Friday, August 19, 2011

European 'not quite' Away

I once went six years without seeing Celtic scoring an away goal in Europe. From Neuchatal Xamax in 1991 to FC Tirol in 1997 I never saw us score and let's face it, the one at Xamax was scant fucking consolation. It would incredibly anorakish and depressing to list the away games but I'm going to anyway

1992-Cologne (0-2), Borussia Dortmund (0-1)
1993-Young Boys of Berne (0-0), Lisbon(0-2)
1994-Didn't qualify
1995-(Paris St.Germain 0-1)
1996-Hamburg (0-2)

We did score three in Batumi in 1995 but, of course, I wasn't there. My first European away was in 1982 against Ajax of Amsterdam. Not really sure how I managed to be there, best theory is that was the caveat for my old man to go. We won 2-1. The next time was 1986 to Dublin where we beat Shamrock Rovers 1-0. After that Honved in 88(0-1), Bremen 88(0-0) and Mostar in 1989(albeit to play Partizan Belgrade 1-2) and then I started to go regularly to away games, first one "on my own" was with Chris O'Neill in 1992, the aforementioned Cologne game. When I started going to European aways I thought you won some, lost some. Then in the 1990s I thought you lost some and you lost some even heavier.

I'll be honest, in the 1990s especially, the game was the worst part of it. You lived for the trip even if it meant days and days on cramped buses with no beds, gallons of drink and Lynx in short supply. It got to the point where you just went for the trip and the fitba was a side issue as you pretty much knew you'd get beat. At that time a hardcore for around 3-4000 went to these games, rising up to 8-10,000 for games in places like France and Germany. To not even qualify at the end of the 1993/94 season was unbelievable but not for the first time in the era, we didn't qualify at the end of the 1989/90 season either.

That is how bad it got.

If you had told me in 1993 that 10 years from now you'll be in Seville along with 100,000 other Tims competing for a European final, I'd have thought we'd left you in our main European stopping on the way to the game spot, Amsterdam, just a wee bit too long.

Why am I telling you all this?

Well tonight, after a disappointing 0-0 home draw with Sion, The Huns losing to Maribor and Hearts getting rode ragged by Spurs, a lot of the doom merchants are now out telling us this is the end for Scottish fitba. Now, first things first, it's poor just now, no getting away from that. I wouldn't attempt to say otherwise. However I've seen it poor plenty times before and will again, mixed in with times of greatness. In the 90s Celtic were getting pumped by everyone abroad, and at home too, yet from 2000 the likes of Juventus, Valencia, Ajax and Barcelona were falling our sword.

We do have a crisis in Scotland but we can come back from it, with good investment in youth and a re-think on pricing in the game so to get all grounds packed again.

I also reckon the next European away goal is six days away, not six years.

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