What follows is what I know about Aussies who rule going to the football.
Saturday was a remarkable day at Celtic Park for a multitude of reasons. The stadium was bathed in a warm glow reminiscent of sunshine for what was probably the first time since September and the atmosphere inside it was one of the best of the season, with a large buoyant crowd still celebrating last weekend’s title win. There were tops off in the standing section, a catchy new song in honour of Brendan Rodgers set to the tune of ‘This is How It Feels’ by Inspiral Carpets and a pitch invader who was captured and escorted off the park and past the Kilmarnock fans just in time to goad them as Celtic scored their second goal. It was everything you could ask for from a day at the football.
The tone of the day could have been dramatically different following a near catastrophic incident in our first bar of the day, The Avalon, at Charing Cross. An eager labrador dog went bounding out of the door and onto a busy road in a single-minded pursuit of his favourite ball, very narrowly avoiding the onrushing traffic. It was dramatic, and almost as troubling as the fact that all of the good beers on tap were out of stock, leaving me with little option but to have a pint of Tennents. Fortunately it wasn’t entirely terrible and the day got off to a good start.
Going to the game with three other people – let alone two of them being Australian – was an entirely different proposition to every other Saturday this season spent trying to translate the Northern Irish dude next to me or considering the fashion choices in the row ahead of me. Perched high up in the Lisbon Lions Stand we set ourselves the goal of having our chant enthusiastically repeated around us – partly in celebration of our hero Tom Rogic, and partly because it was really cool. Unfortunately there was little appetite for it, ie. nobody joined in, but “let me hear you say aaaaayyoooo” did go on to become a triumphant team at the pub quiz the following night.
The walk back from Celtic Park through the Gallowgate to the city centre is one which probably doesn’t feature in any sensible travel guide, but it does offer a unique insight into a certain element of Glasgow’s culture through its clutch of colourful bars. Amongst the first of those approached along the route is Brendan’s, which has a larger interior than appears from the street and has taken the novel approach of disregarding all elements of furniture and has instead lined wooden pallets up along each of the walls. They employed a shameless marketing technique of sending an attractive female around the bar with a tray of sourz, offering them to gullible men at £2 a shot. It is a tacky marketing gimmick aimed at those who are easily swayed by a dazzling smile and a bit of conversation. Though the apple flavour did prove quite delicious.
Despite the ball traveling under the crossbar more often than over it and the questionable ability to take a physical challenge of professional footballers I reckon this was a fine introduction to the football going experience.
Celtic 3-1 Kilmarnock
Scotland 2-2 Australia