It doesn’t feel like a cup final weekend, does it? Not if you’re watching the media anyway.
It certainly doesn’t feel like the most significant cup final weekend in many, many, many years, although there is not the slightest doubt that it is.
The press coverage of this has been flat and seriously low-key.
I understand that for some of them this is because their favourite club isn’t playing in it, but we are entitled to expect something, are we not?
Perhaps not 16 page pull-outs in the papers – only the Ibrox club gets those – but more, certainly, than what we’ve had.
The lack of real in-depth coverage is shocking.
We all know what the media would be saying if this was a certain other team.
If they were going for a fourth consecutive treble the hacks would be falling all over themselves to tell you that the record books were tumbling before them.
When we completed the Treble Treble, Roddy Forsyth, notorious Ibrox promoter and “journalist” at The Telegraph wrote a piece in which he talked about “points of comparison” with what had just happened. But all he actually did was create a bunch of straw-man arguments; would we have beaten the Manchester City treble winners? How did the team compare to the O’Neill treble winning side or the first Brendan Rodgers one?
None of it was relevant to the real discussion which he and others have gone out of their way to avoid having; if there is another club in world football which has ever competed for a fourth successive domestic clean sweep I have not heard them mentioned.
Forsyth’s pitiful scrambling after “points of comparison” only convinced me further that the reason he doesn’t actually produce any is that there weren’t any, and if there weren’t any comparisons or precedents for a team winning three trebles then there obviously aren’t any for a team that wins four. The only records we’re going for this weekend are our own.
Those teams that others talk about, they went on to do exceptional things.
The O’Neill treble winning team formed the nucleus of the one that got to a European final. The Lions and the team of that era got to two of them. The grand slam we won in 1967, including what the commenteriat calls a “European treble” has no equal and never will.
An article on 90min.com ranks it as the third greatest treble in the history of the European game, and the two clubs who beat it – Bayern Munich and Barcelona – only finished in front of us because they are the only two clubs who’ve ever won the “European treble” twice, although not in consecutive campaigns.
Taken on its own merit, as a one-off achievement, our success with a home-grown side stands alone.
Nobody is comparing the O’Neill team or the Lisbon team or even the Rodgers Invincibles with the side who will take the field at Hampden on Sunday.
Nor should they, although this is, in effect, a continuation of what the Rodgers team did.
But we made domestic football history when we secured the Double Treble.
No side in Scotland, and no side that I can think of in the UK, had ever done that before.
Not the Lions, not O’Neill’s team and not even the old Rangers teams which the press likes to tell us were amongst the most dominant in the history of the game here.
None of them accomplished that feat.
This is what made the Treble Treble all the more incredible when it was secured. I don’t think any club in Scotland stands much chance of doing again. I don’t think any club anywhere stands much chance of pulling off a minor football miracle like that.
I described Sunday’s game as “the end of an era” and it will be in a sense, because next season’s Celtic team is probably going to look a lot different than this one, but if we go on and secure the tenth title and win the Scottish Cup, you can add them to the historical total that this particular iteration of Celtic, in this particular run, has achieved.
Even without it, this is still, without question, the most successful Scottish team in the history of the domestic game.
Forget Europe in that discussion; it’s a smokescreen and a red herring.
It’s something people will use to downplay the mammoth significance of what Celtic has done here.
But domestically, no club has ever come close to it … and the most delicious part of this is that we did it when a club from Ibrox was in the top flight.
Bear in mind, this was the pitiful snark they used against us when trying to downgrade the titles we had won.
We won them “with no competition” – as if every other side in the league had simply packed up its stuff and let us do whatever we liked.
But we were constantly told that not only were those titles not worth as much but that in our shoes their favourite NewCo would have won everything in sight.
It’s such nonsense, of course, because even the allegedly all-conquering David Murray teams, with more money behind them than has ever been spent in the history of the game here, didn’t come close to these kind of accomplishments, even when Celtic was a shadow of itself in the 90’s.
Nobody at Ibrox ever wants to talk about that, and there’s no-one in the media who is willing to write it.
Let’s not allow them, either, the luxury of their other favourite argument, that the Ibrox club has been in such a mess that we’ve had a free run at the trophies.
Because it isn’t true.
It overlooks two salient details which nobody wants to go into.
The first is that since the minute they crawled out of Rangers’ grave they were spending more on wages and paying more money on transfer fees that any other side in Scotland except for us.
Secondly, in every year they’ve been in existence, from 2012 until the present day, there are hacks who have tipped them to win at least one domestic cup competition every single season … including in their first campaign in the fourth tier of Scottish football.
I recall one prediction whilst they were in the lower leagues that tipped them to win their lower league title, the Challenge Cup and both major domestic cup competitions; which the hack in question would doubtless have described as “a quadruple.”
As it turned out, they spent four years in the lower leagues with only three league titles and a single Challenge Cup to their name … a dreadful record when one considers the vast sums of money that their club spent on the so-called “journey.”
Indeed, one of the most revealing statistics – in terms of exploring our total dominance – was published by the Twitter user @AgentScotland just yesterday.
It details the number of times clubs have reached domestic cup finals since season 2011-12, the period including the last year of Rangers’ existence.
It puts Celtic’s accomplishments of recent years in their proper context, and is also a pretty devastating revelation of Ibrox’s waste.
Clubs who've reached a major final since the beginning of 2011-12
11 – Celtic
4 – Aberdeen
4 – Hearts
4 – Hibernian
2 – Dundee Utd
2 – Motherwell
2 – ICT
2 – Rangers
1 – Falkirk
1 – Kilmarnock
1 – Ross County
1 – St Johnstone
1 – St Mirren
— Inside The SPFL (@AgentScotland) December 17, 2020
We have nearly the combined number of final appearances as the next three teams combined.
And in spite of spending more money in that time than all the other clubs combined, save ourselves, the Ibrox operations have a paltry two final appearances to their name.
The reason this is significant has damn all to do with bragging rights either; it’s proof that having big money and spending it doesn’t automatically equal success.
Their number of finals is less than that of Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen and the same as Dundee Utd, Motherwell and Inverness.
Our success is not built only on money … and is all the more formidable when you put it in this context.
Yet this is the least hyped Scottish Cup Final in my living memory.
If you were a neutral you might not even know it was happening, far less how massive it is and how historic.
I guess this is the way some in the media want it … but what we’re on the brink of here is phenomenal, and although the run of unbroken cup triumphs is at an end, that will not lessen the awesome nature of what we are about to do nor the way future generations will marvel at it.