Five Years Ago Today: Memories Of Going To The Football

On this day five years ago, Celtic played Dundee United away at Tannadice. The fixture was a Friday night event so I had been looking forward to it for some time.

I flew into Glasgow Airport from Southampton that morning and pottered about the city centre for a few hours before the pubs were open. Finally, at 2pm I headed up to the Hoops Bar on the Gallowgate where a small group of us started drinking venoms and watching a compilation of Nakamura’s best Celtic goals on the TV Screens.

Catching up with friends, who I hadn’t seen for a few weeks and having a laugh with everyone, was a great way to spend the afternoon before the pub started getting busy and the songs of Ireland were played over the speakers. Four venoms flowed into a few bottles of Magners by the time my friend arrived with the tickets, and the bus appeared just as I was set to head the chip shop next door to line the stomach.

Little did I know, my poor timing was disastrous.

Suddenly, I had a decision to make. Run to Morrisons and get a drink for the bus or get food. There wasn’t time for both. Suffice it to say I went hungry.

The familiar sound of Eire og Live at Brazen pierced the crack of cans opening as the 70 seater was packed full of fans who had finished work for the week and wanted to let off some steam watching Celtic.

There was rarely much pressure on matches in those days. However, Ronny Deila’s Celtic were only top of the league by three points, albeit with a game in hand over Aberdeen. Nevertheless, there was a sense of inevitability that Celtic would always be too strong for the Dons, so there wasn’t much discussion about tactics, formations or even the need to win. Dundee United were bottom of the league going into the game as well, 36 points behind us!

As the journey neared the half way mark the bus went wild as one wag grabbed the microphone up the front and led renditions of Carlton Cole (Spandau Ballet – Gold) and “We’ve got a boss called Ronny Deila, he likes a fist pump and a roar, he built a team with Johnny Collins, he goes off his nut when Celtic score. And if you’re feeling blue, I’ll song this song for you, Ronny Deila is Celtic through and through.”

The journey reached a dramatic conclusion as the bus came to an abrupt stop at Auchterarder, where one punter was carried out into a pub having felt the effects of alcohol and I subsequently learn that he was rescued from the venue when he woke up several hours later! Whilst, when we approached Tannadice, a group of teenage Dundee United fans pelted the windows with snowballs. As expected they were given a friendly wave and some kind pleasantries in return.

By this point, I had consumed another five pints of cider and the short walk up to the turnstyles through the icey streets of Dundee were somewhat difficult. A few minutes of the match had already passed when we finally got into our seats at the Jerry Kerr stand and the Celtic support were belting out the Celtic Symphony.

There had been a big clampdown on supporters drinking alcohol en route to games around that time and fans to my right unveiled a banner stating ACAB – All Celts Adore Booze.

Leigh Griffiths put Celtic ahead with a right footed shot through the keepers legs if memory serves me right. Then Simunovic made it 2-0 in the 27th minute. I can’t say that I recall Dundee United’s goal four minutes later, but Google tells me that Simon Murray scored it in the 31st minute.

Half time came a relief as I could sit down and regather myself. I hadn’t been in any state to take the game in which was pretty stupid considering the money that I had spent on flights and tickets. At that point, a few friends and a woman who would go on to become my girlfriend started talking to us and laughing at my misfortunate state. I lay there, head in hands, wearing a short sleeved shirt despite the snow falling and the temperatures being close to freezing.

Griffiths scored just after half time and I didn’t get a proper look at the goal. I will never forget Kris Commons’ strike to secure Celtic’s fourth though, as he jumped up and scissor kicked a cross into the corner. I remember going absolutely wild to celebrate being 2-1 up, before being reminded that it was 4-1. Like I said, a stupid state to get in when trying to watch the football.

The three stands housing the Celtic support when through the full repertoire, including a great rendition of Grace as the Bhoys cruised to victory.

Back on the bus, I had finally recovered and felt much better. A different CD was played and everyone rose together to sing along “God bless this lovely land of mine, and god bless the mountains the hills and the valleys..”

It was a raucous trip back to Glasgow, where we quickly left on the train for Paisley. We got some beers in and spent the night in a house party with Gary OG on the speakers.

After waking in a daze, I braved the snow to headed to Gourock the next day where I met other pals for a night out, before flying home on the Sunday afternoon.

Little did I know that the football would take on much more excitement later that year when Brendan Rodgers came in and gave us three incredible years, including the return of Champions League nights. Beyond that, none of us could ever have dreamt that we couldn’t go to the football for a full season just a few years later.

I miss the banter, meeting friends, the songs, the politics and watching the football. Let’s hope it returns next season.

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up in Bournemouth with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. Still living on the south coast, I have a season ticket at Paradise and also travel to European away matches when possible. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were/are sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are available on Amazon.

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