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Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 13:57 UK

Chick Young's view

Chick Young
By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

Defeat at Parkhead the other night for Celtic and they would have needed Robert Mugabe to count the points if they wanted to retain their title.

But they won, thereby putting their championship dream on a life support machine. And the patient might recuperate a fair bit yet if the medicine of a further triumph can be supped on 27 April.

They played well too. They were a country mile better than Rangers in the first half, with only a buzz bomb of a strike from Shunsuke Nakamura that zipped and swerved past Allan McGregor in a blur to show for their superiority.

At half time, oh how the Celtic fans cackled as a section of their support rolled out a massive banner that cleverly arrowed the adjacent Rangers fans and labelled them "Scotland's shame".

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Old Firm players in brawl at full-time

If only they could have contrived to later swivel that arrow to point to the players.

Forget the ball game. Let's discuss the brawl game.

It was a night that should have been remembered for not just giving the title race the kiss of life but snogging the face off it.

It should have been remembered as a football spectacular, a tale of last-gasp drama and goalkeeping heroics and a forgivable ordering off for a pretty spectacular handball on the line from Carlos Cuellar.

Forgivable, that is, in the sense that it was the instinctive footballing reaction and taken at no risk of grievous bodily harm.

You could hardly say that about the square go, as the Glasgow vernacular would have it, on the final whistle.

Nor the would-be grenade thrower who hurled a coin at the Rangers doctor while he was tending an injured goalkeeper. The aforementioned arrow needed pointing in yet another direction then.


I honestly thought this fixture had moved on. My apologies for being an old romantic.

They are mad, you know. Guilty of going stark raving bonkers, no matter if only for a brief encounter with insanity.

On every other day of the week, reasonable men, all of them, husbands and fathers, civil, friendly and educated. But then this game comes to pass and they become blinded by a red mist that shrouds their view of reality.

They square up and fire in. International team-mates and off the field pals, driven on by the lunacy around them.

And that is the point. I don't doubt for one minute that the players cool down and shake hands in the privacy of the bowels of the stadium, but outside their actions are already rippling throughout the west of Scotland and beyond.

Gary Caldwell and David Weir clash at Celtic Park
Gary Caldwell and David Weir were at each other's throats

In the Accident and Emergency wards in the early hours of the morning after when doctors and nurses are stitching up the innocent and the guilty of nutcases who want to re-enact the history of Ireland.

I'll preach this to the day I die. Every player who signs for Celtic or Rangers should be taken to hospitals at, say 3am the morning, after an Old Firm game and see what the people at the end of the shockwave effect - doctors and nurses - have to clean up.

And don't blame the referee. Kenny Clark thought about booking Barry Robson for a challenge, which was an assault, on Christian Dailly just seconds after the kick-off. But he declined to do so for the better policing of the game.

Leniency, it seems, isn't always the answer, but the stark truth is that if had he played it to the letter of the law it would have finished with just about enough players for a game of head tennis.

In fact, we would have been left with just enough people to vote through a president in a Zimbabwe election.

Listen to Chick Young's World Of Football on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW on Thursday 17 April at 2000 GMT.

see also
Caldwell and Weir will be banned
17 Apr 08 |  Scottish Premier
Late goal hard to take for Smith
16 Apr 08 |  Rangers
Celtic 2-1 Rangers
16 Apr 08 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic 2-1 Rangers as it happened
16 Apr 08 |  Scottish Premier

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