If You Know The History: 12th November 1988 Celtic 3 Rangers 1

12th November 1988 Celtic 3 Rangers 1

After the wonderful season of 1987/88, when under the management of Billy McNeill, Celtic won a League/Scottish Cup ‘double’, the following season of 1988/89 did not start in the way every supporter expected.

After comfortably disposing of Ayr United 4-1 and Hamilton Academicals 7-2 in the first two rounds, Celtic went out of the League Cup to Dundee United at Tannadice in August. In the European Cup, a good win over Honved (4-1 on aggregate) was followed by disappointing performances against Werder Bremen, one single goal at Parkhead enough to take the West Germans through. While in the League, five defeats in the first fourteen matches (including a 1-5 loss to Rangers) left the Hoops struggling in third place behind Aberdeen and the Light Blues.

That made the next Old Firm clash a most important one and it took place at Celtic Park on this day in 1988. The team was Bonner, Morris, Rogan, Aitken, McCarthy, Whyte, Stark, McStay, MacAvennie, McGhee and Burns; thankfully, the players rose to the challenge and won 3-1, the goals coming from Billy Stark, Mark McGhee and an own goal. The result gave a boost not only to the team but also to the support, who were quite delighted with the performance.

Billy Stark (middle row, left) during his coaching days at Celtic

They might have been less happy if they had known that manager Billy McNeill had problems behind the scenes. Striker Frank MacAvennie – the hero of the previous season – had put in a transfer request, tired of what he called the ‘goldfish bowl’ existence of living in Glasgow. So far, the request had been rejected but how long could the club continue to hold on to an unhappy player?

Jim Craig

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