PROUD Scot (@chrisgraham79) pinpoints his best bet from the weekend Scottish Premiership action.
Celtic v Motherwell| Sunday 24th February 2019, 15:00
Not a great week for Scottish football.
Firstly, the country's final involvement in European competition came to an end as Celtic unsurprisingly lost out to Valencia in the Europa League. A far bigger concern though was the blight of sectarianism once again rearing its manky head in the game.
Fat Orange Bastard
Kilmarnock had the pleasure of taking on Celtic and Rangers over the space of three days in the last week and on both occasions were involved in unsavoury incidents.
Last Sunday, Kris Boyd was hit by a coin thrown by (one would assume) Celtic fans and allegedly called a “fat Orange bastard”, then three days later Killie boss Steve Clark emotionally raged at the fact he was called a “Fenian bastard” by Rangers fans. How depressing.
What sickens me even more is the sheer level of yeah-but-look-what-they-did finger pointing by some of Rangers and Celtic's fans on social media. It's such a shit, backward look. Two sets of fans who loathe each other, yet are near-obsessed with each other.
I get that Twitter is a far-from-ideal barometer to use as it's increasingly full of the dregs of society but virtually all the replies reflected this absolvement of responsibility. At the same time, I know there are a large, huge swathe of decent Rangers and Celtic fans out there. Quite a few of them are my pals.
It's 34 years since a side outside the Old Firm have won the Scottish league and their domination of the Scottish game remains as strong as ever on and off the field. From a purely neutral point of view, I find that a depressing spectacle.
Old Firm first, everyone else second
I spent the first 21 years of my life in Dumfries, a town in South West Scotland, some 75 miles away from Glasgow. Yet despite the fact it was half the country away from Parkhead and Ibrox, and the fact the town had a league club in Queen Of The South, football fans were always defined by whether you were a Rangers or a Celtic fan.
When Queens hosted Rangers in the Championship play-offs in 2014/15 there were more locals supporting the Gers rather than the Dumfries outfit. Again, depressing.
Both sides are huge institutions in Scotland, massive clubs with rich heritages that all Scots can feel proud of. Celtic's European Cup win in 1967 is one of the greatest achievements in British football and I'll never forget the joy of watching Rangers outclass English champions Leeds in the 1992/93 European Cup as the Ibrox side almost reached the final of the competition. Great memories.
So while I have huge respect for both clubs, life would be a lot more fun if the Scottish game wasn't dominated by them. I look forward to that day.
Onto the weekend football and I'm happy to find flaws in Celtic. They host Motherwell on Sunday with the visitors as big as 19/1 to take all three points.
The Steelmen are on their best run of the season just now with six straight wins in the Premiership. Any kind of concern over a relegation play-off has been banished in favour of a deep desire for post-split Top 6 football.
Fir Park youth
The key to this change in fortune revolves around the young club talent at Fir Park. Teenagers Jake Hastie, David Turnbull and 20 year old Allan Campbell have scored nine of Well's last 10 games and their vibrancy is a joy to watch. Hastie makes the heart beat faster, an absolute bull of a boy with a swagger well beyond his 19 years. Gosh, he's fun to watch.
Hibs and Hearts have been victims of this upturn in Well fortune in 2019 but now things get a lot tougher at Parkhead. Celtic though arrive on the back of a tough trip to Spain in the Europa League. Despite a decent effort they went down 1-0 to lose 3-0 on aggregate to Valencia.
This defeat coupled with the fact an eight successive title looks a foregone conclusion (their last gasp win over Kilmarnock last Sunday felt like a clincher) means that Celtic may be a touch complacent on Sunday. Their record in the direct league match after a Europa League (groups and knockout) fixture this season reads P7 W4 D1 L2. Decent, but not great.
With Well in such good form and Celtic possibly a touch tired I'm willing to give the away side a chance. Backing them at 7/5 with a 1.5 goal start looks a decent bet.
Celtic v Motherwell – Motherwell +1.5 Asian Handicap (7/5 188BET)