Mackie – Aberdeen vs Celtic – 2001

6 02 2011

Calum writes at his blog Good Feet For A Big Man and tweets @calumcm … This is his favourite goal:

A goal’s a goal, of course, and they all count the same. Except it isn’t, and they don’t. A winner is better than a consolation, a 20-yarder better than a tap-in and a goal in the last minute tops one in the first. Usually. Within those guidelines, beauties and scrubbers are distinguished. There are no hard and fast and rules. Goals, by their very nature, divide opinion. By and large, a goal will upset as many people as it will excite. Except in Scotland. Scottish football has its own rules and principles. Well, two rules and two principles: goal against Celtic, good; goal against Rangers, good.

When David Cameron was trying to hammer home the difference between ‘big government’ and ‘big society’ he should have used the analogy of the SPL. Big government, you see, is like The Old Firm. It’s a bunch of big city boys power wielding, intent on spoiling things for the rest of us. Big society? Well that’s the rest of us. That’s Aberdeen and Dundee United, Kilmarnock and Motherwell. Old and tired clubs being slowly suffocated by the bloated bullies at the top. If he’d said that Scotland would have understood. Then voted Labour anyway.

If anything, Scottish football was even more top heavy as 2001 drew to a close than it is now. At season’s end The Old Firm had a combined goal difference of +131 goals and second placed Rangers finished 27 points above their nearest challengers (Livingston). When the eventual champions traveled North to snowy Pittodrie, Aberdeen on the Saturday before Christmas, they did so with Henrik Larsson, John Hartson and Chris Sutton in their ranks. There isn’t quality like that in Old Firm strike-forces these days.

Their hosts, however, were on a rare post-80s high. Having won our previous eight home matches, the Dandy Dons were one match short of equaling a Fergie-set record of nine consecutive, home league victories.

I was 16 and seated in the incongruously tall Richard Donald Stand (or Dick’s Erection). In the first half, in front of us, Eugene Dadi performed the Marseille turn, Derek Young had an effort blocked on the line and Rab Douglas (in a precursor for what was to come) let a Robbie Winters shot trundle through his legs to clip the post behind him. Celtic were struggling.

At half-time it was 0-0 and cautious optimism reigned. No one got carried away, at least not after Neil Lennon had sprinted into the cover of the tunnel to avoid the barrage of snowballs. Celtic were famous for the lateness of their winners and Tam Cowan was making a career out of jokes about Celtic matches ending too late to be included in the evening papers.

Even when Hartson handled in the box and Winters dispatched the penalty to send us in front we were worried. Our keeper made a great save, Phil McGuire headed off the line. We were very very nervous. Captain Derek Whyte’s late red card made things worse.

Then, with watches being checked all round 19 year-old Darren Mackie hared alone after his typically heavy touch into the Celtic half. The Belgian international Joos Valgaeren showed his experience in getting his body between the spry striker and the ball and carefully rolled it back to Scotland’s number one. Probably, a more experienced player than Mackie would have backed off then, and rejoined his teammates in defence. He didn’t. Instead, he absolutely exploded from behind Valgaeren taking the big Celtic goalie by surprise and possibly causing his slightly weighty first touch. Bravely, Mackie lunged at the ball, won it and leapt to his feet, somehow closer to the ball than Douglas. It rolled slowly goalwards and probably would have crossed the line without the final dash of youthful exuberance Mackie applied in lashing it into the net from millimetres out before sprinting off again in delighted celebration.

2-0. The Dick Donald Stand throbbed with excitement.

A win-clinching goal from a few millimetres, in the final minutes, with no assist, for a team with 10-men, courtesy of a goalkeeping howler, to secure a record-equaling run combines the good and the bad of goal evaluation criteria. The opposition tip the balance. Celtic lost one league game that season, and Darren Mackie’s precocious lash sealed it. On that day my young eyes saw that things could be different. That youth could triumph, that the little guys could fight back and stick it up the man. Of course, the status quo returned. We lost our next home match. Celtic won the league. Big society turned out to be aggressive conservative bollocks. But goals are about moments, and in Darren Mackie’s moment things were different.

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3 responses

7 02 2011
Duncan

I got the drunkest I have ever been that night; said, it’s not even my favourite Dazzler goal, this is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpGrbCLno-w against Dnipro.

7 02 2011
Tweets that mention Mackie – Aberdeen vs Celtic – 2001 « GhostGoal -- Topsy.com

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Calum Mechie, Hiromi Matsubara and Duncan Falconer, ghostgoal. ghostgoal said: New Favourite Goal post – Darren Mackie – Aberdeen vs Celtic – 2001 – by @calumcm …. http://tinyurl.com/66vz8u5 […]

13 02 2011
The Sunday Review | Good Feet for a Big Man

[…] Calum Mechie writing for Ghost Goal: My Favourite Goal […]

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