Just getting a chance to now to sit down and reflect on Thursdays defeat at home in the Europa League to Bayer Leverkusen. With our injury crisis I was delighted to see Kyogo and McGregor back in starting line up for what we all knew was going to be a massive challenge against an inform German team who currently sit second in the Bundesliga. What we did not expect was to be hammered 4-0 at Celtic Park.
If the woodwork prevented us from getting a winning goal against Dundee Utd last Sunday then it was some top notch goalkeeping from the visitors who made sure we never got on the score sheet. The atmosphere was fantastic before kick off, Celtic Park lit up the dark night Sky like and could be heard for miles around in full voice. Magnificent it was! and then the game started and in fairness to the Ultra groups they were still singing and waving flags when many fans had seen enough and headed for the exit signs long before the final whistle took us out of our misery. So once again congrats to both groups the Green Brigade and the Bhoys for once again leading the chorus, the Tifo, the colour and atmosphere both groups create game after game, home and away.
For some travelling Celtic fans Thursday night was their first return to Celtic Park since the pandemic and it was great to bump into so many familiar faces in Dublin airport, each game at the departure gate bar now seems like a little reunion with like minded good people. I shared a taxi from Edinburgh with some wise fans and enjoyed the mature discussion about the state of play at Celtic and some trips and characters from over the years following the team were brought up to smiles and laughs.
Another one who made his long awaited return to Celtic Park was our major shareholder Dermot Desmond known to some as the absent landlord, with about 20 or 25 minutes to go Dermot left the stadium and was followed by the majority of the crowd who had seen enough, I cant remember a European game at full time when the stadium was so empty as the Europa boards were set up and the cameras put in place to record the post match interviews, a few fans stayed behind to watch proceedings.
There were some familiar faces from our TV screens also in attendance in the row just behind the directors box which included former Celtic Chairman, John Reid, although I did not notice if current Chairman Ian Bankier was present if he was he was not in his usual seat that was kept for DD. Celtic short term football consultant, Gordon Strachan was also in the VIP row next to Celtic FC Foundation’s Tony Hamilton.
We used to fancy ourselves against any of Europe’s Elite Teams in the Champions League at Celtic Park. Teams like Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus to name three were defeated in Paradise sadly now we are getting pumped at home In the Europa League and the conversations were brief when I got back to our hotel bar and the atmosphere was funeral like so I made a quick exit to my bedroom to listen to the post match interviews and get a few hours kip before the red eye flight that awaited me and many other Celtic fans who I might add were out till the wee hours judging by the heads who lined up to board the plane with those words never again ringing in their heads. Never again until the next time!
But we must lick our wounds and move on to Sunday and Pittodrie as the bread and butter of the SPFL returns and the pressure is now on Ange and players shoulders to to get a win and stop the slump against Scott Brown’s Aberdeen who like us have struggled this season.
Tomorrow morning early the buses will pull out of from every corner of Glasgow with the cargo well hidden as the Police wait on the way to stop and search buses while the driver will be given strict orders to get the Rebs on. The results may not be going our way at the moment but it is great to be back on the road. Away Days Away the Bhoys!
Andrew Milne is Edittor of More than 90 Minutes Celtic Fanzine which he started in 2001. He has been involved with fanzines since 1989 and 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, Talk form the Terrace Podcast, Grand Auld History 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.