Albion Rovers 0 vs. 0 Celtic XI
Celtic win 5-4 on penalties
Jock Stein Friendship Cup
Monday 20th July 2009, Kick-Off 3pm
It’s a bank holiday today. Not being a 9 to 5 worker I’m not sure what bank holiday it is exactly. Anyway I presume that’s the reason that this game is kicking off on a Monday afternoon.
I attended this fixture last season. It’s an annual match between two of the late Jock Stein’s clubs. Last year the side featured Thomas Gravesen and Derek Riordan, but since there’s no desperate fire sale of unwanted players at Celtic Park this close season there are no big names on show.
It’s pouring down when I leave the house, but the weather has cleared up by the time I alight the train at Coatdyke. There’s a few Celtic fans getting tucked into some bottles of Buckfast on the train.
To honour Jock Stein it looks like Rovers have dug out a bar of soap he washed himself with as a player, and put it on the sink in the toilet.
There’s only one side of the ground open. I presume that’s probably the case for all of Rovers’ home games. There’s a decent crowd filing in.
I buy a pie and a burn-the-moth-aff-ye style Bovril for two quid. I decide to take a seat in the stand. It’s pull down wooden seats and after a while it becomes pretty uncomfortable. I’m sat at the far end beside the area reserved for the big-shots. From here I can see the trophy sat on top of the DJ’s decks.
The cup is to be presented today by the actor David Hayman who is taken out onto the pitch beforehand to plug his charity, for which there’s a collection being taken. Former Rovers manager John McCormack is also introduced to the crowd.
There’s a wee young squad of Celtic fans that position themselves just underneath the DJ box. They’ve come decked out for the day with plenty of flags, balloons and scarves. They’ve also got a green flare. They set that off much to the consternation of the stewards who scramble around for a bit not quite sure what to do in order to deal with it. One of them grabs a fire extinguisher, but doesn’t use it. Another lifts the flare and puts it down in the wee nook in front of them. All this really does is swirl the smoke around closer to them. An official asks who threw the offending item, but as no one has any clue there’s little that can be done about it.
The lads give it plenty of singsonging all day, even although occasionally, like when they ‘all do the huddle’ they’re facing away from the actual match. They sing a few songs in support of John Hartson and even unfurl a ‘Get Well Soon Big Bad John’ banner which was a nice touch.
Dance Dymanic are Albion Rovers very own cheerleaders and they take to the field before kick-off to dance around to some awful thumping techno music. Frankly they seemed a bit young for some of the wolf-whistles they were getting from some sections of the crowd.
The fixture was a one-sided affair last year, but the two teams are quite well matched today. Rovers have the odd half-chance but it’s all Celtic with Rovers’ keeper pulling off one great save in the first half.
Tony Mowbray, Peter Grant and Mark Venus turn up midway through the first half and take their seats behind the DJ box. They get a warm reception from the fans and Mowbray returns with a wave or two.
During the half-time interval the small child sat in front of me is left on his own by his Granddad, who goes off to the pie stall. He wasn’t on his own exactly as his grandad did have a couple of pals with him, but they completely ignored the wee boy. Obviously bored out of his nut he spent the whole interval jumping on seats and at one point trying to pull one from off its hinges. His Granddad didn’t really bother much with his antics for the second-half.
There’s not much entertainment to speak of in the second-half. Celtic have two headers cleared off the line and their keeper smothers a one-on-one attack all in the last five or six minutes.
We go straight to penalty kicks. Celtic eventually take it 5-4 after both sides had taken 8 kicks each. Hard luck on Rovers’ keeper who saved two of Celtic’s penalties. Nomadic Fitba has got the penalty shoot-out up on his YouTube page. Or you can watch it down below.
The DJ is straight down onto the pitch to interview the two team managers, Neil Lennon and Paul Martin. After the presentation to the two teams the DJ turns his attention to the match officials. “I know we sometimes don’t like them but we couldn’t have a game without them, please show your appreciation for the match officials.” There then followed a chorus of boos and jeers that drowned out the handful of folk applauding.
I have a couple more photographs here.
There’s another report of the game at Nomadic Fitba.
This is what I think the Celtic starting elven was. If and when the teams are provided on any websites I’ll update accordingly.
Celtic: Fox, Kurakins, Lafferty, Marr, Gallacher, Conroy, Ferry, Millar, McGinn, McGowan, Sheridan