Even though the matches were played behind closed doors during the day time, there was always an edge to the Old Firm clash when winger Liam Burt played, on both sides of the Celtic/Rangers divide.
And the 22-year-old will draw on all of his experiences from that fixture when he plays in the biggest derby in Irish football, tonight’s clash of his Bohemians side and champions Shamrock Rovers.
A close-season signing from Celtic, Burt has been an ever-present for Keith Long’s side. And he announced himself to outsiders with a stunning strike in a midweek game at home to Sligo Rovers– a 3-1 loss for Bohs, who go into battle tonight knowing that defeat would see them fall 10 points behind.
Burt had done his homework on Bohs, the Irish scene and especially this derby, from speaking to friends who had played here. “I have been told what it will be like. I knew before I came over here that Rovers and Bohs was the big rivalry, so I am looking forward to it,” he says.
“It’s still another chance to get three points. It’s disappointing to have no fans in, but we have to focus on the job. It will be difficult but if we turn up I know we can give them a good game. If everyone turns up on the day we can get a result.”
Burt will lean on his own experiences in Scotland, his craft honed on Glasgow’s concrete. “I grew up on street football, the Boys Club at Celtic and Rangers had good technical teams,” he says. He began his career at Celtic when he was 10, moved to Rangers at 12, and after seven years which included first-team football at Ibrox at 17, he returned to Celtic for a second spell. Burt didn’t play in the Old Firm tie at first-team level but had enough experience at youth and reserve level.
“I played in a good few Old Firm games, cup finals and league matches with the academy. The first-team games are at a real high tempo, but in any Celtic-Rangers game there is a real pressure to win the match, pressure from our supporters to win the match, and this derby tonight is the same, so hopefully we can put on a good show for our fans,” says Burt, who was released by Steven Gerrard in 2019.
Burt is likely to start as Long shuffles his pack for the derby, with Stephen Bradley wary of the Gypsies despite that midweek loss, saying: “I thought they did well, it was a really tight game, it wasn’t a 3-1 game.”
Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians,
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