Seventeen years on and the result that shocked Scottish Football still sends a shiver down the spine of Caley Thistle fans. Supercaleygoballistic...... you know how it goes, gets an airing every time these two clubs meet, especially in the Scottish Cup.
At the time nobody thought it was possible. Inverness were being dismissed with contempt borne through ignorance. How could a mid-table first division side knock the mighty Celtic out of the Scottish Cup on their own patch. Well, they did, and they did it in style. Celtic were no longer invincible and Inverness wrote themselves into the history books. The damage was far reaching at Parkhead and heads would roll in the aftermath of that game. Feb 8th 2000 is etched on the minds of Inverness Caledonian Thistle fans, just as the Lisbon Lions are for the Celtic faithful.
Is it possible for the current crop of Caley Jags players to emulate their predecessors and cause what would be a major upset, considering Celtic's dominance in the domestic game this season and given the transformation made by manager Brendan Rodgers? The simple answer has to be NO and there are a number of reasons for that. Not least the current form of Celtic, sweeping all before them and 27 points clear in the Premiership. The present squad have overtaken the run by the famous Lisbon Lions. The Celtic squad is littered with International players. Brendan Rodgers has moulded his own style into the Celtic team and has brought some excellent quality to the team like Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair. They have scored a phenomenal 65 goals in 24 league games whilst conceding only 16. That's 2.7 goals scored per game and a meagre 0.666 against per game. Is that a sign of the devil?
But it's not what Celtic have to offer that concerns me. It's what Inverness don't have to offer that is the greater worry. We are bottom of the Premiership on merit alone. We fail to keep clean sheets on a regular basis, only 2 from 24 games. We are scoring goals at a rate of 1.16 per game. We have no current International players on our books, other than a couple of squad reserves in Owain Fon Williams and Billy Mckay and crocked Kevin McNaughton. Our manager is a newcomer to the job, unlike his counterpart who has a proven track record at the highest level. We no longer have the element of surprise on our side. Playing each other three or four times a season has scuppered that.
Man for man, our current team could not lace the boots of our Feb 8th 2000 squad. We no longer possess players that play for the jersey, willing to lay it all on the line for ninety minutes and go through the pain barrier just to pull on the famous Inverness Caledonian Thistle strip. All over the park we could replace present players with golden oldies. Jimmy Calder was somewhat unorthodox as a keeper, but he could keep the ball out of the net and saved around 50% of penalties he faced. Ross Tokely was maybe not the most gifted, but was a difficult man to get beyond and solid in the air and worked well going forward. Stuart Golabeck: Toughest tackling full back I have ever seen. Scared of nothing and had enough pace to cover for big Bobby. Richard Hastings, a young fit Canadian International with plenty of energy. Bobby Mann was an absolute colossus. Calmness personified in the face of adversity and on his day the best centre back in the country. Mike Teasdale, always there when you needed him and skillful for a big lad. Mark McCulloch, no nonsense tough tackling midfielder who never shirked a challenge. Barry Wilson, how we could do with him now, a tremendous pacey winger with skill in abundance and a goal threat. Paul Sheerin was able to keep a cool head and fitted the Caley Jags ethics. Charlie Christie was one of the most talented players to come from the Highland League, twinkle toed and dedicated to the cause. Dennis Wyness, legend and goal scorer extraordinaire. Kevin Byers, Martin Glancy and Martin Bavidge all did their bit as well. Every one of them would not look out of place in today's side and most would be certain of a start every week. Let's not forget Pele. His philosophy was score more than the opposition. It worked well most of the time and entertainment value was top drawer.
Back to the present day though and we have got to rise to the challenge, albeit a daunting one. Current form shows that Celtic are bullet proof and we are favourites for the drop. The Bhoys brushed aside St Johnstone in their last game thanks to a dubious penalty going their way and ran out big winners, scoring five after coming from 2-1 behind, Moussa Dembele scoring a hat-trick after coming on around the hour mark and bagging a hat-trick in 24 minutes.
However, this is cup football and we are forever optimistic. We have to believe that the impossible is possible. Richie Foran never shirked a challenge as a player and this is one challenge he will relish. Let's not forget that we have dumped favourites Celtic out of the Scottish Cup on three occasions now, so maybe it's not such a big deal any more. Thought it might be worth mentioning that Celtic have only dropped one point this season. Now who could that have been against?
Tom Rogic will miss another few months of action after an ankle operation ruled him out for the forseeable future. Stuart Armstrong and Leigh Griffiths look set to sit this game out as they near fitness but won't be risked. Why should they be when Dembele and Sinclair are on the books along with a squad of full international players.
Josh Meekings will be missing for at least another couple of months. That's a blow as we have struggled defensively from the start of the season. Kevin McNaughton and Lewis Horner are other long term casualties. David Raven played the ninety minutes against Dundee as did Jamie McCart, but he will be unavailable to face his parent club in the cup. Brad Mckay could step in and Ross Draper has been known to drop deep to play in the back line when we have no other options available. Billy Mckay has had two games to get to know the current incumbents and that will benefit him greatly. Billy King came back against Dundee and showed up well.
tm4tj prediction:- If I'm being realistic then we should have no chance whatsoever and this could be a rout. But as I said, it's cup football and away from the pressure of gaining league points. It's a difficult place to go and get any sort of result but that's what we have to do. We were not given a scooby in 2000 and it's the same now. Here's hoping we can get stuck in and emulate the class of Feb 8th 2000. However, I'm not holding my breath on that as wins at Parkhead are as scarce as an Iceberg Lettuce. Celtic to be in the hat for the next round leaving Inverness to concentrate on avoiding relegation.
Nostalgia is making a comeback. Here's the respective sides that played that famous game 17 years ago.
Celtic 1 (Burchill)
Jonathan Gould, Tom Boyd, Olivier Tebily, Stephane Mahe, Vidar Riseth, Colin Healy, Regi Blinker, Lubomir Moravcik, Eyal Berkovic, Mark Viduka and Mark Burchill.
Ian Wright replaced Viduka at half-time after the Aussie took the huff. It mattered not a jot.
Key players such as Henrik Larsson and Paul Lambert were unavailable through injury. Shame!
Inverness CT 3 (Wilson, Mann, how dare they say that Moravcik scored it, Sheerin pen)
Jim Calder, Mike Teasdale, Stuart Golabeck, Bobby Mann, Mark McCulloch, Richard Hastings, Paul Sheerin, Ross Tokely, Barry Wilson, Charlie Christie and Dennis Wyness.
Kevin Byers, Martin Glancy and Martin Bavidge all made late appearances in the game.
Key players such as....................erm, they were all on the park beating Celtic.