Poets Corner: That’s Cricket Mate

Midweek under the lights. When did that saying become a thing? It was definitely before the disco lights.

It was cold. There was a competition for whose hat had the biggest bobble. When did that become a thing as well? Some of the bobbles are so big they have their own weather systems and block out the names of the food vans going into the Lisbon Lions stand. ‘Meet and Sizzle’, ‘The Big Beefy’ and ‘Declan’s Donuts’. Is he really called Declan? Does he change the name to ‘David’s Donuts?’ if he is outside Ibrox? The masses need to know and these questions need answered.

Foolhardy fullback changes are the talk of the steamie. AJ is bored of Canada on the bench. Greg Taylor is in the house watching the Champions League. Alexandro Bernabei is the first Argentinian to play for Celtic you know. He hasn’t been seen for weeks. Tony Ralston hasn’t been seen for months but he had a sick note.

What is Mr Angelos Postecoglou doing? It’s his one hundredth game in charge you know. No-one seems to be mentioning that. We are always told to trust the process and that’s what we need to do even when it is this cold.

The game starts. Hearts in a black and blue away kit. Why? There is no colour clash, no need for Hearts to look like a snide Inter Milan. Robbie Neilson is the type of man your Auntie brings home after a divorce. He has a line manager at a call centre vibes about him. Drives an Audi. You know the type.

We run about a bit. Trying to keep warm I expect. They run about a bit with purpose. What’s this?  They are pressing high. Bring it on. Daizen runs the ball out the park. Abada looks disinterested as Ralston fires a ball over his head. The crowd grumbles. Daizen scuffs a ball well by the post. He’s offside. Flag up. That will become a feature of the game.

Hearts score.

Someone is to blame. We must have our scapegoat or a saviour. VAR could be that saviour. We wait and wait. Goal given. They run away to celebrate. Small club behaviour. Their fans wave some flags and taunt. Someone is to blame. The consensus seems to be Ralston. I think it’s a decent goal, I’m not blaming anyone at this time as we have 82 mins left to win this game. Blame is for Tories. Is there panic in the crowd? Hell, yes… it’s that man Ralston again with another pass out the pitch. Is that St. Johnstone’s Tony Ralston?

Kyogo runs and runs and tries. We are desperately seeking Abada. This is your chance son. Matt O’Reilly tries to flick, turn and run, nothing happens. Mooy maybe tried something. Andy Halliday is a horse radish. Somewhere a Hearts player is shot from the grassy knoll and lies down. There is a header over the bar. We need something. Hearts are dictating the pace by being utter clownfish. No-one wants to take a throw in and the ball feels lonely. A boy ball slips and we all laugh. Another corner where Mooy looks like he is trying to cross a medicine ball. A Hearts player is blown over and the delivery in purple from Love Honey gives the free-kick.

Then we score.

Celtic’s Tony Ralston finds a Kyogo run deep in the woods, he squares it to Diazen who slides it in. The Hearts goalie claims he has been decapitated. There is no blood. Diazen is hurt also. The linesman waves his flag furiously for offside. The maroon meanies gloat. Kyogo points out to the ref that he isn’t offside and to give him the ball. VARtastic, goal given…why did the linesman wave his flag? Answers via text message only.

We get a boost. There is the press we’ve been missing. My cords are no longer crushed. Bernabei threatens, unsure who though. He looks interested but is that a good thing? VAR says he shouldn’t be sent off. Hearts are glad he’s not been as he’s been one of their best players so far.

Daizen throws his shin guards to the turf. DJ Jota does a quick spin and comes on. The Hearts goalie finds his decapitated leg. The Hearts goal scorer decides that he has had enough and falls over. He lies there. Gets up and falls over again like a toddler taking a tantrum. He goes off. They bring on someone else who goes off in the second half after falling down. Toy soldiers being toppled down stairs.

DJ Jota flicks and Matt O’Reilly fails to get the manager to speak to him this week. 6 minutes added on at the end of the first half. We’ve got them now but they are organised. All post it notes and to do lists.

Half Time. No-one claims the Paradise windfall.

Celtic seem to be on the pitch a good 20 minutes before Hearts appear for the second half. We play about at the back a bit with the ball. Hearts play out from the back quite well at times. That’s not allowed, there is rules for that sort of thing at Celtic Park.

If Kyogo runs and no-one sees it then has Kyogo actually run at all?

Too much philosophy, not enough performance. DJ Jota decides enough is enough. He sticks on ‘Islands in the stream’ and the dance floor is filled at this wedding reception. ‘Daddy Cool’ finds ‘Turning Japanese’ and it’s time for some Scooter. See what happens when you see Kyogo run?  Linesmen never see Kyogo run. Be glad VAR does.

Foot on the neck time. A steward gets hit with the ball. A Celtic fan gets huckled out while giving Hearts fans abuse. Abada and St Johnstone’s Tony Ralston both decide that a decent cross in loads of space is beyond them tonight. DJ Jota and Mooy are ruling the dance floor. The aforementioned Hearts sub is subbed. Joe Hart catches the ball. We need a third goal.

Haksabanovic time. Him and Jota are ballers. Two ballers on the pitch wanting to be on the pitch, loving being on the pitch. The rest need to take note. Bernabei does and Hearts now wish he had been sent off. Up and down, up and down he goes. First Argentinian to play for Celtic you know. As rough as out of date corn beef but he’s in our cupboard. Haksa floats past a couple of crisp pokes and belts it into the top corner.

They check VAR. Decision no queue jumping at the kiosk in the lower Lisbon Lions stand. Goal stands.

Game over. Pack up your little flags and go home. I include linesman in that.

DJ Jota is spinning around having fun apart from missing that open goal. Disbelief when he doesn’t get man of the match. Highway robbery I cry. Kyogo makes it into the night with that award. How can he win it when no one saw him run all night?

“Celtic, Glasgow”

St Johnstone’s Tony Ralston miskicks 8 yards out from goal. Sums up his night. He looks knackered. Iwata makes himself available for the ball, plays the ball, makes himself available for the ball, plays the ball. Simple game when done like that. More notes should be taken. No misshapes or mistakes, this is not a raid this is three points, baby.

Final Whistle. Hard fought.

Driver get that the coaches heating on my feet are freezing. Stan Smiths are not thermal.

Some Carpenters sang.

‘Ange Postecoglou ole ole ole’.

It’s his lap of appreciation. One hundred not out. That’s cricket mate.

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