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- 1966-04-19: Liverpool 2-0 Celtic
- 1989-04-30: Celtic 0-4 Liverpool, Hillsborough Memorial Match
- 2003-03-13: Celtic 1-1 Liverpool, UEFA Cup
- 2003-03-20: Liverpool 0-2 Celtic, UEFA Cup
- The Dubai Super Cup
The Liverpool and Celtic Connection - A storyLinks as far back as I can remember then. Perhaps mirroring their respective
cities. World-renowned west coast seaports. Gritty dockers and resolute men of
the shipyards. The intrinsic humour and toughness of the natives. That shared
vitality. Those uniquely distinctive accents. Two bastions of sheer working
classness. No religious links in the Reds case but as far removed from the
establishment as it was possible to get. Just like the Celts. Leave that sort
of stuff for yer Man U''s and yer Rangers. The aristocracy. Our loyalties lay
with the proletariat. We know our place in the class structure. Down here mate!
I say down here!
Not when it comes to football, I hasten to add.
The'' immortal'' Jock Stein. Our own Bill Shankly''s term for his great friend.
The great protestant Celt - a contradiction in terms? [nah Kenny was too] - and
his team arrived at Anfield in 1966. Before he had become immortal, of course.
The second leg of the European Cup Winner''s Cup semi-final. Accompanied by
hordes of green and white enhooped Caledonian revellers bowing and prostrating
themselves all across our fair city to our matching colour Corporation buses as
they swished past on their way down Sheil Road, would you believe ? Collaring
one such denizen, I asked him why all the genuflections to a mere bus. He put
it to me that the Pontiff himself was driving the blessed thing. It took me a
good five minutes to convince the poor soul that the Pope hadn''t driven the 26
since they''d got rid of conductors. Still, that''s blind faith, I guess!
Generous to a fault as well, these Glaswegians. Like their Scouse cousins. That
common thread of human decency. That milk - or should it perhaps be spirit? -
of human kindness. Three thousand empty whisky bottles bequeathed to us
following the match. And that was just in the Boy''s Pen! Do you know that with
the deposits on those bottles we went out and bought Emlyn Hughes?
I''d had my first taste of such bountiful spirit a week or so earlier. It was
an away game at Roker Park.
The Red hordes had taken up their usual position behind the goal. Utter
disrespect for the rightful Mackem occupants but who gave a damn back then when
we were busy spreading the Gospel according to Shanks? Anyway, a bit of
scuffling to our rear. A guy around five foot nine dressed all in green was
challenging all-comers to a fight. Now I have to confess here that there
weren''t many takers amongst our lot. But who could blame them? I mean have you
ever seen shoulders five foot nine inches wide? This guy made Victor Mature
look like Charles Hawtrey for god''s sake.
Fear not, though. My mate Billy to the rescue. ''Soft Billy'' as we used to
term him. With good reason too. There followed some rather dynamic ballroom
dancing and a few ****** noses. All of them Billy''s. Having strutted their
stuff, the battlers went on to become firm friends. Later following a
sex-change, they wed and Billy bore our coat-hangered Celtic warrior three
strapping boys. One a Celtic fan, one a Red and the other a hybrid supporter of
Tranmere and Queen of the South.
It''s a funny old game you know.
Big Ron Yeats''s testimonial was our next communion. Early seventies. I was
late home from work. Quickly donning my all Red paraphernalia I legged it up
Utting Avenue to the Anfield Road End to pay my respects to the big fella...
Disaster!! How on earth was I meant to know that so many screaming Celts would come all
this way for a ****** midweek testimonial for one of our players?!? Don''t
these guys have anything better to do? I jest, of course. What on earth could
be better than a day out to Anfield? Still it would have been comforting to
have been the owner of five foot nine inch wide shoulders as I took a deep
breath and attempted to camouflage my Redness amongst ten thousand Highlanders
resplendent in their green and white. Only one dodgy moment.
As the green hordes chanted reverently for Shankly so the Kop responded in kind
for big John Stein. Well sort of reverently, anyway. "Jock Strap!" they chanted
as only witty Kopites, wanting to put at risk the life of one of their own,
can! Fortunately our Celtic cousins never deciphered this light-hearted affront
to their messiah. In any case I do them a great disservice. They would probably
have merely dismembered me. Seriously folks, they were magnificent to me, our
Celtic cousins. And to big Ron, too. It was just that I was more relieved by
the end of the proceedings than Big Ron. A limb is a limb when all''s said and
done! Even mine.
Back to our links. Kenny''s from Heaven!
Er, no. Glasgee actually. Oh I see. You''re saying it''s
the same thing? Sure, pal, but try telling that to this out-of-work claymore
sharpener I happen to know from Cumbernauld!
Can any player ever have been more worshipped in the entire history of the
game? Why I alone used to pray to him twice every day - once at morning, once
at night. Not forgetting Grace three times a day. That''s my sister Grace by
the way, another big Kenny devotee as you might gather from the number of times
she, too, prayed to him. Finally, some poignancy to follow all this frivolity.
We at Anfield shall never forget the magnanimity of Kenny''s former club to
invite us up to Parkhead to play our first game following Hillsborough.
John Pearman of Red All Over The Land tells me that the singing that day by
both sets of supporters of our mutual hymn You''ll Never Walk Alone was the
most emotional he''s ever heard. I don''t doubt him. On that day - not for the
first time as you will have gathered from this piece - Red and Green stood as
one. Uniquely in football? More than likely. Brothers and sisters united in emotion.
The one entrusting its grief to the other. The other embracing it willingly.
Big heartedly. Two of the world''s great clubs shoulder to shoulder at a time
of adversity for the one. Football can produce poignant moments. That occasion
was undoubtedly one of them.
And since? Well, as with most things that run deep, so the relationship has
endured. The kinship has surfaced in several other testimonials down the years
and was particularly evident in our stirring UEFA cup clashes of several years
ago when that Steve McManaman wonder goal stretched Green magnanimity to its
limits. Then, a few years back, to coincide with the return home of the last
itinerant Celt from the ''67 European Cup Final in Lisbon, we had the latest of
the green and white invasions of our precious Anfield citadel.
The occasion was Ronnie Moran''s farewell game, a glittering spectacle at which
it was rumoured that the fallen Red''s hero Titi Camara was so impressed by the
glorious din emanating from the Celtic supporters - including no doubt our
belated Lisbon straggler - he was considering buying himself a kilt. A red and
white one, of course! And the Celts? Well for their part they decided to bust
our stand. But hey we won''t carp. After all, what''s a broken stand between
You know, it can often prove fruitless trying to explain certain things. For
every shared anthem, shared maestro or experience that shapes a relationship
there can be a hidden nuance just as important. Equally as instrumental.
Sometimes, then, some things are best just celebrated. That is what I have
tried to do here. That underlying kindred spirit binding many Reds and Greens
together is simply a bit special. Full stop. Explanations are not required.
The fact is, somewhere along the way it happened and it is now there for all to
see. And while not everybody approves of it - Liverpudlian Ibrox devotees and
their Glasgwegian counterparts especially will rightfully be less than
enamoured with it all - I know of one dear departed dog-collared soul who will
be delighted how things have panned out.
Why it must seem like heaven for Father T. In more ways than one.
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