‘The humour was immense’ – The ‘Andy Halliday’ Scottish Cup semi-final

Celtic 4-0 theRangersScottish Cup, semi-final – 15 April, 2018, Hampden

Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney, Brown, Ntcham, Forrest (Roberts), Rogic (Sinclair), McGregor, Dembele (Griffiths)

theRangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, McCrorie, Martin, John, Docherty, Halliday (Windass), Candeias (Bruno Alves), Dorrans (Holt), Murphy, Morelos

Referee: Bobby Madden

This was the tie that theRangers players cheered when they heard the draw. Their Manager was happy at that attitude, and the Press then went on to tell us all about their “hunger” for this tie, and how this was going to be the day that Brendan Rodgers and his men would come a cropper, and that the new theRangers team were ready to win their first trophy.

Celtic were well ahead in the League and had already lifted the Scottish League Cup before the New Year with a narrow but deserved win over Motherwell. And it was Motherwell whom the winners would be facing in the final of the Scottish Cup, the steel men having caused a small surprise the day before by beating Aberdeen in the other Semi Final.

The weather was sunny and Celtic started playing towards the Mount Florida end. Very soon it became obvious that one team was better than the other. The crowd had not all entered the stadium when Moussa Dembele hit the post, and by half time Celtic were 2-0 up with a fine goal from Tom Rogic which involved Brown, Lustig, Dembele and Forrest in the build up.

An even better goal came next and it was a clinical finish from Callum McGregor. This time Kieran Tierney was heavily involved, but the Rangers defence were all at sea in any case.

There is a particular humiliation about being “hooked” before half time. Frankly, it means that you are getting the blame for what is going wrong, but it also does raise a question about the Manager himself. “Why did you pick him?” was a not unreasonable enquiry to theRangers Manager Graeme Murty when Andy Halliday was invited to join the bench and allow someone else to take his place.

The humour was immense. Poor Andy had had all sorts of things said about him in the build up – “(the)Rangers through and through” “ a BIG (the)Rangers fan” and that patently absurd piece of journalese about “wearing his heart on his sleeve”.

What that nonsense means no-one seems to know, but in any case it was Andy’s mouth that was now the talking point as he clearly likened his Manager to the part of the male body which the learned call a scrotum. Mr Murty claimed not to notice, but the rest of the world, even those of us who are not very good at lip reading, did. I don’t think Mr Murty and Mr Halliday sat together on the team bus as it left Hampden that night.

The second half was a little dull, brightened up by referee Bobby Madden awarding Celtic two penalty kicks which were hardly necessary, and sending off young McCrorie who was simply out of his depth. Celtic did not really need such luxuries but the penalties were duly sunk by Dembele and Ntcham, and we had further comedy when an absurd miskick by Mikael Lustig managed to hit his own bar, the ball fell to the ever popular Alfredo Morelos and he kicked it straight at Craig Gordon!

Oh, the laughs we had that day! Celtic would go on to beat Motherwell in the final on the day that we had to tear ourselves away from the television and the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (now there was a real laugh!), and that was a few weeks after theRangers had been at Parkhead on the day that the League was clinched.

Was it another 4-0? No, 5-0 this time! And most theRangers fans didn’t even stick it out to half time! And Mikael Lustig seemed to want to join the Glesca polis, modelling himself with a hat he borrowed from one of the Constabulary.

David Potter

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About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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