Sunday, 20th February 2011. Celtic Park, Glasgow. Celtic vs. Rangers. My first Glasgow Derby.
A sea of green and white explodes before me as I enter out onto the upper tier of the North Stand. An eruption of noise meets my ears as the 55,000 Celtic supporters drown out the chants from the visiting Rangers fans. Minutes to kick off and the place is a bubbling cauldron of passion.
The game starts at breakneck speed. Both sets of players striving to take first blood. 17 minutes is all I wait for the first celebration of the afternoon, with Gary Hooper delighting home fans with the opening goal. 11 minutes later Rangers are stung once more as Hooper makes it a brace for himself and the Hoops before half time.
The referee’s whistle signals the end of the first half, Celtic looking to leave their age-old rivals sinking without a trace. If it wasn’t before the game, the noise is deafening now. ‘Let The People Sing’ had never before seemed so apt.
The second half comes and goes almost as quickly as the first. With 20 minutes still to play, Kris Commons shatters any hope Rangers may have had of taking anything from the game by making the most of a sublime pass through from Hooper, before unleashing a terrific shot at the Rangers goal, completely wrong-footing Allan McGregor and sending the Celtic supporters into wild hysteria.
I roar, I scream, I laugh. I hug the people around me and thank the high heavens that my first Celtic vs. Rangers match has not left me heartbroken. I gaze around the ground with wide-eyed awe as I link arms with my fellow supporters and join in the stadium-wide huddle. I can feel the top tier shaking underfoot, the whole stadium rocks under the motion of us all. I can see Rangers fans flooding out of the exits, humiliated.
I just can’t get enough.