Let me tell you about Sara ..
Sara and I go back a long way, we first met on the short period that we spent travelling on a Celtic Supporters Bus.
That was 20 years ago, my son was 5 and for his birthday I bought our first season books in The Jock Stein Stand at Celtic Park.
I was married and lived in Newton Mearns at the time. Travelling to the game by car was a pain as the M77 motorway extension from Dumbreck to Newton Mearns hadn’t opened at the time so my son and I joined a newly formed and short-lived supporters bus.
Back then the club had just been saved from liquidation by the legend that is Fergus McCann who came in and put his own money on the table.
I tell a lie .. our first season was spent in the Lisbon Lions stand as the Jock Stein didn’t open until the following year.
I don’t remember exactly how I started chatting with Sara, she was already a season book holder and at in the old South Stand, the Centenary Stand built for the 1988 anniversary club and single tier and clear indication that the old board didn’t have the ambition or vision of Mr McCann.
The early days, Steven and I sat on the bus, chatting away, making new friends Sara, Margaret, Katherine, Joe. Tam.
All became good friends, although I’m not as close to the others as I am with Sara.
I’m still in touch with Margaret and looking forward to her 50th soon, it will be good to see everyone else.
Joe’s a good laugh, a real mans’ man .. loves his football and his wife Audrey in equal measures. They went round the world a few years ago but came home recently but we’ve lost contact.
Tam and Katherine were married but split up, I only really get news from them second hand these days.
But this is about Sara .. and I’ll tell you why soon.
Sara is a lovely, kind-hearted woman, bright blue eyes, a winning smile and a heart of gold.
Her and her female partner were living together when I first got to know them 20 years ago. They were married in the early days of the civil ceremonies a few years ago.
That’s quite an achievement don’t you think? 20 years and more of any relationship is an achievement in these days of being able to jump ship without all the hassle of messy divorces.
Back in those early days Sara was vague about her sexuality, maybe scared in case people judged her .. quite understandable when you join a football supporters bus full of hairy-assed guys who’s views on lesbianism are clouded by fantasy style videos.
A year later when the Jock Stein opened and we both moved over from our old seats. Sara and I were friends and discussed everything .. well maybe not everything .. that would be distasteful and we are friends, we respect each other, there are limits.
In those days I was going through some marriage difficulties and Sara listened, sometimes I’d pop in for a tea just to chew the fat.
When I actually split up a few years later, she was there with an ear, a smile and good advice.
But the friendship cuts two ways, when she had her own relationship issues for a brief period, I was happy to listen.
Work wise, Sara has went from working in, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me saying a mundane job, filing in an office for the civil service.
But she was too good for that. So she made the effort, did some courses, applied herself and applied for other jobs, did some IT, became a tester, she’s now a Fraud Manager with a bank.
Quite an achievement.
Over the years, Sara and I have sat beside each other at Celtic Park in hail, rain, snow and sunshine.
In that time, my wee boy who used to sit on my knee to keep warm eating the treats his mum gave him and the pizza I bought him is now 6’2.
We’ve laughed, hurt, hugged, sang our hearts out with tears of pride in our eyes.
But why am I telling you this?
Because, last night Sara sent me a lovely message about being a friend who is always there for her.
For that I am genuinely flattered.
I’m proud to call you my friend Sara, you’re more than a friend, you’re family.