In a new series for this season, each week St Anthony will look back at a corresponding Celtic fixture from the past. With Celtic due at Tynecastle on Saturday night, this time he looks back at another opening game of the season between Hearts and Celtic from back in 1989.
12 August 1989 Hearts 1-3 Celtic Attendance: 26,000
The summer of 1989 had been a most controversial and frustrating one for Celtic. Prodigal son, Mo Johnston, was thought to have re-joined Celtic back in May, but by July the move had fizzled out and he had stunned the football world by signing for Graeme Souness’ Rangers in a blaze of publicity. Despite this major disappointment, Celtic had responded accordingly by signing the Polish World Cup striker, Darius Dziekanowski, Paul Elliott from Italian club Pisa, and Mike Galloway from Hearts, for a total expenditure of £2m. When the teams ran out at Tynecastle for the season’s opener, only Elliott, who was injured in pre-season, was missing from Celtic’s new trio whilst Hearts boasted their new £300,000 signing Husref Musemic from Red Star Belgrade. When Celtic’s team was announced beforehand, Tommy Burns was a surprise selection at left back in place of Anton Rogan.
A huge Celtic support had travelled through to Edinburgh on a bright summer’s afternoon packed into their traditional Gorgie Road end terracing and the kick off was delayed by 10 minutes to allow the large, all ticket crowd in. Celtic had started on the front foot in attacking fashion and the only surprise was that it took them until the 30th minute to take the lead. After Hearts had failed to clear a Celtic corner, Musemic had impeded Roy Aitken in the penalty area which led to referee, Dougie Hope, awarding a penalty. Tommy Coyne then scored from the spot to open his Celtic account. Coyne had struggled for goals after joining Celtic from Dundee in March, and the hope was that the goals would flow now that he broke his duck in a Celtic jersey.
In 35 minutes Celtic doubled their lead when Galloway and Aitken combined superbly down the right hand side, with Aitken’s cross being slid home by Coyne for his second goal of the game. At half time the Celtic end at Tynecastle was full of colour and noise as the fans anticipated more goals in the second half. They would have to make do with just one more goal, but what a superb effort it was. Steve Fulton sent Paul McStay racing into the penalty area and Paul cleverly stopped abruptly and back heeled to ball to a gleeful Coyne who fired a shot past Henry Smith for his hat trick. It was a truly magnificent goal and a brilliant piece of skill by McStay.
Frustrated Hearts fans headed for the exits as Celtic fans, in full voice, sang their appreciation for their team’s exertions, especially Coyne’s. Andy Walker replaced the injured Dziekanowski and he should have made it four when he was clean through and missed the target. Hearts’ Dave McPherson scored a consolation goal with only minutes remaining at the Celtic end of the ground which led to an ironic roar from the Celtic supporters in his direction. The Edinburgh festival was in full flow by mid-August, with the city centre packed with tourists, but the best performance in ‘Auld Reekie’ that afternoon had clearly been Celtic’s.
It was never easy exiting the Gorgie Road end terracing of Tynecastle at the best of times and as the mass of Celtic fans slowly trickled out the stadium there were more roars of approval after it was announced that St Mirren had defeated Rangers 1-0 in a shock result at Ibrox. The Saturday evening newspapers relayed more good news to Celtic fans when it was announced that manager, Billy McNeill, had completed the signing of Aberdeen’s talented forward, John Hewitt, for a fee of £225,000.
All looked rosy in the Celtic garden on that sunny, warm, August afternoon. However, appearances can be deceptive. Storm clouds were fast approaching in the distance and although no one could have realised it that day, Celtic and their supporters were about to endure their most traumatic and worst season for over a decade.
Hearts: Smith McLaren Kirkwood Levein Berry McPherson Colquhoun Mackay Musemic Ferguson Bannon (Crabbe). Sub Kidd.
Celtic: Bonner Morris Burns Aitken Whyte Grant Galloway McStay Dziekanowski (Walker) Coyne Fulton Sub: Rogan