Before I was on twitter and Glasgow had 2 premier league clubs I made a friend, a German girl, nice, polite, married basically what you would expect of a German person. One night the discussion came up about football, she asked who did I support? I told her Glasgow Celtic she replied “Ah one of the Tottie Munchers!!! It came to pass she had a pal who was a fan of Oldco. I became quite enraged about her outburst and proceeded to explain where the name came from and what it actually meant.
To be fair she was horrified as it came to pass that the Oldco fan was from deepest Ayrshire, didn’t go to the games but for some reason despised anything and everything to do with Immigrants entering Scotland. My friend was originally an East German who moved with her family to the West when the wall came down and the nation became one again. The girl was mad about Scotland, the culture, the food and more importantly Glasgow, she is a keen photographer and enjoys the many great and overlooked buildings in the city. It was at this point I decided I was gonna save her soul and get her as a Celtic fan, her main passions when visiting Glasgow were, fry-ups and the Radley handbag shop, her husband is an Audi freak and not a football fan I was struggling to get a foot in the door to begin the brainwashing.
As all things to do with our great club, a bit of magic happened I discovered an interesting fact, my friend was madly in love with one Gerard Butler, like most ladies in the western world. The movie 300 had catapulted Gerry to superstar status with his torso teasing the girls, like Lubo used to tease us on the park. I was working in the caribean when I received by email a match report and a few pics of the charity game at Celtic Park, when a certain Hollywood actor starred, I had my link and my foot in the door. I casually sent my pal an email and attached the above pic with “guess who was at our stadium tonight”. Almost instantly an email bounced all the way to off the island of St Kitts where my ship was parked, “wow Gerard is really a Celtic fan?” of course said I he never misses a game.
Little did I know how this little green lie would work out. I got home a while later back to a grey October in Glasgow, I received a phone call from my pal, she was flying over on the Friday followed by her hubby on the Sunday, did I fancy showing her around Glasgow on the Saturday? Well it ended up that Celtic were at home that day, I texted do you want to go to the football? I got the reply “Not really my thing sorry”, I replied “Gerry Butler will be there!!!!!”, my phone beeped right away “yas get tickets”. I know I know I’m a bad guy, but when it comes to the club we love I am ruthless.
We met at Central Station on the morning of 29th October 2011, went for a coffee at St Enoch Square and I started a wee tour of the city heading east. We first headed through the Merchant City and up to Glasgow Cathedral. Now the next few paragraphs of this blog have a few historic facts in them, they were told to me by a Glaswegian, my old man. He didn’t have a degree but his word was good enough for me, so if anyone disagrees I do apologise please don’t quote a book at me, as you know I’m total cash and carry. I told my friend standing under the statue of John Knox, about how during the Reformation that all the Catholic chapels and cathedrals were sacked and taken over by the reformation. Alas my old Da told me that there is a room in the Cathedral that they couldn’t open, rumours of a priest/monk locking himself in and dying in the room, to a rumour of a defiant act from him up the stair to stop the door opening have been heard. In my old mans view if one room of the building was still untouched by non-catholic people it was still a blessed and consecrated building!
We then went to the High Street, and I explained of how on May 4th 1921 the van was smashed carrying Brigadier Frank J Carty and of how a gun battle ensued. This story was passed down to me by my father when i was 11, well before the internet and not the type of thing the West of Scotland middle classes liked to preach in classrooms or in newspapers. We then dashed down to the Press Bar for a quick pint of Belhaven Best and a pie for my friend, this is where the magic started. After leaving and heading on our way to the Gallowgate, half way through the Merchant City we were caught up in the protest march against the governmentt plans for football fans.
Now the Green Brigade with their banners, drum noise, hundreds of Celtic fans heading east, my pal was entranced and being a German she wasn’t used to people not conforming. My friend was staying in a wee hotel beside Bellahouston Park and wanted to know why Celtic Park was where it is. I explained that when the city was a heavy industry hotbed the smoke and fumes from works furnaces were always blown east, so people with money lived and wanted to be in the West end. The East End is where the poor and immigrants lived and where it was our football team was begun.
We had a walk through the Merchant City, the Barras and my friend seen the raw side of Glasgow, the cheek, the patter and the squalor of some areas. I then took her into St Mary’s Chapel in the Calton and explained to her how Brother Walfrid had begun the club and why and what it had been doing ever since. My friend had never been in a Catholic Church before and questioned why her Oldco friend could be against such a good thing? We walked up to Celtic Park with plenty of time to see all the statues and generally soak up the atmosphere, my pal standing very observant looking for a very good looking bronzed guy who never misses a game……ahem.
All good so far eh? The problem was the game was Celtic v Hibernian, the only thing being worse than the game was the weather. The rain was driving in sideways as we sat down the front of the Celtic End. Now my pal loves the rain but the game was getting me down, she was getting worried she hadn’t seen Gerry or a goal. It got to half time and her parents texted her to see how her tour was going? She replied, yes good at the football!. Her parents were season ticket holders at Borrussia Dortmund and were baffled as to why she was at a Celtic game when she had never set foot in a football ground in her life!!!! Her reply was simple – GERRY!!!!!!
The 2nd half started and the rain got heavier, my pal turned to me and frowned. I decided to sneak up to the seats near the main stand which although not as good a view had cover from the weather. With 30 minutes to go my pal turned and said “if Celtic don’t score soon I’ll go to Ibrox next week!” Now I didn’t have much to reply with, the team were in a slump, the Green Brigade were helping but then I said the immortal line “what would Gerry say? ” she gazed to the Main Stand, corrected her stance and got back to the game. Ok we drew and slowly walked down the Gallowgate back to the city, our plans of meeting friends changed as the traveling had caught up with her and she decided to head back to her hotel. Is this the end of the story? of course its not. I asked her if she had ever tried black pudding? she replied no so I took her to the wee chippy at the Gallowgate and got her a deep fried black pudding with loads of VINEGAR. She bit into it and her wee eyes rolled, she was hooked. I got her on her train and told her to text me when she was back at her digs.
As I headed to meet my 2 girl pals for a Mellow Birds I ended up sitting in some souless Merchant City bar slurping a coffee, when the magic struck again. You see I wasn’t the only Monaghan at Celtic Park that day. My brother Party Bhoy had wangled hospitality for him and his wife (he is like a cash and carry Face from the A-Team). He called me in the pub and asked how did I enjoy the game? I explained how I had got my German pal soaked, he replied he had rare lamb, with red wine, and dined with the one and only Bobby Lennox! He was now having his own aftershow down the Gallowgate and invited me to join him. Now I was in mixed company one girl of each team in Glasgow. I suggested the move which they both agreed to. So we strolled in to the Saracen Heed at about 6pm, everyone was steaming, my brother and his wife included and everyone was up singing and dancing. We had a good wee hour there singing away and stuff, until the incident happened. The DJ let it be known as per usual last orders at the bar and then gave a few minutes notice for the Irish National Anthem to be played. The only problem being as the bar went silent, on one of the screens Johnny ‘magic boots’ Collins appeared scoring a great free kick against you know who. As the pub stood to attention and most of them sang the Anthem in the native tounge, my girl pal shouted in a drunken screech, Johnny I love you!!!!
At that point 6 people enabled their exorcist neck muscles which let their head turn 180 degrees to see the culprit. I gagged her and put on my Bellushi in the Blues Brothers eyes to get us out of it. No harm was done and we moved onto the Old Burnt Barns at the other end of the Gallowgate. We entered to a good old Saturday night cabaret which ended up with Party Bhoy, the man who has never sang at a karaoke in his life, up doing the slosh (female line-dancing Glasgow style) with all the old grannies in the pub. My penance of not drinking anymore had come to pass as everyone was drunk apart from me. We made it to 11pm when I decided enough was enough. I called Pope Paul who’s black cab screamed in, I got everyone home and a good night was had by all.
Now when my pal had got back to her hotel she had texted her Oldco friend a pic of her outside Celtic Park underneath the statue of Jock Stein, he replied asking what was she doing at the home of his enemies? She laughed it off. We had lunch a few days later in Glasgow and she had a look around the Celtic Shop before flying home. She never did get to see Gerry and I thought maybe she was just being polite saying she had enjoyed the game and the whole tour of the city through a pair of green eyes. She became pregnant and we kept in touch through a wee iPhone text now and again, as the wean kept her up while in her womb. Now today I mentioned to Big Frankie in New York I was gonna write this story and leave it at this. I’m doing a blog a week early, since its my 40th on Monday coming, and i don’t know if i will be near a laptop. I was gonna send it to Harper to pimp up for me and leave for next Wednesday. As Mr Larkin says there is something magical about our club because the second Glasgow’s newest football team were put out of the Ramsdens cup by Queen of the South I received a text from my German friend and it said the following ”Rangers are out?? UUHHH ;} good luck to the Bhoys tmw :} night night x” now not even my Prince Deco could make a story up like that!!!!
So Gerry if you ever read/listen to @hailhailmedia get in touch because I’d love an autograph for my Wee German pal.
Hail Hail The Parrot (twitter @machrie72)