The legendary director is famous for his teeming crowd scenes in biblical epics. Anecdotal evidence – a posh term for interminable pub witterings – suggest there were more than a million Celtic fans in Seville for the 2003 UEFA Cup final, at least 500,000 at Love Street when Celtic snatched the title in 1986, and 100,000 in the shed on the opposite side to the main stand from where a bottle spiralled into the dark night, took a stoat and was the subject of a scramble between Celtic players and those of Rapid Vienna.

The Vienna players won and presented the bottle to the referee with the smug satisfaction of a cat bringing home a sparrow in dire need of a life-support system.

There have been at least 92,346 people – it has been a long, long 25 years – who have insisted to me they were within 10 yards of the tosser in the Jungle. I was there. But not in that covered enclosure.

I was in what was always known as the Rangers End, the vast terracing behind the opposite goalmouth to where all the trouble was occurring.

A quarter of a century on, I am very clear about my reactions on that night but somewhat confused about the storm that precedes the match in the Europa Cup tonight.

There are, I believe three central points to consider about Rapid 1984 and its aftermath.

The first is that as a spectator on the night there was an immediate sense of apprehension after the bottle came on. Many players and fans have stated, rightly, that the throwing of objects on to football parks was not a strange phenomenon or even one that is restricted to the crude past of fandom.

But my immediate reaction to the events of 1984 was to mutter something along lines that there would be hell to pay for this. I was, frankly, astonished at the first verdict that imposed a fine. It seemed lenient. Yes, the Austrians were at it. But a bottle had been thrown on to the pitch.

The second verdict left me feeling as if I had partaken of a pie infused with LSD. (Much less harmful to health than a normal eighties pie). A UEFA committee, mysteriously comprising just three members, decided to increase the fine on Rapid for the behaviour of their players but order Celtic to replay the match 100 miles from Parkhead.

And this leads to the second observation. It concerns the standard of leadership at both the club and at the head of European football at the time. The punishment was not commensurate with the crime, but was also foolhardy. It helped to create a poisonous atmosphere at Old Trafford. Football supporters, of course, should individually be responsible for their actions. They should be able to behave in a mature manner. But UEFA’s decision tried the patience and forbearance of the most civilised punter. It was unjust.

And it was also a measure of the standard of government of European football. The decision lacked even a superficial consistency and was certainly not the product of any sustained thinking.

If UEFA thought Celtic culpable in allowing a moronic element to threaten players, why did they believe a solution to the problem would be to move the game down the road and have 50,000 supporters inflamed by a sense of injustice? This is not to condone the shameful events of Old Trafford but merely to say they were hardly unforeseeable.

The leadership at Celtic was poor. They should have politely declined UEFA’s invitation to play the match at Old Trafford. They would have then had two options. The first would have been to let the matter rest. The second would have been to pursue the case through the courts.

The third observation concerns the befuddlement over the pages and pages of comment that have preceded tonight’s match. The propaganda has been orchestrated with an intemperance that would make Don King seem the soul of sobriety.

It does not seem to reflect reality. This all happened a quarter of a century ago. A substantial proportion of the Celtic support will have no direct experience of the night and its aftermath. It was also not one of Celtic’s most painful European nights as a supporter.

There was a sense of frustration that Vienna and UEFA had seemed to collude in producing a third leg. But for sheer sporting injustice and cowardice on behalf of the European body the events of the winter of 1985 wither and die in the face of such obscenity as the performance of Atletico Madrid at Parkhead in the semi-final of the European Cup of 1974.

The Rapid Vienna night for the supporters was one of exhilaration, then apprehension and then severe disappointment. But I do not believe that it has formed a resentment that trickled down the ages like some sort of poisoned stream. It was the second round of the European Cup-Winners’ Cup.

The Atletico Madrid game, in contrast, was the first leg of a semi-final of the European Cup. It started with an assault on Jimmy Johnstone and then became more violent. Atletico were a disgrace. Three of their players were sent off and five of the remaining eight were on a yellow card when the game ended 0-0.

The European body should have immediately acted against the Madrid club. The Celtic board should have refused to play the second leg. The Atletico game anticipated the Rapid furore. Incompetence by the authorities was met by acquiescence from a spineless board.

I observed the match of 1984 more than a furlong from the sole bottle-thrower. But the fans of both sides were watching a highly physical encounter that always remained within the borders of acceptable behaviour. Some Austrian players may now whinge at some Celtic tackles and the Tommy Burns goal would almost certainly not be allowed to stand in modern football, given that the midfielder was sliding in on the goalkeeper with a boot raised.

But the memory of the Rapid Vienna second leg is of a great game that contained a glorious comeback. It was a football match interrupted by a moment of hooliganism.

The Atletico match was hooliganism only rarely interrupted by football. I can not understand the motivation of a fan who throws a bottle. But 35 years on I still wonder at how the Celtic fans restricted themselves merely to loud vocal protests at the premeditated brutality of Atletico Madrid. Cecil B DeMille placed me in the Jungle that night. But the animals were on the park.