Friday, March 9, 2018

It's your baby now


Today marks the last day I own Armageddon. As the book and film are shot into the world, the thing that took a year of my life to do is now in the ownership of those who see the film and read the book. The obvious analogy is handing over your baby at birth and it is a bit like that (although nowhere near as dramatic) but that's how it works when you create anything and what makes it palatable is that the alternative is no one being there to own it.

It should have been last week of course when Armageddon became Snowmageddon and the premiere had to be put back a week. In the museum of bad years, 2018 has been the Mona Lisa for me.

With these projects, one of the main things you need to arm yourself with is the ability to block out noise. It's not easy, from being splashed in newspapers to being tagged on Twitter in conversations akin to a collective primal scream, you can't let that shit get in your head. Added to that, Scotland is a country that looks at anyone who puts their head above the parapet in the same way the Mugabe regime used to look at people who wore glasses.

The other thing I deal with is crowd-funding part of the projects which just opens you up to accusations of being everything from Charles Ponzi to Bernie Madoff.  Again, it's white noise but some need a reminder anyway. I, personally, put a grand into this film. I also took no fee and given the cost of DVD and book production, plus the premiere and all that entails, I am in a hole right now which has one rope of recovery, people buying the book and DVD. (The moving back of the premiere has also put me in an even bigger hole financially)That's why I pay little attention to anyone who questions my methods because that noise is normally blocked out by the noise of my electricity meter bleeping.

It all sounds a bit too much hassle, right? Wrong. It's fantastic. Nothing good is ever easy. I love doing what I do and have reached the point of being very comfortable in my one writer shoe and other producer shoe. I've worked very hard to get there and always whilst being faced with a kind of sneering snobbery from folk who think the working classes should know their place. Does that inspire me? You bet it does. The people close to me in my life are almost all of a certain type, they couldn't give a fuck what anyone thinks.

What I've tried to do with this story is tell it through a fans gaze. Not just my own, but through many others fans eyes. The S*n claimed that the film was about Rangers (IL) but it's not. It's in three parts, Newco, Oppression and Invincible. I've said that more times than "two lager" in the last year but you'll never convince those who don't want to be convinced. That's one of the important life lessons in this era of social media and some folk actually believing their opinion is more valid than others.

This marks the end of a trilogy of stories from me. The last six years of my life have had more ups and downs than the lift in the Empire State Building and my life has been hindered in many ways but ultimately it's about deeds not words. I've never felt a blog, tweet or status update will change a thing and therefore I've tried make an impact with what I know, first writing and, latterly, producing.

I hope you enjoy Armageddon, I'm now off to therapy.

You can buy the Armageddon book and DVD right here

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The SFA and appointments of appeasement


As Scottish football continues to bewilder and befuddle even the most tolerant of supporters, it's actually quite astonishing that some folk still think the SFA is fit for purpose. Ok, let's take them at their word for once. Michael O'Neill was their guy, he fitted their profile of the next Scotland manager. Ok, fair dos, proven track record, knows the game, lives in Scotland. Fine. We then get the 100 day clusterfuck from Stewart Regan (normally so adept at his job) and to absolutely no one's surprise, O'Neill goes all "Ulster" and says no. So from that, how do you get to Walter Smith and Alex McLeish?

Blind panic and power unseen.

Forget any notion that this was a committee decision, This was all Rod Petrie. Rod Petrie will be the next President of the SFA but already wields all the power. More of him later.

I spoke to someone who played for Scotland yesterday morning and we were laughing about who would be the "Token Tim" in the appointment but even we didn't think Peter Grant would come that quick.  McFadden, an SFA identikit after saying our titles were tainted without any huns in the league, is the crowd pleaser who comes with virtually no experience but is cheap.

Here's the rub about Alex McLeish: He got a 1.7m EBT and has been ordered by HMRC to pay back 850 grand. There was little chance of that happening until he got this job. He can't do what a few of them have done already, go bankrupt, because it is in his SFA contract that bankruptcy=termination.

I'd say he owes Rod one or 850.

Ah, Rod, the next Celtic-hater on the horizon. Be assured, he wants to stop Celtic. When Rangers were cheating, it looked to all the world like they had the same interests as us. Liquidation put paid to that. Now Newco has more in common with the other 10 top flight clubs and will vote accordingly, against us, guaranteeing the 11-1 vote needed in Scotland for change to certain things like gate receipts for example.

All of this is about absolute power.

And we all know what absolute power does.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Armageddon Book&DVD available to pre-order



I'm well aware that someone has uploaded Anyone but Celtic to YouTube. I don't know the person or have any affiliation to them. I also have no truck with the pathetic excuse posted regarding stealing the film. With that being said, I understand the way world is and I also understand the shelf life of any independent film. There are lots of things I could do right now and, having been in touch with my lawyer on another issue last week, it would be easy to pick up the phone again but I am not going to.

What I am going to do is tell you that you can now pre-order the Armageddon book and DVD.

The link is here http://www.ls86productions.com/armageddon/

All I ask is that you consider buying.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Armageddon


Yesterday was a fun packed day. I had a day off so slept late, went to Leith for a few pints with an old mate and then came home to find two stories about me and my new film, Armageddon, in two tabloids. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't deal with tabloid newspapers. The fact is though none of them contacted me regarding the stories and that's among the reasons why there is very little story in them.

Firstly, and please stop me if you think I am patronising you, this film is not about the liquidation of Rangers (IL). I did that film, remember? Secondly, this film is not entirely about Newco. As I've said on numerous occasions, the film is in three sections, Newco, Oppression and Invincible. It comes from a book that I finished, also called Armageddon.

Secondly, I know the point of these stories. It's twofold. The first is they actually believe they are telling Celtic something new about me showing a film there. The other part is more sinister and is something I am well used to-expose the target on my back. Don't for one second believe "All publicity is good publicity" because it's hard to buy that when you wake up in the morning to yet more death threats.

The point is though, the show must go on.

See you in March.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Phil

In the melee of games we are in, it is important to remember that the cup final tomorrow isn't just about the game itself. We are approaching the 10th anniversary of the passing of one of our own. I walked out a subway on 53rd street in New York and my phone alerted me to the news that Phil O'Donnell had died. It stopped me in my tracks on a cold afternoon. There was an air of disbelief among the Celtic support, and wider Scottish football community, that this could happen to someone so young and to someone who meant so much to so many.


Phil was one of us.

I've spoken to his close friends who told me that when they went to console Eileen and his family, they felt like wee boys sitting on his couch, not knowing what to say or do. Would anyone know?

I don't want to hover over the sadness any more though, because Phil had a life less ordinary. He scored for Motherwell in a winning cup final when just a teenager, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of signing and playing for Celtic, he played in the English Premier League and he left a mark on all that knew him.

There are many stories of his life and soul nature but when that sticks out is him dancing on a table after Celtic had stopped 10 in a row, with wife Eileen in tow, and promptly falling off much to the amusement of all his watching team mates.


Tomorrow, his son Luc will have the cup and lead the teams out, as he does that, the wish from the family is that the Hampden air is filled with Phil's name so Luc can hear just what his Dad meant to everyone in the ground and beyond.

I think it is the least we all owe him.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Gordon Strachan


I've fallen out of love with international football for a while now. In a general sense, tournaments bore me by the quarter final stage, the faux nationalism annoys me and the widespread corruption by FIFA makes me think I am watching a Mafia court case when taking in certain games.

In terms of Scotland, I was done going to watch them by 1990. That was after going to see Scotland play Poland at Hampden and witnessing incessant abuse of two Polish players who just happened to play for Celtic. I've probably been to six Scotland games since then and the record is lost 5, won 1, with the solitary victory actually coming at Wembley. I think most people reading this will know my views on the SFA as an organisation and I know all about the discrimination and treatment of Celtic players in the past too. I also have absolutely nothing in common with anyone who chooses to go to a football match in a kilt.

With all that being said though, I still want Scotland the team to win when they play. I also went to the pub to watch both the last two Scotland games for the first time in yonks.

Recently on Twitter, I responded cheekily to a tweet by a girl who said something along the lines of "If I ever split up with my boyfriend, I'll never want anyone else" So you can imagine the type of reply and when she saw it she responded "Who hurt you?" My reply to that?

"Probably Gordon Strachan the most"

Now I have met Gordon Strachan loads of times. We grew up on the same street, his parents lived in the same house for years, he returned to my scheme on loads of occasions and I've attended loads of local events he was part of. I also met him a lot of times when he was at Celtic, both at the park and in the area when he would visit his dad at the local golf club.

When he became manager at Celtic, I was having a bad time with my health. I resolved to write a book about his first year at Celtic. Average Joe Miller did a brilliant book cover (Trainspotting type theme) and I even got Adrian Chiles to do the foreword (if you remember back then, he and Gordon were a double act on MOTD2) and off I went to games and press conferences reinvigorated after a health scare.

It was two months later that I completely abandoned the idea.

My thought was that I could write about his first season, throw in some old Muirhouse stories, and finish with the sort of cult book (no typo) that I would end up writing many more of in years to come. Thing was, I had no idea what Gordon Strachan was like at press conferences. I discovered really quickly that he was only interested in engaging with one journalist (Jim Black) and anyone else who asked him a question was always looked at as if they just asked to sleep with his wife.

Over the years at Celtic, it became so bad that by 2008 he used the same golfing analogy ("From tee to green we are fine, it's just the putting that needs work")  8 weeks in a row. Now, I know what you are thinking, I am glossing over his 3 leagues, 1 Scottish Cup and 1 League Cup at Celtic and you are right, they were great. As were some of the Champions League nights where the likes of Milan and Man Utd were beaten.

There are lots of other factors though and I don't just mean Artmedia.

His treatment of Chris Sutton, Alan Thompson, Jackie McNamara and Bobo Balde was a joke. He even blamed Jackie for that reverse in Bratislava despite the fact he had signed for Wolves a month previously.

His football was eye-bleeding at times and resulted in Celtic losing 10,000 season ticket holders whom the media branded bigots because they didn't like Gordon Strachan. I should say at this point, I am speaking for myself here, I know not everyone doesn't like him. I was taken to task on Twitter last week by a son of Tommy Burns for my views on Strachan and I know there is a side to Strachan that he will have seen that very few others do and I appreciate completely his friendship with Tommy. However, you cannot overlook the likes of his petty treatment of Aiden McGeady and the lengths he went to to get him out of Celtic. (Just look at all the "replacements" he signed never mind the singling out for constant abuse)

The problem is, Gordon Strachan is a product of his environment. I've asked a few folk from the area recently and they have all agreed: Pretty much everyone from the area is like Gordon Strachan. In Muirhouse, men of 6ft5 have small-man syndrome and not a genetic problem in sight.

When Gordon took the Scotland job, I did think he was the man for the job. I know he loves coaching and developing players and the lack of week to week press conferences would definitely suit him. Yet, all the old traits came back and another generation was damned. The first campaign was awful. A victory over Ireland at Celtic Park should have made progress fairly straight-forward yet Scotland managed to finish fourth in the group.

At that point, a PR campaign was launched to keep him in the job. His comments had fallen in line with SFA top brass ("We need a strong Rangers") and he was given another crack. Reality being, he lost Scotland the group in the first four games. I don't say that lightly. This was a winnable group with a truly awful England side as top seed. Yet as Brendan Rodgers Celtic tore up Scottish football it seemed that the only one who wasn't watching was Gordon Strachan. Indeed, Griffiths only got a game when Strachan thought he was done for and then the likes of Armstrong and Forrest were suddenly thrown into a Scotland team that thought qualification was as likely as an SFA admittance of being wrong.

Suddenly Scotland were playing well.  Throw in the added bonus of John McGinn playing in the top flight again and Callum McGregor banging them in for Celtic and the future actually started to bright. So bright that Scotland put the play offs in their own hands. So what does he do? Goes back to a tired formation and picks his pals again. Even when the midfield is being overrun and Slovenia have equalised and looking likely to score again? He does nothing. With pacey, in-form players on the bench who can score goals regularly, he opts for none of them and the dream dies once again.

Thing is, I know Gordon Strachan won't give a shit about this blog. I am fan who never played the game professionally so my opinion doesn't count in his eyes. No, because he has the wealth of knowledge provided by Mark McGhee and Calum Davidson so why would us Kestrel drinking, devil dug owning monsters matter?

I don't see where Scotland go now. I fear he stays or, worse, Malky gets the job but whoever it is, just give us back our game, please, Mind you, as long as the SFA exist, I see nothing changing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

PSG epitomise reality



I'm old enough to remember and to have attended the Neuchatal Xamax games in 1991. Liam Brady decided, in his wisdom, to go with a back three in Switzerland that badly exposed a defence that was already shakier than a Frank De Boer coat peg and we were battered 5-1. European football was changing then. We just didn't know it. Most fans expected us to still turn the tie around at Celtic Park, despite a reduced capacity, and hope sprung eternal when we were awarded a first minute penalty. Charlie Nicholas sent the penalty sky high and brought us back down earth with a bang.

Last night was always coming. From 2001, when we first took part in the group stages of the Champions League, every year since the gap has got a little bigger. Barcelona in 2012 was probably our last strong punch in a tournament that now belongs Oil teams and Oligarchs. I was in Dubai in the summer of 2015 and saw first hand the wealth behind a lot of these teams. This isn't a different ball game, this is a different sport.

There was a clamour to buy a centre half before the deadline but in reality who would have made a difference last night? John Stones at 49m? Virgil Van Dijk at 80? This was a team that cost almost a billion euros to assemble. They are about join Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the elite of world football. (Fucking incredible we get two of them in our group) And by elite, I mean they can and will leave everyone else eating their dust, including the chronically boring EPL.

We've have seen Celtic lose six and seven in Barcelona and now five last night to PSG. Whilst it still majorly hurts, there is really very little we can do about it as long as we play in Scotland. That's a reality that every supporter needs to get in check. I'm not advocating a move to the EPL, I'm not for that at all, just trying to meet the new boss, who may well be the same as the old boss, it's just now he  has Emirates or Qatar on his shirt.

I wouldn't want Celtic to sell out to the oil barons. I love our identity, I love our supporters (apart from maybe that one Bam last night) and I love that fact that we have guys like Tony Ralston coming through the ranks and already fighting for the jersey. I guess you could say I'm an idealist or a romantic (or maybe just plain daft) but I think games like last night are the price I need to pay to retain all that.

It was also still better than that night in Switzerland.