Mike Maher on The Long Road to Lisbon – “We’re off to Lisbon, in the Green, in the Green”

The Highers were underway and while giving plenty of attention to our studies we could not avoid talking about the impending big game. By the time of the Killie game I had my passport, flight and match tickets organised. There had been some concerns about how I was to get to the airport for the early morning flight. Initially my mother had asked a neighbour, Chic Doherty, for assistance. He was going with a party from Viewpark and they had a bus organised.

However Alex Owens had just passed his driving test and announced he would be able to take his father’s car and he would pick me up. I got my English, French and Geography Highers out of the way and could then concentrate on Lisbon. I was confident in my ability to get through the Spanish exam despite the “distraction” and I was also confident in Celtic’s ability to win the Cup.

I recall we did have some relief from the exams in the shape of a “forum” at the school. In a few weeks we were scheduled to have a “discussion day” with Coatbridge High School on topics relating to religion, politics, and social issues. As a rehearsal we had a session on our own in the gym hall.

We were divided into groups of 10 and given a list of topics to consider. At our table I had Joe McCormick for company so our discussions were almost exclusively the European Cup Final. Our allocated topics did not seem too exciting. One other group was given a topic that would have suited us. One of their questions was “should a Catholic support Rangers?”

Despite not being on our agenda we did have some discussion on it and eagerly awaited to hear what the group who did have it would say. It turned out to be rather tame. The group leader was Helen Reilly who said the question was not worth discussing as it was only about football and anyone could support who they liked.  I always wondered if Helen got any more clued up on that in her career as a politician?

Anyway with the big day approaching nothing else really mattered. I was going to be “off to Lisbon”…

Mike Maher

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1 Comment

  1. Pat doherty on

    As a bellshill bhoy enjoying your memories my late dad chic doherty would have loved it