On the 20th anniversary of Glasgow’s first ever game in the Celtic League, On Top Of The Moon wallows in nostalgia and picks out five regular season matches that remain in the memory banks.
Glasgow v Edinburgh at Firhill
4 December 2005
2005/06 was a tough season across the board. The club would end up finishing last in the Magners Celtic League but did manage to blood some influential young players with the likes of John Barclay and Johnnie Beattie becoming first team regulars as the season progressed.
Both players were to the fore in the undoubted highlight of the campaign when a Glasgow team that had only won 2 of their 9 fixtures in the league to that point absolutely blitzed Edinburgh 46-6 at Firhill. To this day, it remains the biggest margin of victory between these sides in the professional era. Colin Gregor ran the show, with the utility back making just his third start for the club at stand off after really being signed as a scrum half.
Australian full back Graydon Staniforth bagged a double and Johnnie Beattie, Kevin Tkachuk and Graeme Morrison were also on the scoreboard on a rare day of sheer joy for the Warrior’s faithful.
A Rare Victory
Glasgow v Scarlets at Firhill
12 May 2006
When they faced the Scarlets at Firhill, Glasgow had won just 4 league matches all season. It had been more than 6 months since the home fans had last witnessed a win. Crowd numbers had dwindled with only the real gluttons for punishment persisting. The quoted attendance was 1,014 – but there is absolutely no chance there were that many people in Firhill that afternoon!
The game itself was no classic. Small things about that afternoon stick in the mind. A big man break from prop Stuart Corsar. Donnie MacFadyen ripping the ball out of a maul with his freakish upper body strength. The Johns, Beattie and Barclay, at least promising something for the future. Players’ shirts being given out to the (incredibly sparse) crowd after the game.
Ultimately, Glasgow fans were so starved of success that any win felt special. Of course the following week they were smashed by Connacht and finished bottom of the league. But it was much easier to ignore the pain of away games in those days with TV coverage a rarity…
DTH to the rescue
Treviso v Glasgow at Stadio di Monigo
22 April 2012
The early part of 2012 had been very good for Glasgow. Their only losses were a squeaker (by 2 points!) at Parc Y Scarlets and an early April encounter with Munster when a Stuart Hogg hat-trick (from outside centre) wasn’t enough in a 29-35 defeat at Musgrave Park.
The Warriors were behind against Treviso for much of their Round 21 clash and were down by 2 points with minutes left to play. Glasgow fans sitting at home watching on the TV were biting their fingernails – wins in the club’s last 2 fixtures were required to book a playoff spot and it was all slipping away.
Enter DTH van der Merwe. The Canadian winger hadn’t featured for the Warriors for nearly 12 months. Somehow he conjured up a score, bursting through the Italian defence and putting Glasgow on the front foot again to seal their return to the playoffs with a win against Connacht a week later. It was a real punch the air moment – a feeling the Warriors’ faithful would become ever more familiar in the years to come.
Niko gonna Niko
Glasgow v Ulster at Scotstoun
22 February 2013
This game encapsulated everything great about the force of nature that was Niko Matawalu in his first spell with the Warriors. After bedding in to the club during the early part of the season he really took off in 2013. This was the third consecutive game he was named Player of the Match and came during a run of 13 games during which he scored 9 tries and assisted on another 7.
Picking the pocket of Ruan Pienaar and then backhanding it to Tommy Seymour to score was sensational. Scampering through for the BP try was the icing on the cake of an all-round performance that saw him play at both scrum half and wing.
It really was an extraordinary finish. Pete Horne wasn’t often entrusted with kicking duties at this stage in his career but earlier in the campaign he had banged over 6 penalties to down Cardiff. Unfortunately that night against Ulster his kicking form deserted him and he missed the final conversion from pretty much in front of the posts. What should have been a comfortable last few minutes turned into a very nervy time for the home fans!
Bonus point draw
Leinster v Glasgow at the RDS
27 March 2015
Trips to the RDS have brought some very close encounters for the Warriors over the years. Between 2012 and 2017, Glasgow finished within a score of Leinster without quite managing the win they craved. The 2014/15 title-winning season brought the nearest thing of all though – and the only occasion in 391 league matches that the Warriors have been involved in a draw where both sides collected try bonus points.
It was a back and forth, ding dong encounter. Glasgow dominated the first half and raced into a 27-7 lead with tries from Richie Vernon’s score (in his only career start at inside centre) the pick of the bunch as he powered through defenders in a very Leinster-esque fashion.
The second half flipped the game on its head with the home side scoring 27 points without reply before the Warriors even got going. It took a late try from Glenn Bryce to give them the chance to draw level. Peter Horne’s nerveless kick from wide out on the left deserved to be the final exclamation point on a remarkable match.
(Of course the RDS was also the venue for what can only be described as the Jonny Gray match in 2019 – an occasion that inspired this piece.)
Of course many of the best moments have come in post season matches – OTOTM has you covered here with the playoff memories series:
Ospreys, 14 May 2010:
Munster, 16 May 2014:
Munster, 30 May 2015: