In September 1981 I travelled to see Celtic play Juventus in Turin. I was a non-member guest on the Pollok CSC. Things were much different then. No cheap flights. We left Georges Square on a Sunday night by coach, arriving in Paris around Monday lunchtime. Then we departed around midnight, arriving in Turin on the Tuesday. The French Alps on the sunny morning were my favourite part of the journey. Flights aren’t everything.
As for the game, we lost 2-0 having won 1-0 in Glasgow. The damage was done by half-time and we never looked close to getting that away goal. The majority of this Juventus team finished the season by winning the World Cup. The atmosphere was extremely hostile. Hooliganism was rife in the early 80s, particularly in England. The Juventus fans seemed to lump Celtic in with the idea of being British. It’s similar to when Italians say ‘Inghleterra” for the whole of Britain.
Our bus was parked diagonally opposite from our place on the terraces. This meant walking two sides of the stadium after the match. Talk about bad planning. I made it safely. Others were not so lucky. One poor guy came on the bus with what looked like a stab wound on his back. The bus itself came under fire. One guy, who had a very young son on the bus, told the driver to move. The driver didn’t want to leave fans stranded and refused. Chaos. It was hell. While some fans were hospitalised, we eventually got out of there.
We stopped at services in France on the overnight return. Traffic police came on the bus and accused fans of stealing from the shop. Our choices were :
A ) go down to the local police station and spend hours being interrogated
B) have a whip round of a designated fee for the police night-out fund.
Just what we needed hours after the stadium horror.
Later we boarded the ferry at Calais along with a number of other CSC buses. Another group of passengers was a large number of young kids with Downs Syndrome. A plastic shopping bag was passed round the Celtic support and the collection was presented to the lady in charge of the group.
She went on to send a letter which was published in The Celtic View . She very honestly admitted to apprehension upon seeing hordes of football fans on the boat. As I said, football had a bad rep at the time. She was then overwhelmed by the generosity of the Celtic fans. What she probably didn’t know was that these fans had just come from being the victims of football hooliganism, not to mention being fleeced by the corrupt French police.
I have never been so proud of our support. They admirably displayed the ethos of Brother Walfrid, defying the evil they had faced.
Looking back, I wouldn’t have swapped it for that elusive away goal.
Stay safe in Rotterdam, Bhoys and Ghirls.