As I often do, I have just sat and watched footage of an old Celtic game on YouTube.
In the opening minutes, our left back, Tosh McKinlay was lucky not to have had his leg broken, the referee never booked the player who made the challenge on him.
In the game, Celtic had two pretty strong penalty claims denied and the player who done most damage to the opposition was battered so much that he was subbed at half time, this player took the corner kick that led to our first goal, won various free kicks and scored our second goal.
You might be wondering what game I am going on about, it was a Celtic v Rangers Scottish cup match at Celtic park. The match happened on Thursday 6th March 1997.
I’m writing about it because it was the first time that I have a clear memory of us winning an O** F*** game, prior to that game, we had gone nine O** F*** games with no wins – six defeats and three draws.
By the time that match came around, I was 14 years old and already a regular at the games, I had been to way too derby games and left disappointed or more likely raging.
They were “the people” and Celtic didn’t just go out and beat them. They were the rich neighbour and we were just another insignificant opponent to them, there to be swept aside by their big money super stars.
When I used to go to games v them, you didn’t expect to win, you just went along to support the team because that’s what you were supposed to do. To add insult to injury, my seat at the time was in the “family” section of the south stand, right beside the gap between the home and away fans so while I enjoyed the usual abuse / banter that you could have with the opposition fans, it was different v them. The Rangers supporters would often be throwing things at us – I was once hit by a two pence coin.
It’s funny now to think that the amount of money they threw at our section was massively more than what their football club sold for before it went bust.
I can’t remember a massive amount about the game itself but I do know that we had Tommy Burns as our manager and Paul McStay was in the team so for that reason alone, I can say that I’m grateful for the fact that I was there.
The main memory of that game was the sick feeling that I got when they went anywhere near our goal. Celtic being ahead in a game against them was OK, that happened sometimes but winning didn’t.
As time went on, maybe it was going to be that bit more different, we were 2-0 up in the first half and had the better of the chances. Really, if we had won three or four nil, it would have been a fair result.
On the build up to the games, you’d be feeling pretty nervous and it wasn’t something that you looked forward to – at 14 years old, it mattered a lot what other people think of your football team. The newspapers were the place that your football news came from. What was written formed fans thoughts and opinions far more than it does now.
How could you possibly show your face or go anywhere when you’d just watched your football team lose to an entity that you had so much hatred for ?
Fast forward on to the present date, in between March 1996 and now, we’ve completely lost our rivals, we’ve played Barcelona more often than we’ve played against the new team from Ibrox.
While some try and pretend that the new years eve game will be an “O** F***” game, we all know that it can’t be since half of the “O** F***” no longer exists.
Since Rangers went bust and the new club at Ibrox were formed, I have been lucky enough to have never been in the same stadium as their supporters. You see, the supporters are the only thing that’s still the same. Their sectarian song book hasn’t changed, their warped idea that paedophilia is a funny topic still exists. The team that they used to support doesn’t and wont ever exist again.
I guess they’re working to the logic that if you say the same thing often enough, people will believe it’s true. I know that a lot of their fans aren’t sectarian but as a collective group their song book and banter disgusts me and that’s why I love watching them fail over and over again.
Who knows in 20 years time, Celtic could no longer exist or something could happen that we end up being a mid table non entity like they are just now.
For now, I remember how bad it was to be a Celtic fan while Rangers were doing well so I am making sure that I love every second of what we have just now.
I’d go so far as to say that the new years eve game is already irrelevant. Who decided that a team who we’ve barely ever played against is our rival? Queens Park and Partick Thistle are more like a local rival to us so I’d say that the result is only relevant because of the start that we’ve had under Brendan Rogers.
I don’t see that we have a derby game to win, we just have a football game to win against a team who’s fans don’t like us very much and we want to keep the unbeaten run going into the new year.