Friday, February 17, 2012

A little taste of Poles 'N' Goals and Hesselink...

So my new book will be out on April 6th and the launch will be in The Admiral Bar, Waterloo St, Glasgow on Saturday April 7th from 5pm onwards to which all Tims and friends are welcome.

For now though, a little taste for you, hope you enjoy...

The Polar Effect, The Debt List and Deep Cover but no 187...unfortunately.

You may well have asked yourself by now how a 15 year old schemie from Muirhoose was able to afford to go to the fitba every week, and away games in Europe too? With extreme fucking difficulty that’s how. Most weeks I got a tenner pocket money but being a bit of a wild one, sometimes it never came. My Father was a painter and decorator, and one of the best around, whilst my Mother worked as a dinner lady then so we weren’t exactly cash rich. See my old man’s firm seemed to only take jobs that meant they could be in the boozer for 1pm every day. This meant that wages were not what they should have been but The Doocot pub was fucking delighted. This all meant that you’d have to duck and dive, stay in a lot and generally be wider than trap 6 when it came to money. Our bus had what was known as a “Debt List”. This was something you could borrow money from to go to the games, pay for tickets, the bus etc. It was run by Michael the Convener and to be fair, he was sound with it most times. Of course he would occasionally crack up if he thought you were taking the pish or hadn’t paid anything back in a while but he knew the score. I’d normally accumulate debt through the season and then pay the whole lot back on the last day(then tap it all back when the Treasurer was pished…hehe) Thing about Michael is, as I’ve said many times before, you need a guy like that to run a set up like that. So if you saw that debt list any time from around 1989 to 1998 you can bet my name would have been on it. Of course quite often you could get into the game without paying. When I first started going to games in the late 70s’ kids never paid in. You were always lifted over the turnstile and that was that up until 1987 when Celtic and Hampden at the same time introduced turnstiles that were big enough to take up the whole gap. This then meant that “lifting over” became “squeezing in” where you’d put the money or ticket down and an adult, in my case always my Uncle Francey, would then push you and by extension the turnstile as hard as possible until you both got in. This worked normally but if the turnstile operator tried to in any way stop this process he would be given horrific abuse or even a quick two rapid. It wasn’t a nancy boys game then.

Celtic actually began to pick up briefly with wins against Dundee and Hearts, the latter coming from a glorious last minute winner from Tommy Coyne and a midweek win against Hibs that actually saw us go top of the league. I should say that the game at Dens Park, a 3-1 win, was the one and only time I didn’t get a ticket from my supporters bus. I never really knew the reason why, thinking about it now I think the Treasurer/Ticket Convener took and easy option he thought at the time. He got it dreadfully wrong. Soon as folk realized I hadn’t got one it erupted into one of the biggest rammies the bus had ever seen and folk had to be separated by the time we hit Dens Park. I got a ticket no bother up there like but the whole thing was utterly bizarre as was my relationship with said ticket guy. For years we got on fine, he was and is as dedicated a Celtic supporter as you’ll ever find, but the whole thing fractured over a couple of things that I didn’t like that I knew he had said relating to my late Father’s funeral. I never got over that for years to be honest and really wanted to batter him given the opportunity. Nowadays though, all you need is love.

Most supporters were not convinced by our performances though and it all came crashing down at East End Park when Dunfermline hit us with two early goals that we never recovered from and I distinctly remember thinking at the time that the team was disintegrating and loads of supporters were furious at the lack of fight shown that day. Traipsing out grounds like that, beaten, and being goaded by fuckwits whose only point of existence is to revel in any Celtic failing is something we all feel as Tims. There are good supporters of all teams, with the exception of the dark side of course, and I include as many as possible in my books. I do not blame them personally if I am upset by the actions of their supporters or team, well no always… However there is and always have been an element of supporters of all teams in Scotland who cannot wait to “get it right up” us.  I’ve heard many reasons for this, because we are a big club, we are all glory hunters and so on and, quite frankly, it’s utter shite. If you support, say, Kilmarnock, and, say, you cheered every Rangers goal when they stole the league from us in 2003, you’re not a wind up merchant or comedian, you’re most probably a bigot. Or are you? That may sound strong but why on earth do you care who wins a league out of Celtic and Rangers? I’ll tell you why, Scotland is one of the most polarized societies in the world and most folk go one way or the other. Let me explain, my mate Allan Hosey, as readers will know, is a huge Hibs supporter. He has absolutely no time for Celtic at all, Hibs are his team and that’s that, there is no second team nonsense from him and when Hibs play Celtic he wants to beat us as much as anyone.


Whilst it is true he has no time for Celtic, he absolutely despises Rangers, all their players, fans and everything they stand for. Does this make Allan a bigot? No, I don’t think so. Rangers were able to oversee a policy of Apartheid in Scotland from 1911-1989, why shouldn’t people hate them? Of course I know now you are saying “aye but Celtic sing IRA songs, that’s why we hate them” Except you and I both know that folk who hate Celtic for that now never used to bother their arse about it in 1989-90, why? Cause the team was shite. Think about that.

So, goading Fifers left, thoughts turned to our visit to Ibrox of the season. By now Rangers had racked a few wins together and their fans, who had disappeared from around 1979 to 1987, were clambering to get into Ibrox again. I distinctly remember my cousin Kevin’s disappointment a year previous when Rangers had lost 1-0 at home to Motherwell and there was only 38,000 there “Ah wanted a full hoose of the bastards to see it”. So Rangers, to cope with this new found demand, decided to cut our allocation drastically. See when they couldn’t get close to filling Ibrox we used to get the full Broomloan stand, a third of the Govan stand, half the main stand and one of the enclosures. Suddenly we were only getting the full Broomloan and Celtic supporters were going potty. So our bus, which normally could rely on an allocation for Ibrox of about 65 tickets, now had 10 and I wasn’t one of that 10. Now you’re probably thinking “Haw you ya cunt, thought you said you got a ticket for every game from them bar Dundee” Well, I did, except it was for the main stand of the Rangers end. In all we had 10 tickets for their end and 10 of us from the bus sat in the seats. Truth be told I can’t remember how I felt before it or going in, but a few things definitely stick out. The first was it was a dour first half, Celtic had played a defensive formation with Tommy Burns at left back, Coyne up top with Joe Miller playing just off him. Jacki was in a withdrawn role and we had three centre backs of Aitken, Whyte and Paul Elliot. There was no doubt this formation came about from two serious gubbings there the year before when, despite going a goal up in both games, we were pumped 5-1 and 4-1. Dark, dark days. It’s fair to say that they absolutely battered us in the first half but then they could not get by Paul Elliot who was providing a master class in defending. At half time myself and my cousin Michael had gone down for a half time smoke, the main stand at Ibrox was still wooden then, fuck me I’m old, and this guy approached and said something that made my blood chill “Where’s your scarves the day then boys”, quick as a flash my cousin said “We’re Clyde supporters pal, just fancied a day oot” This seemed to please the bluenose halfwit and he replied “Ah, right, listen, can I ask you something?” Eh, aye “What do you think of that Paul McStay, see for me he doesnae dominate games enough and I don’t rate him at all, wondered what a couple of neutrals would think?” We paused for a bit and then my cousin said “Best player in Scotland by a mile mate and best this country has produced since Dalglish” The boy looked shocked and said “eh, cheers then pal” and fucked off. My heart started working again. The second half was more of the same until an incident occurred that almost get us ten Tims killed. A long ball from Tommy Burns completely flummoxed Butcher and Miller broke in, very much in a fashion akin to his cup final goal in May, except this time he hit it right at Chris Woods. The ball squirmed off Woods body and broke to Tommy Coyne who….hit the fucking post. I can still feel the anguish now. As we gasped, one of our number leapt up, our eyes fixed on him as did those of the ghouls around us and we all gave him that “what the fuck are you doing you stupid fucking cunt” look. He composed himself mentally, paused, looked at the action, upon which Ally McCoist was trying, and failing, to lay a ball off on the halfway line and went “McCoist you’re fucking shite, that’s all you ever dae, gie it away” and he was roundly agreed with by the hordes.

We thought we’d got away with it and with five minutes left thought to best to leave now just in case any of the bastards around us had tippled and were sizing us up. We walked round to the safety of the Broomloan forecourt and peeped in through the big blue iron gates. Celtic had a free kick and then it was cleared and then…..oh my fucking God they bastards have scored. We all looked at each other in utter disbelief and felt like visitors to a terminally ill patient, what the fuck do you say but what we didn’t know was that it was worse, much worse. The tannoy boomed out “Scorer for Rangers MAURICE JOHNSTON!” and part of all of us died.

And I’d borrowed the money for the fucking ticket that day.

Poles 'N' Goals and Hesselink, out April 6th.

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