JOHN BUCHANAN SHARES WITH US TWO STORIES ABOUT HOW HIS LOVE AFFAIR WITH CELTIC HAS IMPACTED ON HIS LIFE … IN VERY DIFFERENT WAYS! FIRST UP, THE CARPET STORY…
Pop quiz hotshots, here’s your starter for ten: My middle name is Edward. My first appearance for Celtic was as a substitute and I passed the ball to the opposition which led to a goal and a 2-1 defeat… ok I know you got it already but stick with me. For one measly point I scored an own goal on my first European appearance for Celtic in a 9 goal thriller. Who am I? Henrik Larsson of course… well I’m not, but you know what I mean.
Celtic did win that 9 goal thriller incidentally, 6-3 vs. FC Tirol Innsbruck… I spent most of the game having Partizan Belgrade flashbacks and breathing heavily into a brown paper bag.
But I digress… the carpet incident, ah yes, it was all Henrik Larsson‘s fault you see. I was totally innocent, honest your honour.
9th May 1998 was a beautiful day (of course) and running full tilt towards a glorious summer. Well it would be if this particular day went according to plan. I had my full ritual set up; listen to my lucky song at the correct time of the day (at that time it was Brimful Of Asha by Cornershop for some reason, the Fatboy Slim remix of course, I’d listened to it since Paul Lambert’s thunderbolt against Rangers, so it was lucky), don’t step on the rug on a Saturday before the match, a very important rule that one… ah I had such rituals …. Then I did a Very Bad Thing…
I wore brand new boots. This was in total defiance of the spiritual omens, but I reassured myself that my choice of footwear would have absolutely no bearing on the result at Celtic Park.
I was not at the game and had to listen to the game on the radio. I was beyond the edge of my seat and, as they say, cometh the moment cometh the man. Henrik Larsson ghosted in from the left and in that movement in what had been a difficult season for him (compared to his subsequent seasons) he set the cement for his legend. He drifted in a curling right foot shot from well outside the box. It remains one of the finest goals I have seen (on the TV).
Oh my, what a roar erupted from my throat. I ran around the room, and then for some reason I did a sprint down the lounge and slid on my knees with my arms aloft, followed by a right handed punch in the air, successfully co-ordinating my slide in between two chairs. In my glee and exuberance I maintained my long slide all the way through the lounge and into the next room (thank God I was fully clothed, the friction burns would have been hideous.)
I was actually rather impressed by the length and aerodynamic prowess of my celebratory skid, until I got off my knees and turned round. My new boots (those white Day-Glo moon boot types that used to be so popular) had a very inexpensive rubber sole, and had deposited two very neat white tramlines of rubber into the burgundy carpet that no amount of rubbing or cleaning could remove. This did rather irk my partner at the time, but then again I was very good at annoying her… and vice versa.
My boots were also ruined, but for some reason I got no sympathy at all. I did have the presence of mind not to do that again in the second half, when Harald Brattbakk eased my nerves somewhat, and opted for the safer choice of jumping around madly like Zebedee from The Magic Roundabout.
I would like to offer Henrik Larsson my warmest thanks for that superb goal. That strike, and that whole day, was well worth the ruined carpet, spoiled boots and a stern tongue-lashing from the wicked witch of the north.
First published in CQN Magazine, issue 8.