I’ve said in anything I’ve been on whether it be blog/podcast/chat in pub, I’m the worst Celtic fan in the world. The only thing I do worse than Celtic, is to travel around the country I live in. When anyone mentions anywhere outside Glasgow I cringe and deflect any questions with some comment about places abroad.
I had it bad as a child, every year my parents would tease me and the brothers. We would get the travel brochures for far away places like Spain and even Yugoslavia in the 1970s which was lovely. That would be as far as we would get gazing at the pictures, the hotel rooms and the showers!!
As a kid growing up in a housing scheme in Glasgow I dreamt of being able to go into a outdoor pool and not worrying about being kicked out after our bands time went on the big board as it did in our local pool. The brochures would be brung in and gazed over and eventually tea would spill on them, the dog would get them and our dreams of a week in the sun/warmth and outdoor pool would vanish.
We had family in London who we visited which was just a change of street for us to run about in. We did make it to one family holiday to the seaside Aberdeen!! I don’t know if this caused my passion as a 16 year old to get away and travel? I remember standing knee deep in the North Sea chattering away with my father who was oblivious to the cold (the guy used washing up liquid as shaving gel FFS). I asked him what the thing was in the distance, he replied an oil rig, his method of getting me used to the water, was splashing my lower half of my torso. The just above frozen sea water took my breath away with a force I wouldn’t experience again until I drank home made tequila on the pacific coast years later. For the rest of my life I just wished my da has dunked me under and maybe my head wouldn’t so be big and other parts that got frozen wouldn’t be so small.
Years had went by I was at sea and my time on a ship had came to an end. I travelled from Southampton to Glasgow by train as usual. I got home dumped my bag had a plate of mince and totties off my ma and went out on the drink. It just so happened that my brother Party Bhoy who was on a small supporters bus which ran out of the Southside at the time was planning to pressgang me. These weren’t great times for the club, the mid 90s. The only leverage the club had over fans was the fact it held the amount of tickets each supporters club would get for Ibrox. The CSC was basically bullied into taking a full whack of away tickets, even over their membership levels to enable them to receive enough for the vital games at Ibrox. So as I sat in the boozer on the Friday night making love to a few vodka lime and sodas Party Bhoy asked if I wanted a ticket for Aberdeen away on the sunday? Enjoying the warmth of the vodka, feeling of being home and the passion which vodka helps enflame in most fans I said of course!!!
The Saturday was spent clothes shopping, eating Glasgow chinese food and then a few more vodkas until the wee hours and to be honest the game had went out of my head. That was until I heard the front door close as my old man went to mass. I went to turn over, it was 7.00am when I was then given the Glasgow alarm call of “Get Fecking up your going to the Game!!!!” In my defence I was used to abrupt awakenings with fire alarms etc going off on the boats I worked on. The first thing I thought of was of being knee deep in the North Sea. A quick cup of Mellow birds was guzzled then it was into Party Bhoys car and we drove off. I was told I had the extra ticket which would confirm their quota for the game at Ibrox coming up and that I had no chance of getting one of them. We stopped in the Southside and thats when the magic started…we were picking up two of the boys to take up to Aberdeen, the first guy had grown up as a Tim in Bridgeton and was a solid guy. The 2nd guy was called Martin, now in life you meet characters whether it be through family, friends, football or work but I can confirm this guy was a total legend. Stories of him going to a stag do in Glasgow and ending up in Spain 3 days later were well heard of when it came to Martin.
My brother Party Bhoy as he is called, can get in anywhere, as i have said on previous blogs he is a cash and carry Face from the A-Team. Glasgow’s premier night club at the time was called the Tunnel, Partybhoy had VIP passes awaiting him every week, no queuing up for him, just slamming the vodka and redbulls and enjoying the tunes. The club had a strict policy on both, only the right faces get in and clothes etc as most of these dens usually do. So you can imagine my brothers surprise one night when on the dancefloor he turned around and who was on the floor breaking some moves, none other than Martin!!!
The only problem being he was in a cardigan and slippers!!! he had left his girlfriends flat at lunch time to get milk, and here he was in Glasgow’s premier club at 1am slamming it down. I never did get to ask him what his girlfriend thought. Party Bhoy asked him how did he get in and he replied he had put black shoe polish on his slippers and the bouncers never blinked!!
I had heard all the stories about him, but for him to tell a few were great. A certain ex-Celtic striker from the Milton would blush at the tales of Martin. So off we went 3 cars worth heading north to the Granite city, the two lads in the back having a few cans and the stories and exploits of Martin kept the patter going until we reached the city limits of Aberdeen. We parked the cars up and the water didn’t look any better than it had done when I was a kid. Tickets where divvied up and the bombshell was dropped, the other 11 members of the group were sitting together up the back of the stand, I was down the front myself! I received the shrugs and its alright we wont leave without you. This was before mobile phones, so I was sitting myself hungover and waiting to see what was gonna happen. Now this was the time before the internet and the MSM still ran the show. At the time of traveling up the Sunday Mail had broke with the story of Gerry McNee doubting the worth of John Collins of Celtic, it was 1995 and we were in for a cracker.
So I’m sitting with a hangover, a bag of mints and an empty seat either side of me. I turned round to see Party Bhoy give me a shrug as if to say well your at the game at least. 5 minutes before kick off something magical happened. 2 blonde visions sat down beside me, twin sisters it ended up being. I offered them a mint they squealed oh yes please, the hangover was lifting the sisters snuggled into me because it was cold, life was good again. Just before kick off I turned round to see Party bhoy and Martin giving me the eyes and making gestures of do you want to swap seats? How could I leave the girls all alone and cold I refused of course. We were trackside, not the worse view when one of the sisters politely in a sweet posh Stirling accent asked the oil rig sized Police Officer if he could move just a little bit to help her see the game? His reply was shut up ya F****n B*****d, yes folks welcome to the best small country in the world. So me and the girls are cosy’d up, the game begins and right away Tom Boyd scores an own goal, the sheep are going bananas!!! Not long afterwards Simon Donnelly fluffed a pass Jess sneaked in and the Dons are 2 nil up. There is an almost prehistoric howling and growling from the local fans and you can see why the Romans didn’t bother their arse coming up this far when they invaded the country. I’m outta water and the hangover is kicking in. The chants of in your weegie slums start bellowing out by our friends in the North. Not long afterwards Johhny magic boots slots one in with the outside of his foot, the sisters hug me even harder and I’m ready to inject mint syrum to get rid of my hangover breath. Not long afterwards Andy Thom scores a cracker and its 2 all, what hangover? As me and the posh girls jump around and celebrate the legion of lamb just sit and suck it up. Celtic were now running the show and it wasn’t long before Johhny had put us 3-2 up. On scoring Celtics third, and his own 2nd goal, Magic Boots gestured to the Celtic fans and how we cheered and roared. Doing what the on the road support do ensuring the locals realise who and what we are.
Aberdeen wasn’t a bad town after all! In the past the only thing that it had made me smile about it was when thinking about Pope Paul (other brother) as a 2 year old fell face first into a cow pat in the caravan park we were staying in. That was the goals finished with and at half-time the lads came down bearing gifts of pies and bovril’s and asking did I want to go up the back and swap seats with them? I of course refused and was enjoying the ambience and polite chat with the ladies. We won the game 3 -2 Big Yogi got sent off but it was a great result for us, and Magic Boots with his two goals had shut up the MSM which were still on their crusade against us. Alas the girls offered me a lift to Stirling to join them for dinner, but I had to refrain I didn’t get their numbers but they did tell me their Dad was high up in the police and they had taken the officer who gave them a mouthfulls number and daddy would deal with it in the morning.
The journey down the road was good craic as well, Martin was planning on going for a refreshment in the Gorbals and wondered if I wanted to join him? I refused, deciding to just go home and lie in the bath and sort my self out. Magic Boots would be away soon, using the new founded Bosman to get a move to Monaco. He scored the best goal I ever seen against Celtic when he was a young Hibs midfielder and cracked it into the goal at the Celtic End where we stood that day. I never did see the twin sisters again, probably a good thing as I don’t think I could have lived in Stirling to be honest. 4 years after the game I was working in the South Atlantic and had to wade ashore into South Georgia on one of the deserted beaches, I can confirm that the waters off Aberdeen beach were colder!!! I’ve only ever been back to Aberdeen once since that fateful day. I have more time on my hands now, a wee bit of money and hopefully I will get up to the next Celtic game. Its hard to believe that the manager that day, Tommy Burns and a youthful Phil aren’t with us anymore. The media are still hounding us, but we have mobile phones now, internet and our own form of media to propogate our views and feelings not for money or profit but for the love of our club.
So if you see me at the Sheeparena in a few months, your blonde, in your late 30s and have a twin sister lets all sit together and rekindle our warm cuddles when we think back to when the Glasgow Celtic and Johhny Magic Boots Collins shut the press up.
Hail Hail the Parrot (twitter @Machrie72)