Writer: Tactful Sheik
Date:Tuesday May 20 2008
It might be their Irish heritage, but Celtic supporters are really good at telling stories.
This week's fairytale beings at Tannadice Park, where the tale tells of a Parkhead side, which have been unbeaten in 16-years of the Scottish Premier League on Dundee United's home soil.
Well, this bedtime story reads more like a Chick Young exclusive, with more fantasy that fact.
Ok, perhaps I'm being a little unfair on Celtic supporters by accusing them of story telling, because it's more likely to be the media who are responsible for publishing this piece of football fiction.
It's probably an attempt by the West Coast media to pile pressure onto Dundee United, ahead of the most important match of Gordon Strachan's Parkhead career.
The truth... Celtic HAVE been quite successful (or should that be 'lucky') at Tannadice in recent years, but their unbeaten run has only stretched to 8-years, with several draws during that period.
The last time Dundee United managed to hold on to a lead, without succumbing to a late Celtic comeback, was on the 15th of August 1999 when Paul Sturrock lead the club to a 2-1 victory.
On that occasion, Craig Easton and Billy Dodds had given United a 2-0 lead in the 1st half, but an 82nd minute Eyal Berkovic strike resulted in a nervous end to the match.
Although, my fondest memories of a Dundee United victory over Celtic are from the SPL match on the 1st Feb 1997.
The late Tommy Burns was manager of Celtic that afternoon, but it was Tommy McLean's side which had dominated most of the match.
Then, with the score still tied at 0-0, United won a throw-in deep into stoppage time and a quick throw found Gary McSwegan unmarked at the edge of the penalty box.
McSwegan burst into the area and tried to find the back of Stewart Kerr's net, but the ball deflected off the outstretched leg of a Celtic defender, desperately diving in to block the shot.
The United supporters in the East Stand held their breathes, as the ball sailed through the air in slow motion, looping over the keepers head and sealing all 3 points for the home team.
It was a fantastic feeling, beating Celtic in the late stages of a game, after all the time's the Glasgow side have snatched an underserved 2-1 victory with 2 goals in the 87th and 89th minutes.
This time, Celtic are desperate for a win at Tannadice, because they know that 3 points could seal the League title, even if challengers Rangers can beat Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
Rangers and Celtic are currently level on points, but Gordon Strachan's side still have a 4 goal advantage over Walter Smith's treble chasing side, after they closed the gap with a 3-0 win over StMirren on Monday night.
Although, even after the controversy at Ibrox last weekend, Celtic still can't expect a bitter United side to just roll-over and gift them the League title, as the expense of Rangers.
Rangers won 3-1 at Ibrox last Saturday, but referee Mike McCurry bottled out of awarding United a stonewall penalty, chalked off a David Weir own goal, and then failed to send of Daniel Cousin for clearly head-butting Lee Wilkie.
Dundee United are still determined to make referees more accountable, after McCurry's actions potentially cost the club millions of pounds, by preventing Craig Levein's side from winning a UEFA Cup spot for next season.
With nothing to play for, now that 3rd place is out of United's grasp, there is a chance that some of the younger players might get a chance against Celtic, but you just get the feeling that Craig Levein has a point to prove against one of the Old Firm sides on Thursday evening.
Celtic to lift the title, with United sealing 4th spot in the SPL.
Dundee United 2-2 Celtic
Aberdeen 1-1 Rangers
Hibernian 0-2 Motherwell
Date:Tuesday May 20 2008
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