The hours in the last week before leaving seemed an eternity, but finally we can leave Rome!
It’s saturday night, our flight it’s scheduled at 22.00, so late!
We arrive in the middle of the night at Prestwick airport, it’s very cold here.
We take the bus, then a taxi, we arrive at the hotel, we have to arrange our stuff and .. hey it’s 2.00 am! We need to go to sleep!
We wake up early in the morning, we slept very bad, but this is not important, we are so excited.
Glasgow seems empty in the morning. We walk through Gallowgate. Nobody is here.
The pubs will be closed until 12.00 but we are very lucky because Timland’s shop is open! We can find also several open stalls with gadgets of every kind.
We meet three italian guys at the Sinn Fein shop (His gaelic name is unpronounceable).
They are historical figures of the Freak Brothers Terni group, one of them came to Potenza in 1989, and the supporters of both teams, Potenza and Ternana, became close friends. I talk with them about old stories.
Just in time to buy a T-shirt showing an explicit message: “I still hate Tatcher “, we move to Parkead.
Again, we are involved in an obsessive and compulsive shopping!
My “coppola” (It is a typical sicilian hat) is magnificient, my friend Alessandro doesn’t agree with me, I reply to him that during our trip last year in Glasgow he wore a jester hat …
An italian journalist of an italian important broadcast (Mediaset) interview us, and people look us as we were stars!
Some Scottish guys approach us and they compliment us for the most popular italian “trademark”: Camorra? Oh I fucking love Camorra!”
Well, How can we explain to them that in Italy there isn’t only Camorra?!
In the meantime we meet another Italian Celts bhoy with his girlfriend. We are waiting the man who will give us the tickets. We have no idea about him, we only hope he will arrive just in time.
We are close to the Brother Walfrid statue, and we see someone we probably know. Hey, he is Leroy Michele Platini! But I cannot control myself and I scream to him:
You are ridiculous !!! . What’s his fault? Well, He is always in a bad mood with the italian, but first of all I remember when his country, France clearly cheated the World Cup play-off game against Ireland! Do you remember Thierry Henry’s hand?
My epithet against him doesn’t pass unnoticed: just ten seconds and we are surrounded by other italian people: they come from Barga, and they have heard us!
Finally, a mysterious man come to us, but Alessandro immediately says: He is the right man! We have got the tickets!
We are located in North Stand, 41th gate!
For the second time in my life I’m entering into the Celtic Park! All the people start to sing “The Fields of Athenry” and I’m a little bit moved.
The teams coming up, and then the expected moment… all the scarfs are tense and all the supporters starting to sing: You’ll Never Walk Alone!
The first half quickly end up and it seems a dream for us, we are winning the game with a late goal by Gary Hooper. I begin to cheer and exult after Hooper’s goal, but an 140 Kg agitated teen ager immediately hit me with a punch on my nose.. my eyes are bloodshot, I don’t know if it is caused by the punch or by goal’s delight.
The teams come back on the field for the second half and I start again to sing “You’ll never walk alone”.
Few minutes later it’s a disaster ..
The huns, silent until that moment, after Miller’s goal start to sing and dance.
The “lucans” (the autochthonous people of a region in southern italy) don’t have self-control like the English and so, when I hear Rangers supporters singing “God save the queen”, I perform in spite of myself in an unedifying spectacle: I start to say insulting phrases despite amazement by celtic supporters.
The game ends up, we are so disappointed! Celtic lost the game during My first visit to the Old Firm game! It’s too much! I’m almost numb!
When we are going out the stadium a young bhoy want to swap his scarf with mine. When I say “Yes” to him, he is astonished! I can see his happiness into his eyes, and this it’s a good boost to my mood. I give him a big hug , and in the meantime i’m thinking about the fact he will show the “italian celts” scarf to all his friends! That makes me very proud!
We are approaching to the main entrance in front of Celtic Park, Alessandro is ready to capture all the pictures with Celtic players, I don’t like taking pictures with the players..you know this year they are in the team, next year could be in another team..
At some point we can see an old and tall man. Alessandro says: He is Billy McNeill!
He is right! He is the man who raised the European Cup trophy in Lisbon in 1967, and he is the celtic player with most match played in the team of all times… and he is only just a few meters from us. He is a legend, and this time I want the picture with him too!
We tell him we come from Italy, and it’s unbelievable, he is excited! I start to love him immediately, cause it’s not simple to find someone that could be excited about the supporters’ passion.
We are waiting for the manager.. Neil Lennon; he is another exception I was talking about before: of course he is the current manager and former player of the club, but he has been also the first catholic captain of Northen Ireland National team, and this is the reason why he was death threatened by protestant loyalists.
Neil Lennon is a symbol!
We get pictures with all the Celtic players, even with the singer Susan Boyle, but we cannot see Lennon. It’s ok no problem! We’ll see him next time!
We move to the pub, in Gallowgate, our friend Andrea says to us that celtic supporters are very excited despite they lost the game.
Usually celtic supporters sing “” We don’t care if win lose or draw”, and it seems to be the truth!
When we are in gallowgate we notice the delirium: all the pubs are busy with all the celtic supporters singing and dancing, and I’m shocked. The police (with his metal detector) is checking around the pub, but everything is ok, concerts, chorus and a lot of beer.
We are the main attraction of Tir Na Nog pub: everyone wants to know us and get pictures with the crazy italians that have came to Scotland only to see Celtic.
It’s getting dark, all the pub almost close their shutters, we have to say hello to all our friends. Now we have to go to Edinburgh. Just before taking the train, two drunk people say to me that I look like a polish! Why!? I don’t know! Then another drunk man that say “Tiocfaidh àr là”… These scottish people are so crazy, but we love them!
We arrive to Edinburgh, it’s a desert and spectral city, but it’s also very charming. We have dinner, we drink our last pint of beer and we move to the airport. The chairs are very uncomfortable, anyway we manage to fall asleep. Finally, we take the airplane at 6.10 am. 36 hours! All of this it’s for only 36 hours. We dreamed all of that for many years, and we are very happy we realized our dream!
Alessandro Mangione & Salvatore Cosenza