IT is the day after the glorious evening before, when Celtic defeated Inter Milan 2-1 in the European Cup Final in Lisbon. For our five Fife Bhoys though the journey back to Scotland has already started.
Jerry Woods, in his self published book, To Lisbon and back on a fiver, has been taking us through the road trip to Lisbon over the last week or so. Yesterday he covered the events of 25 May and you can catch up with that HERE.
And if you want to get a copy of To Lisbon and back on a fiver (this is a self published book, it is not a commercial venture at all and there are very few copies available) then drop me an email to email@example.com and I’ll pass onto Jerry to organise. The book costs, appropriately enough, just a fiver with a pound going to The Celtic Foundation and the rest covering the print cost.
You can read back on the week-long adventure of a lifetime for these young Celtic supporters in 1967 on The Celtic Star’s homepage, there is one article every day going back to last Sunday and we’ll be following their story all of this week.
Over to Jerry to tell us about ETA and Rasputin, the Basque Monk….
Friday 26 May, ETA and Rasputin, the Basque Monk
We awoke as soon as daylight appeared after our overnight sleep in the car on the outskirts of Lisbon.
I intended to use exactly the same route for the journey home. The return distance from Lisbon to Calais was 1273 miles and I also decided to try to drive that distance with just two stopovers to catch the noon ferry at Calais on the Sunday. I just wanted home. This was now becoming an endurance test. Lack of sleep, food, money and with me being the only driver, my body was in meltdown.
We said goodbye to the beautiful city of Lisbon about 7am with the intention of reaching San Sebastian or further in one drive, nearly 600 miles. During this part of the journey, every town was to get the flag, scarf and horn treatment.
At the Portugal/Spain border towns (Vilar Formoso and Fuentes de Onoro) the guards on both sides of the respective borders checked only our passports and the car registration from the documents. Both sets of guards waved us through with greetings “Bem feito” and “Bien hecho” – well done!
When we reached the outskirts of Valladolid, we stopped for the 7th fuel tank fill up. On the north side of this city of Valladolid, when approaching the garage where I had exchanged by now famous Scottish Five Pound Note, I noticed the same man (the owner?) sitting in his same chair next to his gasolina petrol pumps.
I started honking my horn and the lads in the rear started their flag waving display to gain his attention. He rushed to the side of the road waving his arms, frankly like a demented animal. I did not know if he wanted us to stop (regarding the Five Pound Note) or if he was just happy to see us (the former I think). We did not stop to find out.
On the road to San Sebastian we got lost at a very large lake near Burgos for about half an hour. We arrived at San Sebastian about dusk – 7.30 pm. This was about the same time as Celtic were parading the European Cup to the fans at Celtic Park.
The route home was through the city centre of San Sebastian, and the boys in the back were giving the residents the full flag and scarf treatment, only this time the response from these city locals was much different from what we had received previously.
The local pedestrians and car owners had clenched fists, were shouting obscenities and some even pointed imaginary guns at us! They were creating so much noise that it was frightening, never more so than when one car drove alongside of us trying to pull the flags from John and Brian’s hands. We could not understand why we had created so much annoyance in this city. We were very glad to get out of there.
Later than night we discovered from a monk why the residents of San Sebastian were so upset about our horn and flag display through their city. San Sebastian is in the Spanish Basque area of Northern Spain and our flags were similar to the flag of the dictator Franco who was hated by the Basques.
They wanted a breakaway region for this area of Spain. Because of their treatment by the dictator Franco, this group of people had started a resistance group called ETA to gain their independence from Spain and to make this Basque area the autonomous community of Spain.
The Basque flag has a red background, white cross and green saltire and is called the Ikurrina flag. (History lesson over).
That night maybe just after 10.00 pm on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, it became very foggy. The fog was so dense that to drive in these conditions with yellow headlights was impossible and downright dangerous. We were desperate to find a safe place to stop and suddenly like a miracle (and I mean a miracle) a light appeared in the distance like a vision from God. The lights were from a very large building with many windows and a good few lights still on. They also had a large secluded forecourt. We discovered later that the building was a Monastery and an Orphanage for young boys. The Monastery looked like an old castle or a fortress.
We pulled into the forecourt and approached the entrance door. It had a large pull cord bell. We rang the bell, and even though it was late, a very tall monk appeared dressed in a brown habit. We started to explain our situation regarding the fog and the car. At the start he was very friendly, and spoke and understood some English. John in his French/English lingo explained about the Celtic/Inter game in Lisboa and showed him the match programme.
Everything was good and OK until the monk saw the tricolour flags on the rear passenger shelf of the car. Suddenly he was not so friendly, so much so that he started punching the roof of the car with his fists. This is when we discovered the San Sebastian Basque flag problem.
John came to the rescue again. He calmed him down and told him that the flags were symbols of the Irish Republic and were honoured by the Celtic fans because of their heritage and struggle against the English for Irish independence. During our discussions with the monk, three young boys appeared and John gave the boys and the monk four of the eight match programmes that he had purchased at the game (now, in good condition, worth about £1,000 each). We showed the monk the car and offered him tins of Irish stew, soup, beans and a large tin of John West salmon. The monk accepted our gifts, went inside and returned with sticks of bread, cold meat, cheese and drinking water.
The monk allowed us to park up in the forecourt, and blessed us and the car for a safe journey home. He then rushed inside to devour his large tin of John West salmon. The time was now after midnight, and we settled down for our night’s sleep in the car, safe within the walls of the Monastery.