Tuesday 22 August 2017

Tragedies put things in perspective for Gordon

Celtic 0 Kilmarnock 0

Craig Gordon: 'The minute’s silence was absolutely impeccable — not a single sound from anywhere in the ground. As well as the black armband, I also had the number 32 on there for my old team-mate, Marton'
Craig Gordon: 'The minute’s silence was absolutely impeccable — not a single sound from anywhere in the ground. As well as the black armband, I also had the number 32 on there for my old team-mate, Marton'

Roddy Forsyth

A family weekend in the French capital beckoned Craig Gordon to enjoy a rare mid-season break.

The Celtic and Scotland goalkeeper, however, had scarcely arrived at Disneyland Paris with his wife, Jennifer, and daughters Freya and Emma, than the complex was locked down in response to the terror attacks taking place in the city.

"They closed Disneyland and my kids got only an hour on the Friday night before we had to explain it wouldn't be open because of what had happened," said Gordon. "We just stayed in the hotel for two days, then came back.

"It was scary when we heard about it and I was busy googling to see how close we were. It was an eerie atmosphere, very strange. No one was really talking about it, it was just very quiet."

The death from cancer of his former Sunderland colleague, Marton Fulop, also occurred while Gordon was in France and the conjunction of events added a personal poignancy to the tribute observed before Celtic's match against Kilmarnock.

"The minute's silence was absolutely impeccable - not a single sound from anywhere in the ground," said Gordon. "As well as the black armband, I also had the number 32 on there for my old team-mate, Marton.

"That was his number at Sunderland and that was just my little tribute to him as well. We are very lucky to play a game we all love. Marton was just 32, only slightly younger than me. That brings it home because he has a young family as well and it's desperately sad.

"I was in touch with him right up until a couple of months ago. I knew they were running out of treatment options. Nevertheless, it was still sad to hear when it came."

Against such a bleak backdrop, the concerns of football recede sharply, but the fixture list plays its part in the necessary resumption of quotidian activities.

The atmosphere at Celtic Park was muted once action got under way, but mainly because Kilmarnock placed their faith unashamedly in deep defence and left the champions to devise some way to break it down.

That Celtic had to settle for a scoreless draw is a worry for all at Parkhead ahead of the visit of Ajax on Thursday. Marooned at the bottom of Europa League Group A with two points from a possible 12, Ronny Deila's side must display greater creativity if they are to have any chance of qualification for the knockout stages.

Leigh Griffiths, Celtic's predator-in-chief, was deserted by his touch when presented with clear chances against Jamie MacDonald and on the single occasion when he produced the goods - a whipped free-kick from 20 yards - the goalkeeper equalled the delivery with an eye-catching block.

Nadir Ciftci was summoned from the Celtic bench as an attacking reinforcement, but to little effect.

Celtic's position at the top of the Scottish Premiership is unaffected by the result, because their nearest challengers - Hearts and Aberdeen - were both held to 1-1 draws by Dundee and Hamilton respectively.

Meanwhile, however much their tactics infuriated the home crowd, Kilmarnock have now held Celtic to draws in both their league encounters.

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