Another Monday and, gloriously, another day of celebration for the Green and White of Govan.
The final instalment, sadly, will be next Monday’s edition which will take what was only supposed to be a 4 part hobby write up to its conclusive 8th edition.
Eight in a Row sounds about right, for now anyway.
Additionally, I think we are all in agreement that hobby this is no more and part of a weekly ritual with more to come in the future it surely ought to be.
A Top Fan Story
This week’s edition focuses on what I consider to be one of the finest fan anecdotes that I have come across from my time researching the Govan Tim identity and character.
Don’t get me wrong, all of the fan stories and anecdotes have been of European Cup quality.
There are some stories from the fans and the bus culture of Govan Tims that I have come across these last few weeks that will stay with me, gladly, for life.
To the fine folk of Govan, the Winey and beyond I’ll be forever thankful to you guys for sharing this with me.
What follows next, for me, is up there with the best of the best however.
Behind Enemy Lines
Let’s set the scene – early 1980’s with a coldness in the air and we’re on the eve of one of those games billed as a clash of tribal titans, the now defunct ‘Old Firm’ game – recqiescat in pace.
Now, we’ve all been there, wanting a ticket for Ibrox in the ‘Celic End’ to watch hopefully another fine away day victory but quite often the Tim within, our very core, grudges paying the tariff for the ticket.
Firstly, as it is helping to financialise our footballing enemy and, secondly, because ticket prices are often hiked up for the ‘big’ games.
There is a novel way to solve both problems it would seem however.
As the protagonists in this short tale, ‘Jim’ and ‘Joe’, would soon find out.
Jim and Joe, real names duly protected just incase big Lee Wallace is reading and reports back to the powers that be, soon realised that there is an alternative option open.
It only required stealth like movement, a couple of sleeping bags and balls of steel.
The last requirement being not a problem for these streetwise Govan and Wine Alley folk.
These two bhoys, young men at the time, headed along the Broomloan Road in the middle of the night in order to secure, ahem, their unticketed seats a wee bit earlier than the rest.
In their own words,
‘Our aim was to get into Ibrox stadium and crash in the broomloan road stand through the night, then stay there till the stadium filled up the next day…’
Such a simple plan, an idea as daring as it was dynamite – could they pull it off however?
Joe and Jim head along past the front door, still pitch black outside this apparently un-shut-able ‘big hoose’ and head towards the big blue gates at the corner of the Rangers end.
As brazen as it gets, one scales it whilst the other keeps the ‘edgie‘ then the other follows suit.
‘…we climbed up the side of the big blue gates onto the wall, dreeped into the toilets in the old enclosure…once we were in we quietly made our way onto the enclosure watching all around us. There was only a few lights on in the terraces…’
Under the cover of darkness these two Mad Tims have now breached enemy lines and are tentatively making their way up the side of the pitch before heading towards the centre circle.
Hushed Applause Never
Rang So Loud
Adrenaline pumping, still unsure whether it’s safe or not to make a sound above a crickets chirp just incase the night guard is kicking about, they pretend to kick off from the centre spot.
Cue the imaginary ‘one-two‘ passing and Milan triangles before a sublime pass, Tommy Burns style, arcs in from outside the box for Joe to header it – the imaginary size 5 – which came silently rattling off the bar!
Not to worry however, as Jim ensured the rebound found the back of the net making for a fine Tim victory.
Hushed applause never rang so loud.
As imaginary as it all was however, the camaraderie, the banter and the sheer laugh of it all was very much real.
An irreplaceable moment of madness that no doubt started off life as a dare or as bar room bravado was now crystalised in reality.
It had happened – two diehard Tims cut from the finest stone of the green and white of Govan had infiltrated the big hoose under cover of darkness, part 1 complete.
Broomy End for a Bed
Now to stay undetected till the next days kick off.
Joe and Jim boosted toward the Broomloan stand which in a few hours was to be decked with the green, white and gold of Glasgow and beyonds Tims.
After taking in the size of the stadia, slightly eerie in the shadows of the night with only these two souls in it, they nestled down for the night to a sleeping bag each with jumpers for pillows.
Amusingly, Joe and Jim tell me that currently if you are to take a stroll down Broomloan Road, The Rangers have a banner style wallpaper which runs horizontally along the width of the stand which faces outwardly so the public can see it.
Upon this are club ‘heroes’, inclusive of a bigot who was an unthinking product of the time, Bill Struth, a man who both legitimised and adopted the anti Catholic narrative at any given opportunity by excluding the employ of Catholics within the Rangers FC dressing room.
John ‘show us ra deeds’ Brown is also featured on it and, in what can only be described as an excellent twist of Tim flavoured fate, he is shown pointing in this captured image.
Where he is pointing to however, unbelievably, is exactly where Joe and Jim bunked down for the night at no expense. Way up in the heavens of the stand to avoid any surveillance.
How ironic for it to be Brown, a man obsessed with who possesses the tenancy rights of Ibrox Park, who is unknowingly pointing to the exact location where two Tim stowaways kipped for a night – and rent free!
A New Day Dawns
As the early morning trollies scuttled around the pitchside track transiting the provisions and meal rations for the troops and terrace warriors who were coming to that day’s battle, Joe and Jim awake from their slumber.
By this point both men, watchless, are aware that kick off isn’t too far away as they spot the Sportscene media folk doing their run through, inclusive of a forty something Archie MacPherson.
The Police and a raft of stewards are now beginning to take up position from terrace to terrace and it is at this point that both Joe and Jim are convinced that they have been spotted as one of the high-vis brigade is standing near to the entrance to their section of the Broomy end.
As Jim put it,
‘Then came the moment we thought we were caught directly opposite us at the other end stood in his position, one of Strathclyde’s ‘finest’, we lay still, not a single movement was made just keepin our eyes on him prayin’ he doesnt see us…’
Like two crouching guerillas eager to avoid the military ambush, they stay lay down between the seats, by this point unpacked from their sleeping bags, and peer covertly between the seats and the stairs not to make a move again until PC Plod shuffles away.
Finally, they had to come up with a strategy for taking their place upon a seat before melting into the tapestry of other Tim fans who would soon begin to be ushered in by the now in place stewards.
A few minutes pass and a handful of Celtic fans are now in their section, unbeknownst to them, Joe and Jim are preparing their most audacious of attempts yet.
Just how on Earth are they going to get upright and take their seats with the steward set to full Tim surveillance mode?
They both decided to wait till he turned around so he wasn’t facing the stand and they would both spring up in perfect synchronicity and take their seats as if they had been there all along.
Only trouble was, there were only 2 Tims that had passed that particular steward thus far – clearly he would recognise that 4 were there instead of the two he had let in?
‘Only two fans had passed him to take their seat, so I said to Joe “get yer scarf oan and at the count of three get up and onto the seat” – 1,2,3, up we went the steward was facing the park at this point, we had timed it to perfection but when he turned back around his face was a picture…am sure a read his lips as he said, “where the fuck did they two appear fae?”
Just as bold as they had been hours previously when jumping the fence to get in, their undeniable brazenness once again paid off.
The steward quickly forgets and is much busier as each minute passes as more and more fans enter.
Jim and Joe, once it gets busier, dust themselves down, head downstairs for a quick scrub then dissipate seamlessly into the fans before taking up a new position elsewhere in the stadia.
As for the loss of their sleeping bags, nothing more than collateral damage for these two bold soldiers of fortune.
They tell me that Celtic ran out fairly comfortable winners that day even keeping a cleansheet in the process.
How much sweeter that victory must have felt knowing that it didn’t cost a penny to even get in.
Usually, it’s the corporate or the monied crowd that get such ‘freebie’ privilege despite the fact they’re the ones who can always comfortably afford it!
The serious simplicity of the whole act – to infiltrate the ‘big hoose’, be ‘scoring’ for fun and cutting about like two bhoys who just dogged school for the first time only to top it all off by witnessing a Tim victory at Ibrox – I can’t be the only one jealous of all this?
Celtic are famed for cult heroes from previous players to backroom staff and even the odd celebrity fanatico.
None of these fine efforts make the club what it truly is though, this is the task of the community of fans, many of whom are to be found in Govan, the Wine Alley and beyond.
Such as the two named in this tale, who are surely deserving of a proper undiluted cult hero status amongst the fans for their night time gate dreeping achievements.
Hail Hail tae ye Jim and Joe
Thanks for reading folks
Header Image credit:
@67_awaydays (Celtic Away Days)