The Season Book Years – 2012/13
Continuing the season book years series, remember that the one rule I set myself here was that I could only pick a game that was on the season book that I actually went to. As such, they’re all home league games. I might mention other games from that season to put it into the context of the season, but the main focus will be on that one home league game. So, with that in mind…
Celtic 4-3 Aberdeen, 16th March 2013.
Commons 1, Mulgrew 68, Hooper 87, Samaras 90+4. Vernon 45, Magennis 53, 60.
With Rangers gone, the top flight of Scottish Football was supposed to be a simple task for Celtic now. But we didn’t have it all our own way. With a very welcome distraction of a successful Champions League group campaign, Kilmarnock won their first game at Celtic Park for 57 years, Inverness picked up a win at Celtic Park a few weeks after that too, and even an annoying 1-0 defeat away to Hibernian at the end of the calendar year kept things tight at the top. Indeed, a lack of consistency from the other teams in the league made sure that not only was there no gap for us to make up in the second half of the season, but we were still top… just.
A string of wins through the new year though catapulted Celtic clear of the rest and there was a healthy gap at the top of the league by the end of February. Which was good, because Celtic then lost away to Motherwell and Ross County either side of a narrow Scottish Cup win against St Mirren – the same team who had knocked us out of the League Cup at the end of January. Next up in the league was Aberdeen.
It had started so promisingly for Celtic. A goal in just 12.2 seconds from Kris Commons set a new SPL record for the fastest goal since its inception in 1998. Amusingly, Anthony Stokes had previously held that record with a goal for Hibernian against Rangers in 12.4 seconds, and it was he who teed up the goal for Commons to score. But Aberdeen fought their way back into the game and fully deserved their equaliser just before the break.
But then Celtic simply didn’t start the second half.
Josh Magennis scored two goals in the first fifteen minutes of the second half to put Aberdeen within touching distance of their first win at Celtic Park in nine years. With two league defeats now looking like becoming three in a row, Celtic Park was not a happy place.
But then Celtic got a bit of luck. A Charlie Mulgrew effort deflected past Jamie Langfield and reduced Aberdeen’s lead to just a single goal with quarter of the match still to play. The Celtic fans responded to this with increased volume and suddenly the onslaught towards the Aberdeen goal was unrelenting. But it would take almost another 20 minutes before Celtic levelled the game as Gary Hooper reacted quickest to a blocked Efe Ambrose header.
3-3, and still a few minutes of regular time to go. Aberdeen looked to be holding out and with the game entering the fourth minute of injury time, Celtic were awarded a free kick within distance of the penalty area. Commons crossed the ball deep, Lassad Nouioui nodded the ball back across goal and then Georgios Samaras went for the acrobatic overhead kick.
And found the bottom corner of the net.
4-3 Celtic, and the stadium was going wild. In a game which saw Celtic maintain a fifteen point lead at the top of the table, against a team destined for the bottom six, the atmosphere was like nothing else produce domestically that season. Only the goals against Barcelona and the late penalty against Spartak Moscow a few months earlier had been celebrated more than this one. Samaras himself had whipped his jersey off and was now swinging it about in celebration at the winner.
He was, of course, booked for that celebration. Our referees really do have no common sense whatsoever.
It was a remarkable ending to the game. Celtic would go on to clinch the title three games later, and added the Scottish Cup in May. If any season came close to 2003/04 for excitement, then this was it. Champions League last sixteen, beating Barcelona, winning the double… it didn’t quite reach the same heights as there was no 25 game winning streak and no local rivals to whitewash – and of course the pesky League Cup still managed to elude us as it had back then – but it’s still up there with one of the finest in my time as a season book holder.