Liam Kelly’s memories of watching Celtic abroad for the first time: Misfortune In Munich ends…
The next morning we got up early to have our drink for the day. However, everything from lager to vodka was gone by 9 a.m. So, I had to invest in some disgusting cherry liqueur. We headed to the plaza to meet Stripey Cat, his brother, and boyfriend Neil. Neil was a college professor, who quit his job to become a full-time drinker. It was his first trip to see Celtic since the ’70s as he asked Stripey if he could go with him for the craic. I couldn’t believe what I saw as this drunk eccentric man, in a suit with a Celtic shirt over it, sporting a beard and a baseball cap – stood in front of me. This whole trip was madness.
Thousands more gathered in the square, under the blazing 25c sun. The atmosphere had been great all day and Stripey kept us entertained with crisp liners. He collected our game tickets and returned to the plaza just in time to comment on a man’s misfortune as he swallowed a pint before immediately kneeling down to regurgitate it straight into the glass. Stripey stood there with his hand on his shoulder and said, “This man is a professional. He’s a man of experience, minimal mess. Learn from this Liam, if you want to drink this is how you do it. The poor guy kept the glass on his face like the muzzle of a screaming dog, which I managed to deduce ”…. mate ”, before his cup overflows and the contents run down his mustache!
At 5 p.m. the square erupted – flares were lit, drums rang and everyone went wild for the Stuart Armstrong song. It was one of the best moments of my support for Celtic.
When the song finally died down, after a good half hour, the Celtic hordes descended the escalators to the metro towards the Allianz Arena. Once in the station, the drums beat again and fans bounced to the tune of This Is This The Day That We Win Away:
At this point, Stripey Cat and I were separated from the others in the crowd and headed for the train. It was a sweaty overcrowded car, shaking to the chorus of Willie Maley and all the usual classics. 30 minutes later, we arrived at the required station.
The police lined us up there for an escort, prompting the Green Squad to coordinate everyone by clapping above us as we sang Celtic, Celtic, Celtic, Celtic. This army of green and white rose up the escalators and along the platform. The police took us across a subway when the noise reached a crescendo with a return to This Is The Day. Munich fans watched in wonder, applauding this crowd of drunken crazy men and women having fun.
We walked and hiked for a while, until this shiny red bowl was visible at the top of the hill. Stripey and I had tickets to the home game, but went through security and scanned our ticket at the turnstile, which worked, despite being in the away section.
We dug into the ground and had to pass another security guard into the Celtic section. Yet we have been reduced. The flight attendant spotted our tickets and sent us to the correct section. It was right on the edge of the segregation divide, so we took our places and bode our time.
“Liam, come on, put your ass up,” Stripey remarked. He had noticed that the segregation fence only went up to the penultimate row. The policeman had left his post at the top of the stairs and it was our signal to run and join the Celtic support. We were in it.
The Celtic ending vibrated to the sound of “We’re Glasgow Celtic” at the start of the match. Then that infamous Jimmy Bell song was sung and Stripey threw up his hands like a conductor signaling the end of a song: “Negative energy is negative energy!” Moments later, Bayern took the lead thanks to Muller. Although, obviously not happy, I couldn’t help but laugh as Stripey Cat began to berate those around him by claiming that we were late because of this song and the negative energy we were having. she clears! It was my first time meeting Stripey and my beliefs that he is a fool was correct.
It was a short 2-0 time against Bayern and at this point it’s pretty clear the game is over. Either way, that didn’t stop the party because even after Lewandowski added a third, the Celtic medium gave a wonderful rendition of Heat Of Lisbon with the phone lights up, before to gather. What support we have on nights like this.
With Celtic being beaten 3-0, our attention turned to finding Paul and the others after the game. We did it off the ground, which is on a freeway. Stripey, in his infinite wisdom, got out and pointed to a cab – it was us on our way… to a gas garage for a few bags of cans. We spent the night drinking and laughing with a lot of other fans, before Stripey and Neil’s brother disappeared. Stripey had their room key so was in no rush to contact them, but luckily we ran into the couple, dancing in a hookah bar, a few hours later.
At the end of that night, I left for my first meal of the trip – Burger King. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I sat down with my food, only to be confronted by our middle fingered German friend, whom we met on day one. He came gesturing 3-0, laughing in my face, before other Celtic fans told him the universally understood instruction “Get tae France boyfriend.”
It was pretty dramatic for the trip. Yet as we awoke homeless once again, we were far from being out of the woods. We weren’t leaving until Friday so had to find a cheap room for the night in order to stay within our budget. We walked to the Wombats Hostel, where luckily they had two spare beds in a dormitory as the Celtic fans who occupied it were heading home. We dropped our bags there and made our way to the square, where the last remaining Celtic fans were playing rave music from a speaker with accompaniment as they waited for a bus to Berlin airport. .
Finally, it was Friday morning and it was time to go home. Paul had booked the flights to Luton so I booked a National Express bus to take us back to Bournemouth from there. However, when he presented me with my boarding pass, it said Gatwick on the ticket! I looked at the ground in disbelief… he had booked himself to fly to Luton and I to Gatwick. I had to make a call to a friend at home. He agreed to drive to Luton to pick up Paul, then they would come to Gatwick to pick me up, before driving us home.
While waiting for Paul in Luton, my boyfriend hadn’t read the signs for the pick-up area. He didn’t realize he wasn’t charged the expected five pounds. Oh no he was charged for every minute of waiting – £ 48!
I couldn’t believe the catalog of mistakes, the mental characters we had encountered and the madness of the travel. The concert, the place and the atmosphere on the floor were phenomenal. The game itself was appalling and the problems with the hotel were a nightmare. Looking back, I can laugh, but back then it wasn’t even funny.
We would do it all again next season in Athens!