An Aussie Abroad: Celtic 3 – 1 Aberdeen

by Justin Cormick

Stokes CelticPrior to the Milan defeat and the banner controversy, our Aussie Abroad travelled to Celtic Park to witness the Hoops’ 3-1 league victory over Aberdeen.

Manager Neil Lennon made two changes to Celtic’s line-up following their victory over Ross County. Kris Commons and Georgios Samaras returned to the field, with James Forrest missing out due to an injury and Israel’s Nir Biton dropping to the bench.

Celtic began the match the stronger of the two teams and had a number of chances to open the scoring. On the 35 minute mark the ball was cleared by Aberdeen keeper Jamie Langfield, but Commons pounced onto the end of the clearance and fired a bouncing ball into the back of the net to give Celtic a 1-0 lead. Despite their obvious domination, Celtic would go into the half at 1-1, with Niall McGinn equalising for Aberdeen just before the whistle.

Celtic Football Club was founded in the late 1880s by Irish immigrants in Glasgow. Marist priest and headmaster, Brother Walfrid from County Sligo, Ireland, created the club as a fundraiser for the poor immigrants experiencing starvation, poverty and unemployment in Scotland. Walfrid chose the name of the club, Celtic, as a reflection of his Irish heritage. It took more than six months before Celtic would play their first match, a 5-2 victory over rivals Rangers.

Meanwhile, half-time against Aberdeen would see Australia’s sole representative take to the field, with Celtic ‘s 20 year-old substitute Tom Rogic warming up. Unfortunately Rogic would not make it onto the field during the second half.

Celtic returned to the pitch to miss a handful of opportunities to take the lead in the second half. Langfield’s fingertips denied goals from both Joe Ledley and Kris Commons, while Samaras fired a shot off the post. Entering the final minutes of the match, Aberdeen began to have their own opportunities to snatch 3 points from the league leaders.

With the third-official signalling 3 minutes of extra-time a number of disillusioned fans began to leave the stadium. However, they would turn into disappointed fans as they missed the late drama at Celtic Park. A Charlie Mulgrew corner kick was headed into the Aberdeen goal and cleared once again by Langfield, but only as far as Derk Boerrigter. The 63rd minute substitute poked the ball into the back of the net to take the lead for Celtic.

Only two minutes later Langfield would send another clearance into the feet of a Celtic player, Kris Commons. The midfielder hardly played his best 90 minutes of football, but based on his work rate alone deserved his second goal. His 93rd minute strike would ensure Celtic secured all three points against Aberdeen.

The Scottish club still enjoys large support in Ireland, particularly from the Catholic community. The Irish connection could most recently be seen in Celtic’s Champions League encounter with AC Milan, with political banners displayed as protests against bans by the Scottish Parliament.

The terrorist or the dreamer? The savage or the brave? Depends on whose vote you are trying to catch or whose face you are trying to save.

read the banners held high by the Green Brigade section of Celtic supporters, along with the faces of William Wallace and Bobby Sands. As everyone who has seen Braveheart would know, Wallace was a key figure in the wars of Scottish Independence. But perhaps less well known, particularly outside Ireland, is Bobby Sands. Sands was a leader in the IRA and imprisoned in Maze prison, where he took part in the Hunger Strike protesting Irish prisoners’ rights. During the Hunger Strike Sands was elected into the British Parliament. After 66 days of Hunger Strike, Bobby Sands past away from starvation, and has since become an Irish cult figure.

Current manager Neil Lennon was born in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, and received death threats from loyalists when he joined the club as a player from Leicester City in 2000. The Belfast Times reported Lennon’s anger at the political banners:

it certainly wasn’t the time or place for a display like that.

Celtic will face a disciplinary investigation by UEFA for breaching Article 16.2 of the disciplinary regulations, the display of an illicit banner. But this is the least of their worries, with the 3-0 defeat to Milan meaning their European Campaign will come to an end with next round’s final Champions League match. No matter the result, Celtic will remain bottom of the group and will fail even to reach the Europa League.

Lennon has shrugged aside the disappointment and instead draws attention to this weekend’s Scottish Cup match against Hearts. A victory will see the Hoops take a step towards winning their record 37th Scottish Cup.

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