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They applauded as we walked past their homes

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In the months afterwards I made a trip to the Celtic Superstore to buy the DVD of the match.  I wasn’t ready to watch it but needed to have it nonetheless, for when the time came.  I’ve still not opened the box.

I watched the game from high up in the Porto end.  The Porto fans were great, allowed us to celebrate with all the enthusiasm you could muster for goals in a European final, then wished us well as we made our way through them and out of the stadium.  Had Celtic won while dropping like flies whenever an opponent coughed, it might have been different.

Porto were favourites and would go on to prove how good a team they were by winning the Champions League 12 months later.  Their players would demonstrate their prowess across the world for the next decade.  They had fabulous talent, so much so, that they should have aspired to better than the gamesmanship used during their run to the Uefa Cup and Champions League wins.

On the field it was a tale of great goals and heroic defeat, off the field, it was one of the most spectacular events in sport.

80,000 Celtic fans made the pilgrimage to Seville and treated the world to a carnival.  The city became the scene of one of the largest parties the game had ever known.  For me the pre-match schedule involved a two hour trip north before a panicked dash across the city collecting match tickets.  What a stress!

There was 10 in our party and collecting the tickets took priority.  Once we had them we could afford time to eat, but what?  Several restaurants were sold out, we eventually found a café with frozen chips and a meat-based slab of something or other.  No choices.  No beer, wine or cola either, it was diluting orange juice or water.  An entire city was pretty much emptied of food and drink.

You could forget about motorised transport to get to the game, we had to walk from the city to the stadium on the very outskirts of town.  It was hot and dry.  An enterprising local was selling a retained stash of cola at the side of the road at a hugely inflated price, no one passed him without buying.

This was a journey to a football game, but not one any of us were familiar with.

The long walk home from the game was memorable for the incredible reaction we got from the locals.  They applauded each of us as we walked past their homes in recognition of what took place in their city throughout the day.  Things like this don’t happen but that day was different.  Seville, like Lisbon, will always remember Celtic. Fifa and Uefa made their Fair Play Awards the following year to Celtic fans, a nomination normally reserved for clubs.

I met a German couple in the hotel elevator.  “Are you disappointed?” they asked.  “No.  We were beaten by a good team”.  I had celebrated two Celtic goals in a European final and watched as we pushed a tremendously talented team to the brink.  Disappointment comes a lot worse than this, although time brought regret.

Seville 2003 was not Lisbion 67 but it was a wonderful occasion in our very proud history. Let’s do it again.

For those who prefer their nostalgia with a bit of silverware, 10 men won the league, 24 years ago today. Big Billy was back and the Celts were in control.

Speaking of Lisbon 67…… Willie’s book, pre-order your signed copy now!


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  1. Still got my Seville Survivor t-shirt that someone gave me when i got back – oh and me sombrero from Torremolinas!

     

     

    Scotland trying to emulate Seville today!

     

     

    HH

  2. KevJungle, too true.

     

     

    Delighted Gordon has left Kris out of the Scotland squad. The guy needs some R&R ahead of the qualifiers.

  3. whitedoghunch on

    I was in the southeren general barely alive after 6 hours of surgery inside my skull pleading with a consultant I was fit enough to travel.

     

    I have yet to see the game.

  4. I remember sitting in Seville airport for a much delayed flight to Glasgow when King of Kings was being sung. The accoustics of the airport made the song sound like a hymn ( I know it is one) than a football song.. It was an incredible experience…I must admit I did shed a tear or two…

  5. Monaghan1900 on

    Sevcomedy applies its collective mind to the leaks:

     

     

    “could Ibrox be bugged?”

     

    ——

     

    “Just a thought but news reporters seem to be present outside Ibrox on a regular basis, is it possible they could have laser mics or something that could pick up what was being said in the board room?”

     

    ——

     

    “Given that those rhats in the east have a British telecom director on their board, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a hand in this somewhere”

  6. Tony Watt in the Scotland squad?

     

     

    He’s obviously just been a naughty bhoy, and not a VERY naughty bhoy!

     

     

    HH!!

  7. Celtic_First on

    whitedoghunch

     

    09:40

     

     

    Fancy a surgeon turning down a reasonable request like that. Hun.

  8. We started off in a bar with a crowd of Tims, all sitting outside.

     

     

    As the match time approached the owner had to admit he didn’t have a TV.

     

     

    Massive exit as he stood looking sick. In the next bar the waitress couldn’t find the right station, and again we threatened to leave. A quick call to the owner, desperate to keep us, sorted things out.

     

     

    Now if it was another team and the TV wasn’t working …………………………….

     

     

    What a day. A 740-mile round trip from Torrevieja and an all night drive and we were still jumping when we got back.

  9. DontPatmadug on

    Monaghan1900

     

     

    :)) Funny but also a wee bit frightening that that is the sort

     

    of mentality we will have to deal with when the go mammary’

     

    up.

  10. Stupid, stupid huns!!!

     

     

    The CEO of the BT Group is on the Celtic Plc board.

     

     

    Stands to reason then that it is BT who are taping all those private conversations in Sevconia, and putting them out into the public domain!

     

     

    Feckin eejits!!

     

     

    HH!!

  11. Just had my faith in human nature restored.

     

     

    Woman phoned the office to say I gave her £20 note instead of £5 yesterday. Asks me to come round and pick up the money.

  12. The 21st of May will always be more 1979 than 2003 for me. With the exception of Suduva away I had the good fortune to attend every tie in the UEFA Cup run but Seville for me was about my immediate family and the Celtic family intersecting abroad in a manner that, unfortunately, for we Smiths, cannot happen again.

     

     

    The 4-2 Game remains my best Celtic memory/experience in 46 years supporting our team. The match had everything and the players gave everything. ‘The best since Lisbon’ the worthies said and they’re still saying it and I’ve become one of them.

     

     

    WizenedGemmell, ML2

  13. pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON on

    Paul67

     

     

    I Don’t think I could watch the game even ten years later. Great memories though, wish I could go back and relive those times!

     

     

    I miss Henrik…

  14. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Paul 67- The only thing IMO which let the venue down was the lack of transport to and from the Stadium.I thought this was a pre-requisite when bidding to host a final.After our weary exhausting walk back into the city the 4 went in to the first bar we could find.We asked for 4 beers as we went to pay the landlord he said the beer was on him as he thought we played great and were unlucky,he gave us a glass of sherry each too.BBC Reporter Chris Hollins was in the bar,i asked him what he thought.He said he would never witness a sporting event like Seville ever again.

  15. South Of Tunis on

    Seville ?

     

     

    I have never watched the game . I have no desire to watch it..

     

     

    I was never one for overconfidence but that tournament —-

     

     

    I had no doubts re Suduva ..

     

    I knew that Blackburn were no big deal..

     

    I knew we could beat Vigo..

     

    I knew we could beat Stuttgart .

     

    I knew we could beat Liverpool .

     

    I knew we could beat Boavista.

     

     

    Come the final ——- I didn’t think we could beat Porto —– the heat / the class of the Porto players / the belief that the Officials would indulge Porto and the belief that 2 of the Celtic team simply weren’t good enough [ and yes those 2 players had contributed greatly in getting us to the final.].

     

     

    I took a week to travel from Sicily to Seville . —–Palermo / Napoli / Genova / Nizza / Marseilles/ Barcelona / Algeciras . Accompanied all the way by the belief that we would lose ..

     

     

    Great trip , great memories , a fabulous life affirming experience but the behavior of the Porto players absolutely sickened me .

  16. Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan supports Kano 1000 on

    The Old city has been invaded by the Roman, Carthaginians, The Moors and the Arabs— but never have they seen an invasion like this!

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