Clyde 2 - 1 Celtic: 10 years on from stunning upset

Celtic's Stephen Pearson troops off at the end. Picture: SNS

Celtic's Stephen Pearson troops off at the end. Picture: SNS

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There are many ways that one of the truly momentous Scottish Cup upsets tends to be remembered.

Clyde’s swarming success over Celtic at Broadwood – the 10th anniversary of which arrives tomorrow – is recalled for being the most ignominious debut imaginable for Roy Keane, the beginning and the end of Chinese defender Du Wei’s Celtic career, and the day that Gordon Strachan succeeded in presiding over a calamity that topped the previous summer’s 5-0 blootering by Artmedia Bratislava for knockout nastiness in his first, title-winning season at the helm of the Parkhead club.

Joe Miller was Clyde assistant and architect of the 2-1 third-round victory for Graham Roberts’ side. He believes the victors are owed more of the historical spoils for what happened that day in Cumbernauld – a shock probably only surpassed by the Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s win at Celtic Park in 2000 for thermonuclear fall-out the tournament has provided over the past three decades.

Yes, Miller acknowledges, Keane’s arrival at Celtic following his acrimonious departure from Manchester United, heightened the hoopla that surrounded the tie in a fashion helpful to the First Division hosts. However, Sky’s beaming of the game to a host of countries wasn’t the chief inspiration for the vibrant young side assembled from open trials the previous summer, an approach that Miller had previously employed successfully when coaching in Australia.

“It wasn’t about taking down reputations for our boys; it was about making them,” the former Celtic winger said yesterday. “This was the biggest game of their careers, not just because of the interest Keane playing had generated but because many felt they were in the last-chance saloon. They had all been released the previous summer, so they had come close to being lost to football before we took them on.

“The way they performed, their willingness to give it everything by hunting in packs, breaking down the flanks and going for it, really was them sticking two fingers to Hearts, St Johnstone, St Mirren, Falkirk and, even Celtic and Rangers, who had in the past freed them.”

Celtic players seemed to spend the first half in a dizzying whirl as Clyde’s youngsters, none older than 22, led them a merry dance. They had the ball in the net twice, only for referee Kenny Clark to cut short home celebrations, and they looked like they could score at will. Celtic’s entire back four – not just the scapegoated Du Wei, who was withdrawn at the interval – whimpered embarrassingly as the scampish attackers such as Tom Brighton, Alex Williams and Craig Bryson went for them.

Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc laughably failed to deal with a cross, which allowed Bryson to score in the 32nd minute. He then saved a penalty that resulted from Stephen McManus making a mess of a headed clearance to sell out Du Wei, who pulled down Brighton. Eddie Malone fired in a second four minutes after the opener but somehow Celtic survived further damage. Indeed, a goal from substitute Maciej Zurawski eight minutes from time threatened to put into the balance a tie so long so one-sided it was utterly mortifying for, not just Keane, but such as Neil Lennon, John Hartson and Shunsuke Nakamura, who were all utterly ineffectual.

Clyde manager Roberts made much in the aftermath about knowing that a central midfield of Keane and Lennon wouldn’t “have the legs” for his young bucks, but Miller considers the personnel issues that undid Celtic ran deeper. “We knew they were struggling at the back after losing Bobo Balde to injury and playing Ross Wallace as a makeshift left back,” he said. “They had to reshuffle in all areas with Stilian Petrov injured and, with Keane coming in, we felt it might be a case of him and Lennon both looking to playing the one sitter position.”

Miller admits his ties with Celtic made the day a little strange for him but that the admirable manner of his players’ performance made it a proud afternoon. “Gordon
Strachan was magnanimous, and really only could be because of the spirit and desire of those young boys who proved themselves – why Bryson, Brighton, Malone and Stephen O’Donnell later all went on to bigger things. But even my Celtic-supporting pals, to a one, only had good things to say to me because they knew we were the great underdogs who came through to be thoroughly-deserved winners. One of the amazing things at the end, in fact, was seeing all these Celtic supporters applauding our team.”

Last words on the unforgettable encounter have to go to Keane, courtesy of the autobiography he published in late 2014. The account he then provided is just about as bonkers as the events at Broadwood on 8 January, 2006. “It was a nightmare. I wasn’t happy with my own game. I did OK, but OK wasn’t good enough. After the game – the disappointment. As I was taking my jersey off, I noticed the Nike tag was still on it. When I got on the bus John Hartson, a really good guy, was already sitting there and he was eating a packet of crisps – with a fizzy drink. I said to myself: ‘Welcome to Hell’.”

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