The Season Book Years – Preamble
It took me a long time to start going to Celtic games regularly. From my first game in December 1991, through to my first away trip in 1999 for Peter Beardsley’s testimonial in Newcastle, I think I could count the number of games I went to on one hand. But after that, things started to pick up a bit as I began to pick up the odd European match or cup game.
Admittedly, that coincided with the Barnes and Dalglish era. So although I remember sitting up in the top tier watching Lubo Moravcik pick out a 60 yard pass to put Henrik Larsson in for a goal against Hapoel Tel-Aviv, I also remember Jonathan Gould being caught out right in front of me against Lyon. I even remember seeing myself in the background of a picture in the Daily Record of that Lyon goal actually.
I guess the worst one though was picking up a ticket for the rearranged cup game against Caley Thistle after the winds had postponed the originally scheduled match. We all know how that turned out.
A week later I got to my first Celtic game at Hampden… well, sort of. My actual first game there was six years earlier when we’d called it home for a season and we had played Blackburn in a friendly, but this time it was a neutral venue win over Kilmarnock to reach the League Cup final. Not that I got a ticket for the final of course.
The dawn of the Martin O’Neill era was a lot more fun though. From the record breaking quick hat trick of Mark Burchill against Jeunesse D’Esch, to Alan Thompson’s debut against Raith Rovers where he scored with a back heel. But my favourite that season was probably Johan Mjallby almost single handedly making sure that Celtic would have the chance to clinch the title at home a few days later as he got the late winner against Dundee. Or perhaps it was truly topped off when I got to see my first glimpse of silverware as we were awarded the SPL trophy after beating Hearts. Nevertheless, I was still only a bit part player in Celtic’s treble winning season.
And so, the 2001/02 season started and I signed up for the Millennum Club – Celtic’s season ticket waiting list. In the mean time, I picked up tickets for flag day against St Johnstone where I was nearly sitting behind a pillar in the top tier. There were many other games I managed to get to that season too. The European run against Ajax, Rosenborg, Porto and Valencia was a distinct highlight… even if I did miss out on Juventus! There were other cup games that season too, as well as a few league games along the way – including a dramatic 3-2 win over Livingston on Boxing Day. But possibly best of all was getting to see Celtic clinch the title in person for the first time as we romped to a 5-1 win over Livingston. We even got the trophy that same day as everyone knew we were going to win it.
But just as I thought I might have to wait another year for a season ticket, the offer came through and so 2002/03 would be my first as a season book holder. I couldn’t wait.
And so now in 2015, with my time as a Celtic season book holder coming to an end (at least for now), I thought I’d look back over the 13 seasons I’ve had it and pick out a memorable game from each of those seasons.
Yep, 13. It’s not as long as I’d have liked, or as long as many other people you’ll know, but it’s been a great ride nonetheless. So between now and our final league game of the season, I’ll be writing short blogs to look back at each of those seasons, and in yet another attempt to kickstart my writing to a useful point where I can make something of the draft book chapters I’ve had lying about for some time!
The one rule I have set myself here is that I could only pick a game that was on the season book that I actually went to. As such, they’re all home league games. I might mention other games from that season to put it into the context of the season, but the main focus will be on that one home league game.
They’ll start tomorrow, ending on the day we lift the league trophy for four in a row – the day my season ticket run comes to an end. Still, eight titles out of those thirteen seasons isn’t a bad haul for someone who grew up through the late 80s and 90s!