The Old Firm Decider the other week had few highlights, but the one truly memorable moment was something you don’t see very often: a top-drawer penalty save.

Samaras struck a decent enough shot, but McGregor guessed well, got down to his left, and stopped the Celtic fans behind him from erupting in delight at a likely league-winning goal.  Now with Celtic’s surprise defeat in Inverness this week, that save could prove momentous.

There have been other big penalty misses over the years in Scottish football: take a look at a few.


The record books are unclear on who missed the first penalty in Scotland.  The penalty kick was introduced in the 1891 season, and Celtic’s Dan Doyle is on record missing a penalty for against Abercorn on the 12th of September that year.  However another Celtic history book states that Celtic’s first-ever penalty was awarded against Morton that year and Neil McCallum missed it – and the only Celtic-Morton game on record was weeks earlier, on the 4th of August.

Either way,it looks like Celtic were the first Scottish team to miss a penalty.  Ironic, given how many of them they have been denied over the years, eh?


“Charlie” Bellany Thomson captained Hearts, Sunderland, and Scotland from 1898 to 1919 – a career spanning across three decades, two centuries, and one world war.  He was regarded as an inspiring player, winning the Scottish Cup twice with Hearts and the league once with Sunderland before retiring at the age of 41.

Converted from centre-forward to centre-back, Thomson was also a successful penalty taker – he missed only one in his entire career.  History doesn’t record when or against who, but it must have been some save.


Booted out of Ibrox after the ‘Gers lost to Berwick Rangers in the 1967 Scottish Cup third round, Forrest went on to play for Preston North End and Aberdeen.

The striker made the record books at Aberdeen, and not in a good way.  The Pittodrie side were the first team ever to be knocked out of European competition in a penalty shoot-out, in the first round of the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970.  After a 4-4 aggregate draw with Hungarian legends Honved, the Budapest side scored all five of their spot kicks but Forrest hit the bar with Aberdeen’s third.

And they say no-one remembers the loser.


The Dons were on the winning side in another penalty kick first: the first Scottish Cup Final to be decided on the day with a shootout. And what a shootout it was.  Everyone bar the goalkeepers and Aberdeen’s diddy defender Brian Irvine had taken a penalty when the Northern Irishman stepped up at 8-8.

Rogan – a big-hearted lad but never the luckiest of players for Celtic – hit a reasonable strike to the left side of Theo Snelders, but it lacked power.  The Dutchman saved, leaving Brian Irvine to seal a 9-8 Aberdeen win.


The 1996-97 season may never be matched for the intensity, and quality, of competition between Rangers and Celtic .

Rangers were gunning for nine-in-a-row with a side containing the likes of Goram, Gough, Laudrup, Gazza, McCoist, Albertz, and Alex Cleland.  Celtic were resurgent under Fergus McCann’s stewardship and Tommy Burns’ leadership, with the Scottish pair of Jackie McNamara and Tom Boyd in defence and the attacking talents of Pierre van Hooijdonk, Paolo di Canio, and Jorge Cadete further forward.

The 14th November 1996 game may go down as the most dramatic of my Old Firm watching career.  The peerless Laudrup scored on Rangers first foray into Celtic’s half, and though the Light Blues had other chances to score, they had to withstand a typical Parkhead barrage for much of the game.

Amazingly, two penalties were awarded and missed during the match.

Midway through the second half, Stuart Kerr brought down Laudrup then redeemed himself by diving to his left to save Paul Gascoigne’s resulting penalty.

Then with five minutes to go, Celtic were given a lifeline – which could have altered Scottish football history – when Rangers captain Gough hacked down Donnelly: penalty to Celtic.

“If anyone gets round to doing my tombstone,” Tommy Burns famously said, “It will have to read: ‘Andy Goram Broke My Heart.’” He said this earlier in 1996, but it applied equally to that night’s events.

Goram’s amazing run of saves against Celtic continued.  He blocked Pierre van Hooijdonk’s strike and Rangers held out for a vital win, going on to match Celtic’s nine-in-a-row record.


Wembley, 15th June 1996.  Gary, Gary, Gary: why didn’t you stop your run-up and re-set the ball?


Celtic 0 – Rangers 1 – Nov 1996