Sandman’s Definitive Ratings – Celtic v Not Real, The Other Ones


“There is no ‘Z’ in our name. Why? Because we’re not the Zombies…There is no ‘H’ in our name…”

” – Diego Simeone post match press conference (watch after Sandman’s Definitive Ratings)…

Alvaro Morata of Atletico Madrid scores the team’s second goal past Joe Hart of Celtic during the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and Atletico Madrid at Celtic Park Stadium on October 25, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

ROXIE – 8/10 – Not a boot or glove wrong. Showgirl extravaganza spectacular – a show stopping rarity of a penalty save that brought the house down – for .25 of a second – and a classic Big Joe Big Right Bit match-saver to hold the point. Apparently he’s ‘in decline…’ ©FIFA Playstation virgins.

GREGGS THE BAKER – 6/10 – Ah, so often Mr.Reliable on CL nights, tonight his Dutch alter ego took over at the most inopportune moments; Rip Van Winkle dozing into the game to concede a soft penalty, and not awake enough to snap forward at their miracle-working sub who took advantage of Greggs conceding ground to whip in a killer ball for Dracula’s butler to nod in the equaliser. But… His development as a Euro-Celtic fullback hasn’t been
without cultivating moments of class to sparkle-up the graft – beautiful ball in behind for Daizen to lay on the second, so kudos.

WAYNE GRETZKY – 6.5/10 – Another scrapper, perfect for those opponents; no quarter given from AJ who, while not at his refined best, still adopted the persona of a cage-fighter to hustle, hassle and ultimately faze his counterparts. Recognised as such by street-fighting dugout pimp Simeone who hooked his rattled left back at half-time.

Celtic’s players applaud at the end of the UEFA Champions League group E football match between Celtic and Atletico Madrid at Celtic Park on October 25, 2023. Celtic and Atletico Madrid equalised 2 – 2.  (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

OF JUSTICE – 7.5/10 – Can the Blarney Bhoy do no wrong? This season’s startling breakout continues his remarkable consistency in another CL match against another side brandishing European football’s top armoury. Poise and awareness enough to mostly subdue their rapier front two; nothing possible he could do regards the

GET CARTER – 7.5/10 – No messing about tonight – stuck the studs right onto big Lurch’s ankle in the area of the pitch known to elite coaches as ‘Sunday League Retribution Zone’. Amusing to watch the Spanish Captain Haddie attempt revenge which all but ended in him shattering a forearm of CCV’s granite nut. The Big Mhan played like a Big Mhan; unflustered by the card, extremely disciplined in his positioning and corralling of the defence.

CALMAC – 7/10 – Curiously, Calmac left me a little forlorn after yet another intense 90; just felt he’d done everything beautifully to a point, charged the midfield with his metronomic dynamism, but…As it came to the crucial moments where his creativity might cultivate match-winning situations he was perplexingly off-key;
the last guy you’d expect to miss-ping a vital pass or pick the wrong option.

(Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

THE BUILDER – 8/10 – Jings, whit a baller the kid is. That laser-sighted pass slid in to Kyogo was football as art, a Parkheid Banksy. Thereafter, he corkscrewed his way around enemy territory, swashbuckling into their box, almost notching one for himself, then…Fell asleep in the dressing room at half-time and spent the second-half yelling to the ballboys to get him an Espresso from the kiosks in the Jock Stein to get him going again. They
were out, as per usual…”Machine’s doon, mate…” Still, bhoy scored the SPL goal of the season on Sunday, set up the UCL goal of the season tonight. Quiet week at work?

Reo Hatate of Celtic looks dejected as he leaves the field after sustaining an injury during the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and Atletico Madrid at Celtic Park Stadium on October 25, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

HAKUNA HATATE – N/A – God damn. When people wonder about our luck in the CL this season, just point to that moment you saw Reo greetin’ on the turf; barely a minute after taking a glorious lead. The Universe, she is a bitch.

LORD KATSUMOTO – 8.5/10 MOTM – Is there anything Daizen cannot do? Yes: stop. You thought it was only SPL dross like the Zombies who were terrified of him… Tonight, Euro elite started bewildered, panicked, and then got frantic every time he appeared like the Tasmanian Devil screeching around and through their lines. ‘Call Elmer Fud! Get Fud!” Simeone could be heard hollering from the side as rampaging Daizen smoked his defence. The time he buys the team to compose, reset, or anticipte with his incessant press is utterly priceless at such a level. Anything on top is a mega-bonus; we got an assist, and he deserves MOTM.

KILLER MUSHROOM – 7.5/10 – Bam! #2. Following up his, ‘Aye Ah can bang them in, in Europe. How?” maiden goal with another fizzing beauty of movement and clipped finish. Not much space for the sprite to work in but his quality of movement deserved more service, though to be fair the bhoys were running on empty after an hour.

BRIAN DE – 7.5/10 – Just like the movies, eh!? Take Two…Daizen gets the last touch and Brain smashes it in; oh
no here comes VAR; Daizen might be off… nope, great jhoy! And didn’t he celebrate that one? About the only time
you see such energy from him. That’s no criticism – he has a particular style of playing that sees him beguile
opponents with a Harlem Shuffle before quick feet and speed of thought prise open the space. Plenty of sand-dancers try to mimic such movement, but he looks like he’s got the velvet hips for it more than
any other Celt I’ve seen since utterly mad-mental Paulo Di Canio.


SAINT BERNARD – 6/10 – ‘I know, throw in another one that looks a bit like Matty O’Reilly! That’ll mess ’em up…” said The Shnake as big Paulo Nutini got dragged off his Xbox and hastily run through the superstore to get kitted out and into the maelstrom. And he was knackered by the time Greaseball hit the post with the pen… Obviously needing more game-time but still fought his corner well and put himself around fearlessly.

JAMESY – 6/10 – Damn, Jamesy – not often he’ll say he got too much of a touch but that ‘third leg’ he threw at the ball near the death was just too hefty and knocked it over; whereas a lesser man might have only managed enough of a whack to guide it across and in. Jamesy’s rueful look to the skies said it all: it’s sometimes a burden to be blessed…

THE NATIONALIST – 6/10 – ‘What the hell are you giving me the ball for?! I don’t want it!’ I felt for the big guy – all guised up as Ichabod Crane for Halloween, having previously spent most of his Liverpool career staring at Mo Salah’s perm on the training ground, and here he is practically being asked to play holding mid in a CL game against La liga’s form team. He did okay, though, considering the linesman was the one most in receipt of a pass from him.

THE SHNAKE – 7.5/10 – What about Oh and Tonio? Asked Dr.Seuss and the crowd as we sought a win. Well, asked me. A little bemused to see big Nat canter on for Brian De. Of course it was tactical; but so would have been throwing in Hammer of the Hearts and Euro hero Tonio Iwattio if you’re looking to absorb their midfield numbers.

And if you’re thinking of sneaking a winner, the Bhoy Oh’s got a track record…But no, Brendan went for ultra-security and you can’t blame him too much after the Lazio final-scene twist. He got a point that looked unlikely after an hour and we survive with a slim hope going into the next round of games. Well, fair enough.

OVERALL – 8/10 – Riddled with football’s greatest trinkets they are – World Cup winners medals, CL, Europa, European Championship, La liga, Serie A, EPl… Screw me – list the honours across that team and you’d not step onto the park without a duster and polish and the same sense of inferiority the Zombieshave when they talk about trophy hauls (Two, snigger…).

But the Bhoys did take the leap across the chasm and we feared a hiding, and then they did some more
and we feared less, and then they did even more and we feared only actually losing from a winning position
which felt ‘great’ – almost – until that bubble got burst and then we feared another calamity undoing a
marvellous evening’s work…But Karma got sick of kicking Celtic’s Euro-baws tonight and our lhads left with a precious point but – far more importantly – rekindled belief that they can compete at these levels of intensity and quality. With. No. Fear…

A throwback to CL days of old, it was, topping the Lazio frenzy for added quality and composure. Admired not only in this Shire but by notable football media presences – saw the TNT CL highlights Euro guests praise Celtic for ‘Beautiful and intricate’ football ‘The best seen across this season’s CL’. So it’s not just you and it’s not just me – these Bhoys are the real deal and we’re on a roll.

Two games into a vicious 7/21 run and we’re still deserving of being able to smile. A lot.

Go Away Now


Out now! We have a limited number of copies signed by both John Hartson and the author Matt Corr – click on the image to order….

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. Maeda MOTM?? EVERYTHING he did in dangerous areas where you required a decent ball was wasted .. EVERY TIME!! Even his cross for Palma goal was just a bad cross to Kyogo. He runs about .. A LOT .. & he’s fast, BUT somehow that is enough to get MOTM & be a first pick for us? Ridiculous on both counts. Final ball was awful, all night. In those positions with a better player we could have got another couple of goals, but no, of course he sclaffs it every feckin time. If I see him one on one with a keeper do I (or any other fan) think he’ll score? No, never. We are Maeda away from being a VERY good team! I wish he was better, I hoped he’d score/ play a decent final ball in a dangerous area .. he never does! JUST. NOT. GOOD. ENOUGH. Sad, very sad .. but, true!