Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas cheer from The Asterisk Years

I hope everyone reading this has a fantastic time over this holiday period. I know it's a painful time for some (I'm one of them) who think loved ones lost, hard times and the pressure applied from everywhere.

I hope you can find peace.

It's been a roller coaster year for me as usual but the highs far outweighed the lows. The worst part of the year for me was saying goodbye to my son Jake in August after seeing him for a couple of days. We stood in Connolly Station in Dublin in floods of tears and it took me at least a month to recover from that. Being apart from your kids is an awful thing and none more so than at this time of year, if you're in that position, I'm there with you.

Of course the other big part of my year was the start of The Asterisk Years Project.  This put me on a new level of notoriety and you sometimes think you should have "Everlast" running down your body but the goal makes it worth it and the support is spellbinding. So if you bought a book, downloaded the audio book, tweeted me, Dm'd me, got in touch on Facebook, came up to me at a game or in a pub please believe me when I say that you mean the world to me and none of this would be possible without you.

There are clearly divisions within the Celtic support right now, something that has to be resolved soon. More unites us than divides us and forget the knockers and begrudgers, they'll soon be onto something else whereas we Celtic supporters ain't going anywhere.

The Asterisk Years project is in phase 2 right now with the release of the audio book. I'm very proud of that and how well the paperback has done.

Thank you.

Phase 3 is the biggest and most ambitious project I've ever embarked upon but I'm ready for it.

Thanks to you.

Merry Christmas all, I wish you health, wealth and happiness now and forever more.

Paul

Www.theasteriskyears.com

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Asterisk Years Audio Book out now

You can download the new Asterisk Years audio book right now. It is available for £4.99 from www.theasteriskyears.com There are lots of voices from all over the planet as David Murray's stranglehold over not only Scottish football but Scottish society is laid bare.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

If Paradise was half as nice...

When Celtic played Nottingham Forest in Dec 1983 there was a meeting about tickets. Brian Clough was there and asked Davie Hay right out how many Celtic wanted so they could dispense with the meeting and go and get a drink. Davie said "How much does your ground hold?" Brian looked bored "34,000" to which Davie replied "Right, we'll take the lot"

Yesterday at Celtic Park was one of those days where you wonder why you bother. Walking from Bellgrove station to the park I got soaked to the skin. People were texting me about how great the Man City-Arsenal game was and I was making mental notes on who to kill should I ever thaw out.

I got my usual third degree at the turnstile because I have a student season ticket and then got to concourse realising the entire crowd had decided to huddle there. I approached the Ladbrokes and heard a guy politely question the odds "Here you, the how the fuck is that Pukki only 7/2?" I hope he lumped on.

For some reason, a steward asked to see my ticket at the top of the stairs and directed me right to my seat. I then wiped it dry(ish) before realising it wasn't actually my seat. I should have heeded the warning.

The rain never stopped and the empty(ish) 111 gave a stark reminder of the previous week's events. Plus it made me think that section probably has more cover than mine.

The game was ok considering conditions but eyes went from the park to all around us as.stewards started surrounding a group who were singing. Then all around me people were being told by the police to sit down and shut up by the police.

All this whilst sitting freezing, soaking and guilty only of questioning Bobby Madden's parentage.

The final whistle was a relief on and off the park and folk shuffled.away into the night, presumably to warm pubs and welcoming partners, whilst I trudged back to Bellgrove dreaming of the first train ever to have flunkies to dry you off.

This was only my experience of yesterday, yours was probably different.

I certainly hope so.

Incidentally, a year later, Celtic played Rapid Vienna at Old Trafford and sold 50,000 tickets in two hours. Brian Clough phoned Davie Hay, apologising, saying he now realised he had been serious.

The Asterisk Years Audio Book is out on Dec 22nd. Go here for info www.theasteriskyears.com

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fear and Loathing on the Murray trail

It's not been a good few weeks for me or some people close to me. On a personal level youngest son has been very ill and isn't out the woods yet. Concerns about my own health are ongoing and the usual shit life throws at you adds to a worrying time. Similarly, folk close to me are going through hard times and my heart goes out to Josh Gaffney who lost his Father suddenly yesterday.

It was all so different last week when I bounced out of Ireland after a great gig in Larne. Soon as I got back though a shitstorm was brewing. Seems that threats had been made about the publication of a video of the Glasgow launch of The Asterisk Years. Not to me directly but to people close to me. I realised then that things were getting wee bit sinister as only three people even knew about the video and I was one of them. I knew the other two were solid so it was clear dark forces were raging. Not the type like the serial abuser who bombarded me, Amazon and Lulu with abuse, not even the coward who threatened my eldest son, no, this was the type who tried three weeks ago to get the book shelved completely.

I took the decision to pull the plug on the video, for now, to protect others or at least, hopefully, stop them being threatened. You see I never get threats to my face, they always come on social media or through other people, but it doesn't derail the project, in fact, phase two of the Asterisk Years is all but complete and is an Audio Book, £4.99, and downloadable from Dec 22nd from www.theasteriskyears.com

The people who abuse and make threats, from your own side or the other, all have one thing in common. They are all saying "PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE AN OPINION"

We say "WE HAVE ONLY JUST BEGUN"
 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Against the crown

Friday night saw the completion of Phase 1 of The Asterisk Years Project. It took place in Larne and, to the amusement of the locals, I did get plenty folk raise eyebrows at the prospect of me going there. I flew over on Friday tea time and got picked up at the airport by Gary Bergin. It felt like I was flying first class as, for the first time since 2011, I flew something other than Ryanair.

We sped off in the direction of Larne and upon arriving there were met by something that anyone who has been to Larne recently will know: A massive Crown. Maybe the doubters were right. Pretty soon we were off to The Station Bar and I must say now the set up and hospitality was superb. My book was advertised on the tables like a menu, they had a projector for the show and I soon realised that everyone in the bar was there to see it. I ended up speaking for about three hours and really enjoyed it. These are solid Tims.

We went on very late and probably got back to Gary's about 3am. Gary is as good a host as you'll find anywhere and up were up for 9am to sample an Ulster fry in the shadow of Sammy Wilson's constituency office. That felt good.

The Bhoys in Larne were different class, particularly Stevie and his staff, Martin, the future mayor of Larne, Billy, Kevin and Connor.

Fully fed, we drove to Belfast and although I love Larne, it was nice to see a tricolour again. We parked up and immediately met the Sinn Fein mayor of Belfast, Mairtin OMuilleoir, and have a craic about the book, Amsterdam and flags. We then went to.the Irish Republican history museum at Conway Mill. Built by Eileen Hickey and run by her sister it was a real treat and was also great to see so many tourists in there. After this we took in a few memorials before heading to the Sinn Fein shop. Great craic there too and I got myself a copy of The Escape by Gerry Kelly which has me captivated already. We then headed for a pint in The Rock Bar before heading to the RVH to visit someone who hasn't been too well recently and was currently a patient. This was a really inspiring and humbling experience for me as he had read all my books and was Celtic through and through. We talked for two hours in the ward. I could have sat there two days.

Then it was off to the airport and to start on the Gerry Kelly book. That got me a few stares and a secondary search.

As I said at the start, lots of folk thought I was mad for going to Larne. You should know by now I'm mad minus the trip.

And what a trip. Massive thanks to Gary for everything and it was a trip I will never forget.

The Crown in Larne looks a bit of a relic to the past.  The people in Larne provide a great path to the future.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Guest Blog: Graham Wilson

A shot at redemption

On this seemingly endless flight home from a Frankfurt (which I barely made), I've had a rush of thoughts go through my head regarding the fantastic weekend the ended up in a disappointing result vs a weak Milan side. What makes it all the more harder for me is that I predicted this transpiring months ago and got slagged for my opinion at the time by board lackeys. I was told I was anti-Celtic.  I wonder if the general consensus I'd that board mouthpieces are better supporters or love the club more than I do. I didn't think so then and still don't. They're out for their ego and I'm sure they'll be running for cover in the coming days as they've been found out. 
Am I delighted at this outcome? No chance. I always stated that my sincerest wish was that I'd be found to be a mug. Well I wasn't and now we all lose.  It was so clear that we needed a penalty box striker to complement the half dozen strikers we have that don't score. You then out loads of pressure on the midfield in that absence and when the captain of the team has a rush of blood to the head and gets the dumbest red card ever, the writing was on the wall.  It's clear. The board this season chucked it with regard to the champions league.

Just giving Neil Lennon enough to get by in the league and Scottish a Cup and it's good enough we are in the Champions League.  This is a first class ticket to fading from the prominence we had last year worldwide and shrinking back toward the rest of Scottish football.  The opportunity  has been squandered by a CEO who is focused on a "cash cow", austerity, get as much as possible with as little outlay mindset regarding Celtic.  It's also clear there is a power play at Celtic between the manager and chief executive which leads to concerns about Lennon's future at Celtic. 

The shame of it is that it didn't need to be that way.  If arrogance and overconfidence in their own genius hadn't pervaded after last season, we could continue to be growing our influence in Europe. Sadly this seasons campaign has ended with a mere whimper.  Questions must be answered, there must be accountability of those in charge because we know what happens when the fans below whatever they're told by their chief executive.

You may recall last time I was over, I took ill in a very bad way and missed out on a lot of experiences I'd always longed for. This trip was my shot at righting that wrong.  After a 13 hours travel time, I stepped off the plane to a sunny 12C degree day (Scots and their meteorological bravado).  Not a sign of jetlag at all so away we went. Paul's mate Ally picked us both up and we headed straight to a Celtic Park.  I couldn't wait to see it again. We saw the great McGuire67 as we entered the ground and it's always good too see a familiar face.  Paul Then says to me, this is gonna be a last minute winner...oh aye.  Sure enough Dirk Boerrigter sealed the deal and next thing we know we're back down London Rd celebrating a close win over the sheep.  Ally picked us up and took us back to Paul's place after the game which I still can't thank him enough for.

Speaking of the effect of not challenging those in power, Paul Larkin's exposé The Asterisk Years had it's Edinburgh launch on Sunday which was a treat to see Paul in action and meet so many folks that I've known for years. What a great day out that lasted even after the launch had ended and we would up drinkin all the pints they had at the Phoenix.  I was struck by and extremely touched by so many folk who came up and said they never miss my show. That means so much especially when more that one person said they don't agree with anything I say but it's nice to hear a Celtic voice that's so passionate.  That's why I do what I do.  It's for you good folks as an alternative to drivel that's biased against us. No more of that is needed.  Just leads to aggravation and isn't needed.  

Day turned into night (by about 230 in the afternoon anaw FFS) and many who'd been with us at the launch came upstairs for several more pints, laughter and song. From Chibchenko slagging the Smiths to Gaffer fallin off his chair what a time we had.  Received incredible insight from a Jambo named Paul about how they feel as aggrieved as we do regarding what Murray done.  Also, caught up with markybhoy67 who had a mate with him from Barcelona. He couldn't get his head around a guy comin all the way from America for Celtic. After a four hour diatribe from me, I waved them goodbye and caught up with Davie who's a passionate a Tim as you'll meet.  Even before the bevy came out you knew this guy was up for it.  Watching Davie speak about the club and what we were doing made me immediately think of Scotty from South Jersey (yahmpy).  That's what we're all about stateside because we gotta fight just to see the Celtic let alone buy strips etc.  It was a huge closing of the gap for me.
Monday was another special event after Paul Larkin decided to wake me up every 20 minutes starting at 815am.  Eddie Cantwell invited Paul and I to the Wolfe Tones gig in Coatbridge which I was buzzing about for weeks. I'd seen the Tones in America a bunch of times but never in a scenario like that.  I can't thank Eddie enough for the hospitality he showed in welcoming us in. I have no idea why I'd deserve all this but I'm so so grateful.  Big G of Celtic Dreams was Johnny on the spot picking us up from Blairhill and taking us back to catch our train after the show and we had a blast at the show as well.  Can't thank him enough and what a great guy he is.  As I stood up shouting rebel tunes all night, I looked around the room and felt like I was home. This is where my heart is.  Quite a pleasure and honor meeting Dr Joe Bradley of Celtic Minded books as well and furnished me with a gift that I'll absolutely treasure.

Tuesday led to a world of expectations kicked off by Larkin doing his usual wake up call every 20 minutes, FFS.  We had quite a bit to do thought.  Hit the ticket office, coordinate with folk and head to the Brazen to meet up with a pack of Dubs who can only be described as playing with passion.  I did my best to dispel the myth about yanks not handling their alcohol and think I did ok actually.  Darren, Connor, Mick and Al were brilliant craic all day as we discussed all sort of topics including politics, history, burds, and of course Celtic.  Just one reminder after another of what make this particular club different

The game speaks for itself. It was awful. No effort, poor planning, poor preparing, poor result.  I'll have some fun with the #blamegraham thing but what power do I possibly have over a result against some very good teams in the Champions League? Hardly any.  Am I disappointed, yeah fucking furious.  But I'm not owed a win just because I was fortunate enough to have the means to come here and see this game.  The fact is :  IM FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO COME OVER AND SEE THIS GAME!  And share it with some of the best people I've ever met, who've treated me like a brother and I consider them my brothers and sisters right back. Be proud of who you are, don't throw that scarf on the ground or in the trash.  That scarf signifies who you are.  Don't ever forget or renounce that.  It means too much to have a tantrum after we lose a game.

Really cool running into @tamselleckcsc and @challum from twitter on the train home after the game as well.  Did a bit of moaning about the result and venting our frustrations about the Bhoys in Amsterdam.  Top guys the two of em and all the best.

Lastly, I of course have to thank my big brother Paul.  Paul's dealt with me when I was sick and offered me a chance at redemption this time around as I was well.  What a weekend we had and I wish him nothing but the best as always. There's people who you think you can count on in life and then theres Paul who you'd actually trust with your life.  There's only a few people in a lifetime that most folk get to meet like this and Paul's one of them for me. I'm so lucky to have him as a friend.

Thank you for everything man
So I'm about an hour from landing and going through security and seeing my wife for the first time in two weeks. But a lot has changed.  No longer do I feel like I'm a step behind because I'm not there every week. No longer do I feel that going to the CSC is just the watered down option because we can't get over.  There's something very special in what we have in America, in a lot of ways.  I'm gonna start looking at it differently and appreciate it a lot more.   It's an incredible thing we have across the world.

Nobody should ever forget it

Monday, November 25, 2013

Then there was Edinburgh

Judging by my sore head, strange texts and feeling that I haven't slept in about three weeks I think yesterday went ok. What started as a small, intimate gig for a few friends who couldn't make Glasgow, ended up with a packed out venue with lots and lots of friendly faces and a feeling that makes everything worthwhile.

It had been a busy Saturday with Graham Wilson coming in and then the game but I was pretty fresh on the Sunday whereas Graham, as he always seems to over here, looked like he had just gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson. When we arrived at the bar there were only a couple of folk there and then within five minutes we had filled the place.

That's always a nice feeling.

We packed in for our "private party" as the pub, The Phoenix on Broughton St, called it and there was no messing around as everyone bought their drinks, took their seats and settled in for the show. It was a really enjoyable afternoon with some stories, a few facts and figures and a great Q&A session (which will be out as a pod this week). It was nice to see so many new faces in with the folk who support everything I do. The point in all these things is to get the story out there and I want to thank everyone who came and listened and were respectful throughout.

Before we knew it, four hours had passed and it was all over. These things tend to fly in and this was no different. After this is where I get hazy, the things I remember are Gaffer collapsing in the bar, Chibchenko going tonto about her hatred of The Smiths, a lot of illicit chanting from David Brown and James Wallace, talking Italian to a waitress, Graham dazzling two girls from his homeland, both of us quoting almost every line in The Godfather and The Godfather part 2 and then I am at a blank.

So next and final stop of phase 1 of The Asterisk Years project is Larne on Friday night. I've had lots of eyebrows raised about going there and some even saying I am mad to even think about it. A solid set of Tims await and that's good enough for me.

In the meantime, I fulfilled an ambition yesterday, no not the two yank girls you filthy-minded people, I launched a book in Edinburgh and that means a lot to me.

The fact I did in a pub called The Phoenix and a stones throw from David Murray's local, is thanks to all who came.

Slainte.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Edinburgh launch of The Asterisk Years

Sunday afternoon in Edinburgh will see another little launch of The Asterisk Years as Phase 1 of the project nears completion. A trip to Larne awaits on Friday but the gig on Sunday was set up primarily for a more sedate look at the story in smaller surroundings with the opportunity for folk to get more in depth on the issues.

Rumours that it is merely a piss up but closer to my house are, well, hurtful...haha.

Seriously though, I have done something like this before in June, 20-30 people in Edinburgh, less intense than an actual book launch and a chance to get up close and personal with people. As the actress said to the bishop. I like that kind of situation as it allows you to properly explain stuff away from the sort of manic mayhem that comes with the Glasgow launch of a book which, whilst always fantastic, can often leave folk with a sore head and blank expression when coming to thinking about what they actually launched the night before.

It will be hosted by Graham Wilson, he of Beyond The Waves infamy, who at this minute is on European soil and trying to explain to me why his case is of Sex and The City proportions for a four day trip.

There will be a recording done for a pod and some audience participation as well. There will also be some new information put out for the first time relating directly to David Murray.

What humbles me is the fact that some folk are travelling fair distances to come to it as the reason I do small ones in Edinburgh is I never expect anyone outside of Edinburgh to want to come.

So, that's the pitch, there are about four or five who have pulled out this week which means there are some places there if you fancy.an afternoon in the capital so get in touch with me @paullarkin74 .

It will be worth it alone to see Graham's jacket.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Supporters on board

Sid Vicious was once asked if he wrote songs with the "man in the street" in mind. Sid replied "No, because I've met the man in the street and he's a cunt".

That's a punk attitude designed to project an image but increasingly it appears to be the mantra from anyone paid by Scottish football. I followed the AGM on Twitter (I used to go, they drove me mad, I stopped it) and would have probably chucked the PC out the window had it been my PC or near a window. I'm used to the Lawwellspeak at these things, I've observed it for years, seen it up close and have banged my head against a brick wall trying to tell folk what he's like. You can't deal with folk like him because he will be your best pal and worst enemy whenever it suits him. I've not said much on the Living Wage fiasco because, a lot like food banks, I find it utterly staggering that it even needs to be debated. The fact that there where two resolutions at the AGM, one asking for employees to be paid what they can actually live on, and one asking for, effectively, more transparency with supporters, would have you believing you've unearthed a new George Orwell novel. The crux of this is something I am well used to when writing books or being on podcasts: Folk like you and me are not supposed to have opinions. This was beautifully illustrated by Ian Bankier who made a big show of breaking from his "prepared response" and answering a question directly. You may not realise how big a step this was for Ian because this is a guy who needed his speech for the 125th Anniversary do at St. Mary's written for him as he had no idea what to say. For me, this makes the impassioned speeches from the floor all the more poignant and beautifully fucking illustrates how many supporters feel with regard with respect to the fans and the club.

It's because of this, and other aspects, that we find our club under almost daily attack from the agenda driven pundits and press men that Sportsound wheel out. Our PR Dept (Stop laughing) appear to think their job is to kybosh supporters requests and stop calls getting to Lawwell. Now I know that guys like Ian Jamieson get all sorts of strange characters phoning them every day asking for comments on the most trivial of matters but here's a tip for them,  PR has gone pro-active. You don't just sit waiting for the phone to ring so you can react. We are Celtic, remember?

This kind of attitude allows the likes of Tom English and Keith Jackson the platform to say anything they like about Celtic. Now, I can't stand either of them but it's not because of any threat they pose to us, they don't, they are just not football men and never have been. With that being said, who is speaking up for us when they spout? I see precious little coming from the club and this brings us into that other area where the board have continually patted us on the head and told us to run along now, the "fan on the board" scenario. The stock answer from all the board is "Ah, but we are all fans anyway?" Which would be fine were it not for the fact that some of these "fans" never set foot in the club until they were paid to do so. Ultimately this is why they seem to spend half their lives saying things that make most of us wonder whatever happened to Upstairs, Downstairs.

I think it's clear that we, as fans, want to see our club on the front foot with issues, on and off the park, and would like our identity, our ethos, our dreams reflected any time the club do anything. Celtic was a standard bearer on so many ideas and production that we must think like that on all issues. We cannot allow a situation where the board apply a unionist type veto over anything they choose to.

Otherwise, the punks win.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A match made in hell

The Asterisk Years has been a massive success. I say that to get under the skin of the haters willing it to fail. I was made aware last week that book made it into the hands of some of the folk mentioned in it. I know from information today that they tried twice to get the book stopped from being sold.

They failed.

Many of you will be aware of the threats that came my way and to my eldest son. I didn't take the police route and got folk I trust to investigate. We now know who one of the people making threats was and are about 99% sure on the other. I sat down and discussed all this with a good friend last night and we both sat in disbelief as the names were revealed, one prominent name on Twitter, another who would love to be. Individually they have tried to do anything and everything to stop folk buying this book.

They failed.

A common tactic these days when trying to undermine anyone or anything is sniping. Primarily the reason for that is the inability to behave in the same way in real life as they can online. Some people hate you personally, some hate what you do, some just anyone who tries to do anything. It would get me down if it were not for the stories of car loads of comrades being organised for the Edinburgh launch or indeed the widely held opinions on the snipers that I read and hear, unprompted. Divide and conquer is the snipers game.

They failed.

I cannot thank folk enough for the level of support I have received with this book and project which, by the way, still has two phases to go.

In the meantime I will have my two sons with for a few days now. Able to happen because of an army that stepped forward in my hour of need and because our collective ability to isolate the haters.

No better family in the world than a Celtic one.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Glee

Not having witnessed any of the Amsterdam incidents first hand, I haven't commented on them, condemned them or condoned them.  I know that doesn't stop a lot of folk but I am old fashioned. From the grainy videos, I saw scenes that I really haven't seen much of when following Celtic anywhere. I've seen plenty heavy handed policing over the years, mainly in Italy and Spain, but I've never seen undercover cops suddenly appear like a firm and start laying into folk before they then arrest them (Maybe once in the film I.D. actually).

Let's get the basics out the way, some of the folk who follow Celtic to these games drink too much and can be total fannies. I know this because I have been one. In any group situation there's always going to be one or two who just don't behave in a normal fashion and it's normally drink fuelled (I do that even away from football matches) so there's no way I would become an apologist for that kind of behaviour, it's me that would probably need to apologise.

Of course things like this happen in all games, some of the worst aspects of this I've seen have been when Scotland have played at Wembley. For a lot of folk it's their one day out a year and they are going to ensure everyone knows they are there.

With that being said, there is no excuse for the policy of the Dutch police which was effectively legal thuggery. The vast majority of people who go to football matches just want to watch their team, support their team and have a good time doing so. For the vast majority of games I have been to this is exactly how it has been.

I know there is a bandwagon that surrounds this kind of thing and it gets jumped on by journalists, broadcasters and so on and we hear the glee that many of them report it with, even to the point of comparing it with Manchester 2008, so that Celtic's name can be dragged through the mud again.

As a support I think we are pretty good at most things and our awards, our invites to testimonials, the causes we support and the reaction to adversity are things I'd point at and say yeah, we are doing ok.

What matters now is that two young guys have been denied their liberty and they need released immediately.


Follow @freepadraig and @freeandyvance to show support and do what you can.

Do what you can to support The Celtic Trust http://celtictrust.net/?func=d_home_article&id=449

Show the world, again, why we are the greatest.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

When Murray shuddered at the Merchant City

When I woke up on Saturday morning I realised I wasn't stressed at all about the Book Launch. This was the first time that's ever happened to me on the day of a Book Launch so I am the type to think, even at that, something is bound to go wrong. 

The 945am train from Haymarket pulled out from a sunny Edinburgh and powered into a dreech central belt that would set the weather tone for the day. Gaffer got on at Linlithgow and it was funny listening to his excuses for working for SKY now ("Oh...aye...you get free tea on a Wednesday")

By the time we hit Glasgow, the rain was torrential, so what better way to spend the next hour than standing on grass in the open air. A tiny sacrifice given we were stood in front of the newly sculpted Celtic Cross that now stands in Dalbeth Cemetery as a monument to our founding fathers. Was good to bump into a few friendly faces like The Parrot, Stevie Cairney, Jason Higgins Arthur Rusk and John Paul Taylor. 

Umbrella sellers had a field day.

Gaffer and I moved off with The Parrot and Arthur for a Mellow Birds and it was great to just sit there shooting the shit. I've no doubt this is what completely relaxed me for the rest of the day.

The game you know about, it was damp, dull but we are still undefeated. As usual.

Straight after the game I met the Dublin Brigade of Conor, Mick and Darren and we made our way to the Merchant City.

This is the worst part of any Book Launch day for me, the bit where I am heading to it, it's all in front of me, everyone is looking forward to the craic and getting leathered into the drink and you're thinking "Fuck, it's me they are coming to see" The other aspect is it always nags at the back of your mind that this will be the time that no one shows up, it's pishing down, crap game, they will all go home. Thankfully when we got to Blackfriars, via The Libertine, several folk were already waiting outside the venue including the inimitable Richard Swan who is as much a part of these things as I am.

When I first got downstairs there were maybe around 40 folk there. Colette and her team had arrived and Richard whisked me away to the toilet to interview me, honest, we're just friends.

When I came out the entire place was packed and full of friendly faces. As well as the Dublin Brigade, my friend Paul had flown over for it and he has been a tower of strength to me for many years and I want to thank him now for always being there.

Similarly seeing folk like Simmy and Michelle again, always does my heart proud. Stevie, if you're reading, sorry you couldn't make it, stay strong brother.

These nights would not be the same without Paul Lee and the wee man was there in his usual fine form and singing voice that Susan Boyle couldn't rival.

Always great meeting new friends like Hutchie, Eddie and David Brown.

The rain soaked and welcomed faced Hugh Clark even made an appearance, before he overthrows the SFA.

The people that come to these things are fantastic, I would say that wouldn't I, but these same people came to The Admiral in April 2012 and stood around wondering who everyone else was, 18 months on and they have drank together, sang together and, aye, even shagged each other some of them, and they are the heartbeat of these nights.

Krys Kujawa was first up and read some stuff from a new book he is doing and it was very well received. The bar had done us a real turn having a proper set up of chairs and stage for a night like this. Our host for this evening, the tasty Jo Laing(that will set off her radar...;-), humbled me with her intro and before I knew it I was in front of the bright lights (An in joke for folk who were there).

What followed was a 90 minute show where I told the background to the book, illustrated the level of cheating we faced then took questions, heckles and incoherent rambling from the floor. In all seriousness it was great and really added to the night with a good toing and froing. 

Blink and it was all over and Stevie Dodds led the illicit chanting and it has to be said, he was absolutely phenomenal. The raffle draw came and the lovely Louise Lavery won and ensured everyone knew about it! After that it was great to meet folk, catch up with friends, sign books and canoodle with Jane Hamilton.

I would like thank again all the McCann's, Steph O'Neill, Paul, Louise, The Larne Bhoys, Conor and the Bhoys, Krys, my assistant Evan, Dermo, Jo, The Parrot and Arthur for all ensuring the day went smoothly. Nothing really went wrong at all.

Plus everyone who came, listened, asked questions, sang and drank, the people on Twitter who wished me well and the people in the book group who continue to inspire you restored my faith in humanity, I'll never forget that.

Then it was over.

Not before though the 150 people who packed the pub sent David Murray and co a clear message that not only are we not sitting at the back of the bus any more, we are driving it head on towards you all.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Credits

I don't like Roller Coasters and my Doc would go mad if I ever went near them quite frankly but the last six weeks have felt like the biggest, maddest, scariest ride that Walt Disney could come up with. I feel like I have been dwelling on the bad aspects a lot recently and making folk think that it's all been abuse, but it's not. Obviously there have been two threats of a more serious nature and I'm never going to trivialise that. Also, it's never nice when folk are nasty for the sake of it and you feel a bit like Tony Mowbray when it happens, almost always from your own side as well.

With that being said, the level of real support I have received in the last few weeks has been incredible. Right off the top of my head I can name Stevie Cairney, Arthur Rusk, Graham Wilson, Chris McMonagle, Kevin McAuley, James Wallace, Dr John in Myrtle Beach, Jim Kinlan, Darren Horgan who have all come forward with genuine offers of places to stay in a "as long as you like" type way. All of these people came forward unprompted and that's the key. There are many, many more and I will have missed some people but none of them, or those named above, do it for publicity and all come to me privately and have all been thanked privately.

There have been legions of folk who have showed support to me in the last few weeks and it's a cliche but you really do know who your friends are at a time like this. Primarily because it's easy to spot who doesn't get in touch and who may just reveal themselves a bit in a "He deserves it" tweet to someone else. The point about that is someone is always watching and I've been able to engage with a few people who have held that view.

Some folk hate me, I can deal with that. Primary because I have folk like The Parrot, Chas Duffy and Paul Lee who constantly remind me they have my back and I'll take guys like that over a smartphone sniper any day of the week.

Then I have people like the two Eddies, Conor Fallon, Jane Hamilton, Robbie Maguire, Sam McLeod, The Bhuddist Rebel, Mark O'Brien, Richard Swan, Nas Mohammed, Sniper and Tommy Gold who are constantly in touch offering support or just a bit craic.

Ditto the HomeBhoys banter which can pull me up from a long, dark place.

I've missed plenty but I don't want the credits to fucking Ben Hur here.

It's all a bit of a stooshie over a wee book isn't it? In the last few weeks I've been given expert security advice, I've had my college speak to me over concerns they have and I had to deal with a family member who was so traumatised by it all that I almost adopted my John Rambo character (couldn't find a headband)

The thing is though, it's just a book, I'm just a writer and Wilfred Owen said "All a poet can do is warn" and that's the end aspect of the book. A warning. My ass may be dumb but I ain't no dumb ass and I knew that I would get all this shit plus I knew my constant knockers and begrudgers would go into overdrive.

The point is that folk like me will never be universally popular but will have the best friends anyone can have.

So, thank you.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Asterisk Years-40% off til Nov 4

Folks, due to the incredible amount of support so far, an offer from the publisher.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/paul-larkin/the-asterisk-years-the-edinburgh-establishment-v-celtic/paperback/product-21192881.html;jsessionid=34AA4E080AC12D66B3128F19C9BAF72D

Use code FALLSALE40 to get 40% off

Offer ends Nov 4th.

Repeal The Act

The Celtic Trust have launched a new campaign against the Offensive Behaviour Act. You can now contact your local MSP through the Trust website by going to this page now:

http://celtictrust.net/index.php?func=d_home_article&id=443

Let's stand together and stop the criminalisation of Celtic supporters.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Stand up for the cause

In the week of yet another survey, this time telling us that Celtic supporters are the 3rd best on the planet, it made me think that, as well as how on earth do they do these things, what constitutes the make up of a Celtic supporter?

On a blog for Hail Hail Media last week I got a lot of stick for saying the only thing that bothered me about Champions League games was the folk who turned up late, lost and liquored. Folk told me that I was saying I was a better fan than others, my ego was out of control and so on. It made me think, do we all have the same expectations of Celtic supporters? Looking the initiative at Firhill today, that kind of thing ties in with my own expectations. Now I am one of the militant types who will argue all day that is beyond belief that in 2013, in the 7th richest country in the world, we have food banks.

That won't feed anyone though.

So a hardy band took to the streets of Maryhill today and collected enough food to keep Maryhill food bank supplied until March. Not only is that truly magnificent but I'm willing to bet the folk who did that fan survey didn't know anything about that or we certainly would not have only been 3rd.

I was talking today to someone who I have a lot of time for who is a bit disillusioned with the club and some of the support as well, It made me think about who Celtic are and what do we stand for? Yes, charity is in our roots but so is a rebel heart. "More than a football club" is bandied about like a Guy any time Celtic need a penny but what do we actually mean? I hope part of it means standing shoulder to shoulder with your fellow supporter and that my disillusioned friend is made aware of that as more and more people around him find out that he's down right now.

I know that kind of support helps because bhoy have I needed it this week. Many of you will know of the threats I received this week, par for the course, but the medium they came through tipped the scales in a way where I thought of chucking all social media for good. At times like that you are at the bottom of a hole yet when you look up there are lots of people reaching down to pull you back up.

The importance of that can never be over-egged.

The cause of Celtic may be one that is different for a lot of us yet the common denominator, deep down, is that we all care. That's what defeats the apathy, the knockers and begrudgers. Having people around you who say "I know, I'm here" is the best example of the Celtic support I've experienced. It's not about attending games, buying strips or followers on Twitter.

It's about standing beside your fellow Tim and reminding them why they fell in love in the first place.

And that the cause is worth standing up for.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Asterisk Years-Kindle link

Here it is folks, download to your heart's content.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asterisk-Years-The-Edinburgh-Establishment-Celtic-ebook/dp/B00G1ER1YM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382264153&sr=8-1&keywords=the+asterisk+years+paul+larkin

The Asterisk Years-For Kindle

So there I am, giving it the big "I am" saying to the three people on Twitter who care that my day will be spent walking (to the Forth Road Bridge and back) reading (Morrissey's new book) and settling down tonight to watch my favourite show (Love/Hate) and I get an email this morning saying I have received 100 clicks on Amazon (I thought they were a letter wrong and I had only ordered one) but what it meant was that the process of The Asterisk Years being available on Kindle has now begun so it could be live as early as tonight.

I'm happy about that as I know we live in an instant world and if I had my way everyone interested in the book would be able to read it right away. I have even said to myself that if I make any money out of this, I will in fact buy myself a Kindle (hopefully before Electricity becomes like Davy Jones Locker)

So I still intend to walk(just not to a wifi-less South Queensferry...) and read (Still Morrissey but maybe after Animal Farm) and I'm still watching Love/Hate.

You're probably wondering why you are reading this, I know, I'll go.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Asterisk Years-A Thank You

It's been a whirlwind week for me. I was gearing up for a relaxing break when Lulu opened the pre order window and a 20% discount for folk and I had to move quick. Don't get me wrong, it's great, especially when the demand is such that pre-order moves to order and folk get the books quicker than anticipated.

I can't thank enough the people who have bought the book. Any time you raise your head above the parapet, you're going to get plenty people trying to knock it off. Some are up front about it, others are more sneaky, but the end product is always the same. This week has been an exceptional week in that regard.
Indeed I just read a scathing review on Lulu from someone saying the book is rubbish because Rangers were found not guilty of everything. Now, the only thing I can remember Rangers being found not guilty of was the, currently under appeal, "Big Tax Case" and this book is not about that or indeed the EBT scheme, which they were found guilty of using. Of course, the other aspect of the abuse was that it was left on Friday night, before anyone had actually received a book who purchased it this week.

One of the criticisms you get when mentioning Rangers is that you are obsessed by them. This book is about Celtic. The vast majority of the 60,000 words are about Celtic. Plus, most importantly, everything David Murray did was about Celtic.

My mantra is always if you try to please everyone, you'll end up pleasing no one.

The flip side of that is the level of support I get which has staggered me this week. People are great. They see the abuse, they see the side swipes and the digs and the patronising "Aw you've managed to write another book have you, well done" and they counteract it with love and creativity and support. They send pictures to cheer you up, Tweets to show they are standing beside you and constant messages of support behind the scenes which can really dig you out of a dark place at the point where you think there is no light at the end of the tunnel.Abuse comes often when you least expect it but then so does support and let me say to those folk who send out support, three times this week I felt really low. Twice I was made aware of stuff folk were side swiping and then came that Lulu review which you don't rationalise right away but every time I was down, you picked me back up.

Slainte.

I understand I've bombarded Social Media this week with book info and will be giving that a rest for a bit because I know it can piss folk off if they have already bought or indeed if it's not their cup of tea.

Before I sign off, will try and answer a few questions/statements that have came up this week a lot.

-The Kindle release of the book is Halloween

-The Glasgow Book Launch is completely sold out, if your name is not on the list, you won't get in.

-I am not and have never been a "casual"

-My kids are 12 and 4 and my life, not "7 and 3 and he takes nothing to do with them"

-I live in a council house in a block not in a "big fancy house he has spent all his book money on"

-I have not been told by Celtic I am banned, in fact, Celtic are considering selling the book.

And breathe.

Have a good weekend folks, I love you all.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Food Banks at Firhill-Oct 27th


PR work is the new Rock n Roll

If you're doing anything you want people to know about, having a good PR person is a good idea. I know one who is probably the best in Scotland. I've watched with some amusement as various events have taken place over the last few months and people have lapped up the credit for them even though they know, and I know, they didn't know their ass from first base before said PR person got a grip of them. That's something that PR people are used to and those who recognise that know who to hire when they need people to know about something.

Another aspect of PR work, the less in your face, more sleekit, is when journalists call themselves journalists when in reality all they do is PR work. The best ones are so good at it that they have many convinced with their "Aw shucks" demeanour whilst they pen a column, which takes all the pressure off a new star signing who has just been seen rolling round the pitch like he's been shot, with opinions so far out there you'd question your own sanity. Lots of journalists have these cosy relationships with clubs and get their access and comfy interviews with players and managers which then enable them to get massive book deals.

You may think there is no problem with that but it's happening at the same time as laws are passed that allow companies to sue magazines/Web sites/bloggers, lose, and still have the magazines/web sites/bloggers pay all the costs.

A win-win-win for "The Man".

Independent journalism is absolutely crucial in the modern day. We have seen the impact of Wikileaks and how that shook the world and that is merely a continuation of great independent, investigative, journalism. Forget the tired comparison of Woodstein (A great piece of work but their employer negates them as an example) and look at what Private Eye did when exposing The Profumo Affair week by week with stories the press would not print. Now, Profumo could sue, lose, and it could still end the magazine.

You may say I have an agenda in this, I have a book out which I believe vindicates the Celtic support and asks serious questions of the most powerful men in Scotland and guess what? The only MSM journalists who seem interested in the story, don't come from this country.

People ask me how that makes me feel? In all honesty? Pissed off. I was a lucky guy who had a dynamite source fall on his lap. I still did my own digging, I still chased leads and familiarised myself with the world I was writing about and guess what? I found out more. An example: David Murray was able to control the image rights of Scottish football. That's absolutely huge and gets him into so many worlds that it may lead people to believe that gave him the capability to promote Rangers in Australia whilst hindering Celtic in Ireland.

You may think that, I couldn't possibly comment.

Then, as my frustration reaches boiling point, and I see these meek PR men on Twitter doing anything and everything to make it look like they are journalists and promise in depth, hard-hitting interviews with the Motherwell kit man or books that appeal to anyone who doesn't have an opinion beyond Coronation Street or Eastenders, I flip on the Sportsound Podcast and hear Chick Young try to re-write history better than The Hitler Diaries.

Sportsound has become a haven for the PR men of Scottish football, where different factions put up their spokesman to fight their corner. Hey, at least Jack Irvine doesn't hide what he is.

All this frustrates me and, seemingly, most who get in touch with me too. You wonder what, when doing their degree or whatever, the aspirations of these PR men were back before they compromised themselves so much that you'd struggle to get an answer to "Hello" before they phoned five different people.

I know some great journalists in this country. Ones that don't phone the person they are about to talk about live, they just say what they feel. More power to them but even they must understand that their message is being drowned out by meek delusional people who still think it's romantic to play for Ross County or PR men whose only reason for being is to get something looking like Rangers Oldco to the top of Scottish football.

That's where we are right now and that's why you have magazines/web sites/bloggers, because you have failed us all.

Pretty soon you'll need your own PR.




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Asterisk Years-Pre Order Link

Well, there I was having a much needed break and the pre order link became available. I was told it would be on Sunday but it was softened  by the 20% discount attached.

This is the link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/paul-larkin/the-asterisk-years-the-edinburgh-establishment-v-celtic/paperback/product-21192881.html

This is the code for 20% off: PUMPKINS

Since then it's been a tidal wave of folk buying it, offering support and congratulations (with the occasional snipe but then Twitter wouldn't be Twitter without it) One day soon I am going to do a blog and name all the people who have helped me in this, with the exception of one person of course..., but for now the aim is to get the story out there.

That's where you come into it.

The Kindle release will be on Halloween but for now, who doesn't want a copy of vindication on their book shelf?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Asterisk Years-A countdown

Been a busy few months getting stuff ready for the new book coming out and although visits to hospitals and doctors are never fun, not drinking and having a clear head has definitely helped (I knew there was method in my previous binge drinking)

One of the different things this time has been the level of interest pre to release. My biggest selling book by miles didn't have any interest at all until it came out, then it grew a bit and folk seemed to relate to the tales in the book and it may, just may, have now reached cult status which is a letter change away from how I'm viewed in other circles.

This has meant organising lots of stockists and ensuring there is a plentiful supply for the launches in Glasgow (where everyone who has bought a ticket, gets a book), Dublin on November 9th, Edinburgh on Nov 24th and then the Q&A I am doing in Larne on November 29th. Then there is ensuring Calton Books in Glasgow, Word Power in Edinburgh, The Winding Stair in Dublin and Prime Cuts in The Bronx are supplied. And they will be.

So the last few weeks I've felt a bit like Julian Assange (You'll get that if you know the story of his "organisation")

That said, plenty people help out behind the scenes and I couldn't begin to do any of this without help from the likes of Colette McCann, Steph O'Neil, Conor Fallon, Darren Horgan, Chas Duffy, Graham Wilson and Sam McLeod. As well as the volume of others that I will devote an entire blog to soon.

Of course, I'm now entering book launch time and that brings its own stress normally but now x3, FFS.

I was talking to a friend this week about book launches and gave him a sort of "warts and all" guide to them. I'll spare you a lot of my ranting and show you a wee insight into the ones I've had so far:

I had a woman say I mouthed "I love you" to her whilst on stage (I didn't)
I had someone tell folk that the one night led to everyone smashing the place up (It didn't)
Had various offers of casual sex, including one from a male (Never took any)
Had one group try to seize control of the running of a BL two days before it happened (They got telt)
Had one guy storm out because there was no buffet then tell folk I had charged a tenner and there was no buffet(There was no charge) 
At every book launch I get someone telling me that they could have written the book
At every book launch I get someone telling me they did write the book
At every book launch I get someone telling me I am God (in one shape or form)
At every book launch I will get a snide comment from someone who thinks they are too smart for me.

With that being said, I still love them and the people that show up are my extended family. Without them, I am fuckall.

There are a few books either with folk or about to be with folk soon for review and talks of newspaper interviews both here and in Ireland which is nice. Not The View is also doing a big thing on it and there will be stuff in The Alternative View as well.

One stockist got in touch this week which was a shock to me, more of that next week.

So the schedule(which will probably change 30 times) from now until Dec is:

Oct 12th-Interview with Beyond The Waves Celtic Show, 3pm CPT
Oct 13th-19th On a family break (much fecking needed)
Oct 20th-Pre order link released on @asteriskyears and "Paul Larkin Books" on Facebook.
Nov 1st-General release on www.lulu.com and The Kindle Store.
Nov 2nd-Book available in Calton Books in Glasgow, Word Power,Edinburgh.
Nov 2nd-Glasgow launch of The Asterisk Years
Nov 9th-Book available in The Winding Stair in Dublin
Nov 9th-Dublin launch of The Asterisk Years
Nov 24th-Edinburgh launch of The Asterisk Years
Nov 29th-Q&A in Larne

If you want to add to that schedule, please do get in touch @paullarkin74 Similarly if you're sick of it all, use the same for abuse.

Intermission.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vote Thomas Rannachan

With depressing regularity, we were reminded today again of the absolute lunacy of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act (Scotland) 2012.

 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2012/1/contents/enacted

The harassment of a particular culture goes on and comes at a time when Scotland has entered a 12 months that will be the most important in its history.

I have been harassed many times in my life for supporting Celtic, or being a Republican, the former you get used to(up until 2012 that is), the latter was worse for the sinister nature but better for the comradeship around it. I remember going to the funeral of Tom Williams in January 2000 with a few folk and us all being told at Troon that the ferry was full. Next thing the police were on site to enforce the decision.

Or so they thought.

I know that a member of our party phoned Richard McCauley of Sinn Fein who in turn phoned Peter Mandelson and before you could say "Ship Ahoy" we were on the boat.

Amazing what a little bit of power can do.

In Scotland, we very rarely get a chance to vote for what we believe in but tomorrow the people of Govan get that chance. In Thomas Rannachan there stands a candidate who has a clear policy, he wants to get rid of the awful Offensive Behaviour Act and stop the madness of people being dragged from their homes for singing songs about people that no one, not the politicians nor the police, could get close to in terms of their commitment to their beliefs and what they were prepared to give for their cause.

Tomorrow the people of Govan can send out a clear message that will not stand for the powers of the state being administered in this way.

To have power and authority, you need legitimacy and there is nothing legitimate about this act.

Vote Thomas Rannachan.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Q and A in Larne Nov 29th


Just a wee a wee punt for this Q&A I am doing on November 29th in Larne* for The Asterisk Years. There will be books on sale as well and I hope to see as many Tims from the north of Ireland there as possible. I think I'll need @paddybrennan7 as security and @pr0lific as the head of PR at the very least.

The Q&A's are something I want to do as often as possible as it is important for me to get this story out where I can and when I can. So if you're in the area and fancy a bit craic, come along and here about the fuckers who tried to kill us.

And failed.

*Thanks to @gary_bhoy

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A short story

As I count down the hours, count the levels of abuse and count on your support more than ever, all in respect of The Asterisk Years release. I thought I'd drop a short story on you all that I'm sure some will say everyone already knows, others will be offended by before reading it and a few will be raging that I didn't run it all by them first.

Wait, that's The Asterisk Years again.

This a story that I did about Baseball that really has nothing to do with Baseball. I wanted to write a sort of different take on my time in New York through the eyes of someone else completely. I didn't know the main character but he is a combination of three people I know in Queens, NY.

I should say, it does have some graphic descriptions of scenes of a sexual nature but only to peak the interest of people who have got this far in the blog thinking "I don't want to read your short stories you pretentious cunt"

There are a few names in the story that you will know and the main girl character is actually based someone on Twitter whom I've never met but admire her ballsy tweets from afar.

Hope you enjoy and if you do, feel free to make a donation here:https://secure3.convio.net/fbnyc/site/Donation2?idb=1474389737&df_id=1360&1360.donation=form1

Here is the story...

http://lovestreet86.com/WhenYouYankAMetropolitan.pdf

Sunday, September 22, 2013

One Scotland-But which one?

I went to the Independence march with my eldest son James yesterday in Edinburgh and I felt change in the air. It was wonderful to discuss the possibility of freedom with him and talk about the things that would matter to him (Does this mean a new flag? Will the buses be cheaper? Will I get a Scottish passport? Would we still get Match of the Day?)

I should declare an interest here, I'm someone who believes passionately in the break up of the Union, that Scotland will prosper on its own and who knows that a vote for Independence is not a vote for the SNP. (Apparently an independent Scotland means a dictatorship under Alex Salmond for some, for those who believe that my tips would be to read big papers, watch Question Time and buy Politics: A very short introduction by Kenneth Minogue)

It was fantastic to see the positivity on the march. Yeah there were the sort folk who appear at Scotland games thinking it's a non-stop audition for Braveheart but in the main it was people from all walks of life. I've been on many marches in my life and this one felt like the beginning of the last lap. As I say, that's me, I kindae fancy the mad notion of the people I vote for having a chance of running things.

Mad, I know.

It was then pretty sad to come home, after detour to Celtic Park, and see the hate being spewed, via YouTube, from people whom I believe have realised their time is up in Scottish society and only have bile to offer. To hear people singing racist songs(what were the police doing exactly?) and see them prancing about like someone had inserted a bouncy castle under their feet, gives a stark reminder of the kind of people who don't want to change, who fear change and the loss of all the old certainties (I know they have pretty much lost them all already, they just haven't grasped that yet)

Safe in my ivory tower and ready to pontificate on a blog last night, I was about to start typing only to be quickly aghast to discover that Celtic had rejected the Paddy Power sponsored Stonewall campaign of having multi-coloured laces on players boots to promote gay rights. One of the last taboos in football, I would have thought Celtic would have embraced this campaign given our track record of being a club open to all. Now, let's roll out the road bumps, I know some clown from Paddy Power mocked Billy McNeill last month on a tweet and I know a lot of the egos in the EPL refused to embrace the campaign supposedly because Paddy Power has poked fun at them in adverts.

Call me picky but if someone is highlighting the poor economic conditions of a village in Africa for Comic Relief, I really couldn't care less if they told a joke once that I didn't like. I don't think any less of a cause because Bono has used it to massage his ego and I don't feel any less sympathy for the people who died in the Twin Towers just because Arthur Numan and Barry Ferguson laid a wreathe there.

Celtic, a standard bearer against discrimination, should be rising above clowns with smartphones and sponsorship deals with Ladbrokes and Betdaq because we are bigger than that, much bigger.

I've had to look at my own life recently, health issues are giving me an uncertain time and led to lots of changes. Some of the changes, giving up drinking as example, have caused other people a lot of problems and, for a few me, giving up drinking has meant to them "giving up socialising" or maybe it just seems that way. Then again, they're not walking in my shoes. (That's a kind of authorial aside to skate round the fact that I have been guilty of exactly the same, which makes this, eh, oh, forget it)

It's hard to change anything in life these days, social media has entrenched a lot of views and closed a lot of minds.

Hopefully I opened one yesterday.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An obsessive's guide to a Champions League game

I really envy these people who appear to get up in the morning and yell "Yaaassss!!" in the mirror in relation to what lies ahead in their day. Especially when that day will end with Celtic playing in the Champions League. Not that I am not looking forward to it you understand, it's just that I look forward to it in the same way a virgin bungee jumper looks forward to that first leap.

Many people in my life have commented that I don't ever appear to enjoy Celtic games and they have a point. When it means so much, you end up spending 90 minutes in a sort of contorted suspended animation where you become about as rational as a Tory politician and go through the game in your own stages (I accept this may just be me but doubt it)

The first stage is to not concede in the first couple of minutes. The thing that gives you the edge in these games is that nagging fear in the back of your mind that you could get absolutely hammered out of sight. There's always that possibility at this level (Getting to say "at this level" a lot is one of the joys of being in the Champions League)

The anguish of potentially getting hammered is something all fans deal with, just not as much for Celtic fans.
(That anguish begins on the morning of the game for me, hence my jealousy of the mirror-shouters)

If, by some miracle you get to twenty minutes and haven't conceded, you start thinking about that period from 20-40 minutes where you analyse how your team is doing, who is playing well, who is anonymous and what the hell is this formation? It can be this time that an away team, not favoured previously, can score a goal and whilst that puts you into a different stratosphere for a good, oh, 30 seconds, you know that whilst going one up anywhere is always good you will have to deal with a heightened tension now you have something to lose and that fear that you're now playing a "Wounded animal" (Please make it a budgie with a limp)

Having got through all that and into the safe haven of half time, you sit back on your chair for the first time, notice your host has put out some nibbles and return to being a football expert again by informing all present "We are very comfortable here by the way"

Then, after listening to some grey suits say some even greyer words, they go back to the stadium and you're about to have 45 minutes of what, I imagine, is akin to being on a plane and being told that "we are going down but have called to see if Denzel Washington is available".

Players get tired around 70 minutes, we all know that, and so a raft of subs will appear as a new threat on the horizon just as you've got used to the muthafuckas your team were up against for 70 minutes and you have dismissed as just "Names".

Then there is the witching hour of football games. That period from around 80 minutes until full time where anything can happen and normally does. By this time the nibbles are long gone, fridge is empty and you just need that cunting ref to "Dae his fucking joab" and you're home free but you know it will feel longer than the 100 years war.

The other thing you know is that, despite all this, you'll be back to do it all again in two weeks.

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's about those who pay

Many will be aware that whilst there is a huge stampede for tickets for the game versus Ajax in Amsterdam in November, there is quite the opposite for the game in Milan on Wednesday. As things stand now, Celtic still have tickets left for the game in the San Siro, a remarkable fact given the demand that previous games there have caused. In regards to Amsterdam, there are approximately 14,000 booked up for the game (an estimate from Celtic based on ticket demand)

Right now, under 3000 Celtic fans will be in the San Siro on Wednesday night.

Now, I don't for one second believe that 11,000 people find the game in Amsterdam more attractive than the game in Milan (If I could go to any of them, Milan would be top of the list on account of it being first) so why are they not going this week? (I expect now that some people reading this will be saying "But it's Amsterdam, that's got more to offer than Milan!" Trust me, anything you get in Amsterdam is available in Milan)

I believe that a lot of Celtic fans were costed out of this game.

There are buses going to Milan right now that are tremendous value for money (if you can do a 52 hour round trip) and I salute all on them and all who organised them, you've proved that deals for the ordinary punters are achievable if the right amount of will is there.

Does that will exist at Celtic? Yes, but only in some.

One of the key factors here is in 2013 we are getting 2700 tickets for the Amsterdam Arena. In 2001, we got 8000. Why? Because, at the meeting of clubs before the tie, the ticket office manager offered to pay for 8000 right there and then and Ajax jumped at it.

I'm sure you can see now why I say the will is there among some.

Thousands of Celtic fans would love to be going to Milan this week but, unlike Amsterdam, it's not the easiest place to get to and folk are finding it harder and harder to spend £350 on a day trip (Just ask Harry Hynds) and something has to be done(other than being lucky on the Ryanair website) to make it affordable to the fans who already had have put in around £500 to Celtic this season and it's only September.

Ditching Thomas Cook was a step in the right direction, merely moving to another almost identical travel company was not.

I think the best thing that could happen is the people from Celtic's side that are part of the talks that come up with prices should travel on the buses to games like Milan away and pick the brains on there of the Bhoys and Ghirls who seem to be able to block book good hotels at a cost that is affordable to the average fan.

The maverick Tims will always get there and I salute anyone who has the time and wherewithal who gets everywhere Celtic play, I used to be one myself. I'd like to see those people getting a wee break from the club and European travel becoming an option for many more.

Or Ajax getting another offer they couldn't refuse.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lord Nimmo-Smith/SFA. Advantage, Bampots?

There were a few flutters of excitement on Friday as news spread that HMRC's UTT case will be heard next year. I'm not for one second setting myself up as an expert on this but as in the last 15 months I've been stalking David Murray like Carlos The Jackal stalks his next victim, I think it's important to shed some light on what it means for Minty.

Sorry to disappoint, but not very much.


Rangers are dead and so are any liabilities that would come out of this case.The key thing to remember here is that, even if they are found to be guilty, it doesn't automatically mean that what they did was deliberate fraud. 


Now we all know what we think ... but from a legal point of view it's a different story.

It just means that their EBT scheme should have involved paying tax but they didn't pay it because they thought it was a legal tax reduction scheme. Tax avoidance is perfectly legal and that's what they thought they were doing.

HMRC are, of course, desperate for a guilty verdict as they want a precedent set and the opportunity to go after another football club, a much bigger fish, in London.

The case doesn't rest on covering up, it's about the scheme itself. 

There are similar schemes around the world that are perfectly legal but what's at stake here (amongst other 
things) is whether or not Rangers were using these trusts as regular salary payments (which is not allowed).

That's why it's not a slam-dunk that they'll be found guilty. Despite an appeal being granted.

However.
It's a big headache for the SFA if the decision is reversed though because it will effectively show that these were salary payments ... at a fraction of what the cost should have been.

That there is the clear breach of SFA rules but, much more importantly, is the sporting advantage that Lord Nimmo-Smith told us didn't exist.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Asterisk Years-First interview

I'll be on Beyond The Waves Celtic Show on Saturday to talk about The Asterisk Years-The Edinburgh Establishment v Celtic properly for the first time. Since the first time a rough idea of the story got out there, quite a few people have asked me if I'm sure I want to go through with it? You never know where folk are coming from when they say things like that. Most are genuinely concerned but I've heard enough "Are you sure you want to do this?" sentences in my time that really meant "Fucking stop now" so always look at each person individually.

I should admit now that a lot of attempts to annoy me have been made in the last few months. Things like attempts on my email, complaints to several online companies and so on have been an inconvenience more than anything. It's also been noted by more than me that a consistent few people are attacking me online just now and that could just be coincidence, I'm not Charlie Brown, but you look at it all the same.

The answer I give folk and what I always tell myself is "What is the alternative?" I've had to sit on this story for the last 15 months and it hasn't been easy let me tell you. In fact, in college yesterday, a lecturer tried to dismiss something someone said about "private education being a huge advantage" as nonsense and before I knew it I was lecturing the lecturer as to why it was.

So I'm itching to get the story out let me tell you.

I am going to get this book out and do everything I can to get the story out there.

This is the most frustrating part of any book for the writer, when you've finished it and just want to have a finished copy in your hands, that you are pleased with, and the book to be out there. Obviously I don't want to spoil the stories in the book but on Saturday I will reveal a lot more about it as I believe the key to this book is folk getting their heads around the stories.

Four people have read it so far, all of these are huge supporters of me, and their reactions were key, they were absolutely fucking raging.

That's how I was too.

In fact, one piece of info in the book still flabbergasts me to the point where it actually changes my whole outlook on life.

In the book there will be a few new things we are trying, just some fancy new shit for all you whizz kids out there, in the hope that it can be an interactive experience for you and that you can have better scope to take in the full enormity of the information contained therein.

One question I have been continually asked is "How many do you expect to sell?" and the truthful answer is I don't know and have honestly never approached any book like that. If selling one copy got the story into the mainstream then I would be happy because that's what is important to me, that Celtic supporters can feel vindicated and know they were not paranoid enough,

See you on Saturday.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mental about Celtic

Reading Jackie McNamara's programme notes yesterday it was interesting to see that he had identified Celtic's mental strength as the biggest obstacle his team had to overcome yesterday. He spoke at length about how we keep going, in adversity or otherwise, and that our players, even when they were not playing well, know that they could influence a game still. I know that he's trying to change the culture at Dundee Utd, more belief and a positive environment the two main goals but he has identified something in our team that have really came to the fore this season.

There was a massive debate raging on Twitter last night regarding our transfers in as, not for the first time, a lot of fans feel let down by our dealings. I am at the point where I shudder to think what we would have got had Forrest not got that last gasp winner on Wednesday given that Peter Lawwell seemed to miss the game yesterday to secure a young left back on loan and a guy from Peterborough who makes Mo Bangura look prolific.

The fact that he failed on both counts is a level of not getting the job done that I doubt Neil Lennon, who has given our club a lot of monumental moments, would survive.

The irony being that it would Lawwell who fired him. It would be cheeky to suggest that Neil would be happy with that given the amount of targets Lawwell misses.

Let's hope Teemu Pukki is different but sourced information doesn't describe the sort of penalty box poacher our team desperately requires. Increasingly we seem to always be linked to and buy strikers who don't actually strike. Stokes is an exception but he needs a high work rate and perfect technique to score most of his goals. We have Samaras and Balde who don't appear to be in the team to score goals (something I am sure both appreciate) and then guys like Forrest and Commons who can score but whose main job is to create.

It's been obvious to anyone who has seen us in the Premiership this season that we are creating plenty chances and getting into good areas but time and again guys are looking up and seeing no one to aim at in the box.

I don't think for one second that Neil Lennon is happy with this lot. His clear dig at the board post Shakter didn't work as we only ended up with the two players that he already mentioned in the same interview and you have to think he will be disappointed in that.

What is going through the mind of Peter Lawwell right now is a mystery to most.

What Neil Lennon will be happy with is how our team seems very capable of digging themselves out of bad situations in games and that any adversity can be met with the sort of fight back and toughness that was a regular feature of all great Celtic teams.

Why we need to keep digging it out, that's not a mystery.




Monday, August 26, 2013

Allow us to all #BeCeltic

The last few weeks have seen the Celtic support as divided as they have been in a long time. This will please many people but saddens anyone who cares about the club and everything around it. It was summed up to me when a friend in New York said to me "I've never known a club have so many fans vehemently defend the front office" That's the board to you and me.  It is a strange one to me I must admit. In Gary Nevillie's book he talks about the Glazers and mentions the fact that as long as he had been a Man Utd fan then the fans had not liked the board. First Louis Edwards then his son Martin had a real mistrust from the fans and then of course the support did everything they could to stop the Glazer takeover after successfully stopping Rupert Murdoch in 1999.

I always thought that making the board at any football club accountable was part of the job of a football fan.

This to me is what is creating the division at Celtic right now and it's at the point where a lot of people are completely and utterly fed up with it. Now, if we can discard with the extremes of both sides of the debate, from those who label anyone with a good word to say about Celtic a "sell out" (or variation of) to those start each day with a "What's the word today Peter?" email, these people will never change because they are dug in so far now they can't even remember where they came from in the first place.

It has to be said that a lot of people, both sides, have forgotten what Celtic are all about or at least should be.

The primary objective for Celtic is to put the ball in the net more times than the opposition they face. I think everyone will agree with that.

After that is where it gets messy.

I believe (and this is the number one thing I get abuse for) that after that objective the next one of Celtic should be to be the beacon of hope for the community in the east end of Glasgow and strive to spread that ethos as far and wide as possible. We ourselves should be the ones that are the positive change in the lives of the community that surround us,as was our intention 126 years ago.

Now, I know that statement is contentious. For every one of you nodding, there is someone totally disagreeing and saying "It's 2013, we are a PLC now, you need to move with the times".

Well, that's how I feel about it and I don't think Celtic are doing it but do feel right now we will never have a better chance to do it.

I am someone who believes passionately in the thought you don't need loads of time and dozens of meetings to make change, with the right will and the same amount of passion it could change today.

What holds us back in my view is that many supporters, especially right now, feel like they are banging their head off a brick wall with Celtic and the club must recognise this.

The appointment of John Paul Taylor was a good one but I think he would be first to admit that the sheer size of the task he faces is enormous.

The other thing that has been forgotten by many is that we are all Celtic supporters. I'd like to think that although I strongly disagree with other fans on varying subjects regarding Celtic, I haven't resorted to the sort of personal abuse I've seen flying at others and have encountered myself. I never used to be like that mind, ten years ago I'd have wanted to square go anyone after that sort of debate but even radges mature.

My point is that as fans we have a duty to be supporters of the team as best we can but also protectors of what we are and where we came from.

Celtic must understand that we are all on the same level and that there cannot be any re-birth of the culture of entitlement that was prevalent twenty years ago and plenty would be aghast at the notion of it not continuing.

The club is still owned by the fans and whilst that is vitally important, it's not owned by anyone more than anyone else.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

One rule for Sevco, One rule for Rangers

Ally McCoist is a strange character. For years he cultivated his "Cheeky Chappie" image but now he seems to be determined to be seen as Al Capone. McCoist comes from a time when his Rangers could do whatever they felt like. The rules didn't apply to them when they existed and McCoist seems to think this still applies to Sevco.

His ludicrous ranting about having a list of 100 players who bet on football, as usual, completely misses the point. Only Ally McCoist wouldn't have a problem with what Ian Black actually did simply because he is so entrenched these days he would rival Baldrick in Blackadder Goes Forth.

Rangers, as we all know, thought they were above the rules and in the main they were right. Their attitude extended to UEFA competitions and never more so in 1998. Shelbourne drew Rangers in the preliminary round of the Uefa Cup having missed out on a Champions League qualifier after finishing second in the league. The 22 July tie, ostensibly a home game, would be Dermot Keeley's first game in charge. Because of security fears, the first leg couldn't be played at Tolka Park. A number of alternative venues were considered, including Lansdowne Road – Kilmarnock's Rugby Park where Shelbourne played the previous season in the European Cup Winners' Cup – and Carlisle United's Brunton Park in the north of England. It was finally agreed to meet in the middle at Tranmere Rovers' Prenton Park outside Liverpool.

Hardly a fair decision given the reason their were security fears were solely down to Rangers fans reputation.

Despite shifting the Uefa Cup game out of Ireland, the Shelbourne/Rangers tie was still classified as a Category A security risk by British police, so a major security operation cranked up around Prenton Park. Not even the best-laid plans could account for those who travelled to the game intent on causing trouble though. This was borne out as the Shelbourne team bus came under attack yards from Prenton Park. Only the windows of the team bus separated the Shelbourne squad from their attackers. Winger Mark Rutherford ducked for cover inside the bus as bottles, rocks and beer glasses flew from all angles.
 
Mark Rutherford "There were hundreds of them on either side as we were driving in. I couldn't believe the hatred in their faces, shouting at us through the windows"

The hatred continued through the game, Shelbourne players were spat at, abused and had missiles thrown at them.

Striker Pat Morley had enough.

After scoring a goal against Rangers that night, Morley had an idea:

"I'm not a religious person in any way or form. It's just something that when Gascoigne played the flute there was murder over it. I'd always said if I ever played with Celtic and scored against Rangers I'd bless myself and I wouldn't care what the consequences were. It's not that I was sectarian or anything like that. It's just if you do something that you've always wanted to do in your life then you'll want to do something to remember it by. I just turned around and put my hand up to my head and blessed myself and, just as I finished it, I was mobbed. It's one of those moments. It was great winning leagues and cups and I've got all the personal awards, but that was it for me. I'd done it at the highest level, scoring in a Uefa Cup match against a serious team with a manager who had serious talent. I never got an Irish cap. I was close but, even if I got an Irish cap, this would outweigh it by a mile."

Needless to say it went down like a lead balloon with the hordes down from Scotland and the irony was lost on them.

This was never going to be acceptable to "The People". They had gone out their way to stop players like Amoruso, Porrini and Negri blessing themselves and warned Shelbourne to instruct their players not to do so at the return leg at Ibrox.

There's the mentality right there.

Not content with getting the game moved, all because of their fans, they cause mayhem at the moved game, spit at and abuse players, attack the team bus and after the game the first thing they are doing is telling the other team how to behave.

That's where Ally McCoist fails. No one is taking heed of anything he says these days, he's like the old comedian who is desperate for folk to laugh at his jokes just one more time.

By the way, Shelbourne didn't get mad, they got even. They agreed not to have players blessing themselves.

Instead they played Gaelic Football at Ibrox.


*Thanks to Paul Keane for parts of the text and Conor Fallon for the background.