Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An obsessive's guide to a Champions League game

I really envy these people who appear to get up in the morning and yell "Yaaassss!!" in the mirror in relation to what lies ahead in their day. Especially when that day will end with Celtic playing in the Champions League. Not that I am not looking forward to it you understand, it's just that I look forward to it in the same way a virgin bungee jumper looks forward to that first leap.

Many people in my life have commented that I don't ever appear to enjoy Celtic games and they have a point. When it means so much, you end up spending 90 minutes in a sort of contorted suspended animation where you become about as rational as a Tory politician and go through the game in your own stages (I accept this may just be me but doubt it)

The first stage is to not concede in the first couple of minutes. The thing that gives you the edge in these games is that nagging fear in the back of your mind that you could get absolutely hammered out of sight. There's always that possibility at this level (Getting to say "at this level" a lot is one of the joys of being in the Champions League)

The anguish of potentially getting hammered is something all fans deal with, just not as much for Celtic fans.
(That anguish begins on the morning of the game for me, hence my jealousy of the mirror-shouters)

If, by some miracle you get to twenty minutes and haven't conceded, you start thinking about that period from 20-40 minutes where you analyse how your team is doing, who is playing well, who is anonymous and what the hell is this formation? It can be this time that an away team, not favoured previously, can score a goal and whilst that puts you into a different stratosphere for a good, oh, 30 seconds, you know that whilst going one up anywhere is always good you will have to deal with a heightened tension now you have something to lose and that fear that you're now playing a "Wounded animal" (Please make it a budgie with a limp)

Having got through all that and into the safe haven of half time, you sit back on your chair for the first time, notice your host has put out some nibbles and return to being a football expert again by informing all present "We are very comfortable here by the way"

Then, after listening to some grey suits say some even greyer words, they go back to the stadium and you're about to have 45 minutes of what, I imagine, is akin to being on a plane and being told that "we are going down but have called to see if Denzel Washington is available".

Players get tired around 70 minutes, we all know that, and so a raft of subs will appear as a new threat on the horizon just as you've got used to the muthafuckas your team were up against for 70 minutes and you have dismissed as just "Names".

Then there is the witching hour of football games. That period from around 80 minutes until full time where anything can happen and normally does. By this time the nibbles are long gone, fridge is empty and you just need that cunting ref to "Dae his fucking joab" and you're home free but you know it will feel longer than the 100 years war.

The other thing you know is that, despite all this, you'll be back to do it all again in two weeks.

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