From Paradise to The Theatre of Dreams…
Today sees the return of our Memorable Matches,which we will be running for much of the remainder international break. Today’s offering is from SOL KITTS,and is a timely reminder that not all matches are memorable for good reasons.
Stunning highs and devastating lows, these are the realities of being a Celtic fan.
November 1984, 2 down from the away leg, Celtic welcomed Rapid Vienna to Paradise. Little did we know how that night would turn out, or how that would be the last time we would ever make Rapid feel welcome. BMCUWP and I watched a magnificent display by Celtic, as we scored the 3 goals we needed to progress. Rapid weren’t in the game, and it was all looking good until near the end, when some eejit threw a bottle onto the pitch.
A Rapid player, Weinhofer, went down like he’d been shot. Mayhem ensued as Rapid sought to take advantage of the opportunity a fan had presented to them. Cue bandages on Weinhofer’s head, despite the fact that the bottle had landed nowhere near him. TV footage showed this to be the case, and the linesman apparently corroborated this fact later. Weinhofer was duly subbed, game over, 3-0 to us. We went back home, delighted by the result but with a niggling worry about UEFA’s reaction.
What happened next was high farce of the 1st degree. Both teams were fined. Celtic were fined £4000, Rapid fined £5000. We thought that was the end of it, but Rapid appealed. UEFA responded by doubling their fine, and inexplicably ruled that the game should be replayed with the original struck from the records. It also had to be played at a ground no less than 150 miles from Glasgow!
I think we all expected Celtic to show some backbone and tell UEFA to do one, but the prospect of another money spinning game was enough to jellify the board’s spine (some things never change). Even though the original game was struck from the records, the original ticket price wasn’t refunded.
Anyway, the game was to be played at Old Trafford, and we managed to get 4 tickets. We hired a car for the day, and off we went to Englandshire. BMCUWP, Cosy Corner Bhoy, me and a mate who claimed to be Alan McInally’s cousin set out early morning for Manchester. Our mate was about 5ft 2, whereas AMc was a good foot taller, we reckoned all they shared was a surname.
The first part of the journey was reasonably uneventful, plenty pit stops, a few beers, and the usual pee breaks. We got to the M6 by early afternoon, straight into a massive traffic jam. Wall to wall Tims stuck on the motorway, most of us with a few beers inside us, and in need of a pee. Only one place we could go….the central reservation. Quite what the coachload of pensioners heading north made of the sight of hundreds of peeing men facing them, I don’t know.
The traffic started moving slowly, and I had the idea of getting off the M6 and travelling down the A6 instead. Genius, we were moving fast while watching the queue on the motorway crawling along beside us.
So to Manchester. We found a pub near the ground, few more beers, then walked to the stadium. Our tickets were for the Stretford End, we were standing behind the goal.
The game was a major disappointment as Celtic couldn’t repeat their previous performance. The atmosphere was shocking, we lost 1-0 but that didn’t tell the whole story. Two of our fans got onto the park, one assaulted the Rapid goalie, the other kicked one of their players on the way up the tunnel, which at the time was in the middle of the ground, not in the corner like it is today.
The journey home was subdued, we made it back to Edinburgh in the early hours after dropping CCB off in Ayrshire.
We were gutted at the result, raging at Rapid’s blatant cheating, pissed off that UEFA fell for it, disgusted that our board refused to stand up and be counted. Then UEFA landed the sucker punch; they punished our fans behaviour by forcing us to play our next home European game behind closed doors. We went crashing out against Athletico Madrid, a game which would have been a sellout, so the board shot themselves in the foot when they let Rapid and UEFA walk all over them.
Would we have won the tournament that year? Possibly. We were good enough, but we’ll never know for sure. All we were left with was the memories of a magnificent display at Paradise, a great day out getting to Manchester, a horrible night at the game, and the bitter taste of defeat by cheating scumbags.
Stunning highs and devastating lows? You better believe it.
Thanks very much for that,SOL KITTS. More articles like this,on similar or otherwise subjects,are always welcome,and always published-except ones like what I REALLY think of the board,for example! All contributions welcome at