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How the Old Firm Blues made me Forest Green with envy....Marks-ism today...
How the Old Firm Blues made me Forest Green with envy....Marks-ism today...
Tuesday, 17th Aug 2010 16:42 by Marko

If you were one of our 4000 fans at Forest, I was very envious of you!

Last Sunday our trip to Forest clashed with my first wedding anniversary. I was told by she-who-must-be-obeyed that if I dared sneak off to the game I would be as popular as the Sheriff of Nottingham. It was a shame because it is a nearby fixture for me, great stadium, atmosphere and two sides who should really be battling it out in the Prem.

To commemorate the anniversary of the nuptials, she wanted a romantic weekend away - well as romantic as things can be between a 38 year old overweight diabetic and a Welsh woman due to give birth to our fifth sprog in November - so I suggested Glasgow as a compromise. She likes art and 20 years ago, Glasgow was proudly showing off its Burrels as European City of Culture. I'm also quarter-Scottish on account of my mother's mother hailing from the Ayrshire coast. It seemed the perfect second to the Forest game.

I have a confession here, Leeds are undoubtedly my first love but Celtic come a close second. I have only seen the Hoops in action once at Parkhead, that was in November 1991 when they beat Aberdeen 2-1. I console myself with the fact that I have seen Celtic in the flesh more than the majority of Man United fans! My choice of Celtic as nothing to do with religion, I am an athiest after all and if religion was a factor then I would have followed my great-Grandfather Dixie McCartney and supported Rangers!

At Leeds, we do not have any tentative links with Scottish clubs as such-I believe in the past both Motherwell and Hibernian fans have tried to start up associations with us but it is nothing like Chelsea fans for example, some have strong links with Rangers fans. Liverpool and Man United have links with Celtic however our very own Eddie Gray and Billy Bremner were both Celtic fans as boys so that is good enough for me.

Through work, I can access a discount scheme on hotels and I booked us into the Glasgow Swallow. On getting the confirmation I googled it, ooops it was a stones throw away from Ibrox Park!!! I then checked the SPL fixtures, bugger! Celtic were away at Inverness Caledonian Thistle whilst the Gers were at home to Kilmarnock.

My Celtic shirt stayed packed in the drawer at home! I felt this was the safest thing to do. We did visit Parkhead, the Celtic superstore and even the Barras (The Glasgow streetmarket on Gallowgate, the main drag up to Parkhead) any purchase however stayed locked out of sight in the boot of the car!

There were plenty of Rangers fans milling around the hotel after their victory over Killie - however it was not as bad as I feared. Id imagined the lobby to be full of weekenders from Belfast, tattooed shaven-headed Johnny Adair types - ready to kick the shite out of the grass for daring to grow green! Id imagined the hotel bar to contain kilted Donald Findlay QC types - quaffing finest malt and singing songs about murdering Catholics! I just kept myself to myself and didn't even wear any Leeds colours, through fear of tempting inevitable jibes about John Lukic punching the ball into his own net at Ibrox in the 1992 European Cup second round.

The so-called "90 minute bigot" theory is a fascinating subject, if I have just put the boot into Rangers fans then I must declare that whilst in the East End we nipped into a Celtic bar whilst an Irish band played Rebel songs to an adoring audience and over the road a shop was selling t-shirts adorned with the Republican slogan tiocfaidh ar la (our day will come). This all against a backdrop of grim news coming in from Lurgan in Northern Ireland, where three children had been injured following a bomb-blast.

I admit it may be easy to get caught up in singing ancient songs such as "The Billy Boys" and "Boys of the Old Brigade", we have had similar tugs on our own conscience with songs about the Munich air disaster .The symbolism of former Celtic keeper Artur Boruc blessing himself at Ibrox Park a few seasons ago caused ructions. Next month, Bellahouston Park next door to my hotel will host a Papal visit - pilgrims are advised to use the nearest subway station Ibrox!

Maybe I risk being flamed to hell by angry Scots who rightfully proclaim that maybe I don't know what I am talking about then fine! I can live with that. I'm just so grateful that our own hatred towards our own rivals is based on pure, undiluted hate - nothing more and certainly much less complicated that what goes on in Glasgow!

Photo: Action Images

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