In our build up to this weekends game at Hampden between ourselves and Dundee Utd, Block_102 regales Mark Wilson’s career at Parkhead after his move from the Tannadice club in 2006. In a new feature in The Blog, this is the first of our ‘Underrated Celts’ segment.
By mid January 2006, Celtic sat at the top of the SPL ahead of Hearts and Rangers. Looking back, it’s hard to wonder how we managed this, as we essentially played every game with ten men. We had a left back in the team, but no matter who it was out of Mo Camara and Ross Wallace, it really was a major problem area. World renowned wingers such as Ivan Sproule and Richie Foran terrorised us. This is not an exaggeration. We really were a shambles in this department.
On the 16th of the month, we decided to spend money on Mark Wilson from Dundee United. He was a fine player, who’d usually saved his best games for against ourselves. However, he was a right back and there we had the unspectacular but extremely solid Paul Telfer, who kept himself fit and could be relied upon to do a decent job more often than not for us. Was Mark Wilson going to be a £500k backup ?
He made his debut at right back against his previous employers in a 3-3 draw in place of Paul Telfer in which he was blame free for the entire 90 minutes. A fortnight later, he would play at left back while Telfer regained his right back slot. In a position that he wouldn’t be as his natural best, he was excellent. Four days later, Mark Wilson would go onto excel at Ibrox in a game Celtic won 1-0. Alongside Roy Keane, Wilson was arguably the best player on the park, letting nothing get by him all game and displaying a maturity well beyond his years in a fixture which many more distinguished players have crumbled in. It would not be the last time Mark Wilson would have a stormer at Ibrox either, as he seemed to have a cracking game there more often than not. Wilson was outstanding in the 2-0 win in Jan 2011 at Ibrox as well as the 2-2 Scottish Cup draw a month later, assisting Scott Brown for Celtic’s second after fine control from an awkward Izzy cross.
Goals were something of a collectors item for Wilson, whose netted three times in the same season – 2010/2011, in arguably his best season for the club. He was on the scoresheet in a 3-0 win at Pittodrie, a 3-1 win against Dundee United and was the match-winner in the Scottish Cup replay in March 2011 against Rangers in a 1-0, after his initial effort scudded Sasa Papac so hard on the bonce, the Bosnian was vying to return back to his war torn homeland for some respite.
The term ‘dogged by injury’ sadly applied to Mark Wilson as he had numerous problems which hampered him at the club. Constant knee problems plagued him and when he eventually did get himself fully fit, he wasn’t getting in a look in due to the excellent form of Andreas Hinkel from 2008 to 2010. He also had performed terribly in certain games in Strachan’s final season which did him no favours, such as letting Daniel Cousin seem like Godzilla as he effortlessly brushed him aside en route to the 4-2 defeat at Celtic Park, and letting himself be bullied at Fir Park in a terrible second half of an eventual 4-2 win.
Credit must to go Wilson for going out on a high at Celtic though. Even when Lennon brought in Cha Du Ri, Wilson refused to spit the dummy and continue to get the head down and take his chance when he was given it, and he didn’t look back when the Korean was away with the national team in Jan 2011.
Sadly, injury once more decimated Mark for the season in 2011/2012 and he was only able to make a handful of appearances in his final campaign for the club. In a nice touch, he captained Celtic in his final turnout against St Johnstone in a 1-0 victory.
A thoroughly likeable guy and a very good footballer, it’s a damn shame Wilson was not able to become a Jackie McNamara type player for us and it’s a testament that despite not fulfilling the potential he had when he signed, no one had a bad word to say about him when he left on a free for Bristol City.
The Celtic Blog wishes Wilson well and here’s hoping we see him back at Celtic Park in some capacity in the future!