From I arrived at Dublin Airport on Wednesday morning I could feel the atmosphere building ahead of Celtic v the Rangers at Paradise. It seemed like every Celtic fan in Ireland was on their way to Glasgow.
Every flight was full of Green and White clad Celtic fans flying to Glasgow and Edinburgh from Dublin, Belfast, Cork and even Knock. Supporters Buses were packed as they boarded the ferries heading for Cairnryan before making an impressive convoy of supporters buses making their way up the Scottish coast.
Hotels were booked out and bars packed with many putting the full house signs up as early as lunchtime. As we left a popular Celtic bar with about 90 minutes to kick off the queues were halfway down the road with Celtic punters without tickets wanting to secure a seat with a half decent view of a TV screen although after Hatate scored the opener I’d imagine it was standing room only.
The atmosphere outside Celtic Park was one of excitement but as with all games with our neighbours across the city the nerves do creep in. Inside Celtic Park both the Bhoys Ultras and the Green Brigade had been busy all day getting the Tifo’s ready that extra brought colour and sound to the stadium and Celtic fans of all ages joined in to create an unforgettable visual display when the players arrived up the tunnel before kick off.
The Celtic Park disco lights have been the subject of amusement by those in the Scottish media who had enjoyed mocking them during Celtic’s poor season last year after dominating Scottish football for almost a decade but on Wednesday night when those lights shined onto the huddle as the Rangers players stood in the dark it was magical.
What we witnessed after that in the first half can only be described as wonderful 3-0 up at half time, dream stuff for us and pure pain for the Rangers and their fans who I wished were there to witness this demolition.
Some of those fans turned on their own goalkeeper McGregor after the game but they should face reality it could have been 6 or 7 at half time only for his saves in that 45 minutes where Celtic dominated under the leadership of Callum McGregor who would later have Kris Boyd banging on about the Rangers players not making enough contact with his broken face hidden behind a protective mask to inflict injury.
The second half may not have had the goals of the first half but it still had that magnificent atmosphere until the referee blew the final whistle but not before he booked a Celtic Ball Boy, I think that has to be a first. I have to admit I wasn’t aware of it until I seen a tweet yesterday long after I had arrived home after celebrating late into the night in Glasgow and those celebrations continued when we arrived back in Ireland for most of the night.
The players lap of honour saw almost all of the 60,000 Celtic fans inside Celtic Park to applaud their heroes and leave the biggest cheer of the night for Ange Postecoglou who has brought the pride back to the East end of Glasgow and what a return for those who travelled from Dubai, New York and beyond the cheer on the Bhoys.
I don’t expect the airport to be as busy on Sunday morning when I check in for the away day to Motherwell but I’m sure that Celtic fans will be tuning in throughout the globe to watch the famous Glasgow Celtic putting on a show.
For now we park that wonderful night which some Celtic fans have compared to the night we beat Barcelona and concentrate on another 3 points because when all the dust has settled that is all that was won on Wednesday night, 3 points but what a wonderful 3 points. Role on that alarm clock going off in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Andrew Milne is Editor 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 Murphy’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.