Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Celtic fans with drugs, intent on trouble and repeated pro-IRA singing report Daily Mail

22 Jul 2013, Scottish Daily Mail

ON A clammy afternoon in London, Celtic’s pre- season friendly against Brentford turned into a heated mix of football to savour on the park and unsavoury fan behaviour off it.

A 2-1 win for Neil Lennon’s men at Griffin Park ended with a tense stand-off between rival fans as police and stewards did a great job of keeping the two sets of goading supporters apart.

That the incident did not develop into serious trouble was largely down to their sterling efforts, but while both clubs and the Metropolitan Police were keen to play down events afterwards — with the Met reporting just two Celtic fans arrested, one for possession of Class A drugs and the other for invading the pitch — this was not the kind of behaviour advisable of a club with a burning hunger to eventually widen its footballing horizons.

Bangers and flares were routinely sent off, while intruders ran on to the pitch at both Celtic goals, with another disrupting the game by entering the field of play to take a goal-kick for unsuspecting Parkhead keeper Lukasz Zaluska.

The afternoon was rounded off by a mass pitch invasion, with a malevolent minority intent on provoking trouble, which thankfully did not come to pass despite the Griffin Park groundsman’s vain attempt to dampen the desire for trouble by turning the sprinklers on the miscreants.

The most depressing aspect of the whole game, however, was the repeated pro-IRA singing and the goading of the home fans, although a portion of the London club’s fans fired back with chants of ‘ EDL’ (English Defence League), with one Brentford ‘supporter’ ejected by police for shaking a Union Flag in the direction of the visitors.

‘They were a bit over- exuberant,’ said Lennon, who was escorted off the park by security guards at fulltime in case troubled exploded. ‘Heat, a few beers — there was a carnival atmosphere, although I would like them to leave the flares out of it.’ When the smoke had cleared, literally, after a day of flares, it was almost lost in the chaotic scenes that this had been a decent performance by Lennon’s second string, augmented by top-team players Efe Ambrose and new signings Steven Mouyokolo and Amido Balde.

After flattering to deceive in Germany, £1.7 million striker Balde’s best Celtic performance yet yielded his first goal for the club, cancelling out Adam Forshaw’s opener for the League One side, and, full of confidence, he could have had another but hit the post when clean through on keeper Jack Bonham. Teenager Calum McGregor’s first- ever senior goal, meanwhile, was a piece of sublime finishing, while there were also decent cameo appearances from Bahrudin Atajic and young full-back Darnell Fisher.

And even if the majority have no chance of playing against Cliftonville in tomorrow’s dead-rubber Champions League second-round second-leg qualifier at Celtic Park, they will have benefited from the occasion, which was as far removed from a friendly atmosphere as possible. ‘We had to get off the park really quickly at the end, after the pitch invasion,’ said a wide eyed Fisher. ‘ You could tell on the way to the game it was going to be lively because there were fans out singing on the roads. ‘But I was just delighted to play. I’m from Reading and my family were at the game today, so that made it extra special. ‘My goal this season is to get as many minutes as possible for the first team. I take inspiration from people like James Forrest and Tony Watt, who have got into the first team at a young age. If you’re good enough at this club, then you’re old enough, and I want to be where they are now.

‘The manager has told me to keep working, keep my head down and keep pushing for the first team. I don’t know what his plans are for Cliftonville, but I’m here if he needs me. I feel ready and I’m confident in my own ability.’

Before joining Celtic, Fisher, 19, was playing for Reading-based youth football side Eldon Celtic, although they played in black and green stripes, not hoops. He still marvels at the way his big break came about and how he found himself rubbing shoulders with a Lisbon Lion.

‘I’ve been really lucky,’ he smiled. ‘A couple of years ago a mate called and asked me if I fancied a game for Eldon Celtic against the Jimmy Johnstone Academy at Eton College. I played, and the Academy invited me up to Scotland to play in a tournament, where we faced Rangers.

‘A guy at the Jimmy Johnstone Academy knew Bertie Auld and Bertie took an interest in me when I arrived. He showed me around Celtic Park and he helped me settle in.
‘Bertie’s a legend and people are in awe of him when they meet him, but he’s just a really down-to-earth guy.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...