Celtic Ajax Amsterdam 2001!

What were you doing back in August 2001?

This was just before the world changed with the tragedy and carnage of 9/11

I was newly separated in May that year, moved out of the family home and living in a shitty rented flat for 6 months while I found my feet.

The place was awful, £400pm rental didn’t buy you much back then when prices were high. The place didn’t have heating except for the gas fire in the lounge and I used to sleep there with the tv for company and almost died from Carbon Monoxide poisoning because the fire was so old and ill-maintained.

Life has moved on a lot since then, I was in a long term relationship, bought a lovely home and my daughter Claire who lives with me has went from a 4 year old baby to a fine young woman of 16. My elder 2 are now 24 and 23 and flourishing in their own lifes.

One thing that has not changed and never will is my football team.

Partners have came and gone, friends too, but somethings never change.

Tonight, the third game of this years Champions League rolls round to Glasgow.

My son, my friend Sara and I will be sitting together as usual in The Jock Stien Stand at Celtic Park for the visit of the Dutch Champions Ajax of Amsterdam.

Having already narrowly lost to Barcelona and Milan this really is a must win for Celtic or we can forget our chances of qualifying for either the Champions League play-off stages like we did last year or falling back to the Europa Cup if we finish third.

Either way means European football after Christmas and the resulting increased revenues for the club.

So its a must win!

Last time we played Ajax back in 2001, a group of us went along, Joe, Tam, Paul and a few others.

Meeting up at Glasgow Airport at 5am, the drinking started on arrival and the party was already in full swing as the airport was full of Celtic supporters on the way to Amsterdam for the day.

The singing and the drinking didn’t stop all the way to Amsterdam, where Dam Square was full of Celtic supporters drinking beer and singing their heads off.

Me and the bhoys dd what most of the bhoys did, had a look round the red-light windows and then found a cafe to partake of what Amsterdam is famous for .. apart from the canals, tulips, diamonds and hookers.

A few hours later it was time to head for the game, it turns out the stadium is on the outside of town and we didn’t know where we were going, so we just followed the crowd.

Fantastic game, one of the best that I can remember, our first European game with Martin O’Neil as manager and we looked like a team reborn, Chris Sutton was amazing up front, terrorising and bullying the Ajax defence, the pace of Agathe and the trickery of Petta tore them to shreds, never mind the mastery of Henrik Larrson who unususually didn’t score on this occasion.

One of my favourite moments as a supporter was the build up to the third goal were Celtic had a long stream of passes then Sutton bulleted the header into the top of the net.

The journey home was a sea of Celtic supporters transferred to the first buses available and singing all the way home.

At the airport, no check-in and herded on to planes as we arrived.

Post-911, I doubt that would happen today as airports are so much more OTT on their security procedures.

Fine memories .. even although some of it is a litle bit hazy!!

Tonight can go either way, but we are up for this and relish the challenge.

Glasgow is Green And White!

C’mon The Hoops!!

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