A walk up the stairs and the refreshment kiosks in my area were closed. Lots of stewards milled around looking bored and a quick look at the stands showed approximately 2000 hardy souls spaced out in the vastness of the 60,000 capacity. I counted 6 Dutch fans sitting next to a large red flag in the away section.
My mind went back to a beautiful summer’s night in April 1984 when Celtic faced Dundee at home. The official attendance was 4,800 and it is the only occasion I can recall of the Celtic fans actually sitting on the terracing steps of the Jungle during a match. This was to prove a similar experience only that the weather was much colder than back in ’84.
The game was actually fairly entertaining. Celtic attacked and only a great performance of the Dutch keeper prevented us having a half time lead. Rasmussen looked the part again and McGinn was in the unusual position of right back. Cervi apparently came on at half time without me even noticing. More worryingly was the performance of Ki Sung Yeung. He lacks pace, can’t tackle and lacks drive. All of which is not a good mixture for a team playing in the hurly-burly of the SPL. I fear on this one we have been sold a pup.
Even the appearance of our old adversaries Advocaat and Arveladze could not raise the pulse of the watching crowd and Alkmaar were typically Dutch, all possession and tidy passing, good on the eye.
The villains of the peace on this occasion are the Celtic board. I don’t have any particular issues with them but they stand condemned on this occasion. They had the opportunity to give the fans their ‘free’ game in October against Hearts in the League Cup. However they chose to make us pay for the game and a princely crowd of 18,000 showed up. They obviously banked on a Scottish Cup home tie against the likes of Albion Rovers and when no home draw was forthcoming they obviously had to scramble about Europe to find opponents for a friendly.
Even then, when the volcano dust was hovering over the air space of Europe last week, they chose to play on a night where there was considerable competition from the Champions League on television and also the youth final. They did a disservice to the young Celtic Bhoys. I would have, and probably should have, gone to Hampden to lend my support to their cause.
On exiting the stadium on the main stand side there were mounted police sitting unemployed with police vans alongside. Goodness knows what they were expecting but the Glasgow tax payer must have paid a heavy price. Unusually, even the traffic flowed down London Road, the Police obviously deeming that to delay drivers would have been an unnecessary inconvenience.
The biggest roars on the night were reserved to the tannoy announcer who informed us of the Celtic goals at Hampden and then the final result. Eddie’s text told me that Barca had crashed and the dark cloud of Internazionale hangs over Europe once more after it’s banishment in 1967.
Am I glad I went…? Yes. You see, I regard myself as a fan and as such I feel obliged to follow, if you will pardon that expression.
Altogether now : ‘I am a Celtic supporter, faithful through and through…’