Martin Donaldson with A Celtic State of Mind – Neil Lennon’s Eightsome Reel

When the final whistle blew at Pittodrie, the celebrations amongst Celtic fans around the world were already in full flow. Those fortunate enough to get a ticket for the match cheered and sang in appreciation of the men who had delivered our 50th league title, 8th domestic honour and 8th league title in-a-row. Fans huddled around pubs, clubs and homes with family and friends all joined the chorus of our well-versed songs of jubilation. It really was a great day for everyone linked to the club.

This title means so much to so many and with good reason. A season of discord where the harmonious ambitions of the club and fans were put to the test. That unbreakable spirit of the invincible treble-winning side had wavered, the history-making double treble team looked to be running on empty at points in the season. Ambitions by players and eventually coaches to seek greater rewards and new challenges threatened to derail the hopes and dreams of faithful followers.

Over the course of the campaign, top spot in the league changed hands a number of times; Hearts were early pacesetters then Kilmarnock, led by manager of the year winner Stevie Clarke, took top spot for a period before the winter shutdown. Both of these teams were there on merit at the time and Celtic appeared to be puffing through the first half of the league season, albeit ending the year in pole position with a game in hand.

The winter break came at the right time for Celtic, a chance to regroup and recharge before making the push for the title. Some new faces arrived to bolster a weary-looking squad. Celtic kicked off 2019 looking fresh & sharp, creating a gap at the top of the league, but just as the positive vibes had returned, the bombshell that was the departure of Brendan Rodgers created a seismic wave that threatened to shake the club to the core. We needed a steady hand to keep the momentum in our quest for the title.

Neil Lennon returned as interim manager and, assisted by Stevie Woods, Damien Duff and John Kennedy, helped maintain the push for the title. Huge away matches at Tynecastle in the league and Easter Road in the cup showed a determination in the players to keep the fight going on the pitch. Although performances were slow and often frustrating, mirroring the early part of the league season, three points were secured in dramatic fashion in Edinburgh, Dundee and Ayrshire.

Through these testing moments in the season, the Celtic players maintained their discipline as other teams resorted to more crude means of stopping our progression. A massive three points were secured thanks to a late goal from PFA Player of the Year, James Forrest, extending the lead at the top of the league. After that match, it was merely a matter of time to wrap up the title.

This season has witnessed some old heads providing some much-needed guidance on the field as Brown, Lustig and Forrest have delivered when required. Young guns Bain, Ajer, McGregor and Edouard have also developed to be crucial parts of a squad that will need an injection of energy over the summer. All focus will now be on Hampden and a potential treble treble to wrap up the season.

Martin Donaldson

Listen to the award-winning A Celtic State of Mind podcast

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