Celtic vs. Gretna at Parkhead - my first live football match

Yesterday seen me cashing in a Christmas present, as I was taken out for the day up to Glasgow's Parkhead, to watch Celtic play against Gretna. The giver of this said present, are renowned for their excellent present choices with every year, always coming up with really special well thought out gifts. Andy and Heidi, once more proved they are the king and queen of present giving.

Andy has always been a long term Celtic supporter and no stranger to live games. Football, by in large, doesn't interest me that much. More of a snooker man. But since our local regional team, Gretna, qualified for the Scottish Premier League, I have found myself keeping an eye on their (lack of) progress throughout the season. So how fitting that Andy/Heidi pick this particular match to treat me for the day.

We parked in the center of Glasgow, had some lunch and then walked to Parkhead. The closer we got to the stadium, the more fans we met, making their way to the game. The stadium itself was large with lots of space. Going in through the turn styles and making our way up to our seats, not once did you feel cramped or hassled. According to the BBC, there was 57,000 people in attendance but it didn't feel like that.

Watching live football is a different experience from watching it on the TV. For a start, the pitch looks a lot smaller in real life and a lot more intimate. But you notice things that you don't see on the TV. For example, how much running the lines men do, how active the boys are behind the goal posts, how the stewards prepare for the half and full time whistles. There is a lot of activity around the pitch that the TV just doesn't capture.

Andy kept me fully informed into the logistics of the whole game, in terms of where the away fans sit, which seats are heated, where the managers stand, who is on the pitch pre-game etc. He was the perfect host.

The game started without any fanfare and it was a lot faster than I thought. There were times I missed action because I was looking at another player or watching something else. Unlike the TV, there was no replay. Only the goals were replayed on the big screens, but even at that, it was too small to really follow, you had a better detail by watching the main pitch.

At first Gretna looked to be holding their own, bottom of the league playing the top of the league. I innocently asked if Celtic where playing their no.1 players and not holding any one back for the big old firm game on the 2nd with Rangers. Andy simply smiled and replied "why? does it look like that?".

After Celtic scored their first goal (mid first half) they then kicked up a gear and with the second half, they showed why they are top of the league, by hammering in another couple of goals to end the game at 3 nil.

And that was it over - my big day out at a Scottish Premier League football match. On reflection, I can see the draw of it. To sit in a stadium of 50 odd thousand people, that all "oooh", breath deeply, jump-up upon scoring, boo, laugh, to name just some of the emotions is quite an experience. The football was far more alive and real than watching it on a TV screen.

I will most definitely go back again (should Andy invite me, and this time I will most likely have to stump up the price of the ticket myself!), and look forward to when I can take my sons up for them to experience the big match sensation of live football.

To, Andy+Heidi, thank you!


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