The Psychology of being a Celtic supporter – Lisbon and Milan

Your expectations and assumptions of Celtic success or failure are I suspect greatly shaped by when you were born and the era that you started following the team and also where you are on the continuum that ranges from extreme pessimist to extreme optimist.

Those will be the two themes of this article. I am 63 on 27 May and I was born in Glasgow and lived in the West End in Whiteinch. My support of Celtic was almost pre-ordained. My grandfather Patrick who arrived in Glasgow from Dublin as a young lad was a Celtic supporter, as was his first born son, my father also called Patrick and he started taking me Patrick III his first born son to Celtic Park on the Whiteinch Celtic Supporters bus.

As a 9 year old in 1966 he lifted me over the turnstiles free of charge for many years and we stood on the packed terraces in approximately the same area of Paradise that the Green Brigade are currently situated and watched our heroes.

I remember that as a treat I was given a Bovril on cold days at half time. Celtic Park is the only place that I have ever drunk Bovril. As I said I started watching Celtic in season 66-67. I don’t need to tell you that was a momentous season for every Celtic supporter. We won the quintuple, The Glasgow Cup, The League Cup, The First Division, the Scottish Cup and of course the immortal Cesar lifted the European Cup.

We even beat Real Madrid a couple of weeks later in the DI Stefano testimonial in the Bernabeu with Jinky running rings round and around them and every dribble he made greeted with an Ole from the appreciative Spanish crowd. Bobby Lennox scored the only goal. We were truly the best team in Europe.

At the time as a 10 year old it never dawned on me that we had just conquered Everest and that we would never climb it again. As a child I did not fully appreciate then just how special that achievement was.

My father, a welder in the shipyards, went to Lisbon in 67. It was the first time he had been on an aeroplane. The first time he had ever been abroad. He went with a large contingent of his mates and on the way back on the plane a guy went up and down the aisles with a bunnet taking the supporters bus usual ‘collection for the driver.’ My father was not a drinker but he purchased a bottle of whisky from Lisbon duty free and pronounced on his return that it would opened only whenever we next won the European Cup.

I watched the game live on TV in my family lounge with my brothers and sisters and my mother.

I saw Stevie Chalmers put us ahead but with 5 minutes to go in the game my mother looked at the clock then said “Pat. You are serving as an altar boy at the church at 5pm. You need to leave now to get there on time.” Three minutes to go plus injury time. I pleaded with my mother that there was no way that the Mass would start in 5 minutes.

I argued that the clergy and the entire congregation were glued to their TV’s and that Mass would never possibly start on time. Mum cared not a jot. I had made a commitment and had to keep it. The church was a minute away if I ran. My mother eyeballed me “when a man gives his word he keeps his word” “Yeah but.” “There are no buts. Do your duty!” I obeyed my mother and left the house and ran to the church. It was deserted as I has suspected. There was no one there. No one but me. No TV.

Suddenly I heard a loud roar of triumph come from the parish house and I knew that we must have won. I actually never saw Billy lift the trophy live on TV. A minute later the priest arrived with a massive grin of delight on his face and saw me. He said “We’ll start the Mass at 5.15”.

“But there’s no congregation.”

“There will be by 5.15 son believe me.” People started flocking in.

When we came out to serve Mass the church was full of the happiest congregation that I have ever seen.

There were no replays later that evening. No video recording in those days.

I was also in 1970 in the packed North stand at Hampden Park along with over 130,000 people watching us triumph over the Might of English football, Leeds United in the Semi-Final of the European Cup. At one point the entire stand was stamping in unison to The Celtic song. We hit the natural frequency of the building and the stand lurched like in an earthquake. We all stopped and held our breath wondering if the building would collapse. All was quiet till one voice piped up “That was great. Let’s do it again.”


I watched the final on TV full of expectation and the bottle of whisky was brought out and placed on top of the TV. After extra time it was put away till next time.

That whisky bottle is 53 years old.

Doctor Pat

To be continued tomorrow and over the next few days on The Celtic Star.

Doctor Pat – Wellington, New Zealand – The Psychology of being a Celtic supporter for The Celtic Star, part 2 to follow on Wednesday 13 May.

‘Fifty years after Milan, Feyenoord fans hear the Celtic story’ – Mike Maher

Coincidentally another New Zealand based Celtic support – Mike Maher, wrote an outstanding article on his trip to that second European Cup Final in Milan in May 1970 on The Celtic Star at the weekend and it really is an outstanding read….you can check it out HERE.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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

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