The Old Firm, Ibrox disaster and Kenny Dalglish

The Old Firm game takes care of itself. More clichés are flung at it than tackles and it is, by far, the biggest club game in the world-only in this corner of the world. This one was the biggest of the biggest, not least because it fell exactly 40 years to the day after stairway 13 collapsed at Ibrox under the combined weight of fans leaving after Celtic had scored with a few minute to go and Rangers equalising just before the final whistle and surging back into the stadium. This was really a matter of life and death and over sixty people died, the life crushed out of their lungs. Billy McNeil and John Greig the team captains on that day and later managers of Celtic and Rangers respectively, led out the teams for a minute’s silence. The Media scrum was waiting for the Celtic supporters to dishonour the dead and I wasn’t sure whether they would or wouldn’t, but that wait was perhaps more exciting than the game.

I tried to remember what it was like 40 years ago. I think, but am unsure, whether the big game would have been on the radio. Certainly the result would have come from that medium. I can vaguely remember people getting off buses in Dalmuir and reporting the disaster, but I don’t know if that was somebody else telling me this or if I heard it. The result, for a change, didn’t really matter. The last time I saw anything like it was when the European Cup Final was played at Heysel Stadium. I was looking forward to watching it on telly, but didn't. I didn’t think the game should have been played, but, of course, it was. Kenny Dalglish played in that game for Liverpool. He was also the manager at Hillsborough. I’m not sure if he was one of the ‘quality street kids’ that played for Celtic in that game 40 years ago against Ranger.

That year 1972 we too reached a European Cup Final, only to get beaten by the underdogs of PSV. The present Celtic team is, of course, in the third or fourth tier of European teams and if there is fifth tier they are in that as well. Rangers, our old rivals, are I like to think even worse. But yesterday even after a few pints I couldn’t make myself believe it. The only Ibrox Disaster I expected was the Celtic team, especially after having seen the starting line-ups. Samarras was in, which is always a bad start, but flinging in Mulgrew seemed to me like Lennon was just taking the piss. I’ve never got anything good to say about Rangers and don’t intend to start now, but I did expect them to win. They didn’t and I jumped about like an idiot as if I’d just given birth to the team. Next day reading the papers is always the same thing, about re-living old memories. You’d think I’d be cannier by now, but deep down I’m still that daft little boy.