Football: Fans at war with a club divided: Jack Stewart on the freakish atmosphere surrounding Celtic's 2-1 defeat of Dundee

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The Independent Online
PEOPLE like to say that Celtic are a family club. This is supposed to sound cosy but it is in fact a dark truth. Here is a family like the Macbeths or the Lears. They are set on spilling the blood they have in common.

The fans are at war with the board and the directors, as Friday's AGM revealed, are at odds with each other. Supporters see a consortium's offer to inject pounds 17.9m in Celtic as the last chance to match Rangers. The board are likely to reject the proposal and are being accused of selfishly clinging to office.

There were demonstrations before and after the match with Dundee. The banners protesting against the ruling families were exercises in the Muhammad Ali school of poetry: 'Kelly & Co - time to go'. Despite the breezy rhymes, the Celtic support nurse a deep, sour hatred.

The past few trophy-less seasons have brought education as well as mortification. The fans have learned that the razzmatazz of managerial change cannot alter the course of a club which is flat broke. Liam Brady was manager until he resigned on Thursday. Joe Jordan was Friday's boss, until he packed it in at lunchtime.

The reign of the current caretaker, Frank Connor, has now extended across an entire weekend. Those bored by such longevity need not worry; there will be another manager along any minute. Lou Macari, of Stoke City, still looks the man to replace Brady.

In the attempt to woo him, the Celtic board will surely skim over Saturday's events. Macari, with his courtroom experiences, has been tried as well as tested but nothing can prepare him for the odd ordeal at Celtic Park. There was a freakish atmosphere at the Dundee match.

Fans fastidiously divided their emotions. Of course they bellowed their hatred of the board. However, the 16,944 were equally eager to demonstrate their loyalty to the bit of the club which matters and generously cheered a team whose performance did not merit it.

Dundee were the more composed side for long stretches. Their Croat striker, Dragutin Ristic darted cleverly away from his markers and there was accomplished backing from Polish international Piotr Czachowski.

Celtic's play, however, only reminded you just how innocuous chaos can be. Curiously, it took a Dundee goal, from Billy Dodds' penalty, to call Celtic to order. Finally put under pressure, the visitors' defence was vulnerable. Simple crosses were enough to allow Gerry Creaney and the substitute, Pat McGinlay, to score.

Celtic had their first home League win of the season. It brought little cheer. At Celtic Park the price of happiness is much higher than two points.

Goals: Dodds pen (53) 0-1; Creaney (58) 1-1; McGinlay (64) 2-1.

Celtic (4-4-2): Marshall; McNally (McGinlay, 45), Galloway, Gillespie, Boyd; Byrne, McStay, Grant, Collins (O'Neil, 54); Nicholas, Creaney.

Dundee (5-3-2): Mathers; Frail, Duffy, Paterson, Vrto, Pittman; McGowan (Mobillio, 75), McKeown (Adamczuk, 13), Czachowski; Ristic, Dodds. Substitute not used: Thompson.

Referee: H Williamson (Renfrew).

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