Missing McDiarmid Park to Meet Martin O’Neill

Showing 1 of 4

I’m fortunate at the moment not to miss many Celtic games, but Sunday was an exception. Just over 48 hours after returning from Rome and a very special detour – more to follow on that if I can steal the time from somewhere else – I have to pass up on the offer of tickets for the trip to Perth, although a grateful son seized the moment to travel up with my ever-present daughter and make sure the Corr CSC was fully represented. “No loss what a son gains,” he says through gritted teeth!

Why? Well, Nicky Hood had invited me to spend an afternoon with the wonderful Martin O’Neill at the Parkville Hotel in Blantyre, adding the rider that I can set up a Celtic Star bookstall if I fancy it. Three weeks before Christmas. My new book just published on Celtic Star Books. A no brainer.

So, by noon on Sunday, I’m all set up and watching the Celts kick-off in Perth on a television in the corner. The place is packed out and the place erupts as Celtic take an early lead, only for an offside flag to quickly deflate spirits. The snatches of the game I can see between chats with book-buyers don’t inspire confidence that today will be a good day, and the mood is quite different by half-time. Perhaps I didn’t need to bring so many books!.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well as a second-half fightback brings us the necessary three points and the world is suddenly a better place.

A compere continues the feelgood atmosphere with a routine of jokes that make mine seem suddenly acceptable. Then, around 2.30pm, there is a standing ovation and accompanying singsong as the legend that is Martin O’Neill makes his entrance, like a boxer approaching the ring.

He is still rightly adored, some two decades after his incredible team gave me the best experiences of my Celtic-supporting life. What a time that was to follow the Hoops. Magical.

Martin is in sensational form. I’ve heard many of the stories before but even so, his delivery makes you laugh all over again. And before he launches into his routine, there is a very special moment for me, as I have the opportunity of a quick word whilst he awaits the first of the table groups to appear for the obligatory photo sessions.

I have packaged a couple of our books as a small gesture of friendship and thanks. Both are relevant to Martin and I’m hopeful he’ll read and appreciate them. First up is the official Harry Hood biography, Twice As Good, written in conjunction with Harry’s family and highly appropriate given the venue, one of his hugely popular Lisini Pub company venues, and in the week when we celebrate the golden jubilee of Harry’s historic Hampden hat-trick against Rangers.

The connection with Martin? Well, as a kid, Martin’s own football hero was Irish defender Charlie Hurley, who just so happened to be the Sunderland captain when Harry played at Roker Park in the mid 1960s, between his two spells with Clyde. I remembered that connection at the time of writing Twice as Good, and here is the extract that covers that…

Showing 1 of 4

About Author

Having retired from his day job Matt Corr can usually be found working as a Tour Guide at Celtic Park, or if there is a Marathon on anywhere in the world from as far away as Tokyo or New York, Matt will be running for the Celtic Foundation. On a European away-day, he's there writing his Diary for The Celtic Star and he's currently completing his first Celtic book with another two planned.

1 Comment

  1. off topic,but i think we should give Scales a go in midfield and this would also allow one of the new centre-halves to show what they can do.