It’s two Scottish Premier League titles in a row for Neil Lennon and Celtic. A 4-1 home victory over Inverness Caley Thistle clinched the club’s 44th championship with a stylish second half performance. And the celebrations were long and loud at Celtic Park.
After a stuffy first half where the visitor managed to frustrate Celtic, it was top scorer Gary Hooper who eventually got the opening goal. A second from captain for the day Joe Ledley was soon followed by another for Hooper. Substitute Georgios Samaras added a stunning solo fourth and a late ICT consolation goal did nothing to spoil the party,
The detractors will say that this championship was inevitable with a certain former football club now out of the game. Within hours the BBC was even asking whether the title win was credible! A league won fairly by a well run, well managed and financially stable club? That sounds credible enough to me.
Any championship is worth winning – and the old adage in sport is that you can only beat the opponent in front of you. There is still a cup final to come for Celtic in May, with the chance to make it a double, on top of a Champions League last sixteen place. A successful season by any measure.
Neil Lennon was absurdly under a touchline ban after swearing during a game. Something I’m sure no other manager has ever done, of course, or they would have been banned too. Unless some managers are treated differently from others by the Scottish footballing authorities …
But the SFA’s strange rules that meant the Celtic manager could not join his players on the field until 15 minutes after the final whistle simply created a great dramatic tension in the ground. The scoreboards at either end showed a countdown to the moment that Neil Lennon could join the party, and the cheers from the Celtic Park faithful when he eventually did were immense.
And the manager was as eloquent as ever when he took the mic in the middle of the pitch to pay tribute to his players, the Celtic fans and his family for their support over the season.
The statistics of 2012/ 13 will show a title won with four games left to play – one game later than last season’s championship was clinched at Kilmarnock. Six games have been lost along the way, but what does that matter? No one, apart from the real stattos, will remember anything other than a successful defence of the title.
So congratulations to Neil Lennon’s Celtic: Two in a row Scottish Premier League Champions.
125 years of unbroken history have given many high points supporting a great football club. And there is a lot more still to come.