Words of wisdom, truly on any level really, and they were some words that I heard in several different contexts on a few points during the day. I will get started into it all naturally approaching the kick-off of the first Champions League game Celtic has seen in far too long a spell. Words of constant support for the bhoys that I had seen on the timeline, and the encouraging couple of quick fire insight the gaffer was willing to pass along as well. I was sitting in the school library getting those bits of last minute exam preparation sitting equally on edge for the coming test, as well as the forthcoming game. At 11:30 I tuned into the game. I was lucky in that my feed supplied no commentary, and only fed me the pulse of the lucky thousands that were in attendance last night.
To say that the atmosphere was electric would be an understatement bordering on negligence. I would say that the energy in the air in Celtic Park could have powered the three horse town that I live in for a good few weeks. So as I tried to stay calm and not look like a deranged mental patient as the clock drew nearer the opening whistle, I was treated to one of the best things I have ever experienced in person at any event I have ever seen in my life. As the cameras panned around paradise, to see banners and scarves held high above the heads of the supporters and the stadium shattered the din of the busy park, as the singing of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” rang out, and the hair stood at end on my body, in the power that those voices carried for this CL match, and in remembrance of the seemingly so few times that I have been lucky enough to be a part of it in voice, body, and spirit.
Just relax and let it happen Bhoys, I found myself thinking as the players all took position readying themselves for this ever important game. I am not going to lie to you, and say that –with recent performance in mind –that I was supremely confident in just what it was I would see. The team sheet passed along on Twitter, gave me hope, yet apprehension always seems to work its way into my mind. Will Miku be the best fit up front in a game of this magnitude without the benefit of time playing in this team? Will Forrest get bullied off the ball, and thereby sacrifice too much space from quick fire counter attacks on the flank?
Well as it transpired the energy that the fans were supplying, was as contagious amongst the team, as it was to me. The pace in which the lads started off, was spectacular, the passing looked crisp, the defending seemed sharp in lieu of the question marks over Lustig, and Wilsons heads. And more importantly the offensive side of the ball had teeth. They looked like they wanted to score goals. Plain and simple, attack minded football.
About five minutes shy of the half time whistle I had to run off to class, where in the build-up to the exam, the professor said “Remember, it’s only one exam, not the end of anything. Just relax, and let it happen.” I’m fairly certain that I failed it in spectacular fashion, as I was neither relaxed nor really as interested in being in the class as I perhaps should have been. My mind was with the team that I had been watching and not in the stars where it needed to be. I am at least positive that I got two correct, but beyond that, there really is uncertainty. See I am not always a model student, or person for that matter, and I am effected thru ought my daily routines by many outside forces, that can have influence on the things that are nearest me, and should in many instances have precedence. But no matter how much I was trying to take the exam with the seriousness it deserved, I could not get the bhoys out of my thoughts. The fact that my phone remained silent, unable to provide me with adequate updates other than scores alone on this day was little comfort. The thing has in the past failed to notify me of some critical happenings, so I tend to take what it offers with a grain of salt.
The good news, in spite of my short-comings in academia, is simply that with the test being done, we were turned loose upon individual completion, and I was able to walk across campus quickly as possible, to get dialed back into the game. ’70 minutes showed on the clock, the score still tied 0-0, so my phone had not betrayed me in scoring, yet the missing half hour of game time, left me a little wanting. It was the same pace in play, although some faces had changed, Rogne and Hooper in, and I think I heard it was Lustig and Izzy taken off. And slightly differently from what I had focused on in the first, Scott Brown was a war horse out there. Aside from dogging everyone in midfield and beyond, he played his old role of sometimes hot headed and fearless captain, and impressive is selling him a little short.
I am disappointed in not taking the full three points away in a game that the bits I saw, I feel like they could easily have done so. I am still very impressed in the team performance that I watched and cannot wait until the next match arrives and I can again try to figure out some strange reason to attempt to get out of whatever classes the timing falls between. And now as I sit here writing all this in the friendly and quiet confines of the pub, I am asked to help the owner change a few kegs downstairs. “Sure thing” I said, “I just need a few minutes as I really need to get to work on this…”
“No problem” he says, “Just relax, and it’ll happen”
SjH (twitter @__SjH__ and @spinhishat)