Sunday, 8 May 2016

Glasgow's Green and White

Glasgow’s Green and White

As weddings go it was one of the best Aldo had attended. Not just because his wee sister was the Bride but also for the first time in years all the clan were together again in one place. The service had his mum in tears and Aldo knew she still missed his old man, they all did, but today was a day for smiles. The day passed in blur of photographs, handshakes, smiles and speeches and as darkness fell the church hall was packed and ready for a party.

‘You goin’ tae the game the morra?’ Aldo asked as he handed a bottle of beer over to his friend Dan Friel who was watching the band tune up their guitars for the coming festivities. ‘No missing that for the world, Aldo. Rubbing it right intae that mob I hope.’  Aldo took a long swig from his beer before responding, ‘Who’d have thought that mob would go intae administration eh?’  Dan smiled, ‘I don’t know aboot you but I’m loving it. Time Karma came and bit their arrogant arses.’ No sooner had those words left his lips than the band began their set.  Aldo shouted through the din, ‘Right you, ye better find yer missus. This is my sister’s wedding no the Celtic social club.’ The friends parted and sought out their partners, it was going to be a good night. The dance floor filled with happy people as the band boomed out…

‘Teenage dreams so hard to beat
Every time she walks down the street
Another girl in the neighbourhood
Wish she was mine, she looks so good,
I wanna hold ya, wanna hold ya tight
Get teenage kicks right through the night.’

As the night wore on and the alcohol kicked in the Wedding party became more raucous. Laughter filled the hall those who could remember it in the morning would say it was one of the best night’s they’d had. They had cheered his sister and her new husband off on their honeymoon before the drinking and singing had resumed. As the party neared its end Dan and Aldo made plans for the Celtic game the following day. Dan, his speech slurred by too much beer, said ‘Might be the last Old Firm game ever so make sure you’re up as it’s a 12.45 start.’ Aldo looked at Dan, ‘Dae ye really think they could go out of business?’ Dan smiled, ‘Ye never know but they’ll be back in some shape. I mean Airdrie went bust and they formed a new club.’ Aldo nodded, ‘Well let’s hope Celtic smash the old one one last time.’

For Aldo the morning after the night before began with a searing headache. He opened his eyes and looked around the room, ‘Oh feck sake, ma heed!’ he mumbled reaching for his watch which lay beside a half empty bottle of beer on the bedside cabinet. It was almost 11am. He licked his lips, parched and dehydrated. His phone buzzed, interrupting his self-pity, he picked it up and croaked, ‘Hello?’ It was his friend Dan. ‘You up yet ya numpty?  Ye forget we’ve got a game tae go tae?’ Shit,’ said Aldo, throwing the quilt back and standing on unsteady legs, ‘I’ll get intae the shower, be ready in ten minutes.’Good,’ said Dan, sounding strangely upbeat despite drinking till 3am at the wedding, ‘Pick ye up in 20 minutes and naw I’m no driving, my old man’s planked my keys till I sober up. He’s dropping us off.’

As the car nudged its way through the busy streets of the east end there was an air of excitement among the green clad fans thronging the streets around Celtic Park. They got out of the car and joined the green river of people snaking its way to Celtic Park. The Gallowgate was alive with song and the two friends joined in with gusto…

‘When I see you Celtic I go out of my head
And I just can’t get enough, I just can’t get enough
All the things you do to me and all the things you said
I just can’t get enough, I just can’t get enough
We slip and slide as we fall in love
And I just can’t seem to get enough’

They entered the Lisbon Lions stand and found a stadium in ferment. The atmosphere crackled and hummed as they took their seats on the fringes of section 111 where the Green Brigade’s drums were already booming out in the clear spring air. The excitement was contagious and Dan grinned at Aldo, ‘Let’s hope we turn up and do this mob today.’ Aldo though wasn’t paying attention as Dan followed his gaze to see a huge black banner being unfurled above the Green Brigade section. It showed the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the message ‘Your Day is Coming’ emblazoned beside it. Dan laughed, ‘haha fecking belter!’ A sea of black flags fluttered in the breeze and scores of fans held up mock grave stones with a variety of mocking messages on them. Aldo looked at his friend, ‘That has got to be the best wind up ever!’ Before Dan could answer a huge roar announced the arrival of the teams, they focussed on the pitch and joined the tens of thousands of other Celtic fans in their booming rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ The scene was set.

Celtic started well and among the clattering tackles and snarling players were playing the more composed football. In the 17th minute they won a corner and the Celtic fans behind the goal roared in anticipation. Hooper, Samaras and Wanyama jostled for space in the box as Commons stood over the ball. To just about everyone’s surprise he clipped a ball beyond the milling six yard box. ‘Wit ye doin’ Commons?’ someone near Aldo shouted but as the ball arced across the box a blur of movement sped towards it. It was the late arriving Charlie Mulgrew who headed the ball firmly into the emerald turf of Celtic Park and sent in rebounding high into the Rangers net. There was an explosion of joy around most of the stadium as a huge roar split the skies over Paradise. Aldo’s hangover was forgotten as he hugged his friend and screamed out his delight.

Celtic totally dominated the game now and how their supporters loved it. The songs poured onto the pitch, a ceaseless cacophony of noise. In 31 minutes Hooper turned a Rangers defender on the touchline and pinged a pass to Commons who took it in his stride and advanced on the goalkeeper. ‘Hit it!’ screamed Dan but the artful Commons clipped it over the keeper with a deft chip. It was 2-0 and the celebrations among the Celtic supporters were wild. Aldo found himself falling over the seat in front and being saved by a bear of a man with a broad Irish accent and an even broader smile, ‘Watch yourself fella,’ he smiled as he helped Joe up, ‘Wouldn’t want you missing any of this.’ Aldo was ecstatic and joined the thousands chanting for all they were worth…

'We slip and slide as we fall in love
And I just can’t seem to get enough
Doo doo doo doo doo doo’

As the simmering mass of Celtic fans bounced and sang the tune switched to another designed to annoy the silent, brooding visiting support…

You’re Rangers till July, Rangers till July
We know you are, we’re sure you are
You’re Rangers till July.’

The rest of the game swept past in a blur of Celtic dominance epitomised when Gary Hooper smashed a magnificent third goal past the Rangers goalkeeper. After that the score could have been anything as Celtic toyed with a beaten, demoralised team. For Dan and Aldo it was just about the most perfect weekend they could remember. As the Lisbon Lions stand belted out their anthem, the Jock Stein stand boomed back an echoing reply...


The game was a joyous celebration for the Celtic supporters present, they were Champions again, they were dominating their oldest rivals and for many a long overdue dose of Karma was descending on Ibrox. As the final whistle sounded on a resounding win the P.A system at Celtic Park boomed out ‘Come on over to my place, hey girl we’re having a party…’ For Dan, Aldo and thousands of other Celtic supporters the party was only just beginning. They left the stadium, arms draped around each other, smiles as wide as the Clyde. These were the days they lived for. As the army of Celtic supporters marched back along the Gallowgate to the pubs and clubs of the east end their songs flowed into the April sky. Today was their day and by God they were going to enjoy. Glasgow was indeed green and white.

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