I need to start the thread earlier this year. Why? Right now the Champions League is in the second round of the qualifying stages. Celtic - you know, Celtic, half of the Old Firm that dominates Scottish football, the first team outside Italy or the Iberian Peninsula to win the European Cup (in their epic 1966/67 season) - were starting their campaign, with new manager Brendan Rodgers readying for his first competitive match in charge, on the road to Lincoln Red Imps FC.
Who the hell are Lincoln Red Imps? They're the best team in the Gibraltar Premier Division (either a semi-professional league or amateur league, depending on who you ask) that gained the privilege of Champions League participation after the 2013 acceptance of Gibraltar into UEFA as its 54th member. They've won their league title 14 times running, and in 15 of the last 16 campaigns, part of 22 league titles overall (a record) in 32 seasons in the top flight. Their home is Victoria Stadium, the 5,000-seat artificial turf national stadium that's home to every football team in Gibraltar, including the national team for friendlies. (For competitive matches, the national team must play at the Estadio do Algarve in Faro, Portugal, a Euro 2004 stadium that otherwise stands dormant due to the inability of the two local football clubs to fill it; Victoria Stadium doesn't fulfill UEFA's requirements for competitive national team matches, but it features a nifty view of The Rock.)
As league champions of Gibraltar, Lincoln must begin from the first qualifying round. Their first participation in the Champions League, in 2014/15, met with immediate elimination, but for the second year running they have advanced to the second qualifying round, this season having defeated FC Flora Tallinn, Estonia's top squad. Celtic are by far the biggest club Lincoln Red Imps have faced.
By now, you know where this is going. On the strength of a customs officer, a fireman, a policeman, and a taxi driver, among others, Lincoln Red Imps defeated Celtic in the first leg, 1-0, and will travel to Glasgow's Celtic Park, which holds about twice the total population of Gibraltar, for the second leg, set to be played next Wednesday. Read more below.
BBC Match Report: http://www.bbc.com/s...otball/36761213
BBC Live As It Happened: http://www.bbc.com/s...otball/36775154 (Scroll down to get earlier updates.)
BBC Radio Scotland Sportsound (reaction): http://www.bbc.co.uk...rammes/p0418y16
Gibraltar's Victoria Stadium: http://footballtripp...dium-gibraltar/