‘On the road again’

(Translation by @parneq)

The Celtic Football Club – Rangers Football Club 2:1

Completely exhausted and much too late we arrived at the airport’s security check after a long day at work. We were already slightly freaking out as the gate was supposed to get closed 20 minutes later and the slow security staff did apparently already have their afternoon drinks in mind when we waited at the check. Moreover, the guy queued in front of us (who obviously had put a lot of thoughts into his public appearance) tried to get his huge tin of hairspray through the safety checks and was reacting very annoyed as this proved to become impossible. However, we did not show any sign of empathy and a few bad jokes later, we successfully passed the check.

So we landed in Edinburgh (“Edinbra”). We had already decided beforehand to arrive a day earlier before the match in Glasgow on Friday. Due to some bad craving, we also made the only wrong decision of the whole weekend. Sometimes, greasy fish and chips shops can also be some real insider’s tips. However, in the particular shop of our choice (whose interior design was very greasy and dirty as well as proof for a real bad taste) the for days deep fried fish was simply drowned in vinegar which didn’t revive it either. What made it even worst is the fact that we tried to save the as well vinegar-drowned chips by asking for some mayonnaise without realizing that the bottle we had asked for was clearly labelled with GARLIC in capital letters which we realized only after we already poured it all over our food. Nevertheless, the city of Edinburgh was able to score with its beers and the nice social atmosphere. The next day on our way to the city’s castle, we made some interesting sighting at the traffic lights.

However, this nice greeting instantly reminded us what we were here for. The season’s match schedule allowed us to participate in two derbies within a short timeframe. Three weeks earlier, we had a guy visiting us from Scotland and this guy also managed to organize us tickets for Glasgow’s derby. So, we did something similar alike a student’s exchange. The flight schedule and the ticket fares did not allow for a travelling on Saturday (after the match against Duisburg) only. However, alike two years earlier, we were able to watch the match together with the guys from the Glasgow St. Pauli fan-club. If you do not know any of the boys or girls from Glasgow St. Pauli you should definitely get in contact with them. Beside greatly supporting the FC St. Pauli, they also eagerly support various social projects.

As we were also keen to see the guys again, we were happy to get out of the train in Glasgow (“Glesga”). Due to some spare time, we quickly visited two pubs in Gallowgate, which we already successfully tested the last time, before heading further to West End. At the McChuills, we also found the time for three matches at the pool table. For sure, I wouldn’t report this rather useless information if I hadn’t been the one who won all three matches.

We further proceeded with the subway to the “Crossing the Rubicon” where the Glasgow St. Pauli guys were already waiting. They welcomed us with craft beer, finally some great fish & chips as well as some great company to enjoy the “home” match with. With regard to the match, there’s nothing to add to the already published blog article by Tim. The match left us with a mixture of relieve and sadness. Sadness because we missed the chance to keep the good distance to the promotion positions (the results of Saturday’s matches confirm this impression) but also relieve, because the match was by no means comparable to the bad appearance of the team during the last two matches. Luckily, our host arrived from London shortly after the match finished and we fought the approaching bad mood by visiting a concert (Neon Waltz) and another visit to the McChuills. With creamy pints of Guinness straight from the tap and great music, Glasgow was able to show its best side. On our way home, we decided to take one for the road close to the railway station and shortly after our arrival, a chatty man bought us a whisky. Later we confirmed to our host that we were only able to get “roughly 30%” of what the chatty man did say to us but we have no idea if this was due his thick accent or due to our alcohol level.

The next tourist attraction was waiting for me the next morning, when I visited the local Aldi store. That doesn’t sound too exciting but it is the best way to get to know what the Scottish people consider as their food. Their food can for sure be described as “rich” and this was exactly what we were looking for in order to prepare for a day on which we planned a tour to the Auchentochan-Distillery (pronounced “Ockentoschän” for a German tongue but I needed some time to practise this pronunciation). Before we left for the tour, we also visited the Milburn Park where a really old greenkeeper was busy marking the lines. This stadium is home to the Vale of Leven FC, which is playing in one of the lower divisions of the Scottish leagues. However, our host wanted to show us this ground because at the end of the 19th century, the best football of Scotland was played here and in the surrounding villages. The Vale of Leven FC, as well as Dumbarton FC and Renton FC were the measure of all things back then and collected plenty of trophies. At the really run-down but still charming Milburn Park we were unsuccessfully searching for a valid translation of the German word “Buffplatzromantik” (something like: amateur’s football field romance)

After this visit, we were guided with a lot of Scottish charm through the distillery for one hour before we managed to try almost every single whisky within two more hours in the dark surroundings of the distillery’s tasting room. Back at daylight at about 3pm, we staggered visibly tipsy back towards Glasgow. On our way, a very rich meal again supported us to get back on our feet when we also tried a little portion of haggis (of course deep-fried!) so that we can also tick this meal off our bucket lists. Haggis is quite similar to a “Pfälzer Leberwurst”, however, I will neither become a fan of the one nor the other.

Later, we visited the Grace’s, which is usually a sports pub loaded with plenty of tv screens but today there were also a lot of Celts in a good mood. High volume music was accompanied by the chants of the visitors. We were supposed to meet with the guy who organized us our tickets. Actually, I am not a big fan of this Celtic/Irish rebel thing but this time and in order to get ready for the next day’s match this was exactly what I was looking for. A little bit later, we also met the Hayes Bhoys from London at the Connollys shortly before we luckily managed to catch the last train to our host’s place.

Alike the other days before, my biorhythm forced me out of the bed way to early the next morning. We had another rich brekkie and eventually left for Renton. We departed toward Celtic Park with the chartered coach of the Renton Celtic Supporters Club. If I would have to name another bad decision of the weekend it would definitely be the IRN BRU+Vodka which I had in the bus. Although supporting on a short time scale, my tummy really had to fight this stuff for the rest of the day, although the recipe of IRN BRU was already adapted for less sugar (!).

Strengthened up like that we entered the stadium. We had tickets for seats next to the visitor’s stand which couldn’t be any better on this particular day. With regards to the chants and the supporter’s joining in at Celtic Park, it’s difficult to draw any comparison with the Millerntor. However, this particular match is still something special. “Still” because it is not the same as “Old Firm” any longer. “THE” Glasgow Rangers are gone. An example? There is a blue castle standing around for 139 years and due to a financial incompetency of many kings, this castle is rotting and will break down eventually. Let’s name the kingdom “Rangers Football Club plc (Public Limited Company)”. Well, this football club is gone. It was liquidated after going into administration. Now there’s a new king, let’s name him Sevco Scotland Limited. He takes a few of the old chunks, adds a good amount of new bricks and rebuilds the castle. After the construction works finished, he paints it blue and changes the name into “The Rangers Football Club Limited”. Looks exactly the same, has exactly the same supporters, the same stadium but it is not the same club anymore.

However, it’s still the Glasgow derby and going into administration of the Glasgow Rangers did not solve the conflict between catholic Irish and protestant unionists in Glasgow. This is why there are still a number of Irish flags and Union Jacks with the word “loyal” displayed in the stadium.

The air vibrates and there are a lot of the same as well as varying chants to hear on every stand in the stadium. Celtic is clearly dominating the match from the beginning, however, the match is quite open. Particularly at second shots and in man-to-man situations, Celtic is the better team. Every prattling before the game that the opponents are no longer “the” rangers they used to be anymore appears obsolete. Every throw-in, every won man-to-man situation elicits even more support from the stands and is greatly appreciated by the players on the pitch. The visiting supporters are already teased by the Celts. After some very promising situations which happened particularly due to some great counter attacks, there is one particular counter attack which finally broke all dams. Forrest passes a cleared ball straight to the path of Edouard, who is still dancing around a little bit before he finishes the ball behearted into the goal. The following jubilation in front of the stands of the Green Brigade further elicits a short pitch invasion.

Two minutes later, Morelos of the Ranger is sent off the pitch with a red card and the tension appeared to be almost at the boiling point. The chants were vibrating in the ears and the vocal chords were almost completely exhausted. However, some 75 minutes later things should change slightly. A typical Scott Brown provoked and found a valued customer in Morelos. “Broonie” is one of these players you can only appreciate if he is playing in your team. Teasing others a lot already during the match, he went in front of the visitor’s stands after the match to celebrate. This was instantly followed by a heavy discussion of him with Halliday of the Rangers and some players who joined in afterwards.  In the following interview Brown stated: “Aye, he came over to congratulate me…” What an absolute legend!

Well, the match was almost turning into something a lot less legendary. Celtic played a weak performance with almost no ideas against the 10 Rangers. The corner kicks and counter attacks were almost as bad as at the Millerntor. An the Rangers came back. I have to state in any case that Steven Gerrard’s team was resisting well under these circumstances and managed to score after the second half was almost half over. This was also the first time when defender Boyata of Celtic was heavily painful resting in the box. When he had to quit the match eventually, we already did substitute three other players….

So, for the rest of the match there were only 10 players left to play against ten. The Rangers had become much better and from our left we were already heavily teased by the visitor’s supporters. Well, there’s the saying of “We had it coming”. And this was also the first time when I realized that we could also lose this match. The second derby at home within three weeks’ time. That mustn’t happen!

Four minutes before the match was over and after the visitor’s supporters did tell us in various ways how to fuck ourselves, McGregor was well disturbing a defending pass of the opponents and passes the ball straight to Edouard who saw Forrest in the middle and thereafter the boiling point was definitely reached. I did not even notify that the Ranger’s kick-off after the goal was heavily delayed due to some teasing between the teams on the pitch. My joy in the dawn of the derby win was almost unlimited. However, the Rangers still had a few chances for a draw but my feeling to be on the sunny side of life this time was already built on a big foundation by then.

The sun was nicely shining when we left the stadium towards the city centre where we had another Guinness to celebrate the win before we headed off to Edinburgh. Straight after leaving the pub, my travel mate was wondering if this would be the right moment to put the Celt’s scarf into the backpack. It was for sure. One day later, we read in the newspaper that three Celtic supporters had been stabbed only ten meters from where we made this decision. Sadly, this is also the Derby in Glasgow.

We do not have to further mention the travel back to Edinburgh. However, for sure it wasn’t the last time that we did visit Glasgow.

“Here we go, ten in a row!”

//Philip

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