SEASON 1997/98 was of course obsessed from the start with the wish, nay the absolute necessity, to stop Rangers winning 10 League titles in a row.
What would life be like, if that were allowed to happen?
The memory of Jock Stein and the great team from 1965 until 1974 would be seriously besmirched, and it really could not be allowed.
But the Scottish League Cup was a trophy that had an even greater need of a win.
It had not been won for 15 long and painful years. Indeed in the whole decade of the 1990s, only one trophy had been won and that was the Scottish Cup lifted by Tommy Burns in 1995 – but now Tommy had been sacked and replaced by an unknown Dutch character called Wim Jansen who had brought with him a strange looking Swedish player called Henrik Larsson.
Things did not start well generally, but Celtic got off to a good beginning in this trophy with a 7-0 win over Berwick Rangers in a game which had to be moved to Tynecastle for safety reasons.
There followed an absolutely dreadful game at McDiarmid Park, Perth when Celtic won 1-0 through a debatable penalty in extra time sunk by Simon Donnelly. We were lucky to get off with that one, but after that things began slowly to improve as new players began to bed in, and Henrik Larsson began to score a few goals.
It was he who scored the only goal in the game at Celtic Park against Motherwell on 10 September. It was enough to put Celtic into the semi-final to play Dunfermline Athletic, a team who had already beaten Celtic in the Scottish League that season.
This time it was a rainy Wednesday night at Ibrox, and it was a 1-0 victory, although the victory was a great deal more convincing than the score-line would have suggested.
The goal came when Larsson passed the ball back to lay it on for Craig Burley, and then just at the very end goalkeeper Jonathan Gould saved from the grey-haired veteran Hamish French to put Celtic into the League Cup final.
Dundee United were the opponents on St Andrew’s Day in the Final at Ibrox. Celtic, whose form in November had been inconsistent, suddenly turned it on and beat United 3-0 with headed goals from Marc Rieper and Craig Burley and a deflected shot from Henrik Larsson.
Celtic were always on top and deserved their win and the Scottish League Cup which had now adorned the Celtic sideboard for 10 times. Not only that, but it gave the club and the players a bit of self-belief, and this stood them in good stead when the crunch came at the end of the season.
There was no 10 in a row!
David Potter on Celtic’s League Cup Triumphs – Win No.11 will appear on The Celtic Star tomorrow morning. Please check back to read David’s features on all of the previous League Cup final trophy wins – they are all on our home page, or use the search function.
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Tierney’s £19.5 million Jackpot and Lenny wants to sign Five Stars…see HERE.
Rat’s Not Happening! Rodgers fails in late £20m bid for Callum McGregor…see HERE.
Celtic Ambassador rates Tierney as good as Gemmell and McGrain…see HERE.
To Lisbon and back on a fiver – Monday 22 May, Mission Impossible and Hail, Hail Mary…see HERE.
We’re all off to Transylvania, Part 3, ‘The mood changed as the KT news spread’…see HERE.