Twenty years ago, in the maternity ward listening to Aberdeen v Celtic on a smuggled in transistor radio

SATURDAY 21 March 1891 was the day when Celtic played our the first ever Scottish League game against Rangers. Such clashes would not be given name “Old Firm” for another decade, and that tag would remain in place until the end of the 2011/12 season.

The game ended was played at Old Celtic Park and ended in a 1-1 draw, with the Celtic goal coming from Johnny Campbell. The Glasgow Herald said it “was the most important game to be played for some time”. Some sources claim that the score was 2-2 but The Glasgow Herald insists it was 1-1. Incredibly to modern eyes, Scotland played Wales at Wrexham on the same day!

Also on this day and another Saturday, twenty years ago in 1998 Celtic won a tense match at Pittodrie by a single goal, scored from the penalty spot by Craig Burley. It was a tense afternoon and a win for Celtic was vital – anything less and the likely outcome would have been that Celtic would have failed to stop them doing Ten in a Row.

I had a ticket for the game but wasn’t there. My wife, Karen, was 31 weeks pregnant and went into labour early so there I was in the Paisley Maternity Hospital, fortunately enough with a wee transistor radio at hand. From the sound of it on the radio, Aberdeen were the more likely side but at 0-0 we still had a chance. With the tension mounting just as half time approached Celtic were awarded a penalty after Stephane Mahe was tripped.

Craig Burley took it and scored and I have to confess to letting out a wee Celtic roar. This however was noticed in the room next door and I heard my outburst being discussed.

A stern looking sister arrived, surveyed the room, and noticed me holding Karen’s hand but with the wee radio (now switched off as it was half time) on the wee bedside unit.

“Were you listening to the Celtic game?’ she demanded to know.

“Yes, sorry,” I confessed, rather “sheepishly’!

“Why did you cheer?” she continued.

“There was a goal, it’s 1-0 to Celtic,” I told her.

She turned round and walked away leaving me thinking, how am I going to hear the second half now. I needed have worried as a few seconds later, when she got back to the woman, also in labour, next door, there was ANOTHER wee roar. This time it was the lady in labour who was also desperate to know how Celtic were getting on at Pittodrie.

The game ended 1-0. Lewis was born just after the final whistle, nine weeks early and tiny. He’s 20 today and 6 feet 3. He NEVER misses a Celtic game home or away. This morning he watched, for the first time, the highlights of that crucial game at Pittodrie 20 years ago today.

Happy Birthday Lewis!

Here is a picture of him (bottom left, with the scarf around his neck)  in among the support, appropriately enough taken at Pittodrie.

David Faulds

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My extra special memories from our wonderful Centenary season

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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