CELTIC Park 1998, Rugby Park 2003, Easter Road 2005 and Tannadice 2008.

Four final league games of the season when the title was still up for grabs. Of the close to 1500 football matches I have been to, these four comfortably fit into the category marked unforgettable.

I was there to see Celtic stop 10 in a row. Then Celtic losing the league to Rangers by a midge’s eyebrow four days after the UEFA Cup final. Helicopter Sunday remains the most remarkable day of my career in football writing, and then Celtic beating Dundee United to pip their old pals as the club was grieving the loss of Tommy Burns.

Harald Brattback scoring with a calmness which he’d not shown previously. Gordon Marshall, a former Celtic keeper, making save after save to deny Henrik Larsson and the rest. Marvin Andrews falling to his knees – he was the one who always truly believed. And Gordon Strachan in tears.

Iconic moments. Utterly bonkers. It was a privilege to have witnessed them.

These are the days you live for as either a reporter or supporter – never mind the people actually involved in the games.

When the season is in the final few furlongs, every throw-in matters, dropped points are a disaster, the derby games grow in importance. This is what happens when we have a title race.

Players have pops. Managers lose the plot. Supporters are overcome with nerves. Heroes and villains are made. If you don’t enjoy last-day league deciders, then you don’t like football and are definitely for the watching.

The last one came in 2011. We might just have a genuine battle at the top this season.

Before I go on, my gut tells me that Celtic will win nine in a row and they should do it with a bit to spare. They have better players, a stronger squad, more money if any January signings need to be made, and a manager, captain and many more who have been over this course many, many times before and won.

That being said, I tip my hat to the job Steven Gerrard is doing at Rangers. I’m not sure who else could do much better at this time in the club’s history.

He has put his team in a strong position in Europe and, as things stand, looks to have assembled a team that at least can make Celtic sweat a bit.

Our game needs this. Scottish football’s two giants might not be to everyone’s taste – and I can’t say I blame those who can’t stand either – but Celtic and Rangers to a large extent are Scottish football and watching them go boot to boot in the top two places in the league is never anything other than fascinating.

The seasons I mentioned above contained more twists and turns than the entire seasons of Game of Thrones – with less sex scenes but at times more violence.

Many Celtic fans maintain to this day that the day in 1998 when they won the title was the best day of their time supporting the club. As for Helicopter Sunday – no Rangers fan I know doesn’t say that beats everything else.

I remember with a clarity I usually don’t possess of the eruption of noise when news of Scott McDonald’s equaliser at Fir Park came through in Leith. The disbelief in the press benches was quickly eclipsed by the realisation we now had a lot more work to do.

Won’t anyone think of the journalists?

The night at Tannadice was special. When the game ended, Gordon Strachan got everyone in a huddle and spoke about Tommy; the result being that it made Aiden McGeady burst into tears.

That’s what it’s all about.

One of the best came in the early 1990s at Douglas Park when Brechin City won promotion against Clyde – they were the Accies’ tenants – with a last-minute penalty from Marc Millar.

The small gaggle of Brechin fans didn’t celebrate. Instead, they ran on the park. It was hilarious.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Celtic pull away from Rangers in due time. It wouldn’t surprise me if Gerrard can keep Rangers on the tails of their rivals. Whether the season can go to the last day is down to what happens at Rangers.

If Gerrard gives Neil Lennon a run for his money, he should keep his job even if they fall short.

I was sceptical of his appointment, however, even if he departs from Glasgow without winning any silverware, the former England captain has shown enough in his managerial job to suggest he has what it takes.

That Celtic are in a far better state in almost every department is hardly Gerrard’s fault. He can only play with the cards he’s been dealt and he’s doing a good job in the circumstances.

Rangers are at Ross County tonight. Celtic face Motherwell at home. These two rarely play at the same time and when they do, and when they are competing against one another, it’s a throw-back to the old days when ears were pressed to trannie radios to keep up with how the other lot were getting on.

It’s been a good season so far and much if that is down to the fact there is competition at the top of the Scottish Premiership. My hope is that’s still the case in May. Football is mean to be exciting, not a foregone conclusion.

And another thing

I HONESTLY thought Angelo Alessio wouldn’t see Christmas as Kilmarnock manager after his disastrous start.

Losing to Connah’s Quays Nomads was humiliating. Then came rumblings of discontent within the dressing room, later vocalised by defender Kirk Broadfoot after he left.

However, Alessio has turned things around. That’s eight clean sheets from the last 10 games. They sit third and while scoring goals is a concern, they look like the team from the last two seasons.

Alessio is deserving of respect given what he’s achieved in football but an interesting CV guarantees nothing. However, Kilmarnock look good again. Their Italian manager is proving a lot of people wrong.