A week of celebrating Celtic is upon us. The three of us at A Grand Auld Team locked ourselves away for hours and hours to reflect on the season that has just past, coming to conclusions on 15 award categories that we felt best summed up the season from a supporter’s viewpoint.
The ultimate goal was to decide our Player Of The Season, which will come on Day 5, but first we had to figure who would win our other awards.
You can listen to us come to those decisions by listening to our Day 1 Deliberations podcast and if you don’t want spoiled on the outcomes then read no further.
These were the big winners on Day 1.
Best Club Initiative
Introduction of the North Curve Standing Section
One of the greatest sights of the entire season was against Rangers in September, when Moussa Dembele phoned a taxi for Philippe Senderos and poked the ball with swerve into the far corner. Cameras didn’t just catch to sheer beauty of the finish but also the entire North Curve at Celtic Park donning the tricolour of the Irish flag leaping in unison and going absolutely ballistic.
The Green Brigade have long made that corner of the stadium one of the highlights of a matchday visit to Celtic Park but this season it has been brought to new heights as they continue to bring noise and colour every week, in a new standing section.
Standing at football of course has long been a controversial topic in Britain due to the football tragedies of the past but it was something that Celtic fans wanted and to be fair to the club, they got on board and put in the unfathomable hard work to get it signed off by police and council officials as well as investing money into installing the rail seating.
The benefit is that the Hoops are now trailblazers on the UK scene and could in fact have influenced football culture in this country going forward, to the benefit of fans who just want to go a bit tonto in a safe environment when supporting their team.
Runners-up: Henrik’s Heroes vs Lubo’s Legends, Unveiling Of Brendan Rodgers
Jozo Simunovic’s tackle on Kenny Miller
Simply one of the greatest moments of the entire season full stop, Simunovic’s tackle on Miller was also a laugh out loud moment for thousands of Celtic fans, with each replay of the incident seemingly ramping up the delight in the days that followed.
Crashing into the ball, and the man, with an almost unnatural force, the Croatian stole the soul of Miller as he flew into the air, into orbit, into the moon before crashing back down to the turf head first.
In a game that the Hoops won 5-1 at Ibrox, this somehow stole the show and spawned an absolute sea of videos and memes online in the most delightful way.
It’s the best tackle we’ve seen in our lifetimes and completely sums up the emergence of Simunovic himself, a player on the brink of leaving Celtic last summer to join Torino. He’s become the first choice defender under Brendan Rodgers and each weeks puts in committed defensive performances that are the foundation for everything good that happens in an attacking sense.
We love the big man and we love this tackle.
Runners-up: Tom Millers ‘Five’ commentary, Bertie Auld going wild at Hampden
Kieran Tierney lifting the Scottish Cup
After receiving an arm and an elbow to the face that split his lip, banged his teeth and broke his jaw, Kieran Tierney had to exit the Scottish Cup Final early and he was clearly heartbroken. The cameras caught the Ralph Wiggum moment when he was told he could not play and it was a real heartache when he trudged off the pitch, bandage stuffed in mouth on his way to hospital.
In the end though all was well and although the teenager did not get to influence the match in the manner he would like, he confirmed his icon status in the post-match celebrations when out of nowhere he climbed the steps onto the terrace at Hampden and lifted the Scottish Cup, to the delight of the thousands of supporters in attendance and the fans around the world watching on television.
To get to that point he had been whisked away from hospital in a car before being stopped on approach to Hampden due to the floods of Aberdeen fans exiting the stadium. He got out of the car, legged it across the car park in his boots, hoofed it up the stairs and into the arena again. That was an epic journey in itself and the pay-off was the finest Celtic celebration of the season, of the decade, of our lifetimes.
Runners-up: Tom Rogic & Craig Gordon reacting to the treble winning goal, Scott Sinclair’s reaction to his debut goal at Tynecastle
Most Improved Player
There was a time when some Celtic supporters thought that Stuart Armstrong might not make it at Celtic. Shunted out in wide areas under Ronny Deila, he looked a shadow of the player that shone at Dundee United.
To his credit, he never gave up on himself and when Brendan Rodgers came into the club he saw it as an opportunity rather than an arrival that could spell the end of his Hoops career.
Meeting with the manager and pleading that he be used in a more central position, Rodgers gave him the nod but asked him to improve on certain aspects of his game and make himself as fit as could be. It was a long process throughout the Summer and nobody really saw the benefit until the Autumn and into the Winter when he emerged as a breathtaking midfielder who can not only defend and press with the best of them but also commit himself forward into attack and score goals.
It’s that ability to break into the final third in support of the wingers and the striker that sets him apart from most midfielders we’ve seen at the club in recent years. Celtic have arguably not had someone with that desire since the days of Stan Petrov.
With an incredible 17 goals across the season, he’s made himself perhaps the first midfielder supporters want to see on the team sheet.
There may have always been a player of ability there but the improvement he’s shown over the last 12 months has been quite remarkable and he fully deserves our award of Most Improved Player.
Runners-up: Scott Brown, Callum McGregor