“It was simply Celtic champagne football at its best,” David Potter

As we contemplate and prepare for our trip to Motherwell on Sunday, we must remember that a victory against Rangers, however satisfying and pleasing, brings us no more than 3 points, exactly the same reward as we can hope to pick up if we beat Motherwell on Sunday.

Motherwell must not, of course, be taken lightly. We recall that we beat them in the final of the Scottish League Cup in November and then played then another twice in a week. They were not easy opponents then, and although they have now lost Louis Moult, they are still in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, and indeed we might potentially meet them again in the Scottish Cup.

We have had some poor games at Motherwell – infamously we lost in the Scottish Cup there in 1976 after being two goals up, and then again in the awful time of early 1994 – but we have also had some great games with them as well, not least the game on 18 September 1982 when we recorded the remarkable score of Motherwell 0 Celtic 7.

It came on the Saturday after we had drawn 2-2 with Ajax at Parkhead in the European Cup First Round First Leg –the same old story of defensive frailties letting us down in Europe, but Celtic‘s domestic record was quite good, and for this game, although midfielder Tommy Burns was injured, manager Billy McNeill simply moved Roy Aitken into the midfield, a place where many people felt that he should have been all along.

Roy was very creative and forward-looking, whereas in the back four he could be careless and gave the ball away far too often.

Motherwell had recently appointed Jock Wallace as their manager in place of Davie Hay who had left the club to take up a job in the USA, and the Celtic supporters sang songs in praise of the same Davie Hay that day at Fir Park. When he became manager of Celtic the following year, they wouldn’t always be so wholesome in their praise!

It was not the best of beginnings for Jock Wallace at Motherwell, but he was honest enough to admit that his team were outclassed. “Slaughtered” was the word he used.

It was one of the many fine performances from Celtic in the Charlie Nicholas era. He himself scored a hat-trick (one of them a brilliant individual goal), and there were two from Roy Aitken as he came charging through on his own, Murdo MacLeod and Frank McGarvey scored the others to the delight of the Celtic crowd in the 17,000 crowd.

It was simply Celtic champagne football at its best.

It would be a brave man who would single out Celtic’s best ever performance – my own favourite is the 1969 Scottish League Cup final against Hibs – but this one is definitely worth a place in the top ten.

What a shame the undoubted talent in this team did not mature and grow. This season, for example, the team won the Scottish League Cup in December, and were well in the hunt for both other trophies before, in one awful week, blowing everything to Aberdeen and Dundee United.

But when Charlie Nicholas was on song, there was little that anyone could do to stop Celtic.

David Potter

NEW EPISODE – Margot McCuaig on The Celtic Star Podcast: A Celtic State of Mind

The Celtic Star Podcast: A Celtic State of Mind presents its latest instalment of insightful discussion around the culture of Celtic Football Club, the city of Glasgow, and fans of the reigning treble-winning Scottish champions.

This week, Paul John Dykes and Kevin Graham are joined by Scottish documentary director, Margot McCuaig.

Margot is an award-winning documentary-maker and acclaimed novelist.

Having found her feet on Celtic TV, Margot has gone on to make a number of Celtic-related documentaries including films on Jock Stein and Jimmy Johnstone.

A Celtic State of Mind has gone from strength-to-strength over the last few months, and there are many more guests lined up in the weeks ahead from the world of sport, music, film, art, broadcasting, literature and politics.

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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 editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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