Our unofficial Celtic v Atletico Madrid match programme is now available. We preview tomorrow’s match as well as the other game in our group between Rennes and Udinese, as well as a look back 37 years to that infamous game against Atletico in the European Cup semi-final.
European nights have always been special in my Celtic supporting time. When I was a boy they would fill Celtic Park whereas it was predominantly empty on domestic duty. The modern era brought great Uefa Cup and Champions league moments but for a while, even at the peak of our Champions League prowess, the stadium lost something to corporate interests. I remember watching fans walk out of the stadium with 10 minutes on the clock when we were drawing 0-0 with Milan!
Tomorrow night will be more like the great days I remember, when every soul inside the ground was plugged into the nervous anticipation that pumps through all our veins.
Atletico Madrid occupies a similar place in our history to Rapid Vienna. If you were around during the 70s and 80s, when these two clubs eliminated Celtic on their way to European finals, by violence and dishonesty respectively, games against these clubs will have an added dimension. Two years ago we finished above a decent Rapid team in the Europa League group stage who had already dumped Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa. When Scott McDonald’s goal went in I raised my arms and inadvertently punched the safety ladder at the back of the North Stand, the cut knuckles and bruising lasted weeks. It was a stupid incident but captures the, 40-odd-thousand-people-one-heartbeat, phenomenon that we get to experience too seldom in our lives.
I’m going to look out the hoops tonight, been ages since I’ve worn them. Bring on Atletico, Falcao ‘n’ all.