Flood close to tears in derby game

Midfielder was a nearly a weeping Willo when taking to the field for Celtic

Willo Flood said he was close to tears when he took to the field for his Celtic debut in the Old Firm derby. The Dublin-born midfielder was already buzzing after being told he was starting Sunday’s Scottish Premier League clash with Rangers, and he was almost overcome when he eventually ran out at Parkhead.

“Before Sunday, I had only ever watched the Glasgow derby at home on television,” said boyhood Celtic fan Flood, who signed from Cardiff last month after 18 months on loan at Dundee United. “It was my first ever experience of the game, so to get the nod to start against Rangers was a dream come true for me, it really was.

“To just run out for the warm-up as a Celtic player was almost enough to bring a tear to my eye. The atmosphere was unbelievable. I knew it would be good but I didn’t expect the level of noise at the start. The place was absolutely bouncing for the first 20 minutes.

“I remember watching the game on television back home and thinking how good it would be to get the chance to play for Celtic against Rangers. I can’t believe I’ve now achieved it. If someone had said to me all those years ago, when I was watching [Henrik] Larsson and the rest of the Celtic team face Rangers, that I would have been there one day, I’d have just laughed at them. I’d have said, ‘Listen, I’m not Paul Daniels. I can’t just make things happen by magic’. But it’s all happened for real now and it was an absolute dream for me. It’s an experience I’ll treasure for the rest of my life and hopefully there is more to come.”

Flood played just over an hour of Sunday’s goalless draw, which maintained Celtic’s two-point lead at the top of the SPL. The former Manchester City trainee was only told he was starting a couple of hours before kick-off.

He said: “It was a big shock for me because I didn’t really know where I stood in the manager’s plans. I’ve been at Celtic for a few weeks now but I wasn’t able to be involved in the last few games. To be honest, I was just hoping to be in the squad. I’d have been happy to be on the bench, so when the manager gave me the nod, I was really chuffed. I didn’t even have time to tell anybody but, looking back, that was probably for the best. The manager just pulled me aside and told me I was starting on the right side of midfield. He has shown great faith in me and it’s good to know that he believes in what I can do.”

Although Sunday was Flood’s first taste of an Old Firm game, it was not his first big city derby. The 23-year-old played in its Manchester equivalent just over four years ago but insists it cannot compete with what he experienced at the weekend. He told Celtic View: “For me, it was four or five times better than the Manchester derby. I think the Glasgow derby is more intense than the Manchester one. It seems as if there is a lot more at stake.”

The Rangers midfielder Steven Davis claims the Old Firm derby draw backs up his belief that the title race will remain close for the second straight season. Sunday’s tie left Celtic two points clear of their arch-rivals at the top of the table. Rangers will climb into pole position for the first time since November if they beat Kilmarnock on Saturday, but whatever happens between now and May Northern Ireland star Davis can only see a repeat of the kind of drama that saw Celtic snatch the title on the final day of last season.

“I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that I think the league race will go right to the wire,” he said. “After what we saw between the teams on Sunday, I’ve got no reason to believe any differently. Last year was hard for us all and there haven’t been too many additions to the squad since then, so most of us went through the disappointment back then. But the team are performing well this season after having to deal with losing the league and then going out of Europe a few weeks later.

“The championship is still in our hands. If we win every game between now and the end of the season, we’ll have done enough to win the title.

“We’ve got a good situation in the league just now. Both us and Celtic have dropped points to teams further down the league so nothing is settled yet.”


The number of times Old Firm derby matches that have ended in a draw.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent