Today were absolutely delighted to bring you another guest blog , this time by the gentleman that is JimmynotPaul . On behalf of us all many thanks Sir !
I guess the vast majority of us have crazy Celtic trips to write about.
Here’s one of mine,
Four of us in our early 20s and daft, we decided we would go to Dortmund on the Glasgow University supporters bus. A two night stay, 65 quid return, what was not to like? None of us knew anyone on the bus, but when we heard about we decided over a few pints let’s book it.
The journey to Dortmund was largely uneventful, travel to Dover for the ferry, then over to Ostende and onwards to Germany. The 4 of us enjoyed the craic and drunk plenty of beers. Finally we arrived in Dortmund. I can’t recall exactly what time it was,but it was probably early evening.
The guy organising the trip gave the instructions for going home, you have to be in the square for 8.30 a.m. if there are any stragglers, 9.00 a.m max, we can’t leave it any later than that or we will miss the Ferry connection, now everyone go and enjoy but remember you cannot be late.
The first problem we realised was almost everyone else had booked digs, we had just turned up like dafties. This might sound incredible now, but remember back then there was no internet or mobiles. We thought no problem let’s go and find accommodation.
This was much more problematic than we had envisaged, none of us were particularly sober, believe it or not, also there was some sort of festival on and accommodation was at a premium, which we had no idea about and none of could speak German. It was at the time when English hooliganism was at its height and English speaking football fans weren’t exactly welcome with open arms. The fact we couldn’t speak German meant we couldn’t explain we were Scottish and not English.
We were wondering aimlessly about and being knocked back by everyone, in fact it was just like being at the dancing on a Saturday night in Glasgow. We were now starting to sober up and slightly panic, then our luck changed, we met a Celtic fan from Munich who could speak German. He tried a few places for us but they were full, finally our luck changed ,Theo’s the Greek place, it was a basic bar with basic accommodation upstairs, no English he clearly said, our new found friend from Munich spoke to him at length, explaining the difference in nationalities, finally Theo relented, ok I have two double rooms. What a relief.
We unpacked and then headed downstairs to the pub, we had a great night, chatting and engaging with the locals, it was old style in that the barman( Theo) just marked up your tab in five bar gate style on a beer mat and you paid at the end of the night, no money was to change hands until then.
When we went to pay, we hardly owed anything, without us knowing it, the locals had been buying us drink. Theo pointed one out and made us, despite being drunk, feel very humble, he had been an ex prisoner of war and was touched by how we had integrated and had been enjoying our evening. One of the locals even arranged for his wife to meet us the next day at 10.00 am and show us around Dortmund. I’m not sure how comfortable many of us would be,asking one of our wives to give 4 German strangers a tour of where we lived, but at 10.00 am there she was and she spent hours with us showing us the local places of interest.
Soon enough it was time to head to the stadium. We arrived about one hour before kick off expecting the ground to be fairly empty but “The Dortmund Wall “was bouncing already,creating a fabulous atmosphere.
Celtic had won the first leg 2.1 with a late winner from Derek Whyte.
The second leg was in the main controlled by Dortmund, but as usual, just when you started to think, maybe just maybe, it’s the hope that kills you, Dortmund scored twice in the last 20 mins. The only Celtic player that looked dangerous that night was Andy Walker and when Big Billy subbed him late on, we knew then it was over. We lost 3.2 on agg and couldn’t have many, if any complaints.
Celtic and Dortmund fans have a strong relationship now, but it has to be said after the game Dortmund fans were on the pitch charging Celtic fans. The board, for once, in The Celtic view, praised the fans for not responding to the taunts.
We headed back to Theo’s and again received a warm welcome, we decided it was our turn to repay the hospitality and buy the drinks after all we were heading home the next morning and didn’t need much money, did we? We gave Theo the money and told him to tell us,when the money was done. Goodness knows how many chants of Celtic and Borussia do da ,do da, were sung, enough to still give me the hebegeebees all these years later.
Theo kept the bar open and never did tell us that our money was done, we staggered to bed between 4 and 5, that was the big mistake, going to sleep. Theo’s wife said she would wake us at 7 to enable us to get to the square in time to catch the supporters bus. I woke up, it was 8.15, panic, I woke the others up, why had no one weakened us up? We went to reception and finally found someone and they phoned a taxi for us,we thought we would be ok for 9.00. we reckoned we were about 15/20 mins from the square. However,disaster,it was peak hour traffic and the taxi why hardly moving, we finally arrived at the square at 9.10 and the bus had gone, we kind of stood in drunken disbelief, what could we do?
This was still a time when money was still God, we had spent most of ours on booze, thankfully one of the guys,had a credit card with him and we agreed to split the bill 4 ways whenever it came in.
We finally worked out, with the help of some locals again, a plan to get home. A train to Koln and then change to get a train to Ostende and then try and get home from there.
The train journey was not pleasant, friendships were put to the test, as the alcohol wore up and we started to be dehydrated and hungover,especially when one of the bhoys admitted that Theo’s wife had chapped the door at 7.00, exactly when she said she would, and he had said,thanks and then went back to sleep.
We finally made it to Ostende and checked the timetable we knew the supporters bus were getting the 14.00 ferry,which we had long missed, this ferry was arriving in Dover at 18.00, we realised we could book the hover craft,which was, much more ,expensive, but was arriving at 18.10, maybe just maybe, we could catch up with the supporters bus at Dover. That journey was not pleasant either, as the post mortem had begun, as to whose fault it all was,Jim, whose credit card we were using, was called unhelpful and of course he erupted at this, almost coming to blows.
The most agonising bit of the journey was still to come, we got off the hover craft and were waiting to go through customs and yes, the supporters bus was in the distance pulling away, that was torturous, there was nothing we could do except, blame each other again and,argue again.
We then got a bit of luck, the bus from Dover to London Victoria wasn’t due to arrive in London until 22.40, we had phoned ahead and knew the buses to Scotland left at 22.30. We told the bus driver in Dover our predicament and he said, if the roads were quiet, he would do his best to arrive early. We felt we couldn’t afford to stay in London as Jim’s credit card was almost maxed out by now.
The bus driver was true to his word and we arrived just before 22.30. The bus drivers weren’t allowed to sell tickets the Glasgow bus driver, said it would take too long for us to get to the ticket office and back and that he was leaving without us, the Edinburgh bus was full, we were now in the last chance saloon, it was the Dundee bus or bust, we pleaded with the driver and he agreed to wait whilst we went to the ticket office, we then had to hope like mad that the credit card had enough funds not to be declined. The transaction went through, I still remember the feeling of relief to this day. The driver, who was clearly Celtic minded, let us off at Coatbridge and we managed to get home from there.
The credit card bill came to 320 pounds, so £65 return on the supporters bus and then £80 single to get home.
Would we do it again, of course we would, it’s Celtic, and indeed we returned to Dortmund in 1993 and this time we didn’t miss the bus home, oh no, we missed the plane home,but that’s a story for another day.