Celtic Park

Ground No. 82
Visited - Saturday 14th January 2006
Result - Celtic 4-2 Kilmarnock
Competition - Scottish Premier League
Attendance - 59,995

With Wolves game against Luton having been put back to a Friday night, it gave me the welcome opportunity to see another ground, but where? Initially I’d been looking to add to the 92, but with a year having passed since I last went up to Scotland to Ibrox, I decided to return to Glasgow for the weekend and see the other half of the Old Firm in action against Kilmarnock, before visiting Fir Park the next day for Motherwell’s game against Rangers.

Although I wouldn’t claim to be an out and out Rangers fan, it’s true to say that out of the two Glasgow sides, I find myself sitting firmly on the blue side of the fence, so planning a trip up to Celtic Park felt very much like the previous weeks visit to the Hawthorns, and I wasn’t entirely sure whether I would really enjoy the experience or not, so in the days leading up to the match I was somewhat apprehensive, but looking forward to it all the same.

The journey was a long one, which required catching a train to Birmingham at 4:45am, before over an hours wait for a delayed train on to Edinburgh. Despite the length of it, it did go well, although there was a 20 minute wait at Burton station, on top of the 20 extra minutes that it was late arriving at New Street, but other than this we seemed to arrive in the north-east quicker than expected, however after leaving Newcastle, this is where the length of the journey really seemed to kick in, and so it was a relief to finally step off the train at Edinburgh. Sadly, there was little time for a break there, and so it was straight over to another platform and onto the train destined for Glasgow, which went well, with me having made up some of the time from the earlier delays. 

Once in Glasgow, there was little to do before going to the ground, so after stopping off in the clubshop, it was off down London Road towards Parkhead. I had been told in advance that the area around the ground wasn’t particularly nice, however despite it not perhaps being one of the ‘more affluent areas’ of the country, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I’d expected, and I was able to arrive at the ground unscathed from the 25 minute walk.

Before you actually reach the ground, you can see it a mile off, and it really is quite an impressive site, standing tall from all around. Coming from the London Road direction, I arrived first outside the South Stand, which was the oldest part of the ground, but still looked very modern, and particularly smart with the stylish red brickwork giving a nice impression compared to the other more modern sides. Now, although that might sound disparaging, it isn’t meant as an insult, as they are quite attractive in themselves, with the green and white cladding making them stand out better than most stands of a similar age, and you really can’t help but be impressed by their size, which in this country only Old Trafford and St James’ Park compare to.

After getting enough pictures and buying a programme, I went in to the Jock Stein Stand, where I had booked tickets for in advance. Inside, the ground is just as impressive as from the outside, if not more so. The Jock Stein Stand, was a large two tiered structure, which curved round to the North Stand to our left, which in turn, ran the length of the pitch, before turning the corner to the Lisbon Lions Stand, which was a mirror image of the stand I was in. The only difference between the three new stands was in the North Stand, where the upper tier was slightly set back from the upper tiers of the two ends, and featured a number of supporting pillars towards the back, but other than this the ground was virtually symmetrical, until you came to the South Stand. Despite being dwarfed by its more modern neighbours, it is in fact a fair sized stand itself, being two tiered, and featuring a rather unique looking roof that has a large TV gantry running beneath its translucent panels. Many criticise its size, and although the ground would look superb if the North Stand was replicated here, the Main Stand does help offset the three bigger sides, giving Celtic Park a unique feel to it, which always helps to add character.

Having been to the other end and back taking pictures, there was one more surprise in store for me, when reaching my seat to find it padded! As far as I was aware it wasn’t an executive seat or anything, so that was a welcome, and rather comfortable surprise!

After getting back to my seat, it wasn’t long before the players eventually came out, and with it being Roy Keane’s home debut there was a large display in the Lisbon Lions End of fans holding up cards to show the Irish flag with ‘Keane’ featured on it. With that having been done, and the famous huddle in the centre of the pitch, the match eventually got started.

It didn’t take long for the hosts to take the lead, when in just the second minute Celtic won a free kick on the edge of the Kilmarnock box, only for Shunsuke Nakamura to beautifully curl it around the wall and into the top corner of the net. Despite this early set back, it didn’t deter the visitors from taking to the game to Celtic, and so when the home side won a dubious penalty in the 15th minute, it seemed cruel and somewhat unjust when Shaun Maloney made it 2-0. Still undeterred, the visitors came at Celtic and won a penalty of their own, after a bumbling challenge by Stephen McManus. Steven Naismith converted with ease, to put some balance back into the match, and so with both sides still needing to attack to win, the first half carried on in the same fashion, before the referee blew his whistle to send the hosts in at 2-1.

In the second half, it was much the same as the first, with Kilmarnock not lying down, but going at Celtic, and so it was no great surprise when on 50 minutes Danny Invincible pulled the two sides level. It wasn’t to last though, and just two minutes later, Celtic were back in front from a corner after McManus went from villain to hero, heading the ball home to make it 3-2. As with Rangers last season against Motherwell, I couldn’t help but feel that Celtic were playing at almost half pace, allowing the Kilmarnock players to bring the game to them, knowing that they wouldn’t have to try too hard to score, should they need to, and if it wasn’t for the performances of Maloney and Nakamura then the visitors might have got something from the game, but it was a good move on 67 minutes that allowed Maciej Zurawski in to make it 4-2 from close range, assuring Celtic of the three points.

Throughout the game there hadn’t really been a great atmosphere created, not helped by the small number of travelling Kilmarnock fans who were tucked away almost out of sight in the corner of the Lisbon Lions Stand. When the home crowd did make some noise, then it did get very loud, however sadly it was few and far between, so that was one slight downside to the day, but with a good, well fought match, the lack of noise wasn’t a major issue.

After leaving the ground, and stopping off in the club shop again, it was a quick walk back down London Road to the city centre and onto an underground train to my hotel for the night, on the other side of the city.

Overall, despite my initial reservations, it was a really good day out. The ground is fantastic, certainly in the top 5 of the UK, and it’s somewhere that no doubt I’ll find myself heading back to one of the days. Comparing it to Rangers, it was equally as good a trip, and the two grounds are both up there with the very best English ones. If the Old Firm ever did move to the English Premier League, then both would be among the highlights of the fixture calendar.

Rear of the South Stand

The Brother Walfrid Statue
(founder of Celtic)

Rear of the Lisbon Lions Stand

Rear of the North Stand

Rear of the Jock Stein Stand

The Club Shop

The North Stand

The Lisbon Lions Stand

The South Stand

The Jock Stein Stand

The Roy Keane Card Display

The North Stand

The Lisbon Lions Stand

The South Stand

Celtic Park Panoramic 1

Celtic Park Panoramic 2

Celtic Park Panoramic 3


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