Away day blues , then joy !
My first ever, proper away game was November 1976 v Hearts at Tynecastle.
I say proper,as in outside Glasgow, where I was born.
I had already been to Hampden, Shawfield and Ibrox.
This was different though, I was just about to turn 13 and my oldest sister and her husband had decided to give me a birthday present that I would never forget.
They stayed in Govan and had invited me down to their flat, for lunch, or so they said.
I had no idea,that my brother in law (Eddie) was taking me to Tynecastle on the supporters bus, that left from the Glen Bar in Govan.
There was one small problem though, I had turned up with a blue top on, Eddie said you can’t go to the game with a Rangers top on, there was no time for me to travel back to Priesthill to change. The problem was solved, when he gave me one of his old Celtic tops. It was about 3 sizes too big, but I tucked it in and rolled up the overly long sleeves. I might have looked a sight but I felt like a king. Edinburgh here we come, my stomach was full of butterflies
I still recall my excitement of being on the bus going through to the capital. I didn’t know anyone except Eddie, but I didn’t care I was going to see Celtic. The journey passed by in a flash as I imagined, over and over again how the game would play out, every time, Celtic were the winners.
When arrived in Edinburgh the Govan bhoys went to their usual Tim friendly haunt, although I have no recollection of where that was but they all knew,where they were going. I waited outside along with a couple of others who were too young for the pub, we waited and waited, it was nearing kick off time and I didn’t want to miss it, I was,starting to get agitated, finally the bhoys left the pub and we arrived at Tynecastle, the away support occupied the opposite end from which we do now. It was five to three and the congestion was unbelievable, sadly we still see this kind of crushing in this day in age. Eddie told me to hold on to him tight, the entrance was surrounded by tenements which, to my young mind all seemed to have Hearts flags flying from them, some of them were throwing water ( at least I think that’s what it was) down at us, by this time, I have to be honest and say it was all becoming a bit scary.
We heard the roar of the teams coming out, this produced another surge from those trying to get in, I held on to Eddie for dear life and then kick off, we were still no nearer to the entrance. A huge roar, and then the people in the tenements cheering, let us know Hearts had scored, this was quickly followed by an even bigger cheer, Hearts were now 2 up and we still weren’t in the ground. I clearly remember asking to Eddie, should we still go in? He said we can’t turn back now, we are almost at the turnstiles and who knows what will happen. Finally we managed to get in and found a place where we could stand without being crushed
Celtic were shooting away from where we were standing and to tell the truth, I couldn’t see too much, when Celtic were attacking, Celtic scored to make it 2.1 and I felt a lot better, then Hearts scored again 3.1 and I felt sick, in my young mind this wasn’t supposed to happen, very quickly though it went 3.2 and that was the score at half time. We were convinced that we would win now, why? to tell the truth, I’ve no idea, but it’s Celtic isn’t it? I don’t know if you feel the same, but I always feel when I’m at the game that I can help influence it, now that is madness,but that’s how I feel.
The second half started and relatively quickly, King Kenny scored, 3.3, in case you’ve lost track,of the,score, as a 13 year old, he was always King Kenny to me. The game went from end to end, without any further goals and looked to be heading for a draw but then, with a couple of minutes to go Danny McGrain went past a couple of players and after a ” stramash” Ronnie Glavin scored what proved to be the winner. 4.3 Celtic, unbelievable, I still recall the joy when the ball finally hit the net for the seventh time that day. What a game, to be your first proper away game. What a birthday present. I was overjoyed. Eddie teased me and said just as well we didn’t turn back when we were 2 down. I said I can’t wait to see the faces on the people in the tenements and ask them the score, I had my fingers all ready to remind them. Eddie knew better, they won’t be there, they lost, and of course, he was correct. I can’t remember any crushing on the way out, maybe it’s because I was high as a kite.
We safely made our way back to the supporters bus, everyone seemed merry in more ways than one, there was a big sing song on the way home, as songs of the day were sung, The Wild Rover and Erins Green Valley, are 2 that I remember being sung ,that aren’t sung very often, if at all now. A birthday I will never forget.
What a day!!!
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