Sandman’s Definitive Ratings – Celtic v Davy Escobar’s Select


“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Then the Green Brigade got let back in, thank yore
And the atmosphere rocked once more.”

– Clement Clarke Moore “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” revised edition.

ROXIE – 6/10 – “Joe! JOE?! Has anybody seen Joe? He’s big lad, a wee bit daft sometimes, but mostly sensible, aye? Ah canny believe he’d go off on his own. We left him right there – right in the Sellic goalmouth at the kick-aff. We was watching the game up the other end and after 90 minutes… Well, we haven’t seen him again *sniff*. Whoever took him – please gie’s him back for Xmas. He luvs his Skelpin’ and Santa might just have some fur him. So please, let him come home…”

– Joe Hart’s Maw’s public appeal.

GREGGS THE BAKER – 7/10 – KISS – Keep it simple, stupid. And when Greggs keeps it simple we get the best sausage rolls this side of Orion’s Belt. Also, his runs and timing and mental acuity function at a higher level when he’s not trying to elaborate, like today. Fine contribution.

WAYNE GRETZKY – 6/10 – The volatile Canadian has been flickering on and off like a serial killer’s lightbulb; in-game antics this afternoon made for a perfect representation of his season’s form with both good and bad as his passing hit or missed, but overall his efforts proved mostly positive.

OF JUSTICE – 7/10 – There were a few ropey first 45 moments before he clicked with the rest of the team and the best of his game was on show. Composed, with nice footwork, not to mention the day’s highlight as he gave a corner the full-ginger barnet treatment and back-flicked it home beautifully; a deft sleight-of-heid bit of magic Ron Weasley would have gasped at.

GET CARTER – 8/10 MOTM – Appearance # 100 and 100% full-pelt for the win. Wore the set of a grizzly who’s been woken from hibernation by a kick in the baws. Provided the fulcrum and driving force from deep that kept them pinned-in to be picked off. After 40 minutes of growling at a frustrating low-block, CCV implemented the novel solution of trying to kill them one-by-one – picked the ugliest of Jim Henson’s creations and smashed it in the face with a Christmas cracker of a strike.

That shook them up and gave us food for thought – 0-0 at the time and we won 2-0 after it. We have a new tactic; The data doesn’t lie. Should have capped a landmark match with a spectacular goal but a splendid save denied his diving header. However, he’s back, in full. Excellent.

CALMAC – 6/10 – The pressure, interestingly, seemed to be off him to make things happen as they dropped so deep and CCV strode forward so often that the skipper merely had to keep the engine ticking over and the tempo flowing; which he can – and did – do with his eyes wide shut.

IMAGO / Shutterstock Matt O Riley shoots wide of the Livingston goal. Celtic v Livingston, Cinch Scottish Premiership, Football, Celtic Park,  – 23 December Photo Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock

THE BUILDER – 6.5/10 – Not afraid to slog it in the dreich weather, always looking to add some craft to the labour. Only weight of numbers and a tricky surface foiled Matty as he drifted and slinked about their box trying to prise them apart. Also made the clearance of the day – off the wrong line…

SAINT BERNARDO – 6/10 – Davy Escobar’s used to seeing double – happens when you tap yer own supply, and today saw him checking the teamsheet for the O’Reilly twins. Big Bernardo might not have been needed for a rescue but the fans could have done with him carrying a wee brandy barrell around the freezing stands. As it was, you’ve got to give it to the bhoy for involvement; weather like that isn’t Lisbon-friendly, and Benfica don’t nurture duds either (*cough, remember the Jota fella?). I’ve a feeling there’s much more to come from him when he’s settled into a rhythm and realises he doesn’t always have to perform in conditions from post-apocalyptic sci-fi stories.

BRIAN DE – 7/10 – Another surprise second-half package. I suppose there’s tropical storms and hurricanes aplenty in his heritage and he certainly rained the pain down on them after the interval (see what I did there, Michael Fish fans?). Supplied the guile and the deliveries to puncture the lead balloons and secure the points. Something he must repeat twice more before the year is out…

Kyogo Furuhashi of Celtic celebrates after scoring his team’s opening goal during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Livingston FC at Celtic Park on December 23, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

KILLER MUSHROOM – 7/10 – Welcome back, Kyogo-san! Never been more pleased to see someone more pleased than ever. All the dry runs, the fruitless toil to appease coaching egos, the loss of edge and a little self-belief, all wiped away in a storm-splitting grin thanks to an instinctive toe-poke. And… Here. We. Go…

LORD KATSUMOTO – 6.5/10 – Battered about and got battered about. Daizen getting his groove back just means Daizen charging around the joint in a glorious frenzy of limbs and flashing baldy heid. Which he wasn’t afraid to stick into the mix in pursuit of glory. Didn’t find it today but an hour of power will hopefully see us benefit from a full 90 of samurai slaughtering when the Diddy Cup Championees come to soil Paradise.


OH BHOY – 6/10 – Oh dear, oh dear – thwarted twice as he looked to ramp up his fine scoring averages; must be said only a great stop kept his header out as he once more showed his worth as a physical-impact addition.

YING – 6/10 – Not much time to shine but made the most of it with some interestingly deceptive footwork that warmed up the crowd.

EDDIE TURNBULL – N/A – Asking an auld fella to chank aboot in that; shame on ye, Rodgers.

Brendan Rodgers and James Forrest are seen during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Livingston at Celtic Park on December 23, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

JAMESY – 6/10 – Jamesy just loves the festive season – there’s always so many more empty glasses for him to ‘fill’…He’ll definitely keep you topped-up, ladies, and that special service was almost rampant on the park too as he fizzed across the slippery-when-wet surface, firing in a few decent balls. Ooh-err, missus – lookout for the Jamesy Xmas Special on Celtic TV with Dick Emery guesting…

THE SHNAKE – 6.5/10 – Wasn’t looking good for him as the restlessness frittered around the stadium after a half hour of near things. However, his half-time tweaks or demands or… Gucci belt display?…worked and the day played out to coaching satisfaction as substitutions kept the game firmly in our grasp and he got through a no-win situation with something rare recently – a win. ‘That’ll do, pig,’ as Farmer Hoggett would say…

MIBBERY – 4/10 – Who’s this fresh-faced young virgin MIB pup? They give the expected Celts wins to the new inductees as a form of hazing. This one must have thought he’d be shooting up the goat ladder at half-time, only for his priapic state to wilt mere minutes into the second period, and he never quite recovered staunchness.

OVERALL – 7/10 – Well done. Last time anyone had to perform a rescue mission in conditions like that it was the crew of the Nostromo dragging a freshly-impregnated John Hurt (nothing to do with Jamesy) across the surface of LV-426 to a dropship. Our season was in need of rescue and Livi on paper is easy. But Livi in such weather is anything but. Not even Princess Diana in her heyday could have worked through such a knot of big sinewy men without a little luck or helping… hand…

Our fortunes seemed depleted beyond 30 minutes as the ideas bank ran low, with the winning edge of two seasons past gradually blunting under the weight of coaching ego; players once terrified to take a breather look too ready to slack-off when the going goes Billy Ocean.

Celtic v Livingston –  The Green Brigade’s message during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Saturday December 23, 2023. Photo Steve Welsh

But they got there with some deus ex machina intervention falling for us rather than against, as has been the sorry plot recently. Backed by the resurgent tumult of the GB and the Bhoys, the extra oomph was redolent around Paradise and the players provided the fanfare. We got it together, somehow, into the second 45 and slayed the relentless giants as their admirable defending finally succumbed to Celtic guile.

So now the turkey can go back in the oven and the in-laws can be tolerated; the weans will be allowed to open their presents and not have to wait until 5pm on Boxing Day with no guarantee…

So Ghod bless us one and all. Well, not all.. Not those ugly pagan, Satanic Zombies heathens… But you all, yes.

Merry Xmas, fu.. … ….

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

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