Thursday, July 5, 2012
A brief history of Celtic
European Cup: 1966-67
Scottish League Championship: 42
Scottish Cup: 35
Scottish League Cup: 14
Glasgow Celtic will forever be synonymous with 1967, the year in which they became the only Scottish side to win the European Cup, and the first European side to win the Treble. The Lisbon Lions, as the team were known, were all born within a 30-mile radius of Glasgow. It was a remarkable story that will surely never be repeated.
Celtic are the younger of the two Glasgow giants, having been formed in 1887, and are historically associated with Catholicism - hence the club's name, which reflects a traditional link to Scots of Irish extraction. The club was originally founded by Brother Walfrid, an Irish Marist Brother, as a mechanism to raise funds for charity, and won their first trophy, the Scottish Cup, in 1892.
A first title was added the following year, along with three more by the end of the century. Celtic did their first domestic Double in 1907, adding another the following year; they came in the middle of a run of six consecutive championships from 1905 to 1910. All these trophies were won under their very first manager, Willie Maley, who picked up 30 pieces of silverware in his 43 years in charge.
Maley's side won only two titles in each of the Twenties and Thirties - despite the incredible output of Jimmy McGrory, the club's leading scorer with 468 - and then just one between 1938 and 1966. They thrashed Rangers 7-1 in the 1957 League Cup final, but that was Celtic's last trophy until, in 1965, Jock Stein became the club's first Protestant manager.
What followed was easily the greatest period in the club's history. In a 13-year spell under Stein, Celtic won 25 trophies: ten titles, including a record nine in a row from 1966 to 1974, eight Scottish Cups, six League Cups - and, of course, that European Cup in 1967. It was the club's second Treble in as many seasons. In 1966 they won Celtic's first domestic Treble; a year later, they raised it to a continental Treble, beating the great Internazionale 2-1 in Lisbon to win the European Cup.
The side played thrilling, expansive football, and was full of local stars, including the brilliant ginger winger Jimmy 'Jinky' Johnstone, the captain Billy McNeill - nobody has made more Celtic appearances than his 790 - and the majestic midfielder Bobby Murdoch.
Celtic continued to accumulate trophies at a decent rate in the early Eighties, the most open period in modern Scottish football history, but then had to suffer as Rangers equalled their record of nine titles in a row between 1989 and 1997. Amazingly, Celtic did not even finish in the top two for the first seven of those seasons. They finally ended Rangers' run under the Dutchman Wim Jansen, who won the league and the League Cup in his only season at Parkhead.
After a couple of forgettable years, which included an infamous Scottish Cup defeat at home to Inverness in early 2000, Martin O'Neill took over in the summer of 2000 and started spectacularly, winning Celtic's nth Treble with a side built around the remarkable Swede Henrik Larsson. In five years at the club O'Neill added two more titles and two more Scottish Cups. Even more impressively, he made Celtic a force in Europe again: a famous Champions League win over Juventus was followed by a stunning run to the UEFA Cup final of 2003, where Celtic lost 3-2 to Jose Mourinho's Porto.
His successor Gordon Strachan won three consecutive titles; yet when he left in 2009, it was the cue for a trophyless season. Yet the Glasgow duopoly was such that nobody expected Celtic's lean period to last too long and a Scottish Cup success under new boss Neil Lennon saw the drought ended.
Lennon then led Celtic to the league title again in 2012, taking advantage of the financial situation at Rangers which liquidated the club to start a new era of dominance in Scotland.