DEBUT OF THE SEASON
Having won the SPL and then been dumped out of the Scottish Cup, Celtic had little to play for against Motherwell.Well, except getting as many points on the board to ensure we finished at least 10 points ahead of Rangers to dismiss their fans’ feeble ‘tainted title’ claims and render their similar point deduction meaningless.
With half-an-hour gone in this dull 0-0 affair, Tony Watt was introduced for his debut. Four minutes later the 19-year-old had grabbed his first Celtic goal, a first-time volleyed finish from a near impossible angle. Any dismissal of that effort as beginner’s luck was then swept aside three minutes later as he rifled through the legs of a Motherwell player beyond Irish keeper Darren Randolph for his second.
DEBUT TO FORGET OF THE SEASON
Poor Andre Blackman. After a youth spent at Premier League sides Arsenal, Spurs and Portsmouth, the Londoner dropped down to nonleague football to kick-start his career, eventually winning a contract with Celtic. He got to pull on the Celtic jersey for the first time against Aberdeen as Celtic looked to maintain a run of 17 consecutive SPL wins and 20 consecutive domestic victories. No pressure then. Unfortunately Blackman deflected Gavin Rae’s shot into the net to level the game at 1-1 and that’s how it finished. Blackman shouldn’t get too downhearted though — a certain Henrik Larsson also had a debut to forget. He turned out all right.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON and GOAL OF THE SEASON
Toeing the party line here and the awards go to Charlie Mulgrew and Dylan McGeouch respectively, as they did at the club’s own awards. Mulgrew’s not the most glamourous choice but he’s proven himself consistent, reliable, able to captain the side and a scorer of spectacular goals. The decision was hard though in a season where no one rarely stood out repeatedly above anyone else, highlighting the team ethic in the squad and the ability and consistency of all the players. Just as worthy of Mulgrew’s award are the likes of Joe Ledley, Adam Matthews, Gary Hooper, Anthony Stokes, Victor Wanyama, Scott Brown, Thomas Rogne, Fraser Forster — the list goes on. No doubts over Goal of the Season though, with the nod going to McGeouch’s effort in his second Celtic appearance.
The then 18-year-old dispossessed a St Mirren player on the edge of the Celtic box, raced the length of the pitch beating another Buddies player on the way, and evaded three opposition defenders in the area before firing low into the net.
HERO OF THE SEASON
Craig Whyte — the man’s a legend. Sold off Rangers’ future, almost destroyed its past, continues to deny he did anything wrong. He’s the gift that keeps on giving. Pity the fools who bought into the claim the wealth of the ‘billionaire’ was “off the scale”. Whyte failed to mention he was banned from being a company director for seven years and was branded “wholly unreliable” by a judge as he lost a court case to a roofing firm. Anyone stupid enough to let this man take over their business is asking for trouble. Fortunately for us it was our biggest rivals.
Whytey, we salute you!
“Of course we need to stay in first place but the lead we have over Celtic should be enough to keep us there,” said Nikica Jelavic back in November, when Rangers held a 12-point lead. They didn’t stay there — and neither did the Croatian. The striker was sold to Everton in January for £5million, just months after Rangers apparently rejected a £9million bid from an unnamed club in the summer transfer window. Ally McCoist said at the time: “You do worry that player’s heads can be turned in situations such as this but there is no doubt in my mind that Nikica Jelavic wants to be a Rangers player.”
In this age of Twitter, footballers regularly say things without thinking about the consequences only to be quickly brought to task. Kyle Bartley is a case in point.
After taking to the social networking site to ask what everyone was giving up for Lent, he was told (incorrectly) that Lent was just for Catholics. “F**k lent then… Hahaha…” was his reply. Just a few weeks earlier, Bartley had nobly condemned racism, tweeting:
“Disappointing that in 2012 things like this are still happening. Hopefully the police will take action. Thank you all for the support.” So are we to assume: joking about race = bad, joking about religion = okay? Bartley also posted the following message minutes after his friend Ched Evans was jailed for raping a drunk young woman: “Some very very stupid girls out there. Lost a good friend, and a great person.” Bartley backtracked saying the post was completely unrelated, that he was “not aware of recent public news at the time” (despite obviously having access to Twitter and thus the internet) and that it was “a personal issue” — that he tweeted to his 45,000+ followers.
FORGOTTEN MAN AWARD
Could it be one of our loan players such as Daryl Murphy or Darren O’Dea? Or perhaps a player out of favour like Morten Rasmussen or Efrain Juarez? Of course not, it’s Jeff Winter! After the former referee’s website carried a description of the Pope as a “dress wearing Nazi kiddy fiddling protector” in a crude blog making light of child abuse, everyone was aghast. Except of course Jeff, the egotistical author of the classily-titled Who’s the Bastard in the Black? who loves having attention lavished on him, whether for good reasons for ill.
While Jeff must have loved worming his way into the headlines again, as he was wont to do as a referee, it must have been agony for him when his website was suspended and he could no longer vent his spleen. However despite the backlash and a police investigation, it all went quiet on the Winter front. The hilarious shenanigans of Craig Whyte and the threat of Rangers’ demise eventually stole the headlines and relegated Jeff ’s story to fish & chip paper — the ultimate punishment for the limelight-seeking narcissist. Jeff ’s website is now up-and-running again, getting hits from sycophantic Rangers fans, although whether or not it contains something else offensive I couldn’t tell you, as I couldn’t be bothered reading his ramblings. Meanwhile One for the Bhoys is still waiting for a call back from Strathclyde Police after ringing to enquire how their investigation is going. Expect another outburst or over-the-top comment from Jeff the next time he’s suffering attention-withdrawal symptoms