I'm not ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears watching from afar on Tuesday. I didn't blog about it right away simply because a few things hit home to me that night:
1) Celtic, as we all know, are a unique football club.
2) There are millions out there waiting to be inspired by them.
3) I really miss going to Celtic games.
It was apparent that something special was happening on Tuesday as news started to filter through on the social media networks that tickets sales were going up and up and up. That all said I don't think anyone expected 55,000 people to turn up. Then again, maybe we should have?
In 1993, at the end of another awful season when The Huns won the treble, Celtic decided to put seats in The Jungle. As Hampden was being done up, the cup final that year between The Huns and Aberdeen was played at Celtic Park meaning The Huns were the last fans to stand in The Jungle. For once, the old board realised this could not be the case so they organised a "Jungle's Last Stand" and appealed for a few hundred bodies to turn up, stand in The Jungle, and watch a kickabout between some celebs and a few of the Lisbon Lions and Paddy Crerand. I went along as in the last game of that season, against Dundee, The Jungle gates were shut one body before I got in. The guy who got in last, Robbie Millar, was a mate of mine from Kilmarnock. Bastard. So, along with my mates Chris and Steven O'Neill, we go on the train from Edinburgh in June, on a miserable day, pouring with rain throughout, and get a bus to Celtic Park.
We arrived about an hour early and there was already a queue. What happened in the next hour is something barely mentioned in Celtic's history but should be told to every single person who wants to know what Celtic are all about. 25,000 people showed up. This meant guys who has came along to stand in The Jungle one last time actually ended up standing in a hastily opened Celtic end. I got in The Jungle this time, Robbie Millar missed his train. Ha.
I'm sure all fans think their club is special and tbey have every right to, but it is undeniable that Celtic, as a football club, has something which is just wonderful, that keeps people loving it no matter what, a kind of rebel defiance laced with song and a wicked sense of humour. All of these things kept us going through the dark, dark days of the 90s. All these things made sure we bounced back from the 90s as well.
As for me, I am missing it big time. You kind of always do but lately it has been eating away at me a lot. The last game I attended was Celtic 4 St Mirren 0 last August and that is a hell of a long time for someone like me. A ton of things have stopped me, not least having to start from scratch again here and having a young son to look after but I still see all the games so am not that bad. That said I think supporters outside of the UK and Ireland get a bit of a raw deal, The passion I see week in, week out here is not bettered at Celtic Park, it is the same. Yet still there is a tiny bit of snobbery of either for the Yanks and Canadians among us who get "You don't know what it's aw aboot" or for guys like me "You made yer choice, you walked away from Celtic, stop moaning". Which leads me back to my first point, you can't fucking walk away from Celtic.
And who would want to.