Frank McAvennie hits treble for Celtic at Hamilton

Denny MacGee watches champions break goal record

Frank McAvennie heads home the first of a hat-trick in Celtics record-breaking 8-0 victory over Hamilton Accies at Douglas Park. Picture: Evening Times

Hamilton 0, Celtic 8

The Scotsman, 7 November, 1988

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CELTIC fly out to West Germany this morning with this victory still fresh enough in their minds to give their European hopes an enormous boost.

The embarrassingly emphatic defeat of Hamilton, at the same time inflicting the heaviest ever home defeat in the 113-year history of the Lanarkshire club, registering the largest margin in an away victory in the Premier Division and equalling the all-time record for victory, was exactly the kind of morale-boosting exercise needed before the attempt to overcome the one-goal deficit against Werder Bremen.

The fact that Celtic hit eight past one of the best young goalkeepers in the country, the totally blameless Allan Ferguson, is an impressive statistic that will make Bremen sit up.

And that without the services of Andy Walker, who is now virtually certain to miss tomorrow’s game, having failed to respond to treatment. Even if he had, Celtic manager, Billy McNeill, would have been hard-pushed to dismantle the pairing which contributed three-quarters of Celtic’s goals on Saturday.

Mark McGhee, more than most, had reason to enjoy the victory at Hamilton. His hat-trick, and his overall level of commitment and skill, had the legions of Celtic fans chanting his name for a fair bit of the latter part of the match. Frequently, the chants he has heard associated with his name from the crowd have been less than complimentary.

His striking partner, Frank McAvennie, now hitting the net with a regularity which must impress those in the national set-up, set Celtic on the road to the kind of victory which, on the evidence of the first 30 minutes of the game, looked distinctly unlikely.

McAvennie struck twice just before half-time, with a header then a run and shot after a series of mistakes by the Hamilton defence, to take the pressure off his side.

McAvennie, having completed his hat-trick by means of a penalty early in the second half, was shortly afterwards removed from the field by his manager, to the obvious annoyance of the striker, who must have fancied himself for a few more.

McNeill admitted afterwards that the striker had had his eye on Neil Mochan’s club record of five goals in one game, and asked why he had been taken off when that was at least in sight.

The manager’s main consideration was to give his substitutes, Owen Archdeacon and Joe Miller – who, along with Billy Stark scored Celtic’s other two goals – a run in preparation for tomorrow’s European tie.

For Hamilton manager, John Lambie, things never change. Monday follows the weekend, Accies are beaten, and he has to start the week wondering when his side is going to emerge from under the yoke of defeat after defeat – eight in a row at the last count.

Even with the benefit of recent signings Eddie Gallagher up front and Paul Martin at the back, they appear to have neither the striking ability nor defensive strength to stay in the division.

Hamilton: Ferguson, Miller, Roseburgh, McKee, Jamieson, Martin, Fairlie, Gallagher, Harris, Charnley, McDonald. Substitutes: Speirs, Scott.

Celtic: Bonner, Morris, Rogan, Aitken, McCarthy, Whyte, Stark, McStay, McAvennie, McGhee, Burns. Substitutes: Miller, Archdeacon.

Referee: A Ferguson.