Andrew Smith: Why the Scottish Cup final could be bigger for Celtic than 10-in-a-row
It won’t be perceived in such fashion, but the Scottish Cup final on December 20 could be Celtic’s most important game of the season.
It certainly won’t be perceived in such fashion either, but were they to win the trophy then and only add the championship to their bonkers recent silverware haul in the rest of the campaign, the club’s most outstanding accomplishment would be the Hampden Christmastime decider.
Celtic supporters seem entirely blind to the fact that their trebles run – and the possibility to bring up a barely believable fourth straight clean sweep – eclipses, every way up, any titles run achievable this season. That fact speaks of the poisonous hatred with Rangers, and the blinkered parochialism drenching this, often tedious, tribal rivalry. Landing 10-in-a-row would allow Celtic to give it large to Ibrox followers forever and a day. All get that. But it would represent local oneupmanship in a relative football backwater and barely register beyond it. There is every possibility Juventus will rack up a tenth consecutive title in Italy this season.
The first ten in Scotland would still be a long way off the 14-in-a-row runs of Skonto in Latvia, and Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps, the 13-in-a-row runs of Norwegian powerhouses Rosenborg and BATE Borisov of Belarus, and not quite the measure of the 11 consecutive championship earned by Croatian heavyweights Dinamo Zagreb. And before anyone dares claim these are hardly major set-ups, just think for a minute about the international standing of Scottish football …
With these sequences merely the longest league-winning runs in Europe, the picture formed is that there is nothing truly exceptional about the biggest beast in a country having a decade-long stranglehold on their league set-up. In fact, before Celtic, and then Rangers, had their nine-in-row eras, CSKA Sofia had put together such a sequence in Bulgaria.
Contrast this with football trebles claimed across the entire global game. Not only has no team won four, as Celtic will have the opportunity to do in seven weeks, but all evidence suggests no club has even racked-up a treble treble. Only Darulaman FC of Malyasia have ever even achieved back-to-back trebles. Celtic, with their domestic clean sweeps as opposed to just their championships, are ripping up all available precedents then.
In terms of the Scottish game, they are not just boldly going where no team has gone before. They have travelled so far beyond what previously seemed possible, their current feats have taken them into another galaxy, far, far away. It has begun almost to seem pat to talk of their run of three-and-two-thirds trebles, which covers 11 domestic trophies and 35 cup ties unbeaten, as unparalleled, record setting. It is nothing short of utterly mind-boggling when the previous Scottish bests on these measures were one treble, seven trophies and 25 cup ties unbeaten.
Other stats bear repeating. Celtic have been behind for only 57 minutes in the 3,283 minutes in cup ties, scoring 104 goals and conceding only 12. Moreover, as an internet meme has detailed, the 1,627 days that have passed since another team in Scotland won a major trophy means Celtic’s monopolising of the country’s honours has gone on longer than World War I. Yet, despite all this, an intercity battle will continue to be afforded precedence.
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