Sandman’s Definitive Ratings – Celtic v Fire-A-Nerd


“Mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people” – C.S Lewis

ROXIE – 8/10 – The Big Mhan says ye can’t buy experience and mental fortitude. Not even for 10 million sheckles. Not for all the tea in China, or the jizz in Jamesy… Ehhh…Big Joe says hit me with it, and they did – peppered
him and he palmed, batted, punched and footed everything away. Two terrific stops kept us ahead at half-time and a series of beautifully-anticipated swats kept them out as they buzzed around late on. Mhan’s a monolith.

GREGGS THE BAKER – 6.5/10 – He’s a rebel. Fumbling about first 45, Greggs came out in Angeball mode second half and the difference in his game was seismic. Inverted and involved, battling, driving, passing, strengthening the centre mid. Question is, whose idea was it?

WAYNE GRETZKY – 7/10 – Man-o-man… Or, more like moose-o-moose as he went on a full-scale rabid-Elk rampage, causing and averting chaos with lovely link-up play and surging runs spoiled by poor final attempts; then wandered off their scorer in a fit of pique to cost the equaliser, only to produce two marvellous goal-saving blocks as we hung onto glory. Gloriously mad-bar-steward-swinging-on-the-halfwit-pendulum-extremes sort of evening.

 Liam Scales and Gustaf Lagerbielke celebrate following the team’s victory during the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic and Feyenoord at Celtic Park on December 13, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

OF JUSTICE – 8.5/10 MOTM – The Ginger Francis Baresi puts in yet another quality, focussed performance at the highest level. Interceptions to shame Max Rockatansky and Jim Goose, blocks and tackles timed to perfection, and gallus feet that nary misplaced a calculated pass. What a find this bhoy’s been this season. Where did we get him, again?

RAQUEL – 7/10 – When I was wee and wanted to set fire to things, my ol’ Granpappy would put on the vhs copy of ‘1 million Years B.C’ and I’d be captivated beyond striking the first match. The lovely Raquel worked back then and tonight Buck employed the granpappy distraction technique of throwing in some glamour as burning torches were getting lit for him. Not kicked a ball since August, thrown in at CL end of days, I was reminded that one of last season’s CL away-day virtuosos was young Raquel, a splendid display in Leipzig forgotten amid dramatic defeat. So tonight – no lapses, no stupidity; composed, but maybe just a little rusty. Understandable. Very decent, given circumstances. Welcome back.

TONIO IWATAO – N/A – Damn, are our Japanese players victims of some kind of satanic Zombie curse this season? Only Kyogo’s left and he’s dried up; I’m beginning to spend my spare time counting goats on farms; bound to be some missing…

CALMAC – 6.5/10 – Dang, them bars don’t half rattle. Quite an effort from the skip to seize triumph from the jaws of predictable collapse and with that, it looked like we’d be settling. His passing boots took a while to get on the park and keep up with his running ones as some early openings were uncharacteristically squandered. Unfortunately, the advanced Calmac had to revert to defensive duties when Tomoki left, and his rounded display was bookended with a terrific intervention six yards out to deny a certainty.

THE BUILDER – 7/10 – Just when you’re bemoaning the lack of influence you expected them to have, the GREAT players pop up and deliver. And this gallus kid did exactly that at the death: Pirlo emulated with the takedown and the exquisite poise and dink to lay on the winner. Quality. “You want buy, Eeengleesh fatcat premeeersheep gleeteratee? Thertee meeelyon bucks for you, fatboys. Ees bargain. We start there buddy-friends. You cough up.”

BRIAN DE – 7/10 – He’s up for these games, alright. Far away from dreich domestic drudges at Killie, the lights and sounds of the CL trigger some into life. Not shy to take the ball and take on a man, nor to take a penalty. This is the type of mindset that’ll get him far and get us further as we progress as a unit towards next season. We hope…

KILLER MUSHROOM – 6/10 – It just won’t happen! Some fine runs, fluid movement, got in… Denied. Of course, bear in mind we’re now asking him to burn some of that mental sharpness and goalscoring energy he reserves for the penalty box in deep backtracking slogs to ‘get more involved’…Yeah, that’s working…

 Michael Johnston of Celtic and teammates celebrate following the team’s victory during the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and Feyenoord at Celtic Park Stadium on December 13, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

MIKEY J – 6/10 – Well, in comes Mikey to a CL starting line-up – bet you never thought you’d see that again… – and the jury still remains out; Almost heading towards Twelve Angry Men territory as Mikey both flares and despairs. Yet, among his frustrating moments there were flurries to get you on your feet and the cross of the night was flashed across their goalmouth early second period.


OH BHOY – 6/10 – An impactful stint, missing only a finish. Also impactful for the linesman, who’d never before tonight been called a ‘Cheating blind something’ in Korean.

JAMESY – N/A – ‘Jamesy, ye think ye can score?’ “Eh? Aye.” ‘Well, get stripped.’ “Oh, ye mean on the park. Eh, naw, probably…” ‘Well, just run about aimlessly for 20 minutes and kill some time then.’

LAGERTHA – 6.5/10 – Let me tell you this… Signed in July, Swedish league still going. In November – awarded Swedish Defender Of The Year. Take that in. One of Sweden’s best. Unsettled in the Hoops at first, then injured, but back ready for a month. And he can’t get game-time for…Reasons…Only turns up on the pitch because Raquel’s hobbling, shows meaningful aggression to thump into their chief antagonist, then bags the winner. An impact sub right enough.

FIT-UP – N/A – Who the hell is this? Rangy, gallus debut kid with the baws to show for it and get at it; played, that bhoy! Moar!

Brendan Rodgers applauds after winning the UEFA Champions League group E football match between Celtic and Feyenoord at Celtic Park on December 13, 2023. Celtic won 2 – 1 against Feyenoord.  (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

THE SHNAKE – 6.5/10 – ‘A lucky man,’ a plukey wee loser once called Ange. Here’s the real lucky man – bailed out by a guy he didn’t sign so he won’t play; first CL win since 2017 by default. Yet the theme of his prodigal return was heralded as CL progression. A theme now more reminiscent of General Custer convincing his cavalry regiment to take a detour because a small band of renegade injuns and their dug deserved a quick spanking in the valley of the Little Bighorn river.

So what do you do now, Brendan? Tinkered well with a forced-hand change early on, and later gave a new bhoy a berth to see if he’d become a mhan…But stuck to his old guns for starts and switches until that Lagertha good fortune fell his way like an unearthed viking gold horde (see what I did there, fans of the fantastic ‘Vikings’ series?). And a valuable stroke of serendipity it was – 3 million bucks valuable. That’ll pay for a new Gucci belt and Pistol Pete’s Big Eats delivery.

OVERALL – 7.5/10 – Another CL night; was going to be THE CL night we qualified… Eh, naw… Dead Rubber Wednesday it was, but proved to be more invigorating than anticipated as Feyenoord turned up looking for a win and we turned up… Well, turned up, thank Ghod. And, as football Ghods would have it, a non-event became a something-of-something and felt like a cathartic transgression from despairing mediocrity to proven capability as our CL participation ends bluntly before Xmas.

Three home CL games, three very, very decent performances to instil some belief into this squad that they are more than capable of mixing it at the big table. Three away games of diabolical ineptitude that shredded the souls of the support and – if you watched them through recommended safety goggles – proved the worst Virtual Reality Zombies-in-CL Emulator Simulations ever experienced.

There were thrills and spills and ultimately tonight – maybe unexpectedly – a sense of satisfaction for the Bhoys who got the scent of real victory again. Which is perfect for hunting down the dogs coming sniffing around Paradise on Saturday, merely an expeditionary force for their masonic masters who’ll sour the smell of the festive season a fortnight later in their attempts to deny us another shot on the new, revamped CL rollercoaster next year.

If the squad can hold that precious sense of validation and replicate the endeavour, skill, and intensity of tonight through the domestic chores then we’ll be buckling up for the ride. And that, basically, is just dependent on the Bhoys maintaining faith in themselves. And skelping Zombies, too, of course…

Go Away Now


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