<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Untitled Document

News Item from Jim Greenan

CSC Monaghan

Well Worth Reading!!
(Sent by Jimmy Boyle)

 

Lhads,
below is a bit of a story I sent to Celtic for inclusion in the Book about Seville, it wasn't printed and I have had it saved for a whileand was reminded about just yesterday and I senty it on to a lad, just decided to send it to this lhist as I think it might be away to another one as well, brings back great memories (well mostly!) lets hope we have more to write about next summer!.

Jim.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Seville 2003, it's a long long way from Basle to here! Picture the Scene, it's a Wednesday night late August 2002, Chris Sutton has just put the ball on the wrong side of the post in the dying minutes in Basle, gathered in their local The Chieftain Bar in Monaghan are the members of the Paul Johnson CSC, some were just staring at the big screen in disbelief, others head in hands knowing that our last chance had gone, while some of the rest were vocally letting their feelings be known about who should be bought especially that Hakin Yakin ! Me, well I finished off my beer, and headed for the front door down tru' the bar where you would swear there had been a death in the family, no one was speaking, as I passed him by I nodded to the barman, I couldn't even get the words "goodnight" out ('cause mainly it wasn't) and that was it, home I went with visions of the season being over before it began, how wrong could one be !

That Friday the draw was made, Suduva ! who? while we had been dreaming of Juve, Milan and Madrid we got bloody Suduva! Well Martin and the Bhoys got on with the job and dispatched the Suduvians (is that the right pronunciation?) and then the fun started, "The Return of The Mustache", Blackburn Rovers on Halloween night at Celtic Park. As soon as the draw was made, as bus convenor for our club my home phone was near rung of the hook, thankfully we were able to accommodate all our members who were there to witness one of the greatest displays of football by an away side at Celtic Park, according to the media, press and TV pundits alike Rovers played the Bhoys of the park and headed back to Ewood with a magnificent 1-0 defeat ! "Men against Bhoys " cried Souness in the dressing room afterwards, how those words were to come back to haunt him. 14 of our Bhoys headed off early on the 14 of Nov, flight from Belfast to Liverpool, arriving 10.30am approx, now we weren't meeting our coach to Blackburn until 3pm, so it was to O'Neill's (how appropriate!) bar in the city centre that we reconvened. Later that afternoon we departed for Blackburn and that marquee beside the ground, why they had fridges I'll never know, as the beer never got time to reach them, it was straight from the store to the hands of the thirsty Celts inside that tent, it would have suited them better to have had toilets instead of an array of empty fridges! Well we eventually got into the ground, as soon as the cops found out how to handle a big crowd, it seemed like no time at all that Henke started the route with a beautiful chip over the impressive Friedel and then the craic started, by the time big Sutton scored we were in overdrive! "Men Against Bhoys?" we sang, just in case theyhad forgotten! I looked towards the mustache who you could tell was not liking what he was hearing bellowing out from the Celtic end, after that it was back to Liverpool where we partied until 4am and then caught the 6.30am flight back to Belfast. At about 9am I arrived at my home house to be met by the wife who was standing with a paint brush and a tin of paint, oh why did I promise to do this today?

Next up was Celta Vigo, two weeks later at Celtic Park, once again it was a 1-0 victory, some folk were writing us off again, but the Celtic support who where at the games were beginning to see a pattern, that'll do, sure they got no away goal. Well being involved with the AICSC (I'm transport officer) we organized our first charter flight of the season, Belfast direct into Vigo airport, it worked a treat on the way out! The next bit of this story is absolutely true and I'm amazed (and slightly embarrased!) that I'm putting it down in print, but sure here goes. On the way over on the plane, I had been handed monies from members clubs for tickets etc ?1200.00 in total, well I hate carrying money about on match day but I have always been careful and nothing had ever happened before this so I wasn't particularly worried ! Now we arrived early, too early! first things first, five of us went for a meal, 3 course for a total cost of 36.00, that set the precedent for the day. We went for a tour of the city but there was very little to see so we did then what everyone esle did, hit the bar! At ?1.50 for a bottle of beer we couldn't believe it, well unfortunately my mate Harry and myself had too many of them (first and only time in my 23 years of following the Bhoys, I might add), we got into the game ok! watched as the Bhoys pulled off another magnificent result away from home with BBJ scoring the crucial away goal. It was when on the coach on the return journey to the airport I realized, NO BAG!. Lads where is the bag I cried (and I mean I was close to tears!) no one knew anything about it. Inside was the ?1200.00 cash, my Pentax camera, two zoom lens, club banner, gifts bought in the Vigo shop and my passport! Jesus how am I going to get home without that I thought? Well at the airport there was no chance of getting on the flight, no passport! no way you are getting out of here I was told, it was then the atmosphere changed from what had been smiley happy people to a scene of Celts diving for cover in the airport departure area. For what ever reason the over the top actions of the Vigo police should never have happened, they battered anyone in hoops, I wasn't one of them thanks to the actions of one of my mates. Now there was one guy in my squad who has surely kissed the Blarney Stone, one Daniel Kerr, he went and had a word with the Spanish Lady at the departure gate, now I'm not sure what he promised her but it worked, I was on the flight, my first bit of luck. Next morning my head was in turmoil, how could I have been so stupid I thought, while sitting feeling sorry for myself I remembered something usefull, another friend Ger Ryan I had met earlier the day before was staying on for a few days in Vigo. I eventually contacted Ger by mobile phone told him the story and asked him to check out a few bars on the street I met him on, this was at 2pm at 4.45pm I got a call saying done seven bars (and he sounded like it too!) and no luck! he had also tried the stadium, nothing there either, now what the stadium operator did do for him was put into print in Spanish what Ger was saying in English. We're going back up again said the 'boul Ryan. At 21.00hrs local time I got a call from Galicia, it went something like this "Heh Greenan, was it a black bag you were looking for? did it have a wad of cash in it ? a Pentax camera and zoom lens? and your bloody passport with your ugly mug looking out at us", well I didn't speak for a minute and then asked "are you lot winding me up"? and back came the reply "you are one Jammy B.......hoy", well words to that effect ! Well the bhoys did get my bag back, with nothing missing I may add, what had happened was that I gave the bag to the barman and asked him to mind it for me until after the game, to this day I don't remember doing it, but what I do remember is his honesty, the people in Galicia were some of the nicest I have ever met and to be honest if this had happened anywhere else in the world I don't think I would ever have seen thebag, never mind it's contents !

Well still in Europe after Christmas, now isn't that just great. StuttgartGermany was to be our destination and probably the best of all the European away trips. Once again I was involved in a charter from Ireland, members from the AICSC, the Donegal Assoc and CSA member clubs from Belfast got together for the first time in a joint venture on a one day charter to Stuttgart. Well tickets for the away game were not the easiest to get your hands on, even though Stuttgart gave an allocation of over 5,500. Well news travelled fast about the neutral section within the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion and I contacted friends I had in Dortmund to see if they had anyway of acquiring some of the tickets as only residents in Germany were able to purchase them, Holgar and Tina managed to get their hands on about 85 of the precious briefs so along with the 50 we got from the Celtic Ticket Services we would at least we would be able to satisfy the demands of our traveling membership, we were on our way! First though we had to get a satisfying result in the first leg at Celtic Park, things started brightly for us and then one of the Stuttgart players got himself sent of when taking Stan Petrov down who was tru' on goal but instead of giving us a lift we went a goal down within minutes. A great finish by Paul Lambert brought us back on terms and a clinical strike by Shaun Maloney put us 2-1 up by half time, Stan Petrov somehow squeezed one in at the near post in the 2nd half at the Lisbon Lion end as the clever Germans (well so they thought!) changed ends at kick off. So off to Germany we went in late February, on arriving at the airport we were informed that our match tickets could be used on any train, so we took the first train to the city centre arriving around midday and already the square in the town had been taken over, there were Celts everywhere, also crates of empty and full bottles of every known German beer ever invented or should that be formented! On the way out to the stadium we met in with, Stuttgart, Dortmund and St Pauli fans, they all sang "last game in Wembley, we won the last game in Wembley" an obvious referral to Germany beating England in the last game in the English National Stadium, we replied with "beat them in Stuttgart" a reminder of the Republic of Ireland's 1-0 victory in 1988, inspired by Bonnar, McCarthy and Morris, as supporters of different football clubs we found we all had something in common! The game itself was a cracker, what a start we made, 2-0 up before we knew where we were, it was at this point I broke a rule I have, any time I ever tape a Celtic game we always nearly as a rule get a bad result. My eldest son James rang me just before half-time to tell me what the atmosphere sounded like on TV, "sure tape it said I" thinking sure the game was over! well I bet he'd only pressed the record button when Stuttgart pulled one back, naw won't happen I thought, by the end of the game I could be heard to say "what the hell did I tape it for" as I was being measured up for a straight jacket! The return journey to the airport proved to me once again what football was all about, Celtic and Stuttgart fans exchanging viewpoints about the game, scarves being swapped and grown bhoys and ghirls hugging our new found German friends as if we new them all our lives, next up Liverpool.

This is the round that it was all to come to an end according to the commentators, those so called football experts, especially the ones we have over here on Irish National Television. They had us written of before a ball was kicked, Liverpool will have too much class for this pretty average Celtic side and anyway how could a team from a Mickey Mouse league like the SPL beat a team from the greatest league in the world, I had to look up the La Liga website to make sure Liverpool weren't playing there, but instead were indeed playing in the English Premiership just as I thought. Well the first leg was a replica of the Blackburn first leg except that we let the Scousers score, Henrik who had missed the two games with Stuttgart scored as early as the first minute but we couldn't capitalize on it and let Liverpool especially Steven Gerrard dominate the midfield area, on the way out of the stadium I was feeling a bit down when one of my mates said, "that lot have scored all the away goals they can" I thought about it for a minute and once again became confident we could progress. That night Liverpool player El Hadj Diouf also got himself a suspension for one of the most despicable outbursts I have ever seen at a football match when he spat on a Celtic fan in the South stand who had just helped him back on his feet after falling into the stand itself. I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the return leg in Anfield as Liverpool only made 2,200 tickets available, I wonder the next time there is a testimonial between the two clubs will they issue such a small amount, somehow I don't think so! However, 2 days before the game a job came up and for once I couldn't go. Once again I was back in the Chieftain with my fellow supporters club members and what a night we had, on the stroke of half time Thommo's free kick put us in front and the bar went mad, well if we thought that was mad you would want to have seen it when Big Bad John let fly with that wonder goal, everyone was sitting staring at the big screen counting down the clock and waiting nervously for a sneaky goal to take the game to extra time when the big fella rattled Jerzy Dudek's net, we're in a European semi-final, let's celebrate was the first thought, and bhoy did we not party, a few local Liverpool fans did I think whisper "well done" the rest have carried on as if it never happened, only we know better.

Of the teams we were to meet in the semi-final I really wished that it would be Lazio, I have been to Rome before and the Eternal city is somewhere I hope I will once again travel to only next time among the Celtic support, although may it be AS Roma we play as the Lazio supporters aren't the friendliest in the world of football. Boavista it was to be, a team that most felt were the weakest of the four semi-finalists, I felt personally that they couldn't be that bad as after all they were one of only four survivors, my fears were confounded at Celtic Park on the night of my fortieth birthday, 10th April 2003. Once again Henrik was to score but by that stage the Portuguese were 1-0 up, the super Swede was to miss a penalty and it looked like we could be in trouble. It was to be a disappointing night all-round but especially for one Celtic family in particular, Neil Lennon's father was to release a statement that he would never return to Celtic Park again so shocked was he by the reaction of a section of the Celtic support's to the fact that Neil had made another reverse pass when there did seem to be other option's open to him. I have always felt then and since that Neil wasn't booed that night but that due to the pressure of the occasion the supports reaction was more of a glorified "for f's sake", I certainly didn't hear any booing around me where I sat in the Jock Stein stand but I did hear plenty complain on why there was plenty of space that Neil didn't avail of. I do hope that Gerry Lennon does think over what he said and does return and that it will still be at a time when his son is still wearing the hoops at Celtic Park. Strangely to say, I don't think Neil Lennon had a bad game after that night, towards the end of the season he also made more forward runs than he had made previously and in particular was magnificent in both the final in Seville and the last league game against Kilmarnock. The second leg in Boavista once again seen a charter from Ireland to Portugal with the AICSC taking up 90 seats of the 175 available on the flight, it was to be a worthwhile trip, although with twelve minutes to go in the game in didn't look as if it would. Henrik Larsson what can one say that hasn't been said already, Boavista were playing like the Killie's and the Hearts of this world when they visit Celtic Park, it was everyman behind the ball until that man Larsson put away the only decent opportunity that came his way that night, around me my mates were going wild, almost as wild as they did when pre-match we were right beside the TV gantry and ex-Celt Jorge Cadete was there but more importantly so was his girlfriend! Wow ! Jorge was called over and along with him the came his girl, well the bhoys proceeded to tell Jorge that he was needed for an interview so while he went away to find out they had wound him up, the bhoys did their best to convince this blonde bombshell that real men (still) wore hoops, and they have the photos to prove it! Anyway what a feeling that final whistle was, the celebrations on and off the field will live with me forever, Bobo certainly wasn't hiding his emotions and wasn't it great to see Neil Lennon looking happy in a Celtic strip once again as he walked to the small pocket of Celtic fans on the opposite side of the ground. Back at the airport myself and a pal Shane Fox managed to wrangle our way into the departure gate 7 where the Celtic team was to depart, we stood beside the lady who held the boarding passes for Celtic FC, the security men held the
crowd back opposite us and then they came, one by one the victorious Celts ! I nearly had to be peeled of Henrik Larsson, BBJ came tru' and stopped to talk to Shane, holding up proceedings. In the back ground the Celtic support were singing "They'll be watchin' the Bill, when we're in Seville!" while Bobo, Stan and Didier stood right in front of me with Bobo doin' some funny kind of dance in rhythm with the music, sure what to hell I joined in. What a moment, just gone forty two weeks earlier I should have more sense, but then again I'd never seen Celtic reach a European final before, I was only seven in 1970, although my father was in Milan. Last to walk tru' was the wee man from Kilrea, just as he passed me, I shook his hand and told him "all of Ireland is proud of you tonight", he looked at me and smiled, he knew what I was saying was right. After that it was back to Ibrox for Sombrero Sunday, well in all my days I have never laughed as much, Rubber rings, Lilo's, travel brochure's, suntan cream, beach balls and a couple of road signs that my son and his mate took along saying Seville 2003KM. I think it was half time before we realized we were at a football match, we went along for the craic and were 2-0 up with goals by Alan Thompson and John Hartson by half time, the 2nd half was a quieter affair, well what I mean quiet we started to take the game really seriously, although after the final whistle blew it was party time again "we're goin' to Seville,we're goin' to Seville!" It was a day to wipe out some of the worst memories I have had watching the Celts, I don't think we will ever see another day like Sombrero Sunday!

Seville May 21st 2003, where do I start. Once again I was involved with an AICSC charter, 354 Associated members on board one flight on a 3 day trip from Dublin, from what I've been told it went like clockwork from start to finish. Well the reason that I don't know is that I took the family to the South of Spain for a week. The resort of Benalmadena didn't know what hit it, thousands of hoops (all brand new ones as well) everywhere, well behaved ones as well as one policeman remarked to me, nothing new there except he was expecting the same misbehaviour that 400 Leeds fans had brought on the locals on another occasion. On the morning of the game we were to depart from the hotel where the charter was staying, 500 green and white clad bhoys n' ghirls were waiting to board coaches, in my role as AICSC transport officer it was up to myself and the travel rep to sort it, it was pandemonium for an hour but we got everyone sorted, we departed to Seville at 11am local time. On arrival in Seville we parked the coaches at the coach park at the stadium, I decided against going into Seville City centre as the heat was very over powering. We dined in a small cafe not far from the stadium and afterwards went into one of the marquee's where the atmosphere created by almost 5000 Celtic fans was really electric. It was here I was to leave my wife and youngest bhoy Niall as I hadn't tickets for them, they weren't on their own as other club members had travelled without tickets also her friend Louise was there to keep her company while they watched the game on the big screens. The walk up to the stadium was amazing, the searing heat, all the green and white hooped jersey's, the singing of the Celtic song I closed my eyes and imagined this is what it must have been like in Lisbon back in '67, please god I thought give us a similar result, sadly it wasn't to be. On entering the stadium I was met by a scene of Green, White and Gold along the track side, and at least three quarters of the ground was taken up by Celtic fans, the noise was deafening, certainly a proud moment in my life. The team went on to give a good account of themselves, a mixture of bad luck, bad refereeing and damn bad sportsmanship by the Portuguese left us all with a sour taste in our mouths at the final whistle. Surely the man of the match award should have gone to Henrik Larsson who scored one of the greatest goals you'll ever see in a European final. At the end Martin O'Neill took his team on a gallant lap of honour, not as losers though, the thought never entered my head as he led his team down towards the section of the stadium where I stood, the bhoys down on that park had taken us on a journey of a lifetime and forever we will be grateful. In years to come Seville 2003 will be remembered not for Porto winning 3-2 but for the 75,000 Celtic faithful who took the city over and to quote UEFA "made it a true football fiesta", Celtic Football Club might have lost the game but built upon an already growing reputation, let's hope this isn't the last time we do this, it should just be the start of a glorius era on the European scenefor what surely what has been proven now, the biggest supported Football Club in the world.

As always in life it is good and proper to look and move forward, but in years to come when I sit down and reminisce over all the games that I have watched the great Glasgow Celtic play in there will be one year in particular that I will forever hold dear in my heart, season 2003. A seasonwhen we won nothing and no doubt we will be told it often enough, but those who have lived the experience from Basle to Seville won't feel we've ended up with nothing, if glory could be measured in memories we certainly were winners and furthermore "I'd rather to have lived and experienced what we did, than never have done it at all"

Yes Seville 2003, it's been a long long way from Basle to here!

Jim Greenan,
Paul Johnson CSC, Monaghan.