It has been 14 years since First Division Clyde defeated Gordon Strachan’s Celtic. It was a difficult introduction to Scottish football for the former Manchester United midfielder as the Parkhead side were humbled by the underdogs.
“Every year around this time I get the phonecall asking for an interview,” said the man whose stunning volley, proved the matchwinner. “The years have flown in and I can just remember the ball coming and it was a head rush when it went in. I only scored about 15 career goals so it didn’t happen very often. So it was a little bit of a blur.
“We were all young players but if you look at the squad now we had the likes of Craig Bryson, who went on to play for Scotland.
“We had a decent group who were just starting out. That season we had gone to Ibrox about two months earlier and drawn 2-2 in the League Cup and lost in extra-time. I think we took a lot of confidence from that game in terms of how we defended and how we set up.
“When we played at Clyde we always went to the left side of the tunnel but that was the opposite side to where we came out. Someone from Sky tried to move us because we came out first. They said it was Celtic’s side. But our captain, Stephen O’Donnell, told them we weren’t moving! We were there to take part, not to sit and watch Celtic play.”
Clyde also benefited from the psychological edge offered by co-manager and former Rangers favourite Graham Roberts.
“He went to watch Celtic a lot and was telling us: ‘They are coming to the ends of their careers’. John Hartson was getting on, [Neil] Lennon, Keane hadn’t played for a couple of months.
“He was telling us that their legs had gone and we were believing it. He had us thinking they were hopeless!”
For spells in the game, they were, leaving manager Strachan fuming, Keane stunned and hapless Chinese defender Du Wei, who made his first start that day, quickly on his way out.
“Gordon Strachan had a few choice words to say to us in the dressing room afterwards. Obviously he wasn’t satisfied,” said Maciej Żurawski, who watched in horror from the bench before being thrown on. He scored but couldn’t help turn the day around for Celtic.
“Everyone expected to win the game, especially because it was Roy Keane’s first game. He, especially, expected to win. But he’s actually quite a calm guy in the dressing room – he keeps the fire for out on the pitch.”
He has rarely been anything other than a sore loser, though. According to Malone, he did still agree to swap shirts before the matchwinner was distracted.
“To be fair he was spot on,” said Malone, who had sought out a memento. “He was really nice. I’d got him going off the pitch and asked if I could get his top. He said he’d see me in the tunnel. But, me being a dafty, I went back out onto the pitch for another half an hour to celebrate so I didn’t actually see him after the game.
“He would have given me it if I’d gone up the tunnel but I went the other way to celebrate with my mates. I still wish I’d gone the other way and got his top.”
The clubs face off again this weekend, with a place in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals and Celtic’s long unbeaten run in the domestic cup competitions at stake, and while no-one can deny Malone and Co’s giant killing credentials, the player himself says a repeat on Sunday would be an even bigger shock.
“When we played them, we were sitting third or fourth in the Championship and had started the season quite well. You look at Clyde now, going through a transition in League One, and I think it would be a bigger shock if they got a result on Sunday.
“But it’s a one-off game and they’ve got a chance, especially with [David] Goodwillie up front, who can score goals. There’s a wee chance they can do it.”
l Premier Sports is the home of knockout football in Scotland, broadcasting the William Hill Scottish Cup and the Betfred Cup. Premier Sports will screen live and exclusive coverage of Clyde v Celtic (Sun 9 Feb) in the Scottish Cup Fifth Round. Available on Sky, Virgin TV and via the Premier Player. Visit www.premiersports.com for details.