Updated: Jul 8, 2020
Anyone who ever stood in the Jungle will have a tale to tell. Here is one on mine. It was 1991, at the time I was a student working part time in a carry out shop. I'm standing in the bookies with my mate Brendan. We're filling out a line before going the game. I'm hoping to get money for a wee celebratory drink when we win cos after buying a ticket and couple of cans for the bus I'm down to my last £1. So, always the optimist, I'm going for the big win. First goalscorer, Anton Rogan. Brendan, always the realist is looking over my shoulder. Anton Rogan? You'd be as well giving me your quid.
Brendan had a way with words.
Winning wasn't the issue, we had just pumped the huns the week before. St Patricks Day Massacre we called it. This was Palm Sunday, a re-run wasn't in doubt. It would be 4 or 5 but they might sneak one so a correct score was just as much of a gamble as far as I was concerned. I needed big odds for my pound or it was hameldamey straight after the match. Anyway, off we go to the game. The huns of that particular vintage were a motley crew even by their standards. The elephant man and that wee nyaff Spenser along with a certain soul selling, soup taking deviant who shall remain nameless.
Anyway, the game is on, Celtic are in the ascendancy and we are in our element. Goading the hoardes, up the back of the Jungle. It's packed to the rafters as usual and we are duking about trying to catch glimpses between the shoulders of the boys in front of us as the pressure mounts on Chris Woods goal. A high ball gets launched in by wee Joe Miller, A hun gets a head to it and it goes straight up in the air. An easy take for Woods. But then he spilled it!
Now, this is where time stops.
The moment Woods drops the ball there is a hush. A foot comes out and lashes the ball into the net. A millisecond of silence as 50 thousand lungs inflate. You could even hear the leather of the ball spinning off net.
Then it happens. YAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSS.
Suddenly everything is spinning out of control. Imagine being down the front at a gig in a mosh pit and the strobe lights are on. You're not even close! If that happened inside a tumble dryer you might be getting nearer. There is nothing like it. A minute goes by where you can only really describe it as some kind of liquid religious experience. Bodies crash into each other, some float in groups of 30 or more, gaps appear and some folk stumble as if to be stampeded into oblivion but somehow a hand always appears and yanks them by the collar, back up to safety. This happens in waves, you float, feet off the ground packed inside a tumbling mass of ecstacy. Before it was even invented.
It's pure joyous mayhem. There is no other way to describe it.As it slowly all subsides you realise you are in a mutual headlock with the guys who were at least 6 steps down from you a second ago. All this is eventually followed by a few moments where everyone somehow finds their original standing position, specs, wallets and teeth are returned to their rightful owners and the choir try to get back into synch. It was at this point the crackly old tannoy burst into life....Scorer for Celtic, Number 3...Anton Rogan! Instantly I found myself in another headlock, this time with Brendan who was screaming, 'We're Rich! We're F'king Rich!' And we were. Kings for a Day!
I think that was the last time I actually won a coupon!