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...