Euro Awaydays: The Waking Hours

By The Way - Weekly Columns


There are loads of pop and rock songs which have been appropriated (or misappropriated going by the latest Atomic Kitten/Billy Ocean aural monstrosities), by the Celtic support down the years. It’s impossible now to hear Just Can’t Get Enough by Depeche Mode without singing the alternative words. Anyone who was in Paris back in the day, the one where we didn’t get hammered (which is not a mythical Friends episode), will know where Roll With It came from. Funnily enough, Cotton Eyed Joe which was also belted out with gusto that night, didn’t make the journey back over La Manche. We might have brassnecks but we couldn’t have Rednex. There will be some reading this who have memories of European trips and associate particular songs with those locations. This tale goes back to the dim and distant days of the late 80s and how I came to associate, not just a song, but a whole album with Celtic. September 1989 and Celtic were, once again, in transition. The centenary double had been won at a sunny Hampden only 16 months previously but it may as well have been a lifetime ago. Since the departure of the talismanic McAvennie who had carried the team through the first half of the 88/89 season, things had been going from bad to worse. The Cup final where we beat Rangers with Joe Miller’s goal had not only burst the potential hun treble and papered over a lot of the cracks but had given many of the support misplaced optimism about the forthcoming season. This was bolstered by the proposed return of M****** J*******. I can’t remember the details of what happened there but vaguely recall a last minute hitch meant he moved elsewhere. Polish superstar striker Dariusz “Jackie” Dziekanowski was signed to fill the carrot* top void. The season started off reasonably well and, by the end of August, Jackie had scored in a draw against them, as well as kicking off his vodka fuelled residence in Victoria’s, and the team had qualified for the League Cup semi-final. With a Cup Winners’ Cup tie looming, September was shaping up to be a big month. As well as football, music was my other main passion. And, nearly thirty years on, still is. For those of you old enough to remember, 1989 will never go down as one of the halcyon years in music history with the charts stuffed with absolute dross such as Jive Bunny, Kylie and Jason, Sonia and NKotB (ask yer da’ - it’s not a knob anagram), for what seemed like months at a time. ITV had started broadcasting an alternative to Top of the Pops in The Chart Show which had no inane Radio 1 DJ presenters and no bad band miming. Instead, it was no host(s), videos only and graphics giving some info on the band/video. It was mainly pish but there were the odd nuggets, mainly in the “rock” or “indie” sections which kept the attention and helped get you through the hangover fuelled Saturday mornings. It was via this show that I first heard Kiss This Thing Goodbye by, the then little known, Del Amitri. I was hooked from the “Ah-one-two-three-four” intro, the crack of the snare and the first blast of (Fraser Speirs’) moothie belting through my TV speaker. This tune really was an oasis in a desert of dross and immediately grabbed my attention and I immediately decided to buy the album, Waking Hours**, on the strength of it. In 1989 I was playing amateur football and didn’t get to see Celtic as often as I would like. Any chance I got, though, and I was there like a shot. It was this stupidity that led me to decide that I was going to the away leg of the Cup Winners’ Cup tie against Partizan Belgrade. By bus. There were no budget airlines in 1989. If you wanted to go to an away European match, it really did involve a sacrifice both in terms of time and cash. The game had been moved away from Belgrade as the Partizan support had been naughty boys. It was shifted 300 miles to the small city of Mostar. It’s also worth bearing in mind that this game was so long ago that it took place in a country called Yugoslavia. Nowadays, Belgrade is in Serbia and Mostar is in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This was all brought about by a minor skirmish you may have heard about. The game was to take place in Mostar on the afternoon of Tuesday September 12th ***. The bus to the game left from a Glasgow south side pub, which will remain nameless to protect the guilty (and the innocent), at 6pm on Saturday 9th. This was straight after our return from Love Street, also consigned to the history books, where we had seen our first league loss of the season in a crap 1-0 defeat. Off one bus, in for a pint or two and then decanted on to a luxury Gardens of Motherwell double decker for the trip to behind the Iron Curtain. I was exceptionally well prepared for the sojourn. Or so I thought. I had a few books and magazines, a cargo, my trusty Sony Walkman (copy) with spare batteries and a few cassettes for the trip. Others had brought videos of great Celtic games from the past taped from Sportscene and Scotsport. All went well for the first hour. Then the video went on the fritz – the electrics shorted by the various cargo dregs running into the system – quickly followed by the heating and air con failing. The music, the reading and the drink kept me occupied till our first overnight stop in Munich on the Sunday. I was still not too bad by the time we rolled into the, then, picturesque Mostar.

The game itself was largely forgettable brightened up only by Galloway’s away goal and that had us all thinking we had a great chance of getting through as Partizan looked fairly ordinary. The next day, the trek homewards began. I think Napoleon had an easier time getting back from Moscow. Firstly, we couldn’t get away as the bus had broken down. After a few hours hanging around and drinking exceptionally cheap beer we were off. Cabin/bus fever had broken out. The voices were getting louder, the jokes were repeats from the Monday and the usual suspects, at the back of the bus, were ensuring no-one was safe from a slagging. Then, up on one of the winding mountain roads, we ran into a herd of goats. There was only one fatality – a goat thankfully. The herdsman was irate and demanded recompense for his loss. Fortunately, we were all dinar millionaires and were happy to offload bundles of the, to us, worthless notes. One smartarse, however, wanted something for our money and purchased the goat’s bell from the hapless herdsman. He was straight on to the bus and everyone was told in no uncertain terms that there would be no sleep till Glasgow (must have been a Beastie Bhoy). To be fair, he was true to his word. Any sign of anyone nodding off and the bell was rung in their ear. It was pretty funny the first two hundred times. By the time we hit a now snowy Munich again, and bought a barrowload of BM hats and scarves given their 3-1 at Ibrox the night before (we are on Thursday now for those losing track), I was starting to think murderous thoughts re the fenian campanologist with a huge desire to ram his bell down his throat. It was from here on that the music came in to its own. I wasn’t going to get a sleep so what better than to listen to The Waking Hours from Munich to Glasgow. So I did. I played that cassette from front to back for the next 24 hours, skipped songs, went back to them, stuck the really great ones on repeat and by the time we were on the ferry back to England I knew the lyrics better than Justin Currie did himself. I staggered off that bus in Glasgow on the Friday morning vowing never again to travel that far on a bus again but with a love for Del Amitri and that album which has endured to the present day. *One for the Kerrydale Street swear filter afficianados **This album features a couple of the more talented Commotions *** Source Celtic Wiki (also used for other fact checking) **** “One of the greatest games” that Lawrence Donegan has been to