I remember the 10th anniversary of Lisbon. The BBC marked the occasion with a memorable documentary and on the exact anniversary, Liverpool won their first European Cup, against Borussia Monchengladbach in Rome. Celtic had just won the double, which would turn out to be Jock Stein’s last trophies.
We had little to celebrate on the 20th or 30th anniversaries, but the 40th anniversary was marked appropriately. For the first time, I felt we correctly defined the achievement of the Lions, not just for becoming European champions, but for pivoting Celtic’s history away from mediocrity to spectacular success.
The 50th anniversary will be the final big celebration, nothing like this will happen again. The groundswell you see from the fans, in particular on the 67th minute of each game, is unique to this year.
All of this leaves you and me with a question, do we let the anniversary pass us by as just another night on the calendar, or are we going to mark the occasion in an appropriate manner? It has to be the latter.
For me, this means doing what I can for the Celtic FC Foundation. I’ve signed up for what will be my first marathon, at Stirling, four days before the 50th. It is five weeks on Sunday, and if I get a move on, I might get to Celtic Park to see the second half of our final league game of the season.
I know most of us are not in a position to take on a project like this, but maybe you can support me along the way, the next five weeks will be difficult.
On a related note, I discussing the Dukla Prague semi-final at Celtic Park with my Dad, which happened 50 years ago this week, and he emailed me the notes below, on that night and on the Vojvodina game. We should tell each other as many stories as we have from that era. Here’s Martin42’s:
“50 years is a long time in football and sometimes our memories become a blurred, however that game will always loom large in my memory, as will the last few minutes of the quarter final tie v Vojvodina Nova Sad, to give them their full name.
“For the life of me I cannot remember who scored the 1st goal that night. 1-0 down from the first leg, we needed to score 2 goals and keep a clean sheet to go through to the next round.
“I will always remember the tension around the whole stadium as we won a corner and Charlie Gallacher trotted over to take it. I am sure the whole stadium was thinking the same as me, that Charlie and Billy had done it before in the Dunfermline cup final in 1965, and that they could do so again.
“The wait seemed to go on for ages but at last the ball came over, as straight as a die, to the forehead of our centre half and then into the back of the net.
“The duo had done it again, Charlie and Billy, 2 of the most important goals in our history.
“As for the home tie v Dukla Prague, we have spoken about it often, and you probably know my memories as clearly as I, so what I will tell you is about the break into my butcher van. That was the only time I used the van to go to a game.
“I always went to the midweek games with Thomas and John and we would to in via the Hamilton Road and Gallowgate but that night I went to the hospital before the visiting time to see your mum and then went straight into the game.
“We parked on the London Road and ran all the way to the ground, watched the game in a state of frenzy, and walked back to the van in a mind state that you will know when you think of Boavista.
“Policeman were standing at the van when I reached it and found that the back doors had been forced open, and the inside trashed. My knives and chopper were stolen.
“Back down to earth with a bump, well for a wee while anyway. Just had to face the consequences when I got home, clean up the van and mop up 2 or 3 trays of smashed eggs.
“At the end of the day, alls well that ends well and the football was more important that night than the mess and theft from the van.”
I’m not looking forward to the work I need to do for this marathon, but this occasion requires a significant gesture. For lots or reasons you’ll understand.