Anyone reading this is a better Celtic fan than me, you have been to more/better games. Talk to, meet and recognise more folk at the stadium than I ever will. I had it bad as a kid, a father who insisted we play football instead of watch it. A mother who due to bad experiences would not let us go near Parkhead and to be honest I cant blame her.
My Da was from the Milton, an estate in the North of Glasgow, my Ma lived in Castlemilk in the south of the city. Neither drove so a visit to each other was a trek back in the day. My Ma although a fan wasn’t really into footie, alas her sister my aunt was, she was a committee member of the Bridgeton CSC in the 60s! (hope that got a gulp?). Rendevous with my Father was St Enoch Square then refreshements before the tram to Celtic Park. This was an all day bender which usually meant both being steaming and my Ma waiting to go to the Barrowlands dancing with my Da, who was to be polite a bit under the weather.
Things were not helped when my Da took my Ma to a wedding in the Milton on a saturday, the service was at 11am, the reception was back at the house, come two o’clock my Ma asked where was my Da (the only person she knew at the wedding). She was told the men the priest included were away to Parkhead for the match. As I said on one of the HomeBhoys podcasts, my Mas debut at Parkhead ended with men in the Jungle peeing on her hair, turning it green and dogs trying to do a Russell Brand to her leg on the way down the London Road.
Parkhead was close enough on the big European nights you could see the stadium all lit up and hear the roar which was a tease, before media became so hi-tech our only way of telling if Celtic had won on a midweek game was the 46 bus, it links Easterhouse to Castlemilk, going via Dalmarnock where after the game, all the Bhoys would run to get it, after doing the chicken run through Dalmarnock which was a more sinister place than Bridgeton, hardly policed because of its lack of pubs, and full of the old tenements where bluenose gangs would wait on Celtic fans going for the bus. If celtic won, the top floor windows would be smashed out and the bus would look like the Memphis Belle coming back from a mission over Germany, rebel songs would be blasting from the Bhoys onboard it. It was the schemes score alert, before the hourly news on the radio.
The radio that is pictured is similar to the one my mum purchased on 19/05/1979, it had a tape deck, radio and record player for the vinyl. It was in our flat in Castlemilk for 2 days before being tuned in and giving me an experience as a 6 and a half year old boy. The night of 21/5/1979 when TEN men won the league is simply my greatest memory as a Celtic fan. I sat transfixed listening to the radio and watching my Dad who was 6ft tall and 19 stone relive and react to every ball kicked that night. My dad totally focused ,while myself and my two tot brothers sat oblivious to how big a game it really was, with the sending off, we all sat huddled round this shiney new Japanese sound box which relayed the information being broadcast that night. When the final whistle went it was one of the few times I saw my father cry, my mum was on nightshift, and my da was stuck in the house watching us, unable to go for a pint or interact with other Celtic fans, as a famous night in our clubs history was written.
Things have changed, my parents have been gone many years, they did see the Kelly’s get booted out of Paradise of which I’m glad, a village for international athletes is being built where the bluenose gangs of Dalmarnock used to lurk. I get to the games now, walk to the stadium and soak up the atmosphere and see the folk who have travelled from far, wide and overseas to see our club. They quite proudly wear their CSC tops and hooped jerseys, I look at them and think they are a better fan than me, I’m just a pleb from Castlemilk who supports his local team. What I do have though which none of them have, is my memories of a night in 1979. In a battered old close in Castlemilk,listening to a shiney Japanese radio, when 10 men won the league.
love The Parrot (twitter @Machrie72)