Posted: 8/29/2013
Title: HOOPS IN PARADISE

Blog:                                                                                                                         

     Not much good news comes from over the border these days, with the problems in Scottish football, but it was a great night at Celtic Park on Wednesday as the Bhoys overcame a two goal deficit at the Astana Arena a week ago to score three goals without reply and make it to the Promised Land of the Champions League.

    The Kazak side Shakhter (The Miners) Karagandy, who slaughter a sheep before home matches, looked as if their tackling was learned from watching Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York as they tried to stop the rampant Hoops from rescuing this tie. It seemed to be working and they were lucky not to score a third and dump the Celts into the less financially lucrative Europa League.

     The visitors from Central Asia dominated for large periods in the tie, and their goalkeeper Aleksandr Mokin, woeful in the first leg, was on form until later in the match. As the teams were about to go off for a half time cup of tea or bulls blood, Kris Commons struck with a lethal 25 drive that was just the tonic that Celtic Park- known to their fans as PARADISE-needed.

     From the second half kick-off the crowd and the players responded and within three minutes the tie was deadlocked 2-2 when Greek international Georgios Samaras took Lustig's shot that landed near him and scored from close range. Fourty more exciting minutes and it seemed we were looking at a half hour of overtime. However, James Forrest became an instant hero on the Clyde sending Anthony Stokes pass over the line with his added time winner.

     The next Champions League Final will be held in the Estadio da Luiz in Lisbon, Portugal. The last final in Lisbon was played there in 1967 when Celtic's Lisbon Lions defeated Internazionale of Milan 2-1 under manager Jock Stein at the Estadio Nacional. All but one of their 15 man squad was born within 10 miles of Celtic Park. Alessandro Mazzola opened the scoring before Tommy Gemmell and Steve Chalmers scored to give Scotland the honour of the first British club to win the trophy.

     In todays Group Stage draw in Monaco, Celtic were drawn with other former champions, Barcelona, Ajax, and AC Milan.

     Revelations that a large number of Scottish players and officials regularly bet on domestic and other matches was publicised last week and in England we had both an Accrington Stanley director and a player fined.

     The Professional Players Association boss Gordon Taylor, the highest paid union official on earth, with a salary of over 1million a year is in deep trouble. It has been revealed that he has lost over 4 million betting on TWO THOUSAND MATCHES with one bookmaker alone, and still owes 100,000 to  Best Bet, a phone in bookie who recently ceased trading.  He was a professional player with Bolton Wanderers, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers and Bury.

     The 68 year old has run the PFA from its Manchester office for the past 32 years. He has just survived an emergency meeting with his deputy John Bramall, Chairman Clarke Carlisle and PFA lawyers. He is said to have bet on England's international matches, including a loss of of 15,000 on England 2 v Switzerland 2 at Wembley in 2011, and many Premier League and other matches and horse races.

    Once, way back in 1975, I bet about 2 shillings on a horse at Killarney in Ireland, I thought it was a mortal sin and I have never placed a bet since, although I like to go to a race meeting or two. Last week I was at the Ebor Meeting at the Navesmire in York. I like the crowds, and to take pictures of the horses, the jockeys and the occasion. HOWEVER, I think that betting has a TERRIBLE influence on football and on society in general.

   

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