The Celtic players went off to Riga for the Europa League qualifier, if you took a quick look on Celtic’s twitter account yesterday you will see a few snaps of the players arriving in Glasgow airport all masked up and ready to go, as usual Scott Brown looking sharp and fit in his short sleeve as the mild weather continues.
Under normal circumstances Celtic fans would have been checking in yestessterday and this morning on social media in different airports, the lucky ones who booked direct flights to Latvia before the airlines sky-rocketed the prices would be boasting of how cheap they got their flight for because they took the chance and booked early. For others it would be the usual tale of trains, planes and automobiles. Away Days always make great viewing on social media even for Celtic fans who are not travelling.
Over the years I have met so many Celtic fans on these trips from here, there and every-where. The buzz of having a ticket, a chance to enjoy a new culture, hooking up with old mates and making new ones never gets tired. A new city to explore, new foods and drinks and there is always a bottle of Buckfast to be seen in a square or a park on match day.
Covid 19 has really affected our daily life and part of that daily life is the football and in our case Celtic. With increased cases of the virus on a daily basis now it seems that we are further away from returning to watch football in stadiums than ever with the little hope we had after the recent Ross County game in Dingwall disappearing with every government statement uttered. A couple of hundred fans were allowed in. A step in the right direction but it gave us false hope.
The late great, Jock Stein once said the “Football without the fans is nothing” and those words are written on the large granite box that his statue stands on outside Celtic Park. Match day is just not the same for me, walking across the sitting room to switch on the TV can’t match walking up the Paradise Way or booking a table in a local pub for a social distance pint while watching the game just can’t match what we would be experiencing if we took our place in the stand in any away ground in Scotland or across Europe.
I feel like an old man continuously reminiscing at the end of a long life about times gone by every time a memory pops up on Face Book yesterday morning it was Ibrox 3 years ago. I think about how good we had it win, lose or draw.
I was dead against football behind closed doors when the idea was mooted back in the early days of the pandemic but as the situation drags on with so much doom and gloom, I now look forward to sitting on the sofa with Henrik my dog for company. Social media or a WhatsApp group will never replace social interaction with your mates on match day but that is the closest we are getting to standing on a terrace with like minded people for 90 minutes and beyond.
I saw a tweet the other day “ Football without Fans is better than nothing” and I think I am coming around to this thought myself when I consider the lengths I will go to watch a game on TV when the TV companies seem to have a piece of the coverage pie. I complain but I still pay so maybe I am part of the problem but the problem is I just want to see the Celtic.Today I will watch the game on Premier sports as they take their turn on the TV coverage merry go round.
Andrew Milne started More than 90 Minutes in 2001. He has written for numerous publications and online about Celtic. He is a former newspaper columnist with the Daily Ireland and the man behind celticfanzine.com. He is host of the Celtic Soul Podcast & Celtic AM pre-match events at Malone’s in Glasgow on match days and follows Celtic Home & Away. He is a season ticket holder for Celtic FC and the Republic of Ireland. He is also P.R.O. of St. Margaret’s CSC, a member of the Celtic Trust and the Celtic Graves Association.
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