I always knew it would be something of a risk taking a seat in the lower tier of the Jock Stein Stand, in an area which is probably most kindly described as being weather adverse. However, the stand lurches just far enough over the bottom tier that I thought I could get away with it. I felt it might offer just enough of a steel umbrella to shelter me from the worst of the elements. My first four visits to Celtic Park this season suggested that I was in an ideal location and had made a supreme choice. I have an unobstructed view of the entire pitch and a birdseye position to watch Celtic attack in the second-half. This probably contributed to some slightly overcooked hubris: those four trips have been largely dry, warm and on one occasion I even left a game with sunburn. On the one wet night I experienced the rain had subsided enough before kick-off to deny the true nature of the situation and thus solidify my arrogance.
The weather forecast for Saturday was looking pretty daunting all week. Wednesday night versus Alloa was a near miss, but it was becoming clear that Kilmarnock would truly test the resilience of my seating. There was even a brief, crazy moment where I contemplated abandoning Friday night beers in Aulay’s due to the uncompromising weather front. Thankfully common sense prevailed in that regard and I was able to brave the conditions and get suitably (overly) drunk, but a marker had been laid down. This was going to be a wet weekend.
I made the train on Saturday morning – hung over, windswept, but ultimately dry. It would be the last time I would experience that feeling until Saturday night. The rain must have started almost immediately, because by the time we reached Glasgow the service was on a 16 minute delay due to adverse weather conditions. Even the brief walk from Queen Street to The Raven left my glasses resembling a broken kaleidoscope. If there was an Olympic sport for rain then the way that it bounced off the pavement in Glasgow would surely secure yesterday’s experience at least a silver medal.
By the time I exited Dalmarnock Station and took my route along the Celtic Way the east end streets were slick with rain water and the floodlights from Celtic Park glistened in the dense grey distance. The rain was relentless and I was looking forward to getting inside the stadium to my seat which would offer so much comfort and protection from this ridiculous Autumn afternoon. I went through my current pre-match ritual of going to the bathroom to expel a couple of pints of beer before taking my seat in time for the teams entering the field. When I had to wipe down my seat with a pocket tissue in Niles Crane fashion should have been the moment alarm bells began to sound in my head, but Celtic were entering the huddle and my thoughts were consumed with the hopes and expectation of sporting triumph.
Barely had the first whistle been blown when it hit me. A series of large, wet drips plunging from the tip of the Jock Stein Stand. It was a cold awakening to a new reality: it wasn’t the rain I had to worry about, but the excess rain clinging to the roof of the stand above me. There wasn’t a relentless surge of drips, unlike the Celtic attacks on the field, but they would come every ten minutes or so and when they did you would feel the full force of them, like a Moussa Dembele piledriver from nine yards out. And similar to Jamie McDonald in the Kilmarnock goal there was nothing you could do about them.
I think I came to the conclusion that these drips fell most prolifically during breaks in play. Any goal-kick, throw-in, corner-kick was met with a ferocious splurge from the top-tier as though these drips were being dispensed from a firing range. It was like a synchronised fall – three of them would come at once, one after the other. BAM! SPLASH! WALLOP! And they would get everywhere. No matter how well concealed you thought you were from the elements, these menacing drips could reach you. Be it on the face, down the back – these buggers really liked to get inside the neck of your coat – or wherever, they would leave every bit of you soaked. They had the pinpoint accuracy of a Tom Rogic pass and significantly more menace.
These were not small drips either. They were a remarkable size. If the inflatable sex dolls which briefly dangled from the stand above me a couple of weeks ago were offensive then these engorged drops of rain were a permanent threat. Judging by the number of seats in front of me which had become vacant at the half-time interval I suspect that a few folk were put off enough by these rogue interlopers to either seek higher ground or even throw in the towel altogether – though there would have been far greater uses for that towel.
As it was, Celtic were not as distracted by the monstrous drops of water from the Jock Stein Stand as I was and they pounded the Kilmarnock goal with a deluge of attacking opportunities, particularly in the second-half. The flood gates were truly opened and there should perhaps have been even more to show for it in the end than six goals. Despite Celtic’s stylish play in and around the Kilmarnock area they were restricted to ‘just’ the half-dozen, which was enough to dismiss the relentless rainfall and send a sizeable crowd home happy, if considerably more wet.
Celtic 6-1 Kilmarnock
The Drips 1-0 JJ
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