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One Good Turn - Centenary Championees
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I was born in July 1973 in the Queen Mother Hospital and instantly became a Celtic supporter. My dad was an avid fan throughout his life from '39, from being a ball boy to culiminating in attending the European Cup Final '67.
Throughout my early years stories of that memorable trip were recounted over and over, tales my brother and I never tired of hearing. My dad eventually fell away from attending the games in the early 70's but that didn't dampen our enthusiasm for all things Celtic.
My cousins took us to our first ever game on the 4th of May 1985, versus Dundee at Celtic Park (a fixture that hold some significance in later years). Stood in the Jungle that day was just awesome. I don't remember much about the game but I do remember John Brown scoring the goal that sealed the defeat that day. Not a great start to out Hoops supporting career but it didn't deter us from being lifelong Celtic fans.
The first title win after our first game was in 1986 when we famously beat St Mirren 5-0 and Albert Kidd did the business against Hearts. We were at a friends house, huddled round a radio listening to the crackled transmission and realising it was the first Championship we'd really experienced as true Celtic supporters. Sure there were the triumphs in the 70's and early 80's but this was the first "real" one for us. And it felt fantastic.
The first Championship winning game I attended was in April 1988, the centenary season. My dad had roped me into going shopping for an old blind fella, Mick Carr, every Saturday morning. Each week, with varying levels of enthusiasm, I'd drag myself out of bed and go to the shop to pick up Mick's messages. Anyway, the week before the Dundee game, my dad asked how I'd like to go to the game that could clinch is the title. Of course I was over the moon. He said, as a thank you for going to the shop every Saturday, Mick wanted to take me to the game. Suddenly all the Saturday mornings of apathy seemed to weigh heavily on me. I didn't feel I deserved it and ever since that time I got up and made sure I did the best I could for old Mick.
Morning came on April the 23rd. I sprang out of bed went to get Mick's messages and thanked him wholeheartedly for his kind gesture. Of course he said it was no problem. I made him some tea and he said I'd to call round at 1 and we'd set off for the game.
Before getting the train Mick stopped off for a swift one in the Peacock Tavern at Peacock Cross in Hamilton. I waited outside while he steadied his nerves !! We got to the ground shortly before kick off under the pylon nearest the main stand in the Celtic End.
The game kicked off and the atmosphere was electric. Now, Mick was blind and he relied on me to keep him up to date with what was going on.
I don't know if it was the euphoria of that day but I barely had to say a word, he just seemed to know what was going on and that it was going to be our day. He obviously didn't need me to tell him when Chris Morris and Andy Walker scored the goals. On our triumphant journey home we spoke of how great a day it had been and I thanked him a million times for the chance to go to that game. If I ever needed an reminder of what it meant to be a Celtic fan I would just need to think of Mick and and our centenary Championship.
My brother and I also attended the Scottish Cup Final that year to see us clinch the double. A gorgeous summer day on May 14th (which now spookily coincides with my daughter's birthday). I'll never forget walking into the the old Hampden that day, the pipe band playing "Scottish Soldier" marching accross the greenest grass I've ever seen in my life. I just knew it was going to be our day and Kevin Gallagher's opener did nothing to deter my optimism. Macca's 2 goals went in (as I expected !!) and that ended the greatest season I'd experienced as a Celtic fan. Just brilliant.
Since that day, until the arrival of Martin O'Neill in 2000, there were to be no more title winning celebrations until that unforgettable last day against St Johnstone in 1998. Just 2 League Cup wins and 2 Scottish Cup wins. O'Neill's arrival coincided with the first season book I ever owned and also coincided with the rebirth of Celtic as far as I'm concerned. Winning 4 league titles, 3 Scottish Cups, 2 League Cups and and an unforgettable journey in the UEFA Cup in 2003. Throughout the success laden past 7 years I've never forgotten those early days, where Dundee seemed to mark the land when I started attending games, nor will I (or any of us) forget the dark days of the early to mid 90s.
(Written by Paolo of KStreet Forum, 1st April 2007)
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