Celtic take on Icelandic opposition for only the second time tonight as the season formally gets under way and the club marks a new era as our new manager Ronnie Deila takes charge of his first competitive game.
The club’s only previous visit to Iceland, to play Valur in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1975, resulted in one of the most peculiar gifts being presented to the club and stored in the Celtic Park trophy vault. The image above, of a polar bear about to devour a seal, is the piece carved from stone which was gifted to Celtic, managed at the time by Sean Fallon due to Jock Stein’s absence following a serious car crash. It is known, imaginatively, as the Polar Bear Trophy.
It was something of a harbinger of what was to come as Celtic mauled the Icelanders 9-0 on aggregate, having won the away leg 2-0 and followed that up by scoring seven without reply at Celtic Park. Celtic’s first scorer in the home tie just happened to be the club’s first ever Icelandic signing, Johannes Edvaldsson, known affectionately to the Celtic support as ‘Shuggie’.
A former Valur player, Shuggie played opposite his brother Atli in both legs and he was definitely the star attraction in Reykjavik, as this striking poster advertising the game demonstrates:
Here’s hoping that the new manager gets off to a winning start and we go on to enjoy a successful Champions League campaign. It is fair to say that while Ronnie might be dreaming of leading the Bhoys to the football cathedrals of the Nou Camp or the Bernabeu, his immediate surroundings tonight – as posted by @leftybhoy on Twitter – should help inspire him to greater things.
Come on you Bhoys in Green!