- An emotional day at CP for today's league clash v Kilmarnock as the home crowd prepared to show their appreciation for recently deceased Captain, Leader, Legend....Billy McNeill.
A large gathering outside the Lisbon Lion's statue at the beginning of the "Celtic Way" saw additional flowers and scarves being laid before kick off. Billy's fellow Lions appeared dressed in official "Lisbon Lion" attire to pay tribute to their friend and colleague, before The McNeill family - led by wife Liz - arrived to much applause and respect.
Shortly after, the Celtic players arrived by bus, greeted from the gathered crowd. Manager Neil Lennon and Captain Scott Brown approached the now shrine-like statue to lay a wreath on behalf of the players and club in a rather poignant moment as silence then befell the gathering.
Way was then made inside CP for the rest of the day's progression.
Video montage on the big screen showed many images and haunting music that would honestly have left even the most emotionless heartless person in tears as the entering crowd were met with visions of the leader extraordinaire in his glory days in the Hoops, as well as other sombre moments of his life. A large circular hooped no.5 was laid inside centre circle on the pitch as an incredible Tenor belted out the operatic Nessun Dorma, followed by the crowd singing our spiritual anthem You'll Never Walk Alone before the players of both sides gathered around - having followed the remaining Lions' introduction to the pitch - to begin the 67 second round of applause as Billy McNeill's image played Cesaer-like on the big screens as his family watched on proudly, knowing what their beloved husband, father, grandad meant to everyone in attendance.
A fine moment, and one that will be remembered by all in attendance.
Onto footballing matters. The Celtic players lined up - each adorning a black armband with the no.5 etched on it, hoping to provide a good spectacle in honour of the dearly departed McNeill.
Without clogging up to much space, the first 45mins was truly one to forget as those watching were treated to nothing other than a flat, turgid and quite frankly disturbing display as Celtic failed to break down a determined Kilmarnock side, and more often than not saw any type of creativity or chances - whereas Kilmarnock threatened constantly, and if not for a couple of fine saves from the in-form Scott Bain, would have saw the home side go behind.
Half-time came around, and the entire Celtic support would be hoping for changes in style, play and possibly personnel.
A slightly better showing, although not by much saw Edouard finally begin to show some presence, desperately unlucky not to score with a curling effort from outside the box that sailed just wide of Bachman's left hand post.
Things fell flat again, as the likes of Sinclair and Izaguirre failed time and time again to gain any momentum on the park, or any form at all it has to be said, Forrest and McGregor continually running into a dogged Kilmarnock defence, and Rogic failing to break through outside the box with any conviction.
Things were to change however at the end of the 66th minute, as Celtic gained a corner in front of the Jock Stein stand - the corner was delivered in and as headered back out wide by the Kilmarnock defence - but at this point we were now into the 67th minute, the ball was whipped back in to the far post - and in what can only be described as one of THE most poetic moments that any Celtic fan can ever think of, Jozo Simunovic has rose high and strong into the air......and BOOM!
THE CELTIC NO.5 HAD SCORED WITH A HEADER IN THE 67TH MINUTE!!!!!!
Many couldn't believe the irony in a day of mourning and sorrow, that it would turn into the most spiritual of celebrations as our current no.5 CB channelled the spirit indeed of the former Celtic no.5 CB that we were all honouring today with a typical trademark Billy McNeill-esque towering, powering header to score a goal.
I said it in the match thread, but for younger fans like myself, it was as close as many of us will ever have gotten to seeing a Billy McNeill headed goal - the big man would have been proud staring down from the heavens, and his family from the stands would be immensely proud also.
Nothing much changed in style or play after that momentous moment, and nothing other to report.
The game had ended 1-0 to Celtic with the finest of moments, an incredible twist of fate (or as some might call it as they discuss the goal, and without any disrespect - a "Divine Intervention").
The no.5 was the saviour on the day we paid homage to the no.5.
Celtic won, secured a vital 3 points on the way to try and wrap this league up as soon as possible.
The negatives of today will be spoken about in plenty, but for now - it's time to celebrate and rejoice, and remember, and take in the wonder of the winning goal and it's importance.