THERE was to be no fairytale Scottish Cup story for Buckie Thistle last weekend as a surprisingly strong Celtic line-up made light work of the Jags.

But credit to the Highland League side, they gave everything they had and their travelling support of around 2,500 soaked up (quite literally) the atmosphere on what was a bitterly cold and wet Glasgow day.

With Cameron Carter-Vickers still injured, and new Bhoy Nicolas Khun paraded at half-time, the only change to the starting XI was the inclusion of Odin Holm, who stepped in for Callum McGregor – the captain being granted an extended rest.

And even with the calibre of opposition, five different goal scorers on the day – Paulo Bernardo, Holm, Kyogo, Luis Palma and Rocco Vata – is always welcome.
After the game, there was a nice touch from Brendan Rodgers, who went into Buckie’s changing room.

Manager Graeme Stewart heaped praise on the Irishman, saying: “He came in and was a class act.

“Brendan gave a wee speech and said he was delighted with our attitude, they gave us so much respect and took it seriously, which was good. He said to come in and they were giving us strips and signing strips which was brilliant. 

“None of the players were in our changing room after the game, they were all in the Celtic changing room. They didn’t have to do that, one or two of them asked for our strips and I said to the guys they will be getting fined because the strips cost £50!”

In the end, 5-0 was a satisfactory scoreline. I take a more hardened approach to these types of games, I would have preferred 15-0 given the league the Jags play in, but it’s important to remember that Celtic have lost by larger margins this season in the Champions League, so we take the win and move on.

Up next in the last 16 of the cup is a trip to St Mirren, scheduled for the weekend of February 10.

The draw could have been easier, though the Bhoys will be high in confidence after the 0-3 drubbing they gave Stephen Robinson’s side at the start of the month.
By now, you should be aware of what I think about the domestic competitions outside of the Premiership.

For me, they should be viewed as a bonus and an opportunity to give fringe and youth players a chance. The league and Europe are the two priorities, but sadly the board doesn’t share this mindset, at least for the latter.
It’s now the final week of the transfer window and so far, only one signing has been made.

I’ve heard all the guff about January being a difficult time to conduct business, and there’s a degree of truth in that, but the positions that needed strengthening eight months ago haven’t been addressed.

Mark Lawwell, son of the chairman, has stunk up the joint since being given the head of recruitment job last summer.

Their whole MO is predicated on snapping up players in an age bracket of around 19-23, with international youth experience, that they will spend no more than £4m on and sell down the road for a healthy profit.

On paper, if successful, such a policy would be fantastic. But Mark Lawwell and his “team” have, through their work so far, not shown that they have the talent to sustain their much-vaunted model.

The win against Rangers on December 30 has likely allowed further complacency to fester in the boardroom. Even with dropping 12 points in the first half of the league campaign, they want to do just enough to see the title over the line.

Given Celtic’s in-built advantages over every other Scottish club, they can usually get away with it.

Take this Saturday, for example, against Ross County at Parkhead (kick-off 3pm).
The Staggies are second from bottom, have very little in terms of finances and come into the game on the back of a 0-3 Scottish Cup home defeat to second-tier side Partick Thistle.

Such a standard, week in, week out, doesn’t prepare Celtic for the step up that Europe brings.

And while I moan on about the recruitment, this is just as big an issue. Celtic can be so much more, even within the confines of Scotland, but ultimately, they will only reach their true potential if they can be granted a spot in England, or some form of European super league.

Many may believe that these scenarios are pie in the sky, but powerful people are still pushing for a shake-up. Don’t be surprised if one day they finally get their way.

And finally, I end with the sad news that this will be the last Celtic column.

To say I’ve had an absolute blast writing it each week would be an understatement and I hope you will continue to support the Hoops.  

In the words of the late great Tommy Burns: “When you pull on that jersey, you’re not just playing for a football club, you’re playing for a people and a cause.” 

Though this chapter is ending, the Celtic story continues on, carried in the hearts of supporters everywhere. Goodnight, God bless and Hail Hail.