A look back at fifteen years ago today when Celtic made it ‘One In A Row.’
I knew the game was important but as a young teenager back then I was still extremely calm about the whole thing. I didn’t realise until later on just how crucial stopping ten in a row was. We didn’t half make it hard for ourselves that season either, with both teams deciding to patch the wound up instead of plunging the knife in.
I remember my uncle gave me a big horn from his work the day beforehand. He was working on the railways and it was that thing that’s blown to warn workers of an oncoming train. Shamefully I was more excited about sneaking that into the stadium and annoying people with it than actually seeing us win the league!
It was roasting that day as well. Glasgow’s heatwave was ridiculous. It resembled Benidorm on Saturday 9th May 1998. Many punters nervously shifted to the game with their ‘taps aff’ (Cheers Suzie McGuire) showing off physiques as refined as the whiskey distilled nearby at the Gallowgate. The queue for the turnstiles were packed as well. And this was at 2.15pm!
I’d be lying if I could recall the pre-match atmosphere but was likely a combination of excitement and utter dread. The thought of losing the league at home was just unthinkable. The thought of Richard Gough lifting another title at Tannadice that day was sickening. Equaling our record at the same ground the previous season was already bad enough. The way we threw it away at East End Park the previous week was justification for ‘whiteying’.
I did what I do best. Go and stand in a queue for ages to get a large drink, initially. Which then turns into a drink and a pie. With another in the pocket. And some chocolate. And moaned about it. I complained then and I still do now. Only back then I wasn’t paying for it.
Gametime. 3pm. Both matches kick off simultaneously. You have two types of fans in title deciders. You have the supporters who watch the game, focus intensely and blank out everything until the pressure is off. And you have those absolute saddo’s with the portable radio’s, listening out for the score elsewhere. But there was one particular fan, who still sits a few rows behind me to this day, who listened out for EVERY score in the UK. In a football match of this importance, even as a young guy the height of an office chair, I found that pathetic.
’2-0 COLCHESTER!’ , ’1-1 WITH DERBY!’ ‘VIALLI FOR CHELSEA 1-0 AT CHARLTON’.
This bonehead shall remain nameless, but if he’s reading, I’d just like to say on behalf of the North Stand, Block 102 : NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE SCORE ELSEWHERE. WE HAVE MOBILE NETWORKS NOW. WE HAVE WIFI AT CELTIC PARK (I think……..) – WE NO LONGER NEED YOUR SERVICES.
10 minutes into the game my drink was finished. Celtic’s catering staff are the opposite of your man in Oliver Twist. They give you a lot of juice if you ask for it. Now it’s a sweltering day as I said, I’m a wee guy as I’ve mentioned so naturally, my wee Di and Dodi needs the liquid more than anyone else. However, as I stupidly sometimes still do at the games, I offered a few people next to me the juice. When it’s passed back to me within 20 seconds it’s as empty as the profit sheet at Ibrox. Obliterated. Decimated. Whitewashed.
So for the rest of the first half I was in a right mood that could have been so much worse had George O’Boyle not headed over, unmarked may I add, from a cross which Johnny ‘Ave goat this’ Gould was nowhere near.
Half time. 1-0. Tunes are played. Things are muttered. I’m still in a mood. I asked my Granda for some change for more Fanta down at the Food bit. ‘JUST TAKE WHAT YOU NEED’ he says. ‘But Granda this is a tenner…’ ‘A DON’T CARE JUST DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO’ ‘Awrite……..’.
I missed about 10 minutes of the second half just to get that juice. I needed that juice. When I necked it all, without sharing it, I was a different boy. The fire had risen. I was right in about it. Shouting abuse at Keith O’Halloran like I was a hardman when he was taking a shy.
Later on news filtered through that the Romeo’s were leading 2-1 at Tannadice, which wasn’t that suprising as Dundee Utd weren’t invincible at home, however this a day where Rangers were definitely going to get their win, regardless, so it was all up to us.
Usually when clouds gather they say it’s bad news, but it turned out to be the opposite that day. For a start – it was the end of the hands over the forehead to see the game properly and the players seemed to step up a gear no longer sapped by Mr Sun.
Harald Brattbakk, who deservedly received his fair share of pelters, swept home after a brilliant cross by Jackie Mac. Party time!
The next 20 minutes were fairly routine on the park. Off it – bedlam. At one point there was a guy in my row sitting CRYING. Actually greetin’. And fair play to that man. I think that symbolises how much winning the game actually meant. It was worth a good greet for.
At full time this was happening :
Everyone was running on the park, stewards were helpless, the polis were hapless and it was just a free-for-all.
Me ? I was sitting with that big stupit railway horn blowing it in some guys ear. He wanted to leather me. And I don’t blame him one bit. He probably has some form of inner lug damage now. Aw well.
All I remember about afterwards after the celebrations was driving through the East End with the scarf out the window and for once being about to gloat about winning something major. Which was nice.