Celtic’s crazy Birthday Party! Were you at Paradise on this day in 1988?

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SATURDAY 23 APRIL 1988 was a very special day at a packed out Paradise and if you were there we’d love to hear from you today! Share your stories of that remarkable afternoon at Celtic Park by emailing editor@thecelticstar.co.uk and we’ll compile into a great feature for later this evening. Here’s what happened…

Only the gullible believed the official statements about there being only 60,800 within Celtic Park. There looked to be well over 80,000 with spectators sitting on the running track as Celtic clinched the League Championship in their Centenary Year.

The official attendance was put at 60,800 but Celtic directors confessed in later years attendance was actually 72,000. It might have been even higher than that. Stewards had to lock the gates with thousands left outside.

It’s quite unbelievable that this wasn’t an all-ticket match and certainly the season ticket holders in the Main Stand were less than pleased to find other supporters already in their seats when they arrived at the match!

Celtic beat Dundee 3-0 with full back Chris Morris scoring within the first few minutes then Andy Walker adding a couple in the second half. The Celtic supporters sang sing ‘Happy Birthday Dear Celtic…happy birthday to you’ then invaded the field at the final whistle. The Celtic players are forced to stand on the ledge of the directors’ box to take the acclaim of the supporters.

The Celtic team was Bonner, Morris, Rogan, Aitken, McCarthy, Whyte, Miller (Stark), McStay, McAvennie (McGhee), Walker, Burns and the goalscorers were Morris (3) and Walker (75, 76).

Here are the match highlights:

Some readers of The Celtic Stat have previously sent in their memories of this day at Celtic Park in 1988…

‘YOU ARE NOT GETTING ON THIS PITCH!’ – ‘AYE AM URR’

I was there. Never seen Parkhead so full. Assumed a position, almost on the track. One policeman took it upon himself to stop me, kept saying, ‘you are not getting on this pitch!’

I kept smiling and repeating, ‘Aye am urr’. I hadn’t played Scottish lion since my primary school days but l fancied my chances. The last ten minutes took an eternity, the crowd heaving to bursting. An unstoppable wave shook the place to the core and flooded the pristine, hallowed turf.

I gave the copper a wee jink and a wink as l flew passed him, l was on it, l was on the pitch! I danced with joy, embarrassingly, nothing cool and controlled, like most of my Jungle brothers, it was a fantastic frenzy of emotion and joy showering us all, we were almost hysterical.

I instinctively headed to the centre circle, drawn magnetically, to the eye of the storm as it were, where I met one of my neighbours from Blantyre. We greeted each other ecstatically, barely able to manage speaking and made noises more akin to cavemen, grunts and howls, it’s was undoubtedly one of the greatest experiences l ever had and rejoice recounting it now too.

I shake my head but I know it was true. I was there and it was the game.

Tom Cather

ON THE TRACKSIDE

I can’t really recall the actual game but I remember a lot of us in the Celtic end including myself being moved on to the trackside during the game and moved into the Rangers end.

It was quite surreal.

James Carrigan

WHAT AN ATMOSPHERE!

I was there with my young bhoy who was 10 at the time. I remember standing at the old pie stall near the London Road end. The place was so packed I put my son onto the track for his own safety. Kids surrounded the whole area. What an atmosphere that day. They said the crowd was 60,000 .I think that might have in the Celtic end alone.

Charles Donaghy

A FANTASTIC DAY!

The 23 April 1988 was a fantastic day!

My normal place to stand was in the middle of the Jungle, but there was no way we could in that day, it was completely packed. I ended up in the Rangers end, not for the first time during the title run in that year.

For much of the first half we watched fascinated as the crowd were moved around the pitchside, getting re-located to the Dundee fans’ area and the empty terracing in front of the police hut which was never used at that time. The official attendance figure was a total joke as everyone who was there will know.

PLEASE DON’T GO

The early strike meant we could all relax and enjoy the game, then when Andy Walker scored the whole place went mental. My brother fell to the ground and got back up again just too late to see Walker score again –for the next 10 minutes or so he thought it was still two-nil – he thought we were still celebrating Walker’s first!

I think the two goals were about 40 seconds apart. A great day, and one I wasn’t sure I’d see when I went to Greenock for the first game of the season against Morton. That really was an inspired Celtic team though with McStay prompting everything from the middle of the park and the two full backs, Morris and Rogan, giving him those overlapping runs all day long.

FROM MERSEYSIDE TO PARADISE

I was a student at Liverpool University at the time and travelled up for most home games on the train with the Michael Davitt CSC. I would usually meet up with my pals, Jamie, Mick and Brendan from the Celtic Cross CSC in Dennistoun for a few drinks before the game but, on this occasion, the train was late and I headed straight to Paradise from Central Station.

Nobody had a season book back then and, even during Celtic’s highly successful Centenary Season, all-ticket matches were a rarity, especially at Celtic Park.

It certainly never occurred to me that the ground would be anywhere near capacity for the visit of Dundee. That all changed at about a quarter past two as I walked past the old Grange Bar on the Gallowgate and saw the queues sneaking round the corner of Janefield Street from the turnstiles at the Celtic End and the Jungle.

 

I always stood towards the front of the Jungle on the halfway line. A group of us would congregate there. Peter Grant’s sister often used to stand with us. I recall getting into the ground just as Glen Daly’s Celtic Song announced the arrival of the team and, remarkably, I was able to fight my way to my usual spot. As I appeared, I recall Mick shouting out to me: “Hey, Scouse, brand new wee man.”

He always called me Scouse even though I wasn’t actually from Liverpool and certainly didn’t have the accent!

With hindsight, it was a health and safety disaster waiting to happen but we all lived to tell the tale on that occasion and, thanks to Chris Morris and “Handy” Andy Walker, a great time was had by all.

Almost exactly a year later, I was at Hillsborough but that’s another story…

David Sleight

SUPPORTERS MEMORIES COURTESY OF THE CELTIC WIKI

“I was 14 and had been at Tynecastle the week before when we could have had it sewn up. We were late in getting in to Celtic Park, about 2.30 I think and had to try and find a space in the Celtic end. We were right down the front next to the main stand.

“Until near half time anyway, we were being crushed from behind and spilled onto the track, I remember sitting on the grass at the back of the goals when the whistle went. We were then escorted along the track to the Rangers end where we watched Andy Walker get the two goals to clinch it.

“At the final whistle we were on the pitch with another few thousand and quickly got back off in time for the players to come into the main stand for the celebrations. What a day.”
(Bambi of Kerrydale Street forum)

“I was in my usual “Celtic End Fifth Leaning Post Down From The Pie Stall On The London Road Side” position at half one, because I didn’t want to miss out.

“As it got closer to kick off you sensed that there was going to be a space problem and I remember a guy I knew back then hanging off the fence which separated the Celtic End from the South Stand. He then was dragged down by someone, and I saw him being huckled to the Rangers End.

“I seem to remember folks sitting on the red blaes in front of the wall all the way round. When Walker scored his first, we knew it was our league and his second a minute later started the party for sure.
Happy days! I reckon there were no more than 45,000 in the Celtic End that day though.
(Arsene P Kerrydale Street forum)

“I was in the upper stand with my (late) dad. What amazes me is that it was pay at the gate, even for the upper stand! I can remember looking across at the Jungle. The main point of congestion was at the point between the Jungle and the Celtic end. I can remember thinking that you could not see any flashes of colour from clothing, just a kinda mass of white/pink.People were so crammed in it was just their faces you could see. Looked well dangerous.

“I also knew that my mates were in the Jungle at our usual spot. Was a bit jealous. Great day,topped off by the Scottish Cup Final a couple of weeks later. Oh,Hampden in the sun right enough.
My dad never saw us win the league again, and the next week was the last game we ever went to together v Dunfermline. (Wispy of Kerrydale Street forum)

“That was my first ever game. I asked my dad if I could go and he said: “Yes, son. Yes, you can. Let’s you me and your brother all go to the football.”

“Rangers end, right down the front, not really seeing anything and having a hard time following a fecking thing. Saw Walker’s goals (or goal, the camera never caught the second goal) on Scotsport the next night.

“It was fecking scary and great. The most people I had ever seen in one place at that point was morning Mass on Christmas Day. I then went to the St Mirren game where we got the trophy and the Dundee United Cup Final and I was hooked. (tacticalgenius of Kerrydale Street forum)

SHARE YOUR MEMORIES of your day at Celtic Park on this day in 1988…

Were you at this game when Celtic won the league at a packed Celtic Park? If you have any stories to share about this match – or indeed any other Celtic related subject – we’d like to hear from you. Simply email your stories to editor@thecelticstar.co.uk and we’ll do our best to get it published on The Celtic Star for you!

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