First things first. The sad news of the death of Liam Kelly's father (coupled with the events at White Hart Lane the day before) does put things into a different perspective. Most supporters had no idea what had happened until quite some time after the event. Two guys on the bus I was on were sat close to Mr Kelly and watched it all unfold though at that stage all that was known was that paramedics were trying to revive him. For Liam Kelly this must be an awful time. He has lost his father on a day which should have been the greatest of his career. His father was not an old man (59) and it happened on Mother's Day into the bargain. The entire Kelly family must be given time to grieve. The squad and management will be attending the funeral and I hope they leave it up to Liam to determine when it is appropriate for him to start playing again.
To the game and to answer/comment on posts made, in order. To SAT 31 I got back late last night far too knackered to look at any website. To Cowdenbeather: as for the "penalty," I plead the Arsene Wenger defence - far too far away to see it properly (though when Samaras came on I did comment to my cousin sat next to me that "this is them bringing on a diver to go for a penalty/free kick on the edge of the area to get it won inside 90 minutes"
so the only real surprise was the identity of the claimant, not that it happened deep inside injury time. I would have been more surprised had there NOT been a penalty shout at that stage of the game. OTOH, from the South Stand corner, in the first row directly above the exit/entrance I had a terrific view of the Killie goal (and, unusually for Hampden, decent leg room too). Lennon's claim that this decision cost his team the treble is both ridiculous and disrespectful. All it cost them was the chance - no more than that - to equalise against a keeper who had saved everything thrown at him to that point and take the game to extra time. It didn't guarantee them victory against Killie and it certainly didn't guarantee them victory against either St Mirren or Hearts in the Scottish Cup let alone Aberdeen or Hibernian. In fact of the those five potential obstacles to their treble (I'll give them the league) only St Mirren have failed to take points from Celtic this season. This Celtic team is a good side by Scottish standards. They have players no other team (Rangers included) can afford. But they are not supermen. They are not the Celtic of O'Neill and Strachan, let alone Stein. As European results show, they are the best team in a poor-to-mediocre league. They can be beaten and Sunday's result should give encouragement not just to potential Scottish Cup opponents but also for the remainder of the league campaign.
And the OF wonder why the rest of us call them arrogant? There's a lot more about Lennon's behaviour which disgraces the game - his failure to acknowledge the merits of Killie's triumph (as in 'having' to congratulate a team that 'didn't deserve' to win), the failure of his players to applaud the winners, his pitch intrusions during the game, his - IMO deliberate - references to opponents as 'them' and 'their,' never by name, as in 'their keeper' not 'Cammy Bell' or even just 'Bell.' He is fast becoming the mini-Mourinho of Scottish football and Celtic fans need to recognise that the reason the man is detested in stadia up and down the country has - with the exception of one obvious venue - absolutely hee-haw to do with sectarianism and everything to do with the character of their manager.
To Bristol Rovers: yes, good to see Heffernan now share equal billing with Mark Walters at Bristol Rovers!
On the HibLOG's point that "Any result in a Hampden final against the Old Firm is an amazing achievement,"
this is where the enormity of what happened on Sunday has maybe still to sink in. Not just for Kilmarnock supporters but for everybody outwith the OF. It has been pointed out that this was the first time since the inception of the SPL that an OF club has lost a cup final other than to each other with Hearts beating Rangers in the 1998 Scottish Cup Final being the last such time. But I don't think it has been appreciated just how deep that final domination runs. This was the first time Celtic had lost to anyone other than Rangers since Raith Rovers in 1994-95. That was on penalties and at Ibrox. Last time at Hampden was 1990 and Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup. That was also on penalties. The last time they were actually beaten in a final - Rangers aside - was by Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup in 1984 - and that was after extra time. It also took extra time when Aberdeen beat them in the League Cup in 1976-77. The last time Celtic lost either major final to anyone other than Rangers INSIDE 90 MINUTES was in December 1973 when Dundee beat them in the League Cup.
So much for this being their weakest tournament - almost forty years since they last experienced what happened on Sunday. In fact so long ago that Neil Lennon was probably having temper tantrums and throwing his toys out of the pram. Has much changed since then?
To SD's comment "I slept through the whole game on the couch and woke up just after Kilmarnock had scored.Wish I'd seen it all."
Somehow I have a feeling that it won't be too long before a DVD's available. With regards to Cammy Bell, I hope Craig Levein was at the match. I really don't understand why he has dropped Cammy in favour of Matt Gilks in recent squads.
To Bobby S - Agree 100%. What else did you expect me to say?
To leatherstocking: You had more confidence than any Killie fan then. I don't think anyone thought it was out of the question, just a realisation of how difficult it is to beat the OF in a final. This was Kilmarnock's 13th appearance (counting replays) at Hampden in a national final since last winning one. That was back in 1929 (the 1997 victory being at Ibrox). Since then there have been defeats after replays in the Scottish Cup Finals of 1932, 1938 and 1957 and without the need for a replay in 1960. Plus five well-documented League Cup Final defeats and you see just how hard it looked. Add on the fact that Killie hadn't beaten Celtic in Glasgow since the 1957 Scottish Cup semi-final replay, tally all that on to the stats earlier in this post about how hard it is for ANY club to beat the OF then you can see just how immense this was.
To hj. I hope you enjoyed it as much as those around will have done.
To the match itself: I don't want to add to match reports people will already have read but to make my personal observations. The first thing to say is that this must have been one of the cleanest finals ever. Few fouls and a low booking count (which is why I couldn't understand the four added minutes at full time, even though, as a cynic where the OF are concerned, I expected four or maybe even more). I can't say how it looked to the neutral but with both teams trying to win, plenty of shots on goal and the game generally flowing, with few stoppages, I imagine it must have been one of the better finals of recent years though I presume it will only go down as a classic to those of a blue-and-white striped persuasion.
For me the most crucial moment of the game wasn't the penalty shout but four minutes in with Sissoko's suicide pass. Had that gone in and Killie found themselves not just a goal down so early but such a crazy goal to lose, it would have been really difficult to see a way back. Celtic overran Kilmarnock in the opening ten minutes and to my mind Kenny Shiels was crazy to be flooding the midfield while leaving the flanks wide open. But there's a reason why he's manager and I'm not. His tactic worked. The supply to the wings began to be cut off and Killie began to come into the game. Celtic still had more possession and more chances but not overwhelmingly so. Killie ended the first half on top and should have taken the lead via Dean Shiels shortly after the interval. There were, I felt, two crucial incidents in the second half. You could almost see the indignation and determination being fired up into Killie players' eyes when play was stopped for a non-existent head injury as Killie broke with a numerical advantage and Scott Brown (by far the best Celtic player I thought) deliberately knocked the dropped ball forty yards and out of play into the Killie half instead of sending it back to Cammy Bell. That was insulting and it only fired up Kilmarnock.
I also felt the substitution of Rogne was an insult to Kilmarnock. Killie had made chances yet here was the Celtic manager deciding he could sacrifice a defender for the remainder of the match. A psychological guess at what was going on inside his mind reads 'Let's get this over inside the ninety. We don't want extra time as we've a BIG game coming up next week.' For fifteen minutes or so it looked like working as Celtic enjoyed their best spell of the second half but when the Killie goal came there was no big defender to challenge Van Turnhout for the header.
I should also point to the prescience of my cousin Brian. Before the game he spotted an article about ex-Killie defender Freddie Dindeleux who now plays for FC Tornhout in Belgium. Brian said something along the lines of "Dindeleux's playing for Tornhout. If we get a good turn oot from the fans and Van Turnhout turns oot to play then everything might turn oot okay."
I last saw my cousin on Sunday night heading for an impromptu party singing something along the lines of:"Wur huvvin a pairty
Wi' Killie pies
Thur ice cream's aw meltit
An' their jelly's turnt dry."
Finally, from a purely personal perspective, until Sunday I had only ever seen Killie lose finals (2001 & 2007). I was too young to go the finals of the 1960s and even the league decider at Tynecastle was ruled out of bounds as my Dad worked Saturdays and Edinburgh was too far away for a nine-year-old. In 1997 a serious illness in my wife's family meant I couldn't go to the Scottish Cup Final. So, unlike some slightly older who were seeing their third major trophy win, and many much younger attending their second, this was the first time (though I hope not the last) that I have seen Kilmarnock win a major trophy. Therefore I make absolutely no apology whatsoever for posting this on You Tube
. Though I hereby give warning of an ugly alert at about 24-25 seconds in.
Post-match at Rugby Park can be seen -here
Unfortunately these were taken with a crappy old camera phone and thus didn't capture the sublime sight of Manuel Pascali 'shaking his booty' as Garry Hay limbo danced under Pasca's crutches.