New Year message from Jim Craig

As the old year slips away and the new one arrives, Celtic Football Club is in just the position we all wanted to see them placed…top of the table! It is too early to be crowing, of course, but considering the position we were in only a few weeks ago, we can all feel very happy and can extend our thanks to Neil Lennon and his troops.

On behalf of Elisabeth and my own family, may I wish you all a very Happy New Year! and hope that 2012 will be good to you.

Jim Craig

If You Know The History: 31st December: by Jim Craig

31st December 1966 Dundee Utd 3 Celtic 2

In that clean-sweep season of 1966/67, Celtic were firing on all cylinders as the New Year approached. By Hogmanay, they were unbeaten, 16 matches played, 13 wins, three draws, 56 goals for and 20 against.

Ronnie Simpson was the regular custodian; Tam Gemmell and Willie O’Neill were the full backs; Billy McNeill and John Clark in central defence; Bobby Murdoch and Bertie Auld controlled the midfield; and the other forward duties had been shared among Jimmy Johnstone, Bobby Lennox, Joe McBride, Charlie Gallagher, Steve Chalmers, John Hughes and Willie Wallace.

On this day in 1966, the team ran out at Tannadice to face Dundee Utd. Bobby Lennox opened the scoring in 12 minutes, United equalised two minutes later. Willie Wallace made it 2-1 in 23 minutes but goals in 72 and 75 minutes gave Utd a 3-2 lead which they held to the end, inflicting Celtic’s first defeat of the league campaign.

Above: Jim Craig

Jock Stein was not a happy man and decided on some changes for the next game, dropping Willie O’Neill, moving Tommy Gemmell back to the left-back slot he was more comfortable in and bringing in a young guy called Jim Craig at right –back. It seemed to work; Celtic scored 24 goals in their next 6 matches, while conceding only 2.

Jim Craig

If You Know The History: 30th December: by Jim Craig

30th December 1950 Celtic 2 hearts 2

At the start of season 1950/1951, the Celtic first team had quite a settled look to it
Johnny Bonnar had become the regular custodian.

Above: Johnny Bonnar

Behind a fullback pairing of Sean Fallon on the right and Frank Meechan on the left
Jimmy Mallan was the stopper at centre-half, flanked by Bobby Evans and Joe Baillie
And the forward line usually read Jock Weir, Bobby Collins, John McPhail, Bertie Peacock and Charlie Tully, although there was a fair bit of movement between the various positions.

On this day, in 1950, ten of that side ran out at Parkhead to face Hearts in a league match. The one missing was the injured John McPhail and to replace Big Hookey, the manager had decided on John McAlindon, who had joined Celtic from Penrith Amateurs two years before.

The 20-year-old did well, scoring twice from chances laid on by Charlie Tully and went on to play 18 times in total for the first team.

After leaving Celtic, John had a spell with Shrewsbury Town but injury cut short his career and he returned to Parkhead as maintenance electrician at the club, a post he held for many years.

Jim Craig

If You Know The History: 29th December Celtic 6 Pars 0

Jock Stein liked to see goals coming from every player in the side – with the exception of the goalkeeper, one must suppose – and was particularly keen that his front runners kept knocking them in.

On this day in 1973, his former club Dunfermline were the visitors to Parkhead for a league match. The Pars must have been feeling a little apprehensive, as Celtic had scored 42 goals in 15 games in the campaign, Dixie Deans the main man, although a variety of names, including one Daniel Fergus McGrain, had also made the score sheet.

On that afternoon, in front of 21,000, three players were to score the relevant goals in the 6-0 victory, all three notching two a-piece.

Dixie Deans opened the account in 26 minutes and added another in 33; Kenny Dalglish got Celtic’s second in 30 minutes and his own second in the 79th minute; and Harry Hood’s two came in 63 and 86 minutes.

Above: Harry Hood

It was an important afternoon for one of Celtic’s promising youngsters. At the age of 17, Andy Ritchie made his debut that day, the first of his 10 appearances in the Hoops.

Jim Craig

Sweensters Match Ratings v Rangers Dec 28th 2011

Forster 7
Plucked the ball “off” the line in superb fashion, little else to do against a much vaunted Rangers strike force.

Matthews 7
Excellent return to the team, I was relieved to see him start ahead of Cha.

Rogne 9
A Colossus at the back, every header was a clearance with distance, bossed Jelavic and Lafferty

Mulgrew 8
Fantastic performance from Charlie, looked great at Centre Back with Rogne, great delivery for the goal.

Ledley 7
Kept Aluko quiet all night, took his goal well.

Brown 6
I thought he had a quiet night, nullified any threat down the Rangers left.

Kayal 9
Wonderful performance, took the game by the scruff of the neck and was the platform for Celtic’s dominance.

Wanyama 8
Davis didn’t get a sniff, nice passes when on the ball, looks a real player. Was quick to get in and let the Rangers players know about it in any minor skirmishes.

Forrest 7
Had the beating of Broadfoot all night long.

Samaras 7
Difficult for the big fella to get going in the windy conditions, won a lot of balls in the air and ran Rangers down all night, gave us out ball going long or down the flanks.

Hooper 6
Not the conditions he was ever likely to relish, stuck with it and tried to get some interchanges going with Samaras, would’ve like a wee bit more chasing down at times.

Ki Got to the pace of the game reasonably quickly.
Stokes foul was hardly worthy of a booking, but his only notable contribution.