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Season review: Scotland

Published: Saturday 21 June 2014, 9.26CET
Celtic FC eased to their third consecutive title but more of a surprise was Saint Johnstone FC winning the Scottish Cup, the first major honour in their 130-year history.
by Alex O'Henley
from Glasgow
Season review: Scotland
Celtic celebrate their Scottish Premier League title success ©Getty Images
Published: Saturday 21 June 2014, 9.26CET

Season review: Scotland

Celtic FC eased to their third consecutive title but more of a surprise was Saint Johnstone FC winning the Scottish Cup, the first major honour in their 130-year history.

Celtic FC clinched their 45th Scottish championship after finishing 29 points ahead of second-placed Motherwell FC. It was the third consecutive title for manager Neil Lennon, a feat previously achieved at the club by Willie Maley, Jock Stein and Gordon Strachan. However, the Northern Irishman will not be around to defend his crown next season having stepped down after four years in charge at Celtic Park.

Elsewhere, in one of the most entertaining seasons in recent memory, Saint Johnstone FC won their first trophy and Aberdeen FC ended a 19-year wait for silverware by taking the League Cup. The campaign climaxed with the relegation of Hibernian FC, who join Edinburgh neighbours Heart of Midlothian FC in the second tier, meaning that for the first time in Scottish Football League history there will not be a team from the capital in the top flight.

Champions: Celtic FC
Celtic lost only one game – 2-1 against Aberdeen in February – en route to the title, scoring over a century of goals (102) for the first time since Martin O'Neill's side registered 105 in 2003/04. Top spot was guaranteed in style with seven games to spare following a 5-1 win against Partick Thistle FC on 26 March, the earliest the title had been secured since 1928/29.

"It was an absolute honour to play for this great club, to captain the team and, of course, to become Celtic manager, a position which I cherished dearly," said Lennon after announcing his departure. "However, I feel the time is now right to move on to a new challenge."

Cup final: Saint Johnstone FC 2-0 Dundee United FC
Steven Anderson headed Saints into the lead on the stroke of half-time at Celtic Park. With six minutes remaining, Steven MacLean prodded in a second to ensure a historic day for the Perth outfit, who lifted the cup for the first time in their 130-year history at the first time of asking.

"This means everything," said manager Tommy Wright. "Words cannot describe how I feel about it all because I know how special this is for so many people."

European places*
Celtic FC – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round (champions path)
Saint Johnstone FC – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
Motherwell FC – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
Aberdeen FC – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
*subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: Kris Commons (Celtic FC)
Few expected Commons to fill the void left by the departing Gary Hooper, but the 30-year-old midfielder swept the board with player of the year awards from his peers, sports writers and club after the most prolific campaign of his career.

Ostensibly signed as a midfielder/winger when he joined from Derby County FC in January 2011, Commons has been transformed into a classic No10, his artistry, vision and deft touch being deployed to clinical effect either behind a lone striker or as a part of a three-pronged attack.

One to watch: Stevie May (Saint Johnstone FC)
The Scotland Under-21 striker has blossomed under Wright's guidance, scoring 27 goals in all competitions in his first full season in the top flight. May's form has drawn admiring glances from teams south of the border, but refreshingly he has spoken of extending his stay at McDiarmid Park and sampling European football with his home-town club next term.

Surprise package: Saint Johnstone FC
A convincing case could be made for Stuart McCall's Motherwell side, who lost half their starting XI last summer but still managed to pip Aberdeen to second place on the last day. However, having claimed their first ever trophy, the honour has to go to Saints and Wright, who used early UEFA Europa League victories against Rosenborg BK and FC Minsk as a springboard for the club's most successful season in the Northern Irishman's first term at McDiarmid Park.

Leading scorer: Kris Commons, Celtic FC (27)

Relegated: Heart of Midlothian FC, Hibernian FC

Promoted: Dundee FC, Hamilton Academical FC

Number: 13
The number of consecutive clean sheets Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster kept to break Bobby Clark's Scottish league record of 1,155 minutes without conceding.

Quote
"It's the pinnacle of my career to win the Scottish Cup, but more importantly it means a lot more to a lot more people – the supporters, the players, my staff, and [owners] Geoff and Steve Brown, who have put a lot into this club. For us to get the first major trophy, it's so special to so many people."
Saints manager Wright after the club's cup success.

Last updated: 21/06/14 16.30CET

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