An Effortless Afternoon

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Yesterday might well have been the strangest 90 minutes of football I have ever seen.

Marketed as a cup semi final, it was, in fact, little more than a training exercise for Celtic.

This was 2-0 going on …. 2-0. I won’t kid anyone that Celtic threatened to rack up a cricket score.

The players and the team seemed content simply to be going through, to be booking a place in the final.

That was the goal, and it was achieved with minimal fuss.

That’s important to consider. Minimal fuss.

It’s the oddest thing. Of all the things I expected might happen yesterday – there were five possible outcomes ranging from a comprehensive Celtic win (by four or more) to a comfortable Sevco win (any score-line where they won more than a single goal, with Ronny’s chances of hanging onto his job decreasing the further into the negative column we got) – this was the one I didn’t anticipate.

I never thought Celtic would play professionally, thoroughly, and get the win … effortlessly.

There it is. The word of the week. Effortlessly.

For months now, the media has been telling us that “Scottish football needs a strong Rangers.” Yesterday, we saw what Sevco had to offer. It wasn’t much.

There are 40 senior teams in the Scottish game in this country, outside of the two who were out on the park yesterday. What made that 90 minutes extraordinary is that I believe that any one of them would have given us a tougher game, and the afternoon would have been a lot less certain.

Let’s think for a minute about what we saw, and consider the implications of it.

We saw a team calling itself Rangers, with a cup final place at stake, coming to Hampden with no ambition at all to win the match, content, instead, to limit the size of the beating they took.

I have never seen remotely like it, and I did not expect it.

Celtic’s win was accomplished without fanfare, great style or panache, and without the team having to get out of second gear. That, in itself, is telling.

Sevco wears the jersey of Rangers. It inhabits Ibrox. The arrogance and ego that were infused in the old club is very present in the new one, as was evidenced in yesterday’s chanting and singing from their support.

Yet we know one is not the other.

The ad the Celtic fans took out in The Herald laid out the intellectual case for that, but yesterday we saw something that went further, that ran deeper. Yesterday was like the difference between hearing about the Grand Canyon and actually going there and seeing it for yourself.

Rangers’ fall into death and the resurrection of a newco which is a shadow of that club was something we knew from our televisions, radio, newspapers and blogs. Yesterday we finally met them on the football pitch and that hollowed out shell was exposed in every way. They offered nothing. They produced nothing. They did not remotely threaten us.

For us to have won that match in such a casual, understated fashion … it was like watching a heavyweight champion fighter toying with an aged pretender in a sparring match.

For Celtic, this means a cup final against Dundee Utd, which, in every way, will be a different sort of game, and one that will occasion genuine feelings of nerves in the lead up to it.

Those nerves were entirely absent all the way through last week, and I was surprised to find that, even yesterday, there was barely a trace of them.

It didn’t feel like a game against Rangers, and it did not play out like one. The Celtic fans singing “You’re not Rangers anymore” was all the more significant for the undeniable truth of it we saw on the pitch.

If any doubts remained that their club is dead and that the newco which has risen in its place is but a pale shadow of that one … yesterday erased them all.

It was a cup semi-final against a lower league club. Nothing more. Except that any other club in the country would have given us a game, and had a proper go.

Nothing I’ve seen in the last 3 years has brought home to me the awesome consequences of their slide into the abyss quite like it.

Their club was once “too big to fail”, but in much the same way as the Titanic was unsinkable.

The gulf between Sevco and Celtic, on and off the field, is monumental, and quite possibly unbridgeable.

Those who say Scottish football needs a “strong Rangers” cannot be in any doubt that we’re a long way from that.

When the challenge to Celtic does come, look to the north of Scotland or the capital.

It’s not going to come from Glasgow. Not for years, if it ever does.

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  • edward says:

    Even with Thomson they could not muster a shot .Probably the worst team we have played this season .Clown Miller” we are close” is a completely self serving statement ,which hides his dismal performance and he was a nonentity in the game.As to Black squawking about Brown “should have been sent off”.Well he is just a thug in boots.However the lap top loyal carry these stories and in 6 months they will be quoted as proof the Sevco is ready.Scotland and the peepil are easily led.Especially when they read what they want to hear.

  • PaulThePostie says:

    Being at Hampden on Sunday reminded me of what Spock used to say, ” It’s life Jim,but not as we know it “. A cheap imitation that’s been labelled the old firm by msm, in memory of the old firm. It felt nothing like a derby match, never mind the old firm.

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