Did you see it? I was there. I was there, but outside Celtic Park; close enough to hear the roars of the crowd, but too close to be able to see any of the big screens. But I felt part of it, a small part of the massive logistical operation that got more than 4000 people to walk out of the confines of the Athletes Village up to Celtic Park, in the right order, on time and without any major dramas. There were volunteers acting as traffic wardens, stopping some teams, waving others on faster, and making sure we all slotted into place in the right order.
I was in charge of the lollipop flag again, leading my team up the road; a Pied Piper for a group
of wandering athletes, who resisted all of the marshal’s requests to walk faster! When we arrived at our allotted waiting point a little before the alloted time of 21:09, we were all alone, a small team, but gradually over the next 30 minutes the hundreds in the New Zealand squad, passed by, then the Kenyans, singing
and trotting in step, and the Cook Islanders, flowers in their hair, serenaded us in close harmony. Mauritius slotted in, in front, and Namibia behind and it was as cosy as the biggest busiest queue you have ever been in, but significantly more cheerful.
People from the houses in the adjacent street were out to watch and the cheer the arrival if each team, and hundreds and hundreds of photos were taken by everyone there – of each other, of the other teams, of the people watching. Encumbered by my lollipop flag, it was a bit tricky for me to take photos, but that didn’t stop me trying.
We were starting to get a little fretful with all the waiting, when suddenly, from nowhere the REd Arrows roared overhead leaving a trail of red white and blue in their wake. Somehting was definitely about to happen. Slowly, we started to move forward, before turning behind the Emirates Arena and across the road up the ramp to Celtic Park.
I handed in the lollipop, and Kurt, the Mozambique flag bearer was given the flag to carry. And more photographs, despite the fading light. If I had felt proud to carry their flag at the rehearsal, I can only imagine how he was feeling. He said he wanted to try to emulate Chris Hoy carrying the GB flag at the Olympics with one hand, but after trying it for a few minutes, decided that it was indeed an ‘epic’ feat, and not one that he could copy.
And if they were excited by receiving the flag, that was nothing compared to the moment they met the Scottie Dog. When I met the owner at the rehearsal on Monday, she told me that the dog was loving the experience – they were doing both Mozambique and Cyprus – and he did appear very happy to be petted and photographed by all the team, even standing sideways for them to get the full coat with the country name in the shots.
I walked with them to the door of the stadium, and then told them to enjoy it, and they disappeared into the bright lights and roaring crowd beyond.
I then walked to the exit door, where we had been asked to stand to point the way back to the Village for those athletes who wanted to participate in the parade but who did not want to stay out late for the show. I stayed to hear the greeting the Scotland team received, and then walked back down to office in the Village, carrying a few of the lollipop flags over my shoulder, silently singing ‘Hi ho, hi ho’ all the way back.
A friend has recorded the television coverage of the Ceremony, so I shall be reliving it in a couple of weeks, but it was a rare experience to have been mingling with such a crowd of people, if only for one evening.