Mental lapses in defense, a goal scoring drought up front and, most importantly, dubious officiating: the First Division (still not sure why it’s called that) team started the ‘Year of the Pig’ inauspiciously. A skeleton crew (shout out to premier players Marco, Demus and Paul"Kieron Nolan's Best Friend"Fogarty for pulling a double shift) kicked off the new year against a Vikings squad full of aging, well, Vikings.
After a rousing team talk from skipper Sean McSheffrey (‘Let’s play some football hi'), the Celtics got off to a promising start by creating several chances, most notably from Josh ‘The Mathematician’ Brown, who turned out to be a revelation at left wing. It looked as though a goal was in the making, but the wind was taken out of Celtic sails when yours truly thought it would be a good idea to admire the opposition striker from afar as he took advantage of a free header from three yards out, to make it 1-0 just before half time.
Despite conceding a goal against the run of play, the lads came out swinging in the second half and continued to carve out chances against an outmatched Viking defense. Josh Brown showed his knowledge of the Pythagorean Theorem by bending a few beautiful crosses in from the left wing which ultimately went begging. He nearly took matters into his on hands on a Celtic corner kick, but his thumping header flashed just wide.
Moments later, quick distribution from the Vikings keeper took the Celtics winded back four by surprise and after a scrum in the box, the opposition led 2-0. Celtic did not hang their heads and continued to create chances. In around the 80th minute, it looked like the skipper would have a chance to pull one back after a penalty was rightly given by the linesman for a clear handball. Sean lined up to put it ‘top bins’ (whatever that means), when suddenly it appeared that the ref had had a change of heart. He jogged over to his linesman, conferred for a moment, and then waved off the penalty and gave a - wait for it - goal kick. Apparently the registration fees went towards buying a VAR system this year.
10 agonizing minutes later, the referee, whom Franky affectionately dubbed ‘the worst referee I have seen in my life’ blew the whistle for full time. The Vikings had successfully raided our village, and would have made off with our women - had any of them shown up. (Except Anna, who took some amazing photos.)
Next week, Celtic Beijing take on fellow cellar dwellers Summer Palace in the mythical land known as Shen Long (seriously, where the fuck is that?)
Man of the Match: Josh “Actually, the Pythagorean Theorem has to do with the ratio between the sides of a right angled triangle’ Brown