Celtic stunned by Falkirk

 

TO FALKIRK a deserved rerun of the 1957 final against Kilmarnock on May 24th. To Celtic only ignominy and, probably, the sack for the manager Tommy Burns.

No Old Firm manager could expect to survive such a grisly result at the end of a season of disappointments, and Burns has built a team with as much substance and menace as a scarecrow.

Falkirk taking the lead would have been a shock in any circumstances, but it was the more unexpected for having been preceded by 20 minutes of almost unrelenting pressure by Celtic.

The favourites authority, however, was not translated into clear cut scoring opportunities and, as they have often shown this season, that can be a dangerous trend. The Celtic midfielders and forwards were betrayed by their defenders' appalling susceptibility to panic.

A long cross from the right, knocked back across the area by David Hagen, was all it took to send Alan Stubbs, Tommy Boyd and the others into a flap. As they fell apart, Paul McGrillen stepped forward and headed the loose ball over goalkeeper Stewart Kerr from 10 yards.

Celtic only had Simon Donnelly's blocked shot and Paulo Di Canio's low centre, cleared at the post by Jamie McGowan, to remember from the first half.

Their fans may have anticipated a second half of unremitting pressure but it was the First Division side who should have scored another after nine minutes. McGrillen played the ball in and it was deflected straight to Scot McKenzie, but the midfielder hit the post and the ball rebounded into play.

Andreas Thom then came close to equalising, his low, rightfoot shot from the edge of the box skidding to the right of Nelson, who got down quickly to make a good save.

Afterwards Falkirk manager Alex Totten said: "It's great for football for two provincial clubs to get to the Scottish Cup final and it's great for me to take Falkirk there, since I am a home town boy," he said.

I was really pleased that Kilmarnock got through to the final last night and I phoned their manager, Bobby Williamson, to congratulate him this morning. Seven of the Kilmarnock side last night were signed by me and, even though I was sacked by the club, it will be a great occasion to meet them on May 24th."

Totten revealed that goalscorer McGrillen missed the celebrations at Ibrox because the striker was taken away to hospital before the game ended suffering from concussion and a suspected fractured jaw.

But nothing could take the gloss off this memorable night for Tottenham, and he declared: "People say you don't get two bites of the cherry when you play the Old Firm but we proved otherwise. It was backs to the wall for much of the game but defensively we were magnificent. My players worked their socks off but we came here to win the game.

Burns, whose position at the club has been put further in jeopardy by the stunning defeat, said: "I have to congratulate Falkirk because they did splendidly. But there are no words to describe my own disappointment.

"One of the greatest fears I had as a player at Celtic was to be involved on the wrong end of an. upset like this and for 15 years there I was lucky not to be. That makes it all the harder to take when this happens to me as manager of the club."