The real-life tales of a football writer
Every metro station in Barcelona carries several illuminated posters advertising Manchester. It’s part of an airline promotion and a fine-looking shot of the city makes it look more Lisbon than Lowry in an attempt to persuade Catalans to visit.
Barca fans wouldn’t need any such inducement to go there if their team is paired with Manchester United in Friday’s Champions League quarter-final draw.
Barcelona is just recovering from its invasion by Celtic supporters. Unlike the 21,000 Rangers travelling fans in Catalonia last November, the 12,000 who came to cheer on Celtic have received positive media coverage, despite there being little discernible difference in their behaviour.
What changed is that Celtic fans benefited from Rangers visit. The Catalan authorities were not ready for the number of Rangers supporters who constituted the largest ever following in a European away game for a British club in a non-final match. Rangers fans were short changed by authorities happy to take their money, but unwilling to provide the infrastructure their presence required.
Rangers fans were criticised for urinating in the square at Placa Catalunya. Celtic fans weren’t because scores of portable toilets had been installed.
Unsurprisingly, the numerous Irish bars in Barcelona either closed or employed heavy security for the visit of Rangers. For Celtic fans they issued commemorative t-shirts and stuck up posters of Jimmy Johnstone. A special fan zone was created for the Celtic contingent outside the city centre; Rangers fans faced lines of nervous police.
There were many ironic scenes, such as ‘dangerous’ protestant Rangers fans singing sectarian songs in those Irish bars which did stay open, while ‘friendly’ Celtic fans loudly eulogised the IRA in those same bars months later – not that the Catalans, who view noisy inebriation as weakness and not a virtue, were aware of the nuances of fan culture. Well, apart from those who unfurled a giant Irish tricolour to agitate the Rangers fans.
The sheer size of the travelling support from both clubs was impressive and far, far in excess of what Barca took to either Celtic Park or Ibrox - Barca needed only one plane to Glasgow; Rangers fans arrived on 97 flights for the return game in Catalonia.
Their range of songs was comprehensive and flags from both sets of visiting Glaswegian fans impressive. And given the sheer numbers of visiting fans, both games passed with few arrests and plenty of comic stories. Like the two Celtic fans negotiating with a Catalan tout for tickets. He cheekily asked for €200 a ticket and the alcohol fuelled pair thought about it and came back with their offer…€195.
Not since Alan Partridge bid £324,000 for a house on the market for £325,000 – and whose main selling point was “a Buck Rogers toilet” - has a vendor been so willing.
Well here we go. What a load of tosh.
Barça fans won't travel to Manchester, well very few will if they are paired together. As we know they don't have a big away following. It's not in the culture.
Rangers fans were not criticised for urinating in Plaça Catalunya, they were criticised for urinating on the monument to Francesc Macià ex-president of the Generalitat and founder member of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya political party.
Celtic have not benefited from Rangers' visit, Celtic have benefited from the visits of Celtic (twice recently), Rangers, Man United, Liverpool, Newcastle, Chelsea, any German team that has been here and many others.
Any team that has brought a large, noisy, drinking support has lead to these new measures and it will be a lot more comfortable in the future.
We've all seen drunken fans make a fool of themselves. My favourite was the Man United fan who asked me if he was on the right metro for the Camp Nou, drunk as a skunk, ticket in hand. Time - 21.15, date - 26th May 1999.
I think the point the writer is trying to make is, where, were the facilities that Celtic fans enjoyed when Rangers fans were in town.
21000-25000 Rangers fans = No proper provisions made.
10000-13000 Celtic fans = A fanzone with everything a travelling fan needs.
See the difference?
Get the Rangers/Celtic thing out of your head.
Where were these facilities when any team has been in town?
The town council has finally realised that it must cater for large travelling supports.
It's not so easy getting the Rangers/Celtic thing out of your head when direct comparisons between the two visits have been mighty prominant in the last 10 days or so in the newspapers, television, websites..when you include a full page ad in all the red top dailies in Scotland from Peter Lawell about Celtic's fans expexted behaviour in the city.
The many Rangers fans who were availing themselves of the bars ( some temporarily located to deal with the anticipated invasion)were forced to urinate in many public places because any public facilities that were available were soon rendered useless by the numbers passing through them.
A foriegn city is a foriegn city so fans who arrive for one or two nights tend to congregate in the larger squares...they do not cram in a weeks sightseeing in one afternoon.
The sea change in the city fathers stance on visiting football fans was directly linked to the Rangers fans visit in November...there were elections coming up and the Catalans were in high dudgeon regarding thousands of drunken fans( of all clubs) behaving like drunken football fans.The fact that Rangers took over 20000( spend
ing plenty when there,I may add)compounded their dismay.
New by laws saw 130+ Stuttgart fans being arrested/fined later in the year and by the time Celtic rolled into town, meals and entertainment(of a certain variety,and I don't mean old jugglers and vents from the Glasgow Empire days) had been laid on.
This account is fairly refreshing as it does go against the standard Scottish Mhedia blanket analysis
Rangers fans = dangerous
Celtic fans = virtous
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