Don’t Stop the Dance

Celtic v Aberdeen – 14 September 1985

The above song recorded by Bryan Ferry was playing on the tannoy before the match.  Every time I hear it now, my vivid memory shoots to that day.

The match was my first day out against Aberdeen, I had been at a few games with crew on the lead up to this.  I remember seeing calling cards going about stating:  “Congratulations you just have met the Celtic Soccer Trendies” although the mob were chanting “Celtic Soccer Crew” so we seemed to have settled on CSC.

I got to know faces from the terraces over time, they told us we were occupying the bottom of the main stand at Celtic Park next to the old Rangers end (the away end) so a few of us headed there.  As this was against the famous Aberdeen — it was always going to be interesting especially with the fact the Aberdeen Soccer Casuals (ASC) had been coming to Glasgow for a few years and were considered the originals of the early-80s

This was an era where you could pay to get into the match and you could choose where you wanted to be.  So, we get in quite early and take up our seats in the bottom tier of the main-stand.  A few impressive faces we knew start coming in from the off — numbers were increasing, we were always crowd watching — checking out the latest styles.  The threads had moved on from sportswear to cords and footwear; also Paisley pattern shirts, fishing jackets were the new chosen attire a few of the crew were carrying the wee black brolly accessory.  Hair was now short!

This was a total buzz being among the likeminded lads.  Celtic’s own brand of this counterculture was up and running, the new style stemming from football.  I was wearing a said “paisley” shirt buttoned up to the top with cords slit at the bottom and desert boots; boys were becoming men.  The Celtic fans thought they had got rid of their casuals due to the fact they couldn’t locate the ski-hats on the terraces anymore; but what was developing opposite them in the main stand was a bigger crew that had evolved.

Some Aberdeen supporters took up seats in the row at the back of us wearing their red and white scarfs, they must have thought they would have the comfort of a nice view from sitting down instead of the terracing; until the mutton brains saw us.  There was a slightly odd feeling to this match as it was days after our legendary manager Jock Stein had lost his life in Cardiff whilst managing Scotland.  There was a minutes silence before kick-off that was observed impeccably by both sets of supporters, also a top gesture was displayed from the Aberdeen fans as they laid out a red and white wreath behind the goals in memory of Big Jock.

During the match we were looking over at the away end to locate the Aberdeen casuals among their support: they had brought a lot of fans down as they always done.  The  league was usually a race between us and them so they would always fill one half of the old away end.  Celtic took the lead in the first-half and the stadium erupted we were all bouncing up and down in main stand chanting: “Celtic Celtic Soccer Crew” hoping to be noticed, a few of our lads couldn’t resist flipping back and landing on the laps of the Aberdeen mutton brains in the back row of the bottom section.  Some of the Celtic lads were pretending to be stuck as they tried to push us off “get aff” in that Oberdeen occent was the cry, while signalling to the police.

After all this had calmed down we became aware to our right that a load of ASC had come into the no-mans-land (which was a wee section of terracing that was usually kept clear between the away end and the main stand) but they had moved in to check us out.

To give them credit they had big numbers but we started chanting at them they started hand signalling mocking the size of us compared to them, they did have a few more older lads, but we knew that was always the case in these early days.  Aberdeen were smartly turned out wearing a lot of darker colours looking very anti-suss.  Just then the police moved into them and pushed the ASC ushering them back to the main part of the away end.

Aberdeen equalised late in the game which was about to become a flat beer moment, with this being a top of the table clash and of course the smuggy mutton brains in our face chanting: “Oberdeen Oberdeen Oberdeen” like a theme tune to the depression!

With minutes to go, as was the Celtic way; Brian McClair scored the winner (2-1), with utter delirium in the ground we tried to accidently fall back on the muttons in the back row again but they were running to get out the stand — a poor show as we only wanted a kiss and a hug!

Celtic won the match; it was now game on with the ASC, we left the ground together and tried to turn left passed the old Celtic shop but we noticed a barrier was up to stop this so we headed straight down and gathered at the bus stop opposite the London Road Primary school.  There was was a lot Celtic fans leaving the ground moving both ways on London Road, about five minutes later we notice the mounted police moving from the away end towards us, that was when we knew they had the away fans and the ASC with them as they tried to keep them at the other side of the road.

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Given the amount of scarfers it was quite easy to mingle so we went on the move towards Aberdeen as we became face-to-face with them, they used their experience from fighting our fans previously and they charged at us first, backing us off, also fans with their kids fled as that was the only option they had.

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We gathered again across the street just up from the bus stop and we moved up London Road.  A few of our main faces grabbed us and we get switched on.  This time we lead the charge at Aberdeen the mix of apprehension and adrenaline at 15 years-old and we’re having it toe-to-toe with the ASC, this is Glasgow and it’s Celtic at home so we aren’t budging.  There is a few hundred going for it but it was lucky if we could land more than a couple punches. I can also recall seeing the “infamous” golf ball with nails in it flying through the air as well as being cracked with a few black brollies. I recall taking a few dull ones but not feeling a thing this became quite an addiction from this season onwards.

A few of our lot were getting grabbed by the plod and being told it was our last warning, due to the big numbers back then we outnumbered the police on a big scale, it was a nightmare for them.

The plod managed to contain us and the ASC on either side of London Road as we walked further towards Bridgeton, we were now just posturing and getting a good look at the ASC, you could check out their look, no bright colours, very anti-suss with a lot of obscure Adidas trainers.

Out of nowhere someone in our mob lobbed a bottle of Irn Bru into the middle of the Aberdeen mob and with that we followed through over to them. They certainly stood their ground and again it’s kicked off, nobody gets a result as we are all eventually split.

This was my first real taste of it and I was hooked on all of it – Don’t ever Stop the Dance.

In memory of Rab Mcgivern.

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