It was 23 years ago today the bold Fergus McCann rocked up London road and took control of Celtic. A move that would change the trajectory of Celtic and Scottish football as a whole.
While a large proportion of the press still like to deny Rangers were liquidated the Daily Record had no problem sending a hearse to Celtic Park before any sort of insolvency event took place in preparation and celebration of what they thought was impending demise of Glasgow Celtic. Oh, how they jumped the gun.
Fast forward twenty three years since the video clip below, Fergus promised a new direction putting Celtic back to the very top and as we watch Brendan Rodgers’ side romp to a domestic double and potential treble we must give thanks to the man with the bunnet for what he did.
The efforts of Celts for change and the Celtic family as a whole was also pivotal in the survival of our club. Organising mass rallies, being pro-active in their attempts to oust the board who had ran Celtic into the ground.
Little did we know during the dark period of the 90s that our major rivals were being bank rolled on the never never and were lording it over the rest of Scottish football with money they simply did not have. When Fergus came in the famous quote by the then Rangers chairman David Murray, for every fiver Celtic spend, we’ll spend a tenner. For all the bravado surrounding that club it would be Fergus and his boards vision that would first level the club out. Putting out a share issue, nervously McCann wondered if the Celtic fans would back his vision but as the wee man has since spoke about – After defeat in the cup the previous week, Celtic launched their share issue to raise capital. His fears proved to be unfounded when he looked outside of Celtic Park on a cold wet night and Celtic fans were still queuing to invest in their club – the share issue was OVER SUBSCRIBED.
With money raised he went about building a new stadium, fitting of a club of Celtic’s stature along with putting a plan in place that would sometimes prove unpopular but necessary for the long time survival of the club. As Celtic fans seen Rangers approach nine in a row, matching Celtic’s accomplishments and ready to take the record with their tenth their loyalty was tested but what a pay off they got.
On May 5th 1998, on the last day of the season a packed Celtic Park bore witness to a once in a lifetime outpouring of passion, emotion, relief and utter ecstasy as goals from Henrik Larsson and Harold Brattback secured the title for Celtic to stop the ten. As Harold’s shot nestled in the back of the net the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and the roar from the crowd as the helicopter holding the trophy is still very vivid in my mind. What a day, that was the culmination of McCann’s takeover and vision for the club. Stopping the ten was something that will go down in Celtic folklore and it wouldn’t have been possible without the bunnet.
Fergus gave birth to the modern day Celtic that you and me know today and as we look to attain a new standard of excellence under Rodgers as well as nod to the past we must doff our cap to the wee man in the bunnet. He had the courage and the single mindedness to carry out his plans, even when he was being compared in the paper to Saddam Hussein and had the pressure of an expectant fan base.
Hail Hail Fergus.
The Game is over, the Rebels have won!