Seville 21 May, 2003 – Running on Empty, Coatbridge Erupted…

Showing 1 of 9

COATBRIDGE erupted. Airdrie pretended not to notice…

They probably felt the tremor in Sydney the night Celtic beat Boavista to book their place in the UEFA cup final in Seville but that didn’t mean Rangers had to acknowledge it.

Visitors are hard pushed to spot where Coatbridge stops and Airdrie begins but there’s a clear divide. Broadly speaking, Coatbridge is Celtic, Airdrie is Rangers. This is despite the fact that you’ve got to pass the Albion Rovers ground (average attendance 360) to cross the border and that Airdrie has its own team, Airdrie United (average attendance 789).

In Coatbridge, though, elderly women skipped. Grandfathers tap-danced. Under 40s bawled their elation.

Celtic were going to Europe and the world was going to know about it.

Strathclyde Police were forced into shutting Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street at 3am after the match. With such revelry in full flight, vehicles were an unnecessary hazard for the celebrating Faithful.

The Bhoys were back in Europe and that’s all that mattered.

It was a generational thing. Celtic had last been successful in Europe in 1967, when the Lisbon Lions won the European Cup. Since then a whole new generation had grown up used to defeat. In fact, during the early 90s, when Rangers equalled Celtic’s astonishing record of winning nine league championships in a row, it was hard work being a Hoops fan.

Rangers’ 10th attempt at the title was driven by passion. Not to beat Motherwell or Kilmarnock, but to wipe the smug grin aff the faces of the Celtic supporters they’d been routinely whipping at home and away for the best part of a decade.

Let’s face it, Dundee and Aberdeen might occasionally get a game they had to take an aeroplane to but Scotland only has two football teams you’d put a fiver on if they were up against Real Madrid’s Under-15 reserves. Winning the league isn’t a measure of Scottish football ascendancy. All it proves is you’re better than the other mob across the river.

When The Faithful chanted: “Hullo, Hullo, it’ll never be 10 in a row”, there was always something desperate in the air. In the event, the Bhoys put a stop to an era of Rangers triumphalism. Celtic took the league under their new manager’s guidance and set their caps in new directions.

Continued on the next page…

Showing 1 of 9

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

Comments are closed.