MARK BURCHILL realised a game against Rangers was out of the ordinary when he saw a team-mate punch himself in the face before the kick-off.
The former Celtic star’s introduction to the old Glasgow derby could not have gone better when he scored in a famous 5-1 rout.
But it was the scenes BEFORE the game that stick in the memory.
The Livingston player-boss said: “Playing in an Old Firm game is the best experience you can have as a footballer.
“I played in loads of derbies, the Dundee one and Hibs v Hearts – but Celtic v Rangers was like nothing else.
“The noise from the fans is amazing and even at Ibrox it was as good as Celtic Park because the away support spend the whole game singing.
“The dressing room beforehand was always interesting because you had Scottish guys such as Tom Boyd punching himself in the face.
“Meanwhile, the foreign lads such as Henrik Larsson and Lubo Moravcik were just sitting back chilling out like it was any other game.
“Scottish boys were more inclined to bang their heads on the wall and I’m sure the Rangers dressing room was the same.”
The dressing room might have been an eye opener, but his debut day is something Burchill will always cherish.
Celtic were unfancied going into the clash as Dick Advocaat had splashed the borrowed from the bank cash at Rangers on stars such as Giovanni van Bronckhorst while Dr Josef Venglos was ridiculed for spending just £300,000 on the unknown Moravcik just weeks earlier. ‘Celtic Sign Dud Czech!’ was one headline and as usual the MSM were wrong on both counts!
Rangers were 10 points ahead at the top by November, but Moravcik had the last laugh as he ran amok in the stunning win.
Burchill rounded off the rout with the fifth goal and has been reminded of the game ever since.
He said: “It still gets mentioned to me every day. No matter where I am someone will bring it up.
“It was fantastic to be involved in and will always be one of the great games I’ll look back on.”
Burchill is looking forward to the match on Sunday, but insists the standard these days is well below the level when he was involved.
He added: “We had guys such as Larsson, Paul Lambert and Moravcik in our side and Rangers had a great team, too – people such as van Bronkhorst, Numan, Barry Ferguson and Albertz.
“We were two very good teams.
“The game at the weekend won’t be near the quality it was then, but that’s because Scottish football has changed.” As have Rangers…