Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thing 313 The Old Firm

I thought the buzz in the Gallowgate on Saturday was something else. I've never seen anything like this. I've been a Munster fan for as long as I can remember, and I've experienced some of the legendary Thomond Park atmosphere. It is, rightly, one of the most intimidating places for any team to visit, because the crowd can turn the game. Thomond Park, my spiritual home, the seat of Munster's finest moments, is about seventy percent of what the atmosphere is like at Celtic Park.

From the moment we got out of the hotel and joined the other streams of people heading for the East End the buildup was nuts. Have you ever had one of them hangovers where you're dying sick, but also giddy? No? Just me then. It was weird. "Hail hail" from every other guy in green and white. Didn't spot a sinlge Rangers' jersey, which was lucky I think. It's not that the atmosphere was bad, just I wouldn't like to think that things would turn ugly, and they apparently did that night.

Celtic Park is passed the Gallowgate and the closer you get, the more densely packed the streets get with jerseys and songs. Which has a weird affect if you're suffering from a weird hangover. Giddy: Love songs and crowd. Dying: Hate songs and crowd.

Inside the ground the singing starts and sixty thousand or so people belt out "Let the People Sing" and "You'll Never Walk Alone". The second one will make the hairs stand up on your arms. The scarves come out, and the whole ground joins in. The Rangers fans start booing and for a couple of seconds you can actually hear them, that's when the Celtic crowd come back even louder and then you can't even hear yourself. It's just one voice. It's something else to be a part of.
The match lasted about seven minutes. Well, not really, it lasted ninety-three minutes, but you don't feel that pass. Particularly when your team are winning three nil. Might have been a different kettle of fish if Celtic had lost, but the whole winning thing definitely improves your health - hangover or not.

You know, despite the old degree in English I feel like my words aren't really summing this up. Awesome is the word. I mean that in the literal sense. It inspires awe. It's tiring though... and how. I was absolutely drained from it about an hour after the match. There was one point where I turned to Thorny Wire and I shouted something. It was at least three sentences long, and I was full sure it was in English. Thorny Wire assures me that if it was spelled out, the sentence would look like this:

"Thwwwweeeeyrrrreee gooooooonnnnnnnnnnngggggggiiiiiinnnnniinnniinn huuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmm. Looooooooooooooooooooocccchhhhhhhhh".

Now imagine that shouted at you by some smiling lunatic? Yep. You just kind of get caught up in the atmosphere. It sweeps you away. Whether you want it to or not.
There's Thorny Wire and Dark Cloud. The ringleaders of our little posse. God, ringleaders seems a poor choice of words but you get where I'm coming from.

Anyway, if the idea of the Project was to break out of the monotony and learn something new about myself and the world around me then this Old Firm, and the entire trip to Glasgow was a really good idea... but good god did it ever tire me out.

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