Monday, March 07, 2016

Scottish Premier League for the night: Celtic v Dundee

When I was growing up my friend Edwin who lived round the corner supported Celtic. (His family were from Scotland.) Back then we collected football stickers and Edwin was keen on trying to get all the Celtic players.

Fast forward 30+ years and I had the opportunity to travel to Glasgow for a conference with work. On the off-chance that I might get to a game I looked up the fixture list and it turned out there was a game scheduled for the day I flew into town. Celtic v Dundee in the Scottish Premier League.

The taxi dropped me off right outside

Booking a ticket was very easy and every seat has a 'view' option so you can see what the view was going to be like. I had asked for advice on the When Saturday Comes message board because I didn't want to end up in with the Ultras. I was safely away at the opposite end.

I got a taxi out to the ground. The driver asked if I wanted to go the quickest route or the fastest route, along the elevated motorway, which also gave you a view of the ground. I opted for that and we arrived with plenty of time to spare. I went into the Celtic Superstore. They had everything you could imagine in there in Celtic colours. You could kit out your house in green and white if you wanted to. I bought a scarf and a programme as souvenirs.

Celtic Selfie (note scarf)

I made a big mistake of buying a veggie burger from one of the many food vendors outside the ground and missed out on the chance of a MACARONI PIE inside! (Although as Cathy pointed out that would be a mightmare from a carb point of view.) Still, the curly fries were good. And I will know to wait until I'm inside next time.

Even the little men on the sign wear hoops

Some people have added their own messages to the signs

I had a great view from my seat. There were a lot of spare seats, including most of my row, so second half I moved along a bit to get some space.

Dundee wait while Celtic huddle

The game itself was not a great advert for Scottish football. Celtic started brightly but soon fizzled out into bland play-it-across-the-park football. There were a couple of chances from free kicks and corners, for both teams. But really Dundee had come to defend and hit Celtic on the break. But Celtic were playing possession football and lying deep themselves, so rarely lost possession.

Celtic on the attack

The Celtic crowd are unforgiving, apart from the Ultras in the opposite corner who bounced along and chanted almost throughout the game. Within a few minutes there were sighs and expletives in response to mis-hit passes. From so high up it was obvious that as a team, Celtic were fairly clueless. The goalkeeper, Craig Gordon, echoed the frustration of the fans when he got fed up that no one was ever ready for a pass or throw to play the ball out from the back. He ended up just hoofing it upfield where it was inevitably headed back by a Dundee player.

And on the defence...

Celtic had one really good chance in the first half when they unpicked the Dundee defence for the only time in the game, but then the striker fired wide. Other than that, Dundee defended solidly while Celtic passed the ball across the park in front of them, and then cut it out when Celtic tried to go forward.

Midway through the second half Colin Kazim Richards came on. He's a much bigger unit now than he used to be. He made an impact, just not a positive one, as every touch seemed to be a foul. With twenty minutes to go, a goal seemed less and less likely and even the Ultras stopped making noise. Dundee could have won it at the death but their unmarked player somehow headed wide from a corner. Shortly after it was the final whistle, with lots of boos from the fans who had stayed to the bitter end.

Heading towards a 0-0 draw

Even with a final score of 0-0, I'm glad I went. It was a new experience, And I would go again if I had the chance. Mainly for the promise of a macaroni pie than the hope of seeing a brilliant game of football.

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