Celtic Change
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Celtic Sean Graham

Over the last few months, I have had a difficult time with one thing and another, mainly due to health issues but nothing can compare to the horrendous two weeks I spent watching as my Dad passed away in hospital.
Dad had been suffering with a with a lung condition which got gradually worse over the last few weeks and sadly for me and all the family he lost his brave battle for life in the Western Hospital on July 10th 2013.
My Dad may be gone but he will never be forgotten, neither will the memories that he has left me with over my 45 years here.
He was always a great believer of letting me see as many of the grounds and teams as possible when I was a kid and every second Saturday when we went to various matches and I had to chance to choose which team I wanted to follow without any pressure from Dad or the family.
I used to love the fact that we used to go to a different ground and try and watch two different teams every time, one week it would be down to Firhill to see Partick Thistle v someone, the following week we would go over to Ibrox to see Rangers v someone then on to Celtic Park, Love Street, Cappielow, Broomfield, Shawfield, Fir Park and of course Hampden before I would make the odd trip to Dundee, to visit Dens Park or Tannadice or to Aberdeen to see the Dons, they were enjoyable times for both of us.
Now, although my Dad was a Celtic fan, he had no problem taking me to Ibrox to watch Rangers play on a Saturday and I quite enjoyed going there as they had decent chocolate and we always got a good view.
I think he used to secretly hate it when we went to Celtic Park, in a nice way though!
It was only because he knew that I would spend ages in the programme hut behind the Main Stand buying programmes from both England and Scotland, you could get a reasonable amount for just a couple of quid in those days, now half of the programmes start at two or three pounds !
I will look back fondly at my programme collection now and think of Dad when I read them.
He also gave me my first taste of an Old Firm match when I was a kid also, that was some experience I can tell you!
We had tickets for the old enclosure for anyone who remembers it? It was back in the day when the two sets of fans stood side by side and on this particular occasion
Either the police or a steward pointed, I think he pushed us to be honest, in the direction of the home supporters and before I could say we are in the wrong end, my Dad quickly said " You eat your Lion Bar son ! " as we mingled in with the Rangers supporters.
On the day Rangers were too strong for Celtic and ran out 3-0 winners with Colin McAdam bagging two goals and John MacDonald getting the other, I suppose it let me appreciate how the Rangers supporters saw on Old Firm match and watch the match from a different view also.
And the folk round about me must have thought it strange when I asked what that Aberdeen score was!
He loved the fact that John (MacDonald) is a pal now also and I can wind him up about the amount of penalties he got…and the one he missed or should I say Jim Leighton saved in a 0-0 draw at Ibrox between the Dons and Rangers.
I remember he took me to another match between these two great rivals, this time on a Monday night, it was not long after Rangers had beaten Celtic 3-2 in the League Cup Final , that too was an amazing experience as Celtic won that match 3-0 with goals from Davie Provan, Paul McStay and Willie McStay but it was the trouble in the city centre afterwards that really opened my eyes to the other side of watching an Old Firm match and what can happen if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As Dad got older, I was able to repay the favour and I took him to a couple of Old Firm matches, a thrilling 2-2 draw at Ibrox and one which I took both him and my uncle Mick to also, that was amazing and I was glad that I could share taking them both to the match.
It was the season that Rangers were chasing the ten in a row and Celtic simply had to win or ten would have become a reality.
Rangers were a strong side during those years and when Walter Smith led the Ibrox side to nine in a row and many thought that he would smash Celtic's record but I think I remember my Dad saying, he always thought it would be better if both sides stayed on the magic nine.
Celtic won the match 2-0 with goals from Craig Burley and Paul Lambert and they did go on to stop the ten in a row by the thing I remember most about that match was not the wonder goal from Paul Lambert, although it was a cracker, it was before the game as my Dad and uncle Mick were trying to keep up with me going up the stairs as our seats were near the top of the stand and both Dad and Mick said, " could you get us any higher up?"
I was trying not to laugh as they tried to catch up with me and even as I write this it has brought a smile to my face and the sun out and I think that Dad would have liked that.
In later years we used to go and watch Maryhill Juniors and he loved those days or nights as that is where our hearts lay, both of us are Maryhill boys and nothing can ever change that.
He used to say that the football was being taken away from the working man, the prices for matches were too high and I think that is why he used to love going to watch the games with me at Lochburn, home of the famous Maryhill Juniors.
He was delighted to hear that Partick Thistle and Maryhill were both promoted this year and would have loved to have seen the local businesses thrive next year, especially as the Jags went up as First Division Champions.
I has been a difficult time of late and it will take time to heal the hurt that I am feeling right now but my writing will hopefully help to that as it gives me something to focus on.
Dad always used to say to me, “Son, it is good to have memories, if you don't have memories then you have nothing"
I have loads of them thanks Dad, thank you!
This article is dedicated to the late John Graham. (Grumps) gone but not forgotten x

Sean Graham

Follow on Twitter @FeaturesSean


"I am just a guy who has over 40 years of memories of watching various clubs and matches since my Dad took me round the grounds in Glasgow each week before we went to meet my Mum after work and we always went to the Berni Inn where I had scampi and chips !

From watching Aberdeen, Celtic, Rangers, Partick Thistle, Maryhill juniors and Scotland as well as watching Everton and Manchester United, I have plenty of memories to share for fans to hopefully enjoy and remember."


 

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