Saturday, December 31, 2011

He's the Prodigal Son

As the dust settles on Wednesday, my mind has been wandering a lot to the performance of Charlie Mulgrew. Played at left midfield at Ibrox, Charlie let himself down with a needless sending off. On Wednesday he strolled through the game at centre half, easily his best position, and it is clear that Charlie is firmly established as a fans favourtite.

At just 25, his best years are ahead of him and there is no doubt they will be in a Celtic jersery. I think in any team you need guys that are close to the supporters way of thinking and as a born and bred Celtic supporter Charlie fits into that category. This is a very young Celtic team and guidance is a must and it was noticeable to me that Charlie, and Scott Brown too, were always on hand to give it. Ask any young player how vital that is.

Charlie has had a few false starts in his career, not least in his first spell at Celtic, but he's at the front of a new era at Celtic, one I think that will make all supporters proud, just like Charlie did on Wednesday.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Paradise Found

So last night I actually went to a game. After a mammoth 14 hour kip, the result of a couple of flights back from America, my best laid plans went tits up after said sleep saw me sleep in. I got through to a wet and windy Glasgow where I was picked up by my friend John Paul, who also had my ticket, and we departed to the Prince Charlie for a few beers. I realised then my ticket was for slap bang on the middle of the Green Brigade, I've been a fervent supporter before now I am for life, and being in amongst them was like being back in The Jungle. Non stop singing and supporting was, for me, just unbelievable.

I'd also met Willie Keane before the game and this added to a growing feeling of "I'm home" that was washing over me. This felt fantastic. The game itself wasn't much of a spectacle but we got the win we deserved and back on top of that league for 2012, Yes I'll happily take the credit for that...hahaha. I have to say that to join in The Huddle and JCGE after marvelling at both from afar was very emotional for me and it was that kind of feeling of being back where you belong that really made me as happy as I've been in a long time.

There was also the fact that I could see my eldest son James in the main stand jumping up and down going crazy like the rest of us. Man that felt good. My thoughts also drifted to The Bronx and Pennsylvania knowing my friends there were partying and would be ecstatic at the win too. I love it when a plan comes together.

It's my Father's birthday on January 1st, 66 he would have been had he lived, I hope that he sees his son and grandsons following on the family tradition which is, of course, supporting Celtic forever and a day.

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's no place for the old

This will be my second last blog of 2011. It's a weird one as it is tinged with sadness, anger and excitement. We are leaving New York on Monday to go back to Scotland. Our lives have been a nightmare now for three months with stress off the charts. A series of talks, and quite a few shouting matches, got us to the decision to come bac, not to mention people who need us. In the last four years my life has ran thus, just the point something bad happens in it, 25 other bad things happen at the same time. Added to which it's at those points people around you reveal their true character. This normally shows itself in three forms, Back You, Ignore You or Fuck You. And not the good way either.

Things started to go bad for us right about the time Wim's Tims came out, nothing to do with the book at all, but a series of events went against us which made relations very strained here to the point where you became a George Harrison, What Is Life kind of guy. The torches on those dark days came from The Celtic Family. People close to us here like Chas Duffy, Frankie Fraser and Gary Haley. The kind of guys who if you had to sit in the trenches, you'd want them at either side of you. Time and again offering help, support and much needed laughs. The mistake folk always make in these situations is they always assume good things will come from people who cannot wait to see you suffer. With guys like Chas, Frankie and Gary around, they make times like that so much easier.

Having to go out and promote a book knowing there is constant crisis in the home is not easy but it is made much easier by the following people Chris McGuigan, David Harper, Joe McKenna, Graham Wilson, Seamus Cummings, The Rev, Jim McGuigan and Housey. Quite often I'd go on shows after some real terrible days, some when a long month lay ahead, some when my confidence was low or some when the last thing I felt like doing was talking to folk yet as soon as you did, you felt better, that's what family is.

Often on Twitter it was my lifeline when everything else was falling apart, the banter would still flow. I suppose this is what we could call in football "The transitional period" but in these situations you find out a lot about yourself and the others around you, in the long run, that is a good thing. Also we did manage to raise the $2000 target for The Phil O'Donnell Trust and there will be more to come, that's what family is. More importantly the name Phil O'Donnell lives on. As I said before some people walk away or worse kick you when you're down, they were never worth it in the first place but if you've just read this, you know you're worth it and for that, I love you..

Merry Christmas one and all

Hail Hail
Paul

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Eve with Kilmarnock

I'll shock a few people here, we are playing Kilmarnock on Saturday. I've read and heard so many people talk about the game on the 28th, I'm starting to think folk have forgotten we have a game before it. I thought @seamusmag brought up a great point earlier in the week where he said the biggest thing we had to fear in the next week is over-confidence. I agree with that. Things have turned round for us so dramatically that folk think it is a formality we will win the next three games. I even heard on @terracepodcast talk of five and six goals on the 28th. Reality check needed.

I'm sure none of us will forget the last game against Kilmarnock of course, three down at half time, thigs looked bleak for Neil Lennon but we fought back, went on a run and here we are now, four points only behind and a chance on Saturday to see how much progress has been made. I am sure the players will have benefited from a free midweek after a hectic schedule of league and European games and of course three crucial league games coming up next week.

With the Kilmarmock game being on Christmas Eve, Celtic Park will see its lowest crowd for some time with fans in Ireland having no chance with travel and loads of men relaising they haven't done their Christmas shopping, so once again it will see the onus on The Green Brigade to provide the atmosphere amidst a backdrop of madness that is the new law passed last week.

Thankfully they are up to the task, let's hope the players are too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's YOU who isn't the supporter Lawwell


It's at the point where you can set your watch by a Peter Lawwell gaffe. His horrific comments about supporters at the Udinese game serve as another reminder that this man's ego is completely out of control to the point where he wants to handpick supporters who go to games. Folk who know him are well used to this tactic. He loves his cosy wee chats at Celtic Park and his wee handouts of execuive tickets to supporters who will toe his line, as Matt McGlone put it "The Celtic Succulent Lamb"

There was a time when he had a lot of web and fanzine guys in for said cosy chats but most saw through him eventually, sadly some still back him to the hilt regardless of the negative impact on Celtic or the supoorters. It's things like his refusal to even discuss his enormous bonus that rile supporters, you know, the supporters who go without just so they can go and see Celtic. Or when SNP passed a bill designed to attack our culutre and identity, where was Lawwell then?

Quite frankly Lawwell is surrounded by so many arselickers and folk who give him credence, it's beyond cringeworthy when he makes a fleeting appearance at a supporter event. Mealy mouthed words about "The Celtic Family" as he schemes to think up new ways to piss us off.

Celtic supporters deserve much more than a man like this. You only have to look at the eloquent and passionate defence Brian Wilson made of our songs recently to know how things should be. Instead we have the bold Pedro, swanning about Celtic Park like he owns the place, told by his lackeys that he is right and everyone else is wrong and giving knowing nods to the comfy seat brigade who sit silent whilst this man continues to isolate and attack our ow supporters.

Shame on you all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Is it the SNP? or is it the SFA?

I've always been as anti Union as you'll find. My biggest fear from a United Ireland is that your hardcore loyalists would jump ship to Scotland and over the last 10 years this has been happening before an United Ireland actually has. My fear of an Independent Scotland is that it would be run like the SFA. Silly wee men running about trying to look important and looking after their own and no one else. Sadly, under devolution, it's already happening, the only slight difference being that there are silly wee women involved as well.

They used to say Roseanna Cunningham was a Republican you know, not the venomous bigot we all witnessed today. The SNP have been shown up as small-minded and despicably anti Irish today. A party determined to attack all aspects of our culture with an end game of eroding it from Scotland.

The rampant sectarianism and racism eminating from the SNP today is of a party totally obsessed with power at any cost and should never be forgotten when we go to the polls, nor should the fact this is a party who said NOTHING when Rangers implimented a policy of aparthied from 1911-1989 whilst their fans waded in fenian blood week after week.

The extension of this bill as a power and a law now means that any football fan is a target, some more than others of course, and anyone who thinks this it about eradicating hate in Scotland should ask themselves this: Why were Salmond and Rob Shorthouse hell bent on keeping the attempted murder of our manager out of the press?

Have absolutely no doubt that the attack on our culture has just begun and that capitulation is not an option.

They may be trying to stop the Fenian blood rising, well, they just failed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One great Celtic day in The Bronx



So on Saturday Wim's Tims was launched officially in The Bronx. Of course the book has been out for six weeks now but we like being unconventional. Target of $2000 has been raised that's down to all the people who bought the books when all is said and done. Money is important in these things but more important is keeping Phil O'Donnell's name alive. That's why, for example, people will walk from Fir Park to Celtic Park on Dec 29th.



As for the day itself, it could not have went any better. The guys from @btwcelticshow came up and once they realised they weren't going to be killed in The Bronx, they were fine. In any of these type of events you always have that wee nagging doubt of folk not showing up or, worse, showing up and having no interest in the book and just coming for the game. All these doubts were washed away when Nick Laveglia from Queens came in, bought a book right away, and this started a rush. By full time all books had been signed and sold. What was also brilliant for me personally was that folk seemed genuinely interested in the work.



The venue for the launch was The Celtic House, home of @bronxbhoyscsc and the hospitality was out of this world. Club President Chas Duffy organised a superb breakfast for everyone of rolls on bacon and sausage, expertly modelled here by Marti Crampshee, and it really did add to the occasion, not to mention the warm welcome and the "nothing too much trouble" attitude of the Bronx Bhoys and barman Kevin Logan.



Of course the game was a tense affair with the roof almost coming off the club when Wanyama put that one in the top corner, only for it to come back in when Calum Murray saw a penalty that no one else did. Thankfully Big Fraser saved the day and children could sleep safe in their beds once more.



Post match and there was a raffle for a set of golf clubs, fittingly won by Gary Haley who was the inspiration for me writing again and before anyone cries "FIX!", it was the barmaid who picked it out.



After this, @btwcelticshow got going and what a show it was. Streamed live, there were interviews with Gary Haley, Chas Duffy and myself. Fair play to @grahamdwilson his questions were excellent and speaking personally it was nice to be asked about the creative process as for cathartic reasons alone it is good to get that info out as writing a book is a lonely existence and...what is is this? Inside The Actors Studio?



So everything went fine and a great day was had by all. It always fantastic to be amongst The Celtic Family, especially when you're a long way from Paradise from here....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Launch it from The Bronx



Most of you will know by now that circumstances will see me back in Scotland from the end of December for an extended stay. It's been a bit of a rollercoaster year with many highs and the odd low thrown in too. By about the first week in November I was completely frazzled when plans were afoot for a book launch in December. I've never done an official book launch before, the closest I've probably came was when Albert Kidd came to The Bronx in May. So when the guys from @btwcelticshow decided they fancied a trip to The Bronx, we thought why not coincide it with a launch? As usual, Bronx Bhoys President Chas Duffy was keen and supportive and the news that he is getting rolls, bacon and sausage in delighted all!



When I was in NYC previously, I'd been in the Bronx club a couple of times, a 1-1 draw v Hibs in Dec 07 and I was also there when Big Jan headed us back intp the title race in Apr 08 and both times found the people in the club to be a welcoming lot. Moving to The Bronx in October 10 saw me in most weeks and getting to know the Bhoys and Ghirls there was a real pleasure. Making lots of real friends is something I hadn't really done in other Celtic clubs in NYC and it's because in The Bronx you can't just sit and watch the game, folk will come up to you, welcome you and so on. Most others have maybe one or two folk who take it upon themselves to do that specifically in a committee role, I found everyone did it in The Celtic House where The Bronx Bhoys are located. So when it came to the idea of a book launch in NYC, there was only one venue in mind.


Thing is, what do I do there? Well I have 25 books sent from the publisher that I hope to sell at $20 each, signed by me unless folk think that devalues it of course, and I'll also be taking along Jackie McNamara's top from the day we stopped 10 in a row. Both books and top are for one thing, to raise as much money for the Phil O'Donnell Trust as possible,. When all is said and done, that's what it is all about. It's great that @grahamdwilson @seamusmag and @revhooligangss with be there from @btwcelticshow as their voices have been like a soundtrack to the Wim's Tims project. They should not forget that.

So call in on Saturday, be part of the launch and the live show. As you can see Graham, a consumate profressional, is waiting to take your calls on all the Celtic issues of the day, right after the Hearts game and there will be a few guests also.

Of course, like any event, doubts always appear when it gets closer, what if the Celtic game is cancelled on Saturday? What if the wifi doesn't work in the pub? What if someone shoots me before Saturday? The answer to all of these is simple, TIM UP. We do live in a world now where men can wimp out at the first sign of any hiccup.

Just not in The Bronx.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When Paul broke Hearts


A corny title I know but Saturday's game comes just two days shy of the 24th anniversary of another Celtic-Hearts fixture that shaped a lot of our Centenary Year. After a decent start, we had a poor October but the signing of Joe Miller from Aberdeen for 650,000 had reignited our season and we had gone into this Hearts game on the back of a six match winning run with no goals conceded. Ironically the last league goal we had conced was to Hearts at Tynecastle. One other quirk was the fact that the board had handed out leaflets, well they didn't personally do it, asking a section of The Jungle to cut out unacceptable chanting. The chant in question was about Ian Durrant.



Hearts went two nil up in the game, one goal a fine counter-attacking one, scored by Robertson, the other a horrendous mistake by Rogan that Galloway disptched. In between these was one of the worst decisions I've ever seen at a football match. Walker crossed for Billy Stark place a beautiful header past Henry Smith only for Brian Whittaker to push the ball away with his hand. Decsion? Play on.

With nine minutes left, it looked like Hearts would get the two points. There was a crowd of 44,000 exactly there, which was a shock to the guy on our bus who played a part in printing all the tickets Celtic sold and they had printed 56, 442 (I checked) We got a penalty with nine minutes to go that Jambos still claim was outside the box and Andy Walker dispatched.

It all looked in vein until with 90 seconds left Paul McStay smashed in his first goal of the season to get us a draw and produce a celebration that still produces goosebumps on viewing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSyth2aRJtQ

*Thanks to the Celtic Wiki for the pics.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Tims at TANNADEECHE

I really enjoyed the game yesterday. We played very fast, flowing football at times, we scored a brilliant goal and we had an iron grip on the game for 90 minutes. I don't know if many outside of Celtic have noticed but that's a huge leap forward for us. Similarly when The Huns scraped by Dunfermline on Saturday, there was no panic amongst the Celtic support, and the confidence that Neil Lennon is basking in at the moment is a very good sign.

The team is settling down again. Kayal is back to his best, Samaras has found form at last and Victor Wanyama grows in stature with every game. Not only that but Victor is making a strong case to be the next Superman with a barnstorming midfield performance in the first half making way for a solid slotting into the centre half role in the second.

I blogged a month ago, when a lot of knives were out for our manager, that we had to stick by Neil Lennon and I am so glad we did, as he is proving again that he is the man for the job and he deserves enormous credit for the way he has turned things round in the last month.

Have to also mention the support yesterday, singing all day, backing the team to the hilt and even digging out a few of the oldies, made for a great day.

Whisper it, Celtic are coming....

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Business as usual-Almost

Sorry about the intermission folks, keyboard issues and personal issues prevented me from doing any blogs but a fancy wifi keyboard has me typing again in the meantime. No bad for $19. Blogs will start again from Monday and in the new year you will see a dramatic change(you mean they will be good? Ed)

In the meantime I will find my way round this new keyboard and ask Steve Conroy to help, seeing as his eyesight is so good...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Bloody Sundays, One IRA

91 years ago yesterday The British Army opened fire on spectators at a Gaelic Football match at Croke Park, Dublin, killing 14 innocent civilians.

40 years ago come Jan 20th 2012, The British Army opened fire on a Civil Rights march in The Bogside, Derry, killing 14 innocent civilians.

What's the difference?

I don't see any.

The first Bloody Sunday came after the IRA discovered a team of undercover British Agents known as "The Cairo Gang" and executed them, dealing a huge blow to the British Intelligence operation in Ireland. The rection to that first Bloody Sunday was an upsurge in the IRA campaign that ended a year after with 26 of the 32 counties given back. What took place at Croke Park that day horrified even the British King. The IRA had men queuing up to join that day and Eamon De Valera, who was leading the campaign, saw his popularity surge. Eamon De Valera went on to become President of Ireland and was a welcome guest at Celtic Park(below with thanks to The Celtic Wiki for the pic)


After the massacre in Derry in 1972, Ivan Cooper, a Protestant, who had been one of the leaders of march that day said "I have personally witnessed men, hundreds of them, queuing up to join the IRA today, and who can blame them?"

There is an emotive debate going on at the minute about songs, culture and heritage. It is being had in the backdrop of yet another of our players having to be moved to a safe house after an attack on his property on Saturday morning.

Whilst the debate rages, I don't agree with the attempts to make the old IRA one thing, and the PIRA another. I would not like to go to the house of this woman here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mul12QrW1w

and tell her that her son is not as much a martyr as James Connolly is. Let's be clear here, these people were not supermen, they were ordinary guys in extraordinary situations. They do not deserve to be told that their cause wasn't as justified as someone elses.

Especially when it was exactly the same.

Monday, November 21, 2011

SPL shaft supporters again

The news that the SPL have done yet another pointless deal with SKY/ESPN is a hammer blow to all match going supporters and those who watch around the world at all hours. The deal so far has been a disaster with pitiful amounts of money going into the coffers of clubs to simply pay the wages of the men who sign these horrendous TV contracts. The SPL couldn't give a toss about supporters and in all honesty if Neil Doncaster has managed to walk and chew gum at the same time, I'll be amazed.

Crowds are dwindling in Scotland, with overpriced tickets and ridiculous kick off times now guaranteed for the next five years in Scotland, the game is up, the SPL is not sustainable and will die in the time period unless there is dramatic and positive change. Most clubs in the SPL don't give a toss about how the TV deal works out, they will very rarely be on TV and their fans will very rarely be inconvenienced by TV.

In terms of Celtic, largest travelling support, largest amount of season ticket holders, largest worldwide audience, we are the ones who get shafted the most. We are the ones expected to get up early on Sundays to go watch our team, we are the ones we have to watch very early morning or late at night, sometimes the middle of the night and we are ones who are expected to pick up the tab so the rest of the SPL can operate.

In a country that does everything it can to weaken and undermine its biggest team, we should never really have been surprised.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

He is a Billy and a Tim


I've had the pleasure of meeting Billy Stark three times in my life. The first was in 1987, at a big Celtic dance in Glasgow when as 13 year old boy I nervously approached him for an autograph. He said "what's your name son?" I told him and he signed my full name on the programme for the do. Don't think anyone else I've ever asked for an autograph has done that but it felt great. Then in 2007 I was heading to Inverness for the cup game there in February of that year and myself and my mate Rab stopped somewhere for breakfast and there was Billy Stark walking in his, I think, Queens Park jacket as he and his team were playing up there against someone (I could check but my fingers are killing me), we stood and chatted for about 15 minutes and he could not have been any nicer again.

The last time I met was at a dance at Celtic Park in 2009 where he came along to present awards and made a fantastic speech about how it was always great to be in the company of Celtic supporters and that every day of his life someone would come up to him and talk Celtic and he loved it. So, from my perspective, Billy Stark can do no wrong.

As a player at Celtic he came in just at the right time, summer 1987, where we needed experience and he provided it. His goal against The Huns in August 1987 lives long on the memory, Peter Grant dummying it and Billy firing a low shot right into the bottom corner in a game also remembered for Graeme Souness trying to remove Billy's leg in the second half and being red carded amidst scenes of wild joy from the Celtic support.

A key component in the team that won the Centenary double, Billy almost signed for Hearts that summer before coming to us and his goals that year were invaluable. He had fantastic knack of ghosting in at the back post and scored lots of headers by doing so. Of course Celtic was where he forged the friendship with The Great Tommy Burns and they would go on to manage the club from 1994-1997. Who can forget Billy Stark in tears of joy when we lifted the Scottish Cup in 1995?

So all this means that it is fantastic to see Billy doing such a fantastic job with the Scotland U21s and I'd like to think that once folk wake up and realise what a mess Levein is making, Billy Stark will be the man Scotland call on. I've also heard that when the SFA have their 5 a sides between employees, Billy Stark is the best player on the park every week. The football brain never leaves you.

Billy Stark did more in two seasons at Celtic than most do in a career, his eulogy at Tommy Burns funeral showed the measure of the man and I wish him nothing but success in the future, which hopefully includes a return to Paradise one day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Here we go again...

Blink and you'll miss yet another massive storm in a Scottish tea cup. We now have a situation where the polis are freelancing when they feel like it and Celtic have been "reported" to UEFA. I say Celtic, it's Celtic supporters. Don't confuse that with anything else. It seems to me that since 2008 when the poppy fascism in Scottsh football started it's been one thing after another after another to try and tarnish the support of Celtic in a desperate attempt to paint us as bad as The Huns. It's an argument I've had so often that I am actually beginning to wonder if anyone really thinks there are new things to bring to it, cause I don't.

There's tons of copy out there on this and I'm not going to give you some long-winded opinion of my own that means no more or less than anyone else, I'm just going to state the facts cleary.

Irish, Catholics or Irish Catholics are not the cause of bigotry in Scotland.

There is bigotry in Scotland therefore there are Catholic Schools.

Rebel songs are not sectarian or illegal.

Celtic have 124 years as a club open to all.

Celtic have a proud Irish heritage and we are not erasing it for anyone.

Jim Traynor, like all hard of thinking people, let his mask slip last night on Radio Scotland bu saying "Celtic need to get rid of all this Irishness".  Therein is the REAL agenda. There is a concerted effort going from the police, politicians and the "justice" system to eradicate all aspects of Irish culture frim Scottish society. Due to the moronic type of thoughts that go through their heads, they see it collectively at Celtic and they don't want it in Scotland. This laughable exercise to get UEFA to punish us, when The Huns are wading in Fenian blood since time immemorial, smacks of petty agendas from bigoted wee men who want to justify the fact that they have allowed the most hateful football club on the planet to peddle policies of apartheid for generations.

The very fact that Celtic supporters attempted to hold a meeting in Glasgow to discuss this, and it was disrupted by Hun thugs, tells you all you need to know.

Monday, November 14, 2011

He's called Graham, so call Graham






There is a man in America who is fast becoming the voice of Celtic in America. The thing is, that voice could be a Beatle, Harry Redknapp or Arsene Wenger. Let me explain. For those that don't know there is a fantastic online Celtic radio show on every weekend called Beyond The Waves Celtic Show (@btwcelticshow)

The host is a man called Graham Wilson and if you aren't an avid listener by now, you really are missing out. With regular co-hosts The Coach(when he shows up), The Rev(when awake) and Seamus(when not on his Honda 50, it's four Americans with huge hearts talking Celtic with all the passion and knowledge you'd hear in Bar 67. No topic on Celtic goes uncovered and punches are not pulled, which attracts me right away.

Ok, enough of that, the main thing is it's absolutely hilarious. Graham as anchor can do impressions, songs, jingles, you name it, he will bewilder you with it.  You can Skype into the show and take part, there's always some great debate and absolutely loads of laughs.

I've been on the show a few times, shamelessly plugging, and from one week to the next you never know what will happen despite a show outline always expertly prepared.  Graham, like all the guys, is someone as Celtic coarsing through his veins but also, I think, does not know just how funny he is.

So my advice to you is listen and call in.

You might even get your own jingle....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When Mark McGhee was King



23 years ago today was one of the most eagerly awaited Celtic-Huns games I can remember. The previous encounter has seen us lose 5-1 at Ibrox, the like of which I'd never seen in my life before. So when they came to Paradise on November 12th 1988, revenge was in the air. I distinctly remember folk saying on the bus through "1-0 will do me" but we did dare to dream a little.

It was a Saturday 3pm KO and so darkness was descending by kick off. The Huns had not won at Celtic Park for eight years then and their support came that day expecting that long run to be over. I have to be honest, when Mark Walters scored their usual penalty, I did too.

Then something wonderful happened.

Trying to clear a cross, Terry Butcher planted a beautful diving header right past Chris Woods to bring us level. I can still see Butcher now, faced down on the turf, punching it in frustration. We had them on the rack then. Paul McStay was running rings round Ian Ferguson in midfield, there was a scramble and Mark McGhee scored a beauty right into the bottom corner to put us 2-1 up and send most of Paradise into delrium.

I always remember Mark's celebration that day, running right past the main stand, right arm going round and round before Roy Aitken caught him to congratulate. We were still going crazy when Billy Stark deflected a shot past Woods to make it 3-1 at half time. 3-1 at half time, yaaas, we can avenge this right now.

Sadly, we didn't. Try as we might, and Paul McStay again gave everything, we just could not get the 4th and 5th but gladly took the three points anyway.

When I got home that night My Ma was watching the Esther Rantzen Hearts of Gold and the whole Celtic team were on it. Pre-recorded obviously but things like that were always good.

As is demolishing The Huns when they think all they have to do is turn up and win.


*Thanks to The Celtic Wiki for the photo.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

That strange Airdrie game


November 1991 for Celtic had more twist and turns than Tommy Burns. One game though stands out more than any other for me, a 3-0 win over Airdrie at Broomfield. First of all, this game should never have been played. It was pretty much dark by 2pm that day and the rain pelted down throughout it. In these situations you always relied on the radio. I should say I love the radio but back then, at 17 years old, I thought anyone who took a radio to the games was a geek. Two guys on our bus did and they both were. You'd hate these guys when, enroute to Tannadice or somewhere, they'd gleefully inform you the game was OFF, always emphasising the OFF. Or maybe that's just how I remember it.

For this game though it was still on although at Chapelhall, our normal stop and a short drive to Broomfield, we still feared the worst. If you remember, the buses used to park a good mile and a bit walk from Broomfield so you were left at the mercy of "Section B", the feared Airdrie casual crew. Not really. The only time I ever saw them was at the other side of the fence from us in the ground standing in their orange sashes and, latterly, KKK outfits.

Celtic were wearing the worst away strip in the club's history, as you can see from the photo, although I'm guessing what has shocked you more in the photo is Tony Cascarino about to score a goal. Tony didn't have the best of times at Celtic to put it midly and had only scored two goals thus far. His first was set up by Tommy Coyne, an open goal versus Hearts, and he somehow managed to hit at the Hearts goalie, Henry Smith, with his goal attempt, comes off him, and goes in. His second came at Ibrox, minutes after being cheered on by baying huns as he came off the bench, Nigel Spackman played a brilliantly short back pass and Cascarino slotted it past Goram to get us a 1-1 draw. That was that until this game. You see not only did Tony score a great goal that day, turning the defender and bulleting home from 20 yards, he played his part in one of the funniest things I've seen in my life.

Spurred on by his goal, Tony flew into tackles and started to look like the player we thought we were getting. Unfortunately for him one tackle resulted in him completely melting a Policewoman on duty who got pretty badly injured. If that wasn't bad enough, when the stretcher guys came round, things got a whole lot worse for her. They put her on the stretcher, rain teeming down, right front of the Celtic part of the ground along the touchline. Knowing the jeers were getting louder, the two stretcher guys thought there was only one thing for it, run like fuck.

Except there was one problem.

The guy holding the back of the stretcher was faster than the guy holding the front of the stretcher and this meant he kept banging into it and knocking the Policewoman off it as they tried to run round the huge Broomfield track, all whilst the game was going on. I think the guy did it three times before more polis intervened and got her out.

All to the Laurel and Hardy theme tune.

St Mirren beat The Huns at Ibrox that day and we left the ground chanting "Feed The Bear" in light of Roy Aitken's recent move there.

Tony scored one more goal and let in February 1992.

The Policewoman probably never recovered.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When crowds were always 38,000


This was a big game. I remember it well because it was the sort of game you don't get now, two teams who are in the title race not just from Glasgow, a big signing that week in November 1991 and a huge crowd for both teams. November 9th 1991 and the crowd was swelled by the fact that Celtic had spent £1m on a new centre half with a good pedigree (changed days now eh...), the player in question was Tony Mowbray. Apart from a very good debut, Tony also hit the corner of bar and post with a 35 yard shot that would have sparked a Jungle pitch invasion had it gone in.

Aberdeen scored first through Eoin Jess, who was always a a bit of a thorn in our side, and I remember standing under the Number 2 in the Celtic end, but a bit further forward than normal as it was packed and the goal came came at the old huns end of the ground and the heart sank that wee bit further when you realised, from afar, it has gone in.

The atmosphere was electric that day and you could not move in the ground yet, as usual, the crowd was put out as something ridiculous like 38,000 not the actual 55-60,000 it actually was. Jim Bett was playing well when he was tackled and before you could say "Get it up ye Bett ya hun bassa" Paul McStay had split the Aberdeen defence wide open, Charlie Nicholas had nutmegged an Aberdeen defender, dragged it wide of the goalie and somehow slotted it in past the other Aberdeen guy on the line. 1-1 and the scenes of genuine joy from the players and Charlie in particular are things we see too little of these days.

Second half came and so did the tension, you knew the next goal would decide and that came true when Gerry Creaney, who at this point was looking like Gerd Muller, off the bench a few minutes before, bulleted home a header, downward then bouncing back up,  that gave us the two points and sparked more scenes of wild joy.

Hard to believe all this happened 20 years ago today, Aberdeen were a really good side then whilst we were about slide into another decline that would take years to get out of, yet no one that day would have believed that.  Simply because back then a 2-1 win over Aberdeen had you out drinking all weekend.

Now we say that's not good enough...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Roamin in The Bremen







23 years ago today I was in Bremen. On a freezing cold night, I saw Celtic get a 0-0 draw which wasn't quite enough to get us into the quarter finals of the European Cup. I was young and daft at the time, as opposed to being old and daft now, but to think back it strikes me now that pretty much all European trips then were rated on how close to Amsterdam did the opposing team play. This was long before the days of just hopping on planes (I was on a plane to get to America in 1987 and then not again until 1997 for a trip to Dublin), so you knew that you'd be on a bus to Dover for 10 hours before even hitting continental Europe. Dover was the only port that allowed football fans to travel through after a mass riot between West Ham and Man Utd fans a few years previous.

So when a draw came in, draws were always made on a Friday afternoon then, most of us prayed for Holland obviously, or Germany. A bus then would cost you around £60 which included a one night stay in a hotel (Although I don't think the place we always stayed in Amsterdam could honestly call itself a "hotel", something sounding similar perhaps) and from memory games were always played on a Tuesday or Wednesday. The Bremen game was a Tuesday night so that meant the bus would leave on a Sunday afternoon,  then you'd in Amsterdam for Monday morning, allowing for stops and the ferry.

The trip from Scotland to Dover was very boring, you'd drink yourself into a stupor, sing like fuck and eventually realise you were only at Carlisle. Back then the second you entered England was always the cue for non stop chanting and tapes being turned up.


The ferry was always bizarre, you were only on it for about an hour but everyone made the most of it. I remember going to Hamburg in 1996 and the whole of the bar was singing the Jorge Cadete song, next thing a hun comes in and to a man everyone started "Oh spot the looney, spot, spot, spot, spot the lunatic"

Off the ferry and back on the bus most folk would try and crash out but invariably there would always be one guy annoying everyone. One trip, to Berne, this guy was trying to chat up a girl whilst everyone else was trying to sleep, eventually another guy got up and walked up to them and said "Listen hen, either shag the boy or tell him to get to fuck so we can aw get some kip". And they say romance is dead.

You'd arrive at your hotel bleary-eyed, stiff,  but glad you'd made it. There would be a quick dash upstairs, wash, change and out. This would be the point where everyone would feel human again.
After a long night in whatever city you'd been in, most would crash out around 4am and get some much needed kip in an actual bed. Some though would stay up and you know them as they'd be the ones face down in their ham and cheese at breakfast.

The day of the game was always a recovery/come down as not only would you feel rough, it would dawn on you "Fuck, I've gottae go to this game" See before wins at At Ajax and knocking out Barcelona in the Nou Camp, there were horrid defeats everywhere away in Europe then and goals were like Hen's teeth.

After the inevitable glorious failure, you'd trudge back on the bus and it would hit you, you're on this thing now for 24 hours minimum, save for that hour back on the ferry. The time you got back in Scotland you looked like you'd just done 3 months trekking in the Australian outback.

Then you'd get your Maw or Wife saying the immortal...."Enjoy your holiday then..."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Jordan's Fund shows the difference

I am sure, like me, you were all shocked and saddened to hear yesterday morning that a young bhoy, Jordan Mount, had his wheelchair stolen at the recent Rennes game. What happened next was nothing short of wonderful. After being publicised by Mince @celticmindedcom and Lauren McCloskey @lauren_mcclos and a fund being set up by Lauren, Celtic supporters have donated a staggering £2000 in under 24 hours to Jordan's Fund. Links were also posted on Kerrydale Street and The Huddleboard, as all The Celtic Family came together.

This will not surprise anyone who knows how The Celtic Family work.

20 odd years ago a charity bottle was lifted from a pub in Inverbervie, one that was frequented by Celtic supporters pre and post games in Aberdeen. The owner of the pub wrote into The Celtic View and relayed the story to disgusted readers. Within a couple of weeks the money was replaced 10 fold as supporters from all over the world sent up cash.

That's what it's all about.

The people who stole the bottle and the wheelchair, are not Celtic supporters, they're low life who care not a jot for others.

Lauren and Mince are Celtic supporters, ones I am glad to call friends, and we are all in their shadow today.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

True Grit

I tweeted earlier that lots of newspaper columns and blogs were deleted at full time today. In fact it was obvious that Graham Spiers in particular was seething at Celtic winning at Fir Park today, he had his Neil Lennon post-mortem already written and he was not happy he could not use it. I'm not one for blaming all "the media" as they are not all the same. In fact Ewan Murray's piece on Friday regarding Neil Lennon and his lack of support from above could easily have been on this blog, albeit with much more swearing and much better written....kidding Ewan.

I blogged at the start of the week that we had to stand by Neil and that he would turn this around and even his most bitter critic must admit he has helped us get two great results since. A lot of that has come down to the grit and determination of some of the players. Guys like Stokes, Matthews, Kayal, Wanyama and, yes, Samaras, have stepped up for Neil in the last two games and now we get two weeks to re-group and get players fit.

The supporters at Fir Park again showed they are brilliant and huge kudos, again, to The Green Brigade who have turned the whole away support into a movement that is both inspiring and educational. There can now be no more false dawns, let's get this show on the road again and get back to who we really are.

In football you never give up, at Celtic you cannot give up.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Faith being kept

"Keep The Faith" is not a phrase I go in for much. Every time I hear it smacks "Don't question anything". At the start of the week I blogged that we had to stick by Neil Lennon as he would steer us through this current dip. Last night's performance, particularly the spirit and fight shown, shows the players are now fighting for him again which, if you think about it, is all we ever asked.

Now we must keep this going as it seems the whole world is trying to big up Sundays game at Fir Park against us. If we show the same spirit and fight at Fir Park, this game will not be a problem, if we don't, you'll know which players need shipped in January, not the manager.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Patient Commons


Kris Commons turned up at training today looking like this after rumours swept the internet yesterday that Neil Lennon had headbutted him. Sources at the club immediately poo-pooed the story yesterday but it did apparently catch fire. Whatever that, it's good to see Commons poke fun at it and hopefully this is a sign that things are getting back to normal with him again. He has had to be patient this season and he honestly to say to himself that his season starts now. There is no doubt we look a much better team with an in form Commons in it, just look at how well we played from when he signed, and let's all hope that this picture signifies a return to the first team for Kris Commons and some of those great goals we all we know he is capable of and the better balance his inclusion definitely gives our team.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lenny stood by us, now we must stand by him

There seems to be a consensus out there that if we lose to Motherwell, Neil Lennon goes. If that sentence doesn't break your heart, as a Celtic supporter, nothing will.  I know there are plenty people out there who would love to see him go right now but if Neil Lennon is forced out of Celtic, we are literally at the point where we'd be as well pulling the shutters down on the whole club.

There is an extreme mentality football nowadays. I read on Twitter on Saturday people praising Neil's team selection. Then after the game some of the same people were criticising him for sticking with the same players. Now, I've heard all the rumours of fall outs with Commons, Ki and Kayal, they are true but then so is the fact that things like that happen in football every day. Neil Lennon should not have to motivate anyone to play for Celtic and give their all, if a player does not want to do that, let him go asap.

Of course Neil Lennon has made mistakes, show me a manager that hasn't, but as the football in Scotland goes back to the mid to late 80s, so to should the attitude towards managers, put simply, you don't parachute out the plane at the first sign of turbulence. Look at Hearts, Jim Jeffries goes through a bad run, gets sacked, Paolo Sergio is brought in and already the knives are being sharpened for him. Is that where we want to be?

I know no matter what I write here, some folk will still say "LENNON OUT" but some things need to be clarified. The first one is that managers do not "lose a dressing room". That is spiel for "The players can't be arsed trying any more" Quite frankly, there is no excuse for that no matter what the circumstances are for any player who thinks he can arse about til a new manager comes, we don't want them at Celtic Park and they should think themselves lucky they every got the chance to player for a club like Celtic.

The other big factor is I do not want the people in charge of Celtic, in charge of anything to do with another manager recruitment. They do not have the qualifications to do this and given that we know now that Lawwell sought the advice of John Hartson and Graham Spiers in the recruitment of Neil Lennon, we cannot trust him ever again.

Neil Lennon may never be given the time to prove he can be a great Celtic manager and that is a terrible thought in my view. If anyone believes that Lenny isn't feeling the same way we all are now, they are deluding themselves. If he has made one crucial error, it was not getting in an experienced "organiser" as No2. Someone who could have protected some of the flaws our players have by having them better organised. This is to me is the answer and happy balance we need at Celtic. It may need Neil to say some harsh things to his current coaching staff but these are hard times and hard decisions need to made.

Right now I fear Neil Lennon walking and this club descending into an absolute farce as the Lawwell spin goes into full effect and we are told, once again, a load of crap to appease us.

Right now, that is the last thing we need.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

How tired are you?

After yet another recovery ends before it really begins, I am truly sick and tired of this. I've said for years what I think the problems are at Celtic but for those who have not yet had the opportunity to tell me I am wrong then here they are again

NOTHING WILL CHANGE UNTIL DESMOND AND LAWWELL GO.

Now, I don't want Neil Lennon to get sacked. I thought we were off our heads to give him the job in the first place, but to sack him now? Are we really going to go down the extremist route again? Neil was a rookie manager who should never have been given the job but we gave him it and he got the team going again. This lead to threats, bombs and bullets. After all that happened, the biggest crime of all was to not give Neil all the support in the world in the summer, instead of the paltry budget we did give him.

Neil, you should have walked then, you would have been supported by everyone&all this would have came to a head in the summer.

Instead though he plodded on despite knowing he'd been lied to by the board and that his team was not good enough to win the SPL. The frustrations of this, coupled by some of the players undermining in different ways, and the lack of backing by a board more concerned with self preservation is why we now sit 12 points behind.

When people say "Sack Neil Lennon" the same names are trotted out Roy Keane, Davie Moyes, Mick McCarthy, Owen Coyle. Why? Cause they are all connected to Celtic. Is that really where we are now? We think the same as Rod Petrie does for Hibs?  Celtic are in crisis, of that there is no doubt. I say that because it takes a special type of team to smash a team 4-1 then look inferior to them a mere three days later. I blame the players for this. Quite frankly Gary Hooper has been a passenger this season, Kayal took the first two months off, Ki doesn't know whether he's coming or going and you throw that in with players like Loovens, Mastorivic, Wilson(take your pick) and Bangura(funny how he's fit again eh?) what on earth do we all expect to happen?

So the point is, what is the point of sacking Neil Lennon, when they same people will pick a new manager on a criteria of you've got no money, some say in team selection but for God's sake don't question anything we do.

I am tired of this.

I get a lot of abuse, some really vile stuff at times, any time I slag off Desmond and Lawwell in particular. TBH I am past caring because I'll tell you this, I'll stop blogging about them when they start giving us our club back.

Should Rangers get a "Swindon"?

Speculation is rife that The Huns will go into administration any day now. Credit lines exhausted, cash running out, it seems a likely outcome for them. Excuse me whilst I buy some fireworks. Anyway, on top of all that, the HMRC case against them resumes in November and given the nature of what they are accused of, if found guilty, what should their punishment from the footballing authorities be? I don't often re-print stuff on here but I think this makes interesting reading regarding Swindon Town:

Macari is replaced with ex-Argentinian international and World Cup winner Ossie Ardiles - but the club is rocked with a bombshell just three weeks before the season starts, when The People publishes revelations that chairman Brian Hillier put money on Swindon winning Division Three in 1987, as an insurance policy for player bonuses. The allegations seemed to affect performances on the pitch - and the Town win just one of the first seven games, and are 21st in the table. Eventually though, Ardiles' passing style and diamond formation begin to work, and they drop just four points in the next nine games - despite the sale of Phil King, who is surprisingly bought by Sheffield Wednesday for a record £400,000. The allegations then get worse - and Hillier is accused of putting money on the Town to lose in the FA Cup game at Newcastle two years previously. When he is found guilty, he is banned from football for six months - which is increased to three years on appeal. Macari is fined £1,000 for his part in the scandal - and when he chooses to appeal, West Ham force his resignation. Swindon's performances again suffer, and they pick up just two points in the five games that follow the announcement. A decent start to the year puts Swindon back on track, but The People deliver a third blow, this time alleging illegal payments to players. Despite the turmoil though, the Town beat table-topping Leeds to go into third place, and at the end of the season, they finish fourth - their highest league position ever - to go into the play-offs. Shortly before the last game of the season, another bombshell hits, when Hillier, Macari, captain Colin Calderwood and secretary Vince Farrar are all arrested and questioned by Inland Revenue officials over a tax fraud conspiracy. Calderwood is released without charge, and the others are given bail - on the pitch, the Town go on to defeat Blackburn over two legs to reach the final at Wembley, where they will play for only the second time in their history. In a match they completely dominate, Alan McLoughlin scores the only goal - a deflected effort - to defeat Sunderland and win promotion to the First Division. The joy is short-lived though, as just ten days later, the Football League decide to demote the Town two divisions, after they admit 36 breaches of League rules - 35 of which are related to illegal payments. The Swindon board immediately appeal, but High Court action is dropped due to lack of funding - and the fans protest, thousands signing a "1st not 3rd" petition. The FA Appeal Panel reduce the demotion to just one division, and Swindon are denied their first-ever taste of top flight football. Hillier was eventually jailed, whilst Farrar and former club secretary Dave King received suspended sentences.

What is clear is that corruption and tax evasion were rife at Swindon and they were eventually caught. The punishment from the footballing authorities? Demoted two divisions. Promoted up one on appeal. Now, this begs the question, how different is what they did to what The Huns are accused of? Forget the gambling(Aye we noticed you Macari ya bastard), Swindon players evaded tax and were paid money they should not have been. That really is not different to what The Huns are accused of is it?

So, given that the penalty for administration is to be deducted 10 points, liquidation/new company formed is deduction of 25 points, are we to assume that the penalty for tax evasion and illegal payments to players, this time through the Employess Benefts Trust, is to be demoted two divisions?

I better get a two boxes of matches.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What now for Scott Brown?

The news delivered by Neil Lennon yesterday that Celtic can't agree a fee with Scott Brown's agent will come as no shock to anyone who, eh, listens to anything Neil Lennon says as he said the same in August. What it feels like now is that Celtic are softening up the supporters for a Brown departure but it would look like from where I am sitting that the most angst will be about getting no fee, not losing the player.

It all should have been so different. A dynamic attacking midfielder who has pace and could tackle is what we bought for £4.4m back in May 2007. The subsequent four years later we have saw very little of that again to the point where, even as Club Captain, fans rarely expect anything from Brown. There are lots of things levelled at Brown, some ridiculous it has to be said, but the three consistent things are that he cares more about playing for Scotland than Celtic, he plays on the hard man act too much and that his whole game is running about like a headless chicken.

The one lift in his relationship with the supporters was after his goal celebration at Ibrox, a good moment, but given the £5m he has taken from Celtic, very few see it as Value For Money.

For me Gordon Strachan coached a lot of good out of Scott Brown. As a consistent in centre midfield he had partner after partner put beside him despite all his best football coming in a midfield three at Hibs with Kevin Thomson and Michael Stewart. With Thomson going to The Huns the previous January, I advocated at the time that why not sign Stewart and see if it works? At that time though a lot of heads were in the clouds and Stewart was seen as the sort of player "Not Celtic class".  Brian Clough always believed that you fitted a system around the players you had, didn't matter who they were.

So now, four and a half years later from signing, it looks like Scott Brown will be off in January, and that will only really be good for him, short term, and his agent, long term. It is easy to blame the agent in this but show me an agent who isn't in it for the money and I'll show you a liar or Jerry Maguire.

It all could have been so different but it won't be.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Midweek Crackers in The Capital

Well Easter Road really. Occured to me that even 15 years ago the excitement would be very high for a midweek cup tie at Easter Road, a league game also come to that. I thought I'd take a break from raising the blood pressure of folk by taking a look back at some classic midweek games I've seen at Easter Road so to help sell the remaining, eh, 10,000 tickets for the game...


Hibs 4 Celtic 4 League Cup QF-Sep 1985

I documented this game in From Albert, With Love but to this day I still do not know how we lost it. A Hibs team slumped at the bottom of the league, we were flying at the time, we score four goals and get knocked out still? Coming from Edinburgh I remember going up on the bus to the game with my Dad and there was a guy on the bus, a year older than me(I was 11 at the time) with a pair of football boots round his neck. My old man says "You hoping for a game son?" The guy looked at him sincerely and said "Naw Mr, I'm gonnie sell them so I can see the game". At the time the east terracing at Easter Road(the bit along the side) wasn't usable so it made for an eerie atmosphere that night. The game itself went like a tennis match, and I remember a 16 year old John Collins playing. We lost on penalty kicks after Pierce O'Leary attempted to hit the "Insave" sign at the top of the Cow Shed. Hibs beat The Huns over two legs in the semi final before being murdered by Aberdeen in the final.


Hibs 0 Celtic 1 Scottish Cup 4th round replay-Feb 1988

This was an incredibly tense game. After a dreadful 0-0 draw at Celtic Park, the game played on a Sunday and live on TV at a time when games were never played live on TV, it's fair to say Hibs were strongly fancied by a lot of people to win this game. More to do with the fact that were not playing well at all at the time, the 0-0 draw with Hibs coming near to the famous 1-0 win v Stranraer where we should have been put out, a 2-1 win at Dens that required a last minute Chris Morris free kick and a 1-0 home by Morton that saw an injury time Roy Aitken penalty secure the two points. What the pundits failed to notice of course was we still won three of those games. Hibs had the better of the first half and we looked like we could play all night and not score. Then the HT announcer at Easter Road made a huge error. On announcing someones birthday he played You'll Never Walk Alone to gee up the Hibs fans. The reality was he inspired the Celtic support in the ground who roared the team on in the second half and saw the breakthrough in 78 minutes when Peter Grant thunderbolted a shot off the bar, which went over the line by the proverbial mile but Billy Stark made sure anyway.

Hibs 1 Celtic 1 League game-Nov 1994

Not so memorable for the game but more what happened before. This was a mere three days after the horrendous, and still my worst moment in football, Raith Rovers League Cup Final. I'd gone to The Elm Bar in Elm Row to meet my regular drinking partner for these games, Hibs supporter Allan Hosey, and I cajoled him into agreeing to go up the town for a bevvy after the game(By cajoling what I mean was I said "Do you fancy gawn up toon for a pint efter the game?" and he said "Aye"). I just got into the game to see Tommy Burns standing right in front of me, albeit, with a fence between us. He was shaking folks hands and thanking them for coming despite what had happened on the Sunday. It's not just for the hell of it that people refer to him as "The Great Tommy Burns"

Hibs 0 Celtic 1 League game-Dec 2002

I was in the front row of the rear stand that night. Not a great game as such, wonderful finish from Petrov to get us the three points but most of my memories are post-match. Mind I mentioned my regular drinking parnter for these games? Well...I'd had a bevvy with him before it, went our separate ways and he was meeting a mutual friend of ours at the time. We had agreed to meet in the pub after the game and I headed for it on the final whistle. I arrived and no sign of him. Strange, it was much closer to the Hibs end. I sank two pints and still he didn't appear. I found this odd so I went to his house, not far, where his girlfriend informed me that he had gotten into a massive fight with the then mutual friend. Oh ffs. After much investiagtion and phonecalls he finally came back and I enquired as to wtf had caused this fight, he replied "The cunt blamed Colgan for the goal so I set aboot him"


So, that's a few of my memories from these games, some good, some not so good, but still ingrained and pointing at, perhaps, better times with the game and tons of passion. I realise I am a sentimental old sod but sometimes, we need to learn from our history, before we plan our future...

Bangura Shangri-La

Shangri-La is a mystical place of harmony from the novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton.

Mohammed Bangura is a complete mystery.

I've sat on this for about six weeks now but the latest bizarre twist in the Mo Bangura&Celtic tale leaves me no choice. Alarm bells were ringing for people at Celtic the day Bangura signed for Celtic. He ordered a shed load of stuff from the Celtic shop and when the bill was floating about Celtic Park, Celtic gave the merchanside people Bangura's agent's phone number. When the agent was asked if the money for the bill should go to the finance department so to come right out of Bangura's wages, his agent "No, no, Celtic don't pay him, send it to me"

Then there is the fee, £2.2m. Yet only £1.2m reached AIK. Where did the other £1m go then? Given the merchandise tale, is 2 + 2 = 5 or not?  of course 2 + 2 can also, if you like, make 22, his age. 22 is his age, right, got that, probably much Adu about nothing.

Garry Parker was asked what he thought of him, he replied "He's not up to much"

Did Neil Lennon ever see Bangura play? Did John Park? Did anyone?


I don't what is going with Mohammed Bangura, I stand beside my sources on this though and I know from my own eyes that never in your life is Mo Bangura Celtic class and this latest injury, a three month lay off, just adds to the mystery.

You can choose to believe this, say I've made it all up, whatever, all I ask is what does you heart say?

Monday, October 24, 2011

We don't care what our supporters say

The news that Celtic have made a £10,000 donation to Poppy Scotland is yet another slap in the face to Celtic supporters. After a disgracefully stage-managed AGM some may think that Peter Lawwell would be content to get out of it alive but no, another "I'll do what I want" message comes from Pedro today.

Look, I know this debate has been done to death, some supporters have no problems with the Poppy, others have huge ones. Why is it though that no one can see the point of view of those who are offended by it? Quite frankly I am completely fed up of Lawwell and Co. telling supporters to leave politics at the door only to have them rammed down our throats anytime he and the rest of his establishment cronies feel like it.

We are constantly told that Celtic is "apolitical" which of course is absolute nonsense, but something they hide behind when telling The Green Brigade to shut up. You cannot have it both ways.

I myself would not wear a Poppy, never have done, but I have no issue with anyone else wearing them as a personal choice. What I strongly object to is the Poppy fascism that is rampant in the UK and is used in Scotland to point score against Celtic.

The problem of course is that guys like Peter Lawwell don't live in the same world as normal supporters do and guys like Peter Lawwell could not care less whether you are offended by a Poppy being foisted on the Celtic shirt far less donating £10,000 of your money to Poppy Scotland.

Trying to be everyones friend only ever leads to one thing, no one liking you.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Little Acorns

I'll put my neck on the line and say there was something about that win against Aberdeen that suggested we are on the road back. Kayal looked more like himself again, Wanyama has found his role and Mulgrew played a Captain's one.

The thing is at 1-1, against the dirtiest Aberdeen team I've ever seen, it would have been easy to fall apart, we didn't, we upped it and won comfortably. This season there haven't been many times we have reacted to adversity well. We have in the last three games. If we had a pair of good centre halves, this would be a good team, we don't, so are using Wanyama as a protector and that's a good idea. He's not there to create, he's there to break up and keep it simple.

By no stretch of imagination are we back to our best yet, but a more settled team has to come, Matthews is establishing himself now also, and it's important now for us to get another win against Hibs next Saturday and keep going, the League Cup also is important but the league, the league, the league.

A few wins on the spin will turn everything round, thrown in a fit again Emilio and it will be January and signing Puyol before you know it....;-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

New York Red Bulls message to SPL

I've always tried to not just be someone who complains but can also offer some sort of solution that folk can tear apart and pour scorn over. Last night, with my eldest son James, I went to the New York Red Bulls-Philadelphia Union game. I was actually a season ticket holder at NY in 2007 and 2008 when they played at Giants Stadium and it wasn't that pleasant an experience with crowds of 10-12,000 in a stadium that held 80,000. Thankfully things have changed and the RB have built their own arena in Harrison, NJ.

First thing is they came up with the novel concept of building a stadium right next to a train station, motorway and with huge car parks beside it. Will never catch on in Scotland. As we approached the stadium they had all sorts of things going such as free face-painting, 5 a side football games, free competitions and a stack of freebies. My son James is a season ticket holder at Celtic and was very confused as people kept coming up to him and handing him stuff(a shirt, hat, bag&cards) for free. I honestly don't think I've ever seen him happier going into a game and this was replicated all around us despite the strong wind and cold conditions.

The thing is not just kids who are happy, adults can enjoy a fully stocked bar with no restricitions whatsoever and the choice of food on offer would rival your average diner. Our seats were spacious and had plenty leg room too. At this point I was starting to get the impression that the RB had actually thought about the fans when building a ground but again something that would never catch on in Scotland. Speaking of fans, both the RB and PU fans made noise and sang all night. Most of it was from The Green Brigade songbook which made for a fantastic atmosphere all night and there was even a bit soapy bubble when Philly got a good goal chopped off and a mass brawl broke out. Stewards watched it, cops came in, heavily armed and the lead one said "sit down you bunch of assholes" and that was that. Can't see a Government Inquiry stemming from that one.

The game itself was pretty good. There wasn't a lot of football brains out there but there was plenty of endeavour, loads of chances for both and a standard that I would put around English Championship level.

After leaving the game a guy approached us and asked if we had enjoyed it? Being Scottish, we were immediately in that "What's it got to do with you?" mode until he followed up with "Here's a $50 voucher off a season ticket next year and a 25% off a trip to Cancun in the winter whilst you wait for the new season"

After walking the short distance to the train, our brains were frazzled, aren't you supposed to come out of a game frustrated and angry most weeks?

Hard with four pints of beautiful Guinness down your neck from the previous 90 minutes and £14 a ticket.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hibs message to the SPL

I blogged in July how I feared for Hibs this season, given their lack of talent on the park and ever decreasing support off it. Like after most things I say, I got a torrent of abuse for suggesting that part of it was down to a lack of identity. Whatever the reasons, the £900,000 loss they posted yesterday should send alarm bells ringing for the rest of the SPL.

One of the few things I agree with Peter Lawwell on is that the SPL is not sustainable. (I doubt he agrees with me that men like him are the reason why it got to this). The prices fans are being asked to fork out now are beyond a joke and every week put more holes in that SPL bubble. Aberdeen fans are asked to pay £29 for Sunday's game, we are supposed to pay £28 for Fir Park, these are EPL prices for Maybury League product.

Similarly the rate that clubs bring strips out now is harder to keep up with than Usain Bolt. Guys like Petrie and Lawwell will never feel the pinch, as supporters, we all are, and that's why clubs current strategies are baffling. We need sensible pricing that encourages supporters to keep coming back, let's end these nonsensical KO times on Sundays especially and if a TV deal doesn't like it, gamble and go elsewhere.

Hibs were a club in Scotland that were always in that Hearts/Aberdeen/Dundee Utd category, tier 2 of Scottish football, if they are posting £900,000 losses after spending very little of anything, then everyone has to wake up.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lawwell laughing all the way to the bank again.

He's done it again. A man utterly despised by thousands of Celtic supporters got another stage managed AGM through pretty easily. Peter Lawwell, a multi-millionaire despite being an incompetent, will be sitting in his office now laughing at how hard he has his boot on our throats. He knows another HUGE sum of money is coming his way this season, maybe some will be diverted to his super scout son Mark (you mean you didn't know he was also employed by Celtic?), but once again Peter Lawwell's bank manager is the happiest man after a Celtic AGM.

Aren't you tired of rich fucks telling you how to think? Stupid middle-aged men showing up their own lack of sanity by telling you all is well when you know in your heart it isn't? At some point something has to give, not just my heart after one of these AGM's, but a fight back has to begin because as a club we are dying, as a support we are divided and as a culture, we are criminalised. That's the order of importance as well by the way.

Apathy is our biggest enemy, we are so worn down by these things that we have lost the fire in the belly.  For the love of God let;s get organised and end this dictatorship once and for all.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Don't hold a nation of millions back

This is an appeal to anyone going to the Celtic AGM on Friday.

Right now you have a unique opportunity. As supporters all round the world tune in to the AGM, we are relying on YOU. For too long now Celtic has been run like a private members club with rich dudes telling the rest of us what they are going to do, we seethe and roar, but they still do it anyway.  Right now our club, YOUR club needs change. We have been treading water for years now and bit by bit the club we all love is being taken away from us. It is up to people like YOU to make your voices heard.

Celtic are worldwide heritage full of dreams and songs to sing and what we need to remind ourselves of that. We've been brainwashed for years now by a PLC board who have made fortunes whilst downsizing our club, YOUR club and we sat back and let it happen. Managers have been undermined and underfunded, players who are never Celtic class in a million years have been brought in and the supporters have been harrased and tormented by an over zealous stewarding policy, heavy-handed policing and a PLC board who allow the Scottish Govt to criminalise us.

Make your voice heard at the AGM, show us there is still some fight in this great club and we will not accept second class teams or second class status.

This is our club, YOUR club and we want it back.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

McStay-Minded

I was watching the 1988 Scottish Cup Semi at the weekend. There are obviously some fantastic memories from it not least the late comeback that snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and that fact that 67,000 people showed up for it.

Paul McStay was immense that day, probably his best game ever in a Celtic jersey. Problem was he kept passing to Frank McAvennie who had his worst game in a Celtic jersey! The highlight for me though was the equaliser. Not just because it was a long time coming or brought us back into the game but because of the celebration of Paul McStay. The sheer delight on his face as he jumps up and down in front of the main stand is a joy to behold. It's very similar to his delight when he grabbed the equaliser against Hearts in December 1987 in a 2-2 draw.

Difference this time? Paul didn't score the equaliser at Hampden.

The look and expression of joy should be a lesson to all our players, here we had a bonafide genius who just loved playing for Celtic and was just as happy for a team mate to grab the glory. I remember a game at Ibrox, pre match, and Paul was warming up. The fans in the Broomloan were singing The Celtic Song and Paul turned round and joined in.

That's what being Celtic-Minded is.

All our players could take a leaf out of Paul's book, a man who served the club for 15 years with pride and fought every week for Celtic, sometimes surrounded by some terrible players, yet he never gave in, never gave up and went on to become a legend.

Paul McStay is something we can and should all apsire to. As a supporter, we'll never match him as a player.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The 90s revisited

As I am bit under siege at the minute, it is with great pleasure I welcome a guest writer:


@lyjo67 on twitter



Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it: George Santayana


The 90’s were horrible for Celtic, we could do nothing to win the
league and had to watch as Rangers constantly did.

They had money, we had none, they had a board that got money from
everywhere, we had “custodians”. We had 2 of the best midfielders in
Britain, we had a shit team surrounding them and no leadership to
build a team around them I’d love to know what Paul McStay and John
Collins thought of their time at Celtic, watching trophy after trophy
head to Govan.

In 1989 Rangers started buying their league titles. I started going to
the games in 91, Big Billy got sacked and Liam Brady got brought in to
hopefully be as good a manager as he was a player. Money got spent
(Tony Cascarino and Gary Gillespie), but the same outcome transpired,
another title to Govan.
We finished third in 1992, the huns got horsed in Europe and to be
honest, that was regularly our highlight: from the giants of Juventus
to nonentities like Levski Sofia and everyone inbetween would
regularly wipe the smile from Jim White’s face and that was about it
since our euro endeavours (in the years that we actually qualified for
Europe) would be a scraped win against someone like Cologne, then a
gubbing from someone like Dortmund.

We would continue to buy workmanlike players and the huns would
continually spend more than us, not buying any world beaters, but
always folks that were better than what we had. When the huns were
winning the league we never finished 2nd until 95-96.
These were truly awful times and with each passing game, they got
closer to equalling 9IAR, this was a horrifying thought for us, but it
basically seemed that we could do fuck all about it. Even in Tommy
Burns’s teams, when we were challenging, beating the huns still seemed
like a bridge too far.
When we had a midfield of Collins and McStay, we finished 2nd ONCE,
that was pathetic, two of the most gifted midfielders of a generation
WASTED because we could not compete.
They could always spend more money than us and always had the beating
of us, they just KEPT winning...

In 2009 the huns started winning the league again and are on their way
to 4IAR again, we can laugh all we want at their tax problems and
their untested naive manager, but you know what, they went out and
bought Jelavic when they needed to and he won them the league last
season.

The thing that’s different about this 3iar and the 1991 3iar team, we
CAN compete with them, our finances are a damn sight better than
theirs, we have better players and we CAN get this sorted out and get
the league back.

They spend 4mil on Jelavic, we should be out spending on some quality
players because you can be sure this time that when we buy a Sutton,
they will NOT buy a Flo again. We have a real chance to really make
things shitty for them. When we had no money, they didn’t give a shit,
they kept doing more than enough to win the league and they loved it,
and that’s where we should be going. We’ve a real chance to change
this, but it will take better men than “Custodians” to see the future
and grab it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Back and to the left

I'm a sucker for a good story. I love the movie JFK, even when you know what is going to happen at the end, you're still on the edge of your seat for most of the film. The critical part of the movie is when the jury is told that the "kill shot" had to have came from the grassy knoll as JFK's head went "Back and to the left"

If Neil Lennon's head, in a normal circumstance of course, had gone "Back and to the left" whilst sitting in the dug out for the Inverness game he may have saw into the future. Sitting in the directors box that day, for the first time in ages, and at the behest of Peter Lawwell was an ex Celtic manager. One who has held talks about filling a role soon to be vacated(not the one of manager I might add)

Who was it?

A man who exelled in scouting players and offering advice and has been at the club in three different eras, in three different capacities.

He's gonna get ye.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Celtic-A Complete Breakdown

Yesterday I warned people what the game at Tynecastle would be like, it seems that Celtic really had no clue. I've been banging on for years about the problems at Celtic, I used to get a torrent of abuse, then pinpointed by club lackeys, then a few folk agreeing and now everyone is onside. I'm going to break down what I feel is wrong at the club, all the way through it.

Directors
The biggest reason why we are an utter shambles now. The Kellys and Whites were removed from Celtic because they lost sight of everything and treated us like their own boys club, with cash aplenty for themselves. This culture is back in spades. Peter Lawwell, whilst downsizing us to the point of embarrassment, has became a multi-millionaire with your money. Dermot Desmond treats us with utter contempt whilst swanning round like he owns us, Tom Allison makes big decisions yet no one knows who he is and Eric Riley, The Teflon Hun. These people must be removed from Celtic immediately. Their interfering and arrogant posturing is killing us.

Football Management
Been controlled and undermined since Gordon Strachan took over. We can't have proper managers since MON left because egos at Celtic couldn't get him out the door quick enough. Currently, we lack experience at management level but that's not going to change as what experienced guy would put up with a CEO constantly interfering and a Director of Football(John Park) being in charge of scouting? I'll tell you who, a foreign nobody or a guy desperate for a job. That's the level we are at now.

Players
We've sold high and bought low. Players like McManus, McGeady and McDonald were hounded by Celtic supporters for most of their careers, always the target of the bar stool managers, so we sell them all for £16m and replace them with Kris Commons(£500,000), Daniel Mastorovic (£800,000) and Gary Hooper (£2.2m), does anyone really wonder why we don't win anything any more?

Staff
I know people who work with Apple. Celtic people. People who would walk over broken glass for Celtic. They could have done so much for Celtic, they offered to put Celtic into high places of new technology, they weren't called back. Why? I also know folk in Brand Management, Celtic daft. They just shake their heads at how Celtic staff go about promoting the club. There also seems to be a belief at Celtic that if you can perform one role decent, then about 15 roles is no problem. Yet others get away with having their stuff constantly re-written with no fall out? Too many people have been there too long and a fresh new outlook is needed and that is not meeting with a couple of fans you think you can control then nick all their ideas.

Supporters
Was it John Lydon who once said "Ever feel like you've been cheated?" Can you honestly say you're happy with what is going on? I know no one wants to hear bad things about something they love but the way we are going is that that thing we love is going to be completely alien to most of us. We are being criminalised for who we are, and what is our club, YOUR club doing about it? Do you honestly believe we are in the right hands now? Change has to come from within before we can expect anyone else to.

Celtic's decline started in 2007, we managed to eek out another title at the death in 2008, you can keep making excuses, keep calling me a prophet of doom but I'll tell you now, things will only get worse if we don't act.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

When the passive bigot awakens...

Celtic travel to Tynecastle tomorrow for a game which will probably not live up to the hype and reinforce the mantra that Martin O'Neill always said "We don't have to be better, we have to be miles better" The "people" who waged war against Celtic last season are now starting to see the inside of courts, although time will tell what sort of verdict they will get...

For me though it's not them we have to worry about, it's the folk who live with their head up their arse most of their life and then bring it out any time they see a weakness in us. I've seen this many times in Scotland over the years, a poor Celtic side will lose at Tynecastle and you'll see the types of folk who sit sleeping in the centre stand all season suddenly in your face, revelling in your failure.

Or there is the types who put themselves out there as men of the people, trading in favours, acting the good guy only to be dancing round TV studios when something happens to us like a dodgy penalty against us in the Europa League perhaps.

Or the passive bigot, the one who will claim not to be a bigot but "Just can't stand Neil Lennon at all" but will think Ally McCoist is a "cheeky chappie".

These are the ones to keep an eye on, the ultra bigots are easy kept in check. There are thousands of the former in Scotland, unfortunately some of our fans can react in the worst possible way, losing the plot and blessing themselves for no apparent reason, when the real reaction, the best reaction is to say we are watching...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reach for the sky

I like to listen to general Scottish Football podcasts. It gives you a sense of what utter drivel supporters of other clubs talk. Seriously though, there are a few out there, some are good, others sound like they are being read from a bad script. By far the best is The Terrace Podcast

http://theterraceradio.podbean.com/ website @terracepodcast Twitter

Don't get me wrong, I often find myself ready to throw the laptop oot the windae at some of it but there is a lot of quality insight to be found as well. I listened on Tuesday, half asleep it has to be said, but perked up when I heard the panel discuss why Celtic seem to have such low expectations now. This from a Hearts fan, Hibs fan and Rangers fan pretending to support Motherwell...kidding.

I immediately thought "Christ, even they can see it".

What has happened to us? It wasn't so long ago we were standing toe to toe with the best in the world and beating most of them at home too. Now as we approach the game v Udinese, most supporters I know expect us to get beat pretty easily.

That's how far we've fallen.

We need to aim higher, much higher and get back into mindset of "We are Celtic, we fear no one" instead of this Desmond/Lawwell mindset of "We, Dermot and I, are Celtic, and we do our best"

Tonight could signal an upturn in fortunes for Celtic, if players and fans want it badly enough, we can help it happen, we need to remind Europe that we're still here and if we don't take the gift of Europa League participation now, we may regret it for a long time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

St. Peter

I am sure many Celtic supporters, like me, are today feeling foolish, or in my case even more foolish than normal. The news that Peter Lawwell has decided, again, to defer part of his bonus, again, proves this man is a Saint. Clearly not taking his money now, leaving it sit in the Celtic bank account for an extra few months, before getting it, is the act of a man who, if not on the Nobel Peace Prize list already, he bloody well should be.

Given this act of pure selflessness, I've looked at other things he has done at the past and can now see what they really meant. For example, when VAT was decreased and season ticket prices were not, that was Peter telling us "We don't buckle to any Governments, that was me telling the support, despite that pesky Reid, I'm still in charge" 

Similarly when Peter oversaw a change in policy that meant that director bonuses were not linked to anything on the pitch, that was Peter saying "I want fans to know the American Dream still exists, you can be make it to the top of the pay scale regardless, I'm no gawn tae America though, they expect a tip aw the time!"

It's like when Peter went after Tony Mowbray, Peter knew he had all the skills required to be a Celtic manager, a yes man and, er, that's it. That's how Pedro honed his skills to ensure the current manager gets so little backing from the board in the transfer market, you see how it works, at Celtic, you fail UP the way! Yipee!

And finally, when Peter does not spend money on players, WE ALL don't spend money on players? You know why? Cause it's YOUR money.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Green Brigade highlight the ignorance

The least said about the performance yesterday, the better. Sitting at home watching the game, flashbacks to the Strachan era were too much to bear. I thought, at first, the fans at the game were showing their disdain as Celtic Park was like a morgue, then an almighty cheer came, then another, then another. To be fair to the commentators they mentioned right away that a protest was taking place by The Green Brigade against the absolutely ridiculous new law coming in about "Offensive" Behaviour.

I'm not the type to jump about mental at games but I've been a huge supporter of The Green Brigade since their principled breakaway from the now defunct "Jungle Bhoys". They have made mistakes, I'm sure they'll admit, but they have evolved into a strong and commanding voice amongst the Celtic support, one with an ability to perfectly illustrate the ignorance we Celtic supporters have to face.

The Green Brigade have outlived most of their critics, most of whom were middle-aged men upset by anything, or keyboard warriors whose grasp of the Celtic ethos is unrecognisable to most. This new law is an ass and for The Green Brigade to highlight that is a good thing.

Celtic's history is littered with that rebel streak running through it, started by Michael Davitt, and I've always seen Celtic supporters as people who never took themselves too seriously, could sing and tell stories with the best of them and took their seat very much on the side of the anti-establishment. That's who we are and no one will ever change that, not directors, police, politicians or folk who take themselves far too seriously.

It should also be said that throughout Celtic's history, they have been targetted by various groups and individuals hellbent on undermining the club at every opportunity why bother with their opinion? It is often said Jock Stein was very anti Rebel song and waded into the crowd at Stirling to stop folk singing them. This is absolute nonsense, ask any Lisbon Lion as rebel songs were played on the bus every week. The songs being sung that day are not the songs being sung today and people should stop continuing to spout this blatant lie to justify their campaign for the Hibernianisation of Celtic.

I hope The Green Brigade continue to go from strength to strength, they epitomise what I was brought up to believe Celtic are all about, and no amount of revision will change that.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Is Pre-Season to blame?

As we move towards Autumn in the season, two things stand out for me more than anything.

We aren't fit enough.

We have had far too many injuries.

What is this down to? My own theory is that we completely messed up pre-season and it is coming back to haunt us. I'm sure the fans in Australia loved all the access to the players they got and these things must be done more often, but at the expense of a proper pre-season? Are you kidding me?

The types of injuries we are getting are all consistent with a lack of fitness, any coach will tell you that, and as we approach October we have had 15 players already have missed games because of injury. 15 players injured at their fittest part of the season? I believe this is playing a factor in us not winning games that we go a goal down in. We simply do not have the stamina to do it just now, see the pathetic attempt to come back v St Johnstone or the total collapses in Sion and at Ibrox for clues.

Are we training hard enough? Are players looking after themselves properly? I don't know. I do know that one player came to the club last season as a tee-totaller totally dedicated to his football and now spends half his life in pubs and clubs. People say players should be able to do what they want in their own time, I say players who wanted to get pished all the time are like Wall St guys who march for Socialism in their spare time.