the foundation of rock bottom

The most solid foundation you can have is rock bottom. While it’s wrong to suggest that when Rodgers took over the club was at rock bottom it certainly didn’t look to have a solid foundation.

 

We played a usually tension fraught Champions League Play Off last week but by 70 mins, were looking towards the Champions League. But we have no sea legs and our lead looked slender after the opening of the second half.   

 

Overall though we dominated a tough tie for the majority of the two games, scored eight goals and only looked ropey when we downed tools and the momentum switched but, importantly, was regained.

 

Since Rodgers arrived he has transformed the thinking of the club from one that hoped to qualify for the Champions League to one that expects too. Raised expectations built on solid foundations.

Printed in The Scotsman 23rd August 2017. This was re-written after the final whistle of the play off game after a phone call from the paper. i was on a treadmill at the time…..

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the belfast child(s)

Football is littered with pantomime villains but it’s also full of those, who have an extended interest in the game, believing – in their own fickle minds – that players are actual villains. Villains who deserve to be abused for 90 minutes.

 

Last week, Kyle Lafferty took centre stage at Celtic Park last week, charging around failing to get sent off and he reacted to the crowd when being substituted. This week Neil Lennon spoke the unwritten truth then over celebrated a Hibs goal at Ibrox. Fans called for the death penalty for both men. The only thing in common is some fans abusing these players think Scotland 2017 is actually Belfast in the early eighties.  

 

We have been told to move on over the summer but the only thing that needs to move on in the game are these fans.

 

Printed in the Scotsman Fanzone Wednesday 16th August. i’m beginning to sound like pat nevin. 

the sand and the century

A new season. The pitches are pristine green, the goal mouths beg to be dived in but if you look closely you can see the base of sand that will appear in the winter gloom. Scottish Football is also built on a base of sand that will soon be exposed.  When exposed there will be no winners or losers just more questions, accusations and regrets.

 

The game on the pitch is the easiest part not to question. Not dark just light. Leigh Griffiths, after his heroics at Hampden, has lifted his game to a level that most didn’t think possible. He is a testament to listening to coaches, hard work and making the best of your talent.

 

He’s talismanic already in this early season but will be a welcome addition to the Celtic Centenary Club before it is out.

Printed in The Scotsman Fanzone, Wednesday 9th August 2017

The Final Whistle

The final whistle was the fuse of joy;

That exploded all over the dear green place.

The bench launched like a rocket,

Onto the park they went at pace.

Jock, alone with his thoughts,

Stared immortality in the face.

Jock just looked it in the eye,

And locked it in an eternal embrace.

 

 

Simpson, Craig, Gemmell

Murdoch, McNeill, Clark

Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers

Auld and Lennox,

Were the fuse spark.

Their names will never be diminished

by the sands of time.

They changed Celtic forever.

The day the hoops were worn.

That afternoon in Lisbon,

Where a wondrous beauty was born.

In The Heat Of Lisbon

In the heat of Lisbon….

 

as the clock turns from sixty six to sixty seven, the lights begin to shine. Not searching, the lights are not lost, they have found what they are looking for. The song stirs into life, calling on the spirit of the tunnel, where the symphony wasn’t going to be left unfinished or bitter sweet, the final chapter was to be written: the italians were there to be beat.

 

In the heat of Lisbon…..

 

they dismissed with tales of a mediocre Celtic. No-one knew what Big Jock was creating, apart from a linesman on Merseyside, who to the sway of the Kop, chirping the hits of the day, raised his flag, stopping a Hampden finale, just 12 months on from when Big Billy stopped the barren years.

 

In the heat of Lisbon…..

 

those long years, from when Dick Beatty held up 7 fingers,The Beatles had loved me do and we walked alone, Lisbon was just a place on the map like: Zurich, Nantes, Novi Sad and Prague, not yet arteries in the clubs heart, not yet the golden sun at the start of our day, not yet the most important growth ring in our tree.

 

In the heat of Lisbon…..

 

out of the tunnel to become heroes, the songs from then are now past, the beaten Italians have long since recovered from: pure, beautiful, inventive football, but the legacy is real. It’s all around us, wearing the hoops, the famous green and white. A Celtic created on that final whistle.

 

In the heat of Lisbon….

 

the dust was swept away and a vision revealed. An immortalized infinite fairytale, spoken in the present; celebrated in bronze, looming large, as solid as Brother Walfrids foundation: two breaths that are more important than our next win, loss or draw.

 

The heat of Lisbon…..

 

pumps the blood of the club, today, tomorrow and forever.

Originally published on Celtic Quick News. 

Scotsman Fanzone: 3rd January 2017

No matter the gap, Derby games are always fraught with danger. In the nineties I remember us running a financially charged rival close on a few occasions and even beating them. It was like being annoyed by a fly but once the window was open, the annoyance flew away. It made no difference long term.  

 

Saturday was like that. A partisan home support and a half hour where it looked like our unbeaten run was going to come to an end. After we scored the game swung, the score line in the end flattered but we could have rued our numerous missed chances.
A season that started with a defeat overlooking a runway in Gibraltar has seen us reach the halfway point undefeated domestically and competed in the Champions League. After the last few seasons we’re allowed our raucous celebrations.  

Scotland’s Game, Scotland’s Shame

Derby Day

 

Groups scurry into houses before streets awake

clinking bottles, in blue poly bags

hitting legs

denting shins

containing the breakfast of Derby Day.

 

Friends having a sociable drink

allowing the banter to flow

or

wife in the kitchen fearing

as the husband

has started drinking

hoping the result goes the right way?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame.

 

Gathering outside shuttered pubs

loitering in bus stops

on shopping precincts (that have seen better days)

awaiting transport to the game

watching cars slow as they go by.

 

Smiles, encouragement and thumbs up

or

windows down

contorted faces

spitting with the venom of a cornered snake?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame

 

Stadium sold out

not a seat to be had

a cacophonous noise, greets entering fans

the players are given a gladiatorial welcome

which screams itself hoarse.

 

Songs of support to those on the pitch

celebrating famous victories

or

songs to offend each other

as those ones are always catchier?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame

 

The colours as bright

as post shower rainbow

fluttering and waving furiously

held proudly in the hand of the fan.

 

Flags to inspire the teams

displays showing creativity and ingenuity

or

triumphant tribal battle lines

drawn to offend and divide?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame

 

Pubs filling up

christmas eve in August,

a boost in the takings

money for the city

strangers entering territories seldom seen

day passes from family and the night is also theirs.

 

Friends greeting each other for a pint

watching the big screen

or

guys staring

working out what school you went to

by the colour of your trainers?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame

 

Tv companies showing footage

the joy and despair of football

hopes

dreams

drama

the emotion of the game

creating images that will be watched again and again.

 

Cuddling strangers

after a goal

or

a brother and sister

cuddling upstairs

as Dad wrecks the living room

below?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame.

 

Sensationalist headlines

nodus narratives

rivalries revved

familiarised and set in stone

a scaffolding built build up

beamed and printed worldwide.

A colloquialism that sells

with millions of tv eyes

a panacea for the game

or

the media with no regard

to the ruined lives

the broken glass (that they don’t clean up)

print a discovered moral compass

after the blade has ruled the night?

 

Scotland’s game, Scotland’s shame.