked straight back into the danger zone knowing your defensive partner’s off-keel after making the initial headed challenge; Just, heaven’s sake…

Get Carter’s reaction to their third as the striker ran across Star Lord said it all; simple stuff costing us.

And he’s hiding. Admittedly, Get Carter’s a very decent hide-and-seek prop but Star lord’s becoming the new Corpus. Maybe a village green side would suit him too, because he’s not fancying the competitiveness required to be a Celtic defender. Litmus test failed. He’s alkaline. Where’s Raquel?

 Cameron Carter-Vickers of Celtic in action  against Real Betis. Photo: Joaquin Corchero

GET CARTER – 6.5/10 – A frustrated big unit. The size of him had local kids queueing to pick oranges from his arms as he alighted the bus. But he can shift, and had to a lot as the central defensive area seemed short of manpower too often…Soft booking gave us the spectacle of a giant trying to walk a tightrope, and mostly he remained well composed; showed some sharp feet and passing for such a lump of a lad.

 Martin Montoya of Real Betis in action with Adam Montgomery of Celtic. Photo Jose Luis Contreras

FIELD MARSHALL – 5.5/10 – Kid’s game enough and this will be a memorable lesson for him in how decent Euro sides can suddenly turn the tide on you in ways the domestic dross can’t dream of. He chased and buzzed, but was found a little wanting by alert, classy, mobile forwards, and didn’t quite make a real impact going forward, though came close on occasion.

Josip Juranovic of Celtic controls the ball against Real Betis. Photo Jose Luis Contreras

JURAN JURAN – 6/10 – “Look, it’s like this, Croatia right-back fella – you’re a left-midfield, penalty-taker tonight…” Trying to find his feet at Celtic when the only position he’s yet been asked to play is keeper. There’s definitely more to come; his quality fully bedded-in can only enhance our dynamism. Fell out of match second period tonight, though.

Ismaila Soro during the UEFA Europa League Group G stage match between Real Betis and Celtic FC at Benito Villamarin Stadium. Photo Jose Luis Contreras

MAN OF – 3/10 – Idiot. Early yellow curtailed his entire game and left us lightweight – the time to pick up a card
was when we were tiring, holding a lead and their momentum required sabotaging. Needs to break the habit like a fat Zombie and Big Macs.

David Turnbull during the UEFA Europa League match between Real Betis and Celtic, Photo Jose Luis Contreras

EDDIE TURNBULL – 6.5/10 – In, out, in, out – He’d appear like a cultured vision then slip out of sight for five minutes. In contrast to previous complaints, it was pleasing to see his re-appearance accompanied by more intent to influence the game. Is it something he gains by having Oz beside him; footballer feeding off footballer? Just wasn’t quite enough of a complement to the gliding Aussie to get us a result. But, keep it up; could yet be a player in big games.

Tom Rogic gestures during the Europa League Group G match.  Photo Miguel Morenatti

ROGIC – 7.5/10 MOTM – Well, Big Oz certainly likes the heat. It was hacky-sack delights at times as his pontoon
wonder-bits carved some craft out of the impossible and sprung us into life. No early disappearing act from the Antipodean Magician – he was tantalising us, and them, to the end; cruelly thwarted by a post for a deserved strike on his best night in the Hoops since Jenny Agutter went Walkabout in the scuddy. Wore the VHS tape of that one right out…

Jota challenged by Betis Juan Mirand. Photo Miguel Morenatti

NOTEBOOK – 7/10 – What a livewire in the CR7-meets-Wham retro mould. His Dads would have been full of Mothers Pride. Plays with a sense of Freedom and had the chance to take us to the Edge Of Heaven when one-on-one with the goalie at 2-0; agonisingly stopped. But though he faded late on, his energy is a valuable dimension and a real seat-flipper when he bursts into action. This Young Gun’s having some fun and the Bhoy’s got Verve… Oh, no – wrong band…

 Albian Ajeti is fouled by Betis goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, leading to a penalty. Photo Miguel Morenatti

THE YETI – 7/10 – Scored one, made a pen, had one chalked off. Not bad for someone written-off as a sulky chump. This abomination has found a new lease of life and shaving off the body hair has added agility to the George The Greek look (clever way of ingratiating himself with the new boss…). Led a bold one-man line and did it without looking grumpy; in fact, he seemed positively happy to be wearing the Hoops and busting a gut for the cause. Are we through the looking glass, Alice?


MCCARTHYISM – 6/10 –A composed appearance, added some stability to a defensive midfield requirement suffering from Soro’s errratic behaviour. Expect him to be ahead in the order soon. Pecking, not Orange…

Celtic s head coach Ange Postecoglou gives instructions from the side line during the Europa League Group G soccer match between Real Betis and Celtic at Benito Villamarin stadium AP Photo/Miguel Morenatti 

ANITA DOBSON – 6.5/10 – Jeez, mayte. Like exhaustive Aussie stereotyping, we’ve seen this picture before. Milan last year, for reference. Banging into a delightful lead, then selling the jerseys with mystifying ease as the basics get thrown out with the bathwater and the team’s motto changes from ‘Audaces Fortuna Juvat’ to ‘Ach, it’ll be fine…’

Bemoaning his misfortune with injuries, Ange chose the strongest – and only – side possible. Well, bar one central defensive contention of mine… *Cough* Raquel *Cough*. What did transpire in contrast to the Great Milanese Capitulation was the determination of his team to play football as demanded; even in the doldrums they did show bravery enough to get on the ball and use it to effect. Early in production, we can see the stage being set, lines learned, performances honed; Angeball may yet become a musical we’ll sing along to.

Photo Miguel Morenatti

OVERALL – 6.5/10 – Seville. A place of exquisite, agonized glory. Not for me the sun-kissed memories of joy and
hope; just the desolate image of the King Of Kings walking past the trophy so cruelly smuggled from his grasp on that night of remorse and rue. Twisted fates and glacial sorrow – that’s Seville to me. Not a living goat remained in Scotland as witchcraft to make Vincent Price spin in his grave spurred The Trickster Mourinho and his band of
fainting dervishes to barely-deserved victory.

And so we returned. And, damn, if some residue of that filthy magik didn’t remain somewhere in the ether. A thrilling first 30 saw us take a heady lead and almost add to it before the curse took hold once more. Shades of last season’s San Siro capitulation glowered over, but credit the midfield for hooking us back into the game and
within a single bit of luck for a deserved draw.

Not to be. But it was Seville. Cursed Seville. A place synonymous with the colour orange, and even Celtic-conceived Betis wore blue. So we lost a thriller down there, yet again, left to ruminate on a rollercoaster game that slipped our grasp, yet again. Damn Seville. Let’s hope it’s 18 years until we have to mention it again, (unless we make the Europa League Final…which is in Seville – Ed).

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. Couldn’t agree more regarding Starfelt. Been an absolute Shane Duffy of a signing, or a Barkas, whichever you prefer.
    I was REALLY worried when Ange selected him ahead of Welsh as that was not a football decision, more a business “he cost £4.5 million so we have to play him til he shows why” decision.
    The fact that he was chosen last night again, I knew we would ship goals, even at 2-0 up.
    Starfelt will lose us games, leagues, cups & Big Ange his job if he continues to play. I won’t/ can’t watch another match whilst he starts as it gets me too angry. That must be his last start, or Ange is not the man I thought/ hoped he was.