Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Sweet FA

It's great when club football comes back, right? If, like me, international weeks bore you, it's magical when the club games appear on the coupon once again. I've had a chequered history with international football. In the 80's, I was all over Scotland, went to as many games as possible and could easily be described as a fervent fan. Things changed for me on May 19th 1990 when I went along to a friendly versus Poland. I was with my mate Gregory and we stood in awe as the Scotland team bus pulled into Hampden. Anyone connected with Celtic was roundly booed by the fans around the bus. Last off the bus was Alan McInally who looked really shocked by the abuse. As he passed me I said "Good luck Rambo" and he turned to me and said "Thanks"  That made my year.

For some reason, half the Celtic end was shut that day meaning I had to go into to the Rangers (IL) end. All I heard for 90 minutes was abuse of Celtic's two Polish players and desperately exaggerated praise of Ally McCoist. It really sickened me (and, it has to be said, my mate Gregory who is a Hearts fan) and made me question why I was going. Not long after that, Scotland started playing all their home games at Ibrox and there was never a chance I'd attend any there.

Since then?

I've seen Scotland against England (twice), Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Argentina and Australia (the last time I was at a game, a 3-1 win at Easter Road, in 2012) Thing is, despite the corrupt SFA, the procession of crap managers and the general malaise around the national team, I still want them to win as many games as possible.

It's the same every time Scotland games come around, we get a few days coverage before the games and then the autopsy after them. Pundits from all over the place give their views, fans seethe and roar and then it's all forgotten about until the next round of fixtures. Quite honestly, I don't understand why it's not mentioned every single day that Scotland have not qualified for a major tournament in 21 years with no change in sight. The SFA have changed managers at will, those managers have tried every player and every system yet still can't qualify. 

Call me old fashioned but, with that all being said, maybe it's time the folk making the decisions were changed?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, it was David Murray's reckless criminality that ruined Scottish football. His systematic cheating inspired Celtic to get their act together and move past his house of cards and leave the rest of Scottish football for dead. Other clubs reacted by spending big money on big foreign players they could not afford and whilst this led to financial problems down the road, it completely stifled a load of Scottish talent who found their road to the first team blocked by the likes of Fabrizio Ravanelli and Claudio Caniggia. 

And that was just at Dundee.

There was also that fact that renowned singer Craig Brown had ran players into the ground for years and left a huge gap after those players retired. These are the reasons the much-maligned Bertie Vogts had to flood the squads with so much rough in order to find the odd diamond. 

Fast forwarding until nowadays and the big solution was "Project Brave" with Malky Mackay at the helm. All the noise around him was, in the main, designed to ensure you didn't focus on the fact that the main factor in him getting the job was nepotism (his father to be precise) Two years on from all the hoo-ha, where are we? I'll tell you, nowhere progressed from two years ago.

Ian Maxwell is now CEO of the SFA and merely a pawn of the board. A fanatical Sevco fan, he should have gone with McLeish, McFadden and Grant (The worst trio in Scottish football since John Gordon Sinclair, B.A. Robertson and Christian) but he remains doing God knows what. The appointment of Steve Clarke (one I said from day one was the wrong one) remains recent but has offered no hope as yet. For me, Clarke is a day to day coach who needs that regularity on the training pitch to get his ideas across. I don't think he can do that with an international team who are probably already pretty sure, as players, as to how the want to play.

This campaign is over and the fabled play offs await. Maybe it's just me but I think I've got more chance of replacing Ian Maxwell than there is of Scotland qualifying. I know the SFA constantly hide behind the "we are members organisation" mantra but only a few in there make the decisions.

The reality is, until the SFA is completely disbanded and a new set up is put in place, then sweet FA is going to change.

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Unsung Hero

A word or two about Nir Bitton. Yesterday at Ibrox proved, once again, what a class act he is. It was clear from the get go that Sevco had identified him as a weak link hence picking Defoe and thinking he would run rings round him.

Which makes you think no one from Ibrox ever scouts Celtic.

The big man strolled through the game right up until a freak injury ended it. The telling part of that for me was the anguish on his face, You could see he felt he was letting his team down and that's how I want my players to feel.  Mane at Liverpool went berserk when subbed at Southampton on Saturday because Salah shot instead of passing. The faux outrage ensued with the point being missed, he cares.

So does Nir Bitton.

*You can watch a short interview I did right here about my forthcoming memoir TFOTB Interview

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

When history was made

Tuesday night was probably the most surreal game I've seen at Celtic Park since the Partizan Belgrade game 30 years ago. Back then, the club was falling apart but most of us were too blind to see. I distinctly remember Not The View being one of the few places that was saying things were going badly wrong behind the scenes and something would have to be done. It took a long time before the fans, as a collective, did something about the abyss Celtic were heading to but the rumblings started around September 1989 when we were knocked out of Europe and the league cup in a matter of weeks.

They would go on for five years until things finally got better.

It's not really a comparison in today's terms but I did think of Jacki as I watched Edouard score one and set up two on Tuesday. He, like Jacki, walked off a beaten man and must have wondered why. Defensively, just like 30 years ago, we were an absolute shambles. The warm up saw just three defenders do it in front of the fans in the usual corner and I'm still not convinced that McGregor was initially going to play left back in the traditional sense. Quite frankly, to line up as we did against a team who like to bypass the midfield was utterly mind-boggling. Cluj probably could not believe their luck especially when we essentially gifted them four goals.

What worries me most is a performance like this has been coming. Bolingoli has failed to convince so far and Julien looked like he had a sack of tatties on his back on Saturday at Fir Park. It's very early but it's clear the manager, who didn't sign either, doesn't trust either. Add in that Scott Bain has been wobbling for months now, you have to wonder what exactly is the recruitment process at Celtic. Bolingoli was recommended by Shaun Maloney whereas Julien was recommended to John Kennedy. Anyone within the club will tell you that, since Brendan Rodgers left, Kennedy's power and say has increased immensely.

What of the manager? I made no bones about it at the time that whilst I love the guy, I did not want him back. The timing of his announcement was amateur hour and designed to eek out the news at a time when most of us were ordering another treble.

As for the top of the club, I've pretty much said all I need to throughout the years. The debate around Peter Lawwell has become more entrenched than the Brexit debate and the only thing that seems consistent around it for me is whenever I criticise him on Twitter, accounts appear slagging me personally and it gets ridiculous.

Despite winning the last nine trophies, I think the club has been adrift since at least the time Brendan Rodgers walked out (Something that, to this day, the fans blame him entirely for and, whilst he's not blameless, I'm positive fans will realise there is a lot more to that story in due course) and there is, as usual, no long-term plan. Our scouting network is an absolute shambles, our temporary director of football has made little positive impact and we have gone back to the pre-Rodgers days of non-football men having a huge say on who we sign.

If there is one thing Celtic excel at it's not building from positions of strength. 18 months before Partizan Belgrade, we completed a Centenary double and spoke about the history we made.

I sincerely hope that, 18 months from now, we are still making history.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The best things in life are free

As the dust settles on another big sale from the club, minds turn to tonight, Cluj and European progress. I'll be the first to admit that European football, at this time of the year, infuriates me, The mere notion we need to play eight games just to qualify makes a mockery of the "Champions" League. A fair system would see league winners go right in and the also rans have to fight it out in the qualifiers. However, this is football and there's very little fair about it.

I remember being pulled up years ago when we drew Liverpool in the UEFA Cup because I came out with this sentence "And we will make a fortune from these games" To which a mate of mine said "so fucking what?" and he was right. Nowadays, if you tweeted that sentence you'd get more likes than a Kim Kardashian butt shot.

The two words that seem to swamp everything in football now are "profit" and "loss". After the sale of Tierney, Celtic announced the Dunfermline game would be £15 for season ticket holders. Ok, not a lot of money in 2019 but a lot when you consider a season ticket, three strips, a festival and three European games you have to pay for, all in the last two months. I wonder if anyone at Celtic had the thought "Maybe we should cover the costs of this game as a thank you to the fans?" I highly doubt it.

The other aspect of the profit and loss game is the £25m up front we got for Tierney. In my opinion, that's way undervalued. But then, if Celtic were to be believed, Tierney was set on leaving and nothing was going to stop him getting away. In that position, £25m up front is probably quite good. It shocked fans that he would want to move before having a crack at nine and ten but I think we all now know, players don't think like fans no matter what they tell you.

Well, with a couple of exceptions perhaps.

Scott Brown has had numerous offers to leave Celtic and turned down them all. He almost went to Australia in the winter but the lure of his legacy was too strong. Then there is James Forrest, a player with a trophy cabinet bigger than most folk's houses, he's continually expressed his love for Celtic, his desire to be a one club man and constantly espoused how wonderful it is to be a Celtic player. Yet some supporters would walk over hot coals before they would praise him for anything.

It is quite amazing given his contribution to the club that still some feel the need to be won over by him. The reality is, since is debut against Motherwell in May 2010, his contribution to the club has been immense and his next contract will not only ensure his one club man status but a testimonial as well.

Whilst that might make you feel old, it should make you feel proud.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Throwing the book at you

I've written (counting my new one) 14 books. Of those 14 books, three sold a lot more than the other ones did that's for sure. To the point where, I still make money from a book that was out six years ago now. The others tick over as well but enough is enough. One of the things I've tried to do, behind the scenes, is get these books in libraries. That's been tough and I've faced the usual barriers that I get with almost everything I do in Scotland, so I am taking matters into my own hands.

I've now set the prices of The Asterisk Years, Anyone but Celtic and Armageddon at the minimum list price for all three.

You can purchase the paperbacks here

The Asterisk Years

Anyone but Celtic


Or if Kindle is your thing, you can check there and you'll see the prices for all three books vastly reduced there as well.

I already put the three films up for free here

It's now time to let them all go and push forward with new ideas and projects.

See you soon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Front of The Bus-A Memoir

Well, I finally finished it. The book that was derailed by, first, mental health issues, and then a tsunami of hate that John Beaton kicked off on December 29th, is finally out my system. Coming in at around 208 pages, I've never been egotistical enough to think anyone wants to read much more of my shit than that. It's really the last time I'll put stuff that's all about me (although not all of the book is) in a book as I feel like I've done that now and with this I want a book that's fast paced, not wanting to be put down and able to be read in a couple of sittings.

With that in mind, I won't be flogging it to death. Once it's out, I'll be moving on and if it has a life after that, great, if not, well, you know the phrase by now "we move on"

It's essentially about the three books I did which became films and the background to all. About 95% of the stuff in it is stuff I've never spoken about publicly or put in print. It's not written in a style where, if you knew nothing about the subjects, you'd instantly know what was going on, no. This book is for the folk who help me and hate me.

Quite a few people in this time had digs at me, that I didn't respond to, and these are addressed in this. There's one or two folk who probably still think they are a friend of mine but, if they read this, they'll think again. It's a memoir as opposed to a story so this is my account of things taken from personal knowledge. I talk about technical things relating to cameras and mics and all that plus there's a chapter about HomeBhoys. 

I do talk about a lot of the characters I met on my travels including Paul Kane (above), whose brother Martin inspired The Kano Foundation.

I write about meetings I had with Celtic regarding them taking action on all the cheating we suffered and give reasons why, I think, Celtic did SFA.

This was a cathartic thing for me. I needed to get a lot of it out for the sake of my own sanity. It won't trouble any of the book selling charts but if it makes the folk that supported me happy, then I'll be happy too.

Mainly though, I hope it's entertaining. We are besieged now with folk taking everything seriously and auditioning for a role in the MSM that they claim to hate. I'm old school so you won't get any of that shit in this book.

I want to thank those waiting on this book for their patience. I am now setting about another book that's way bigger and not about me at all, for what it's worth.


You can pre-order signed copies of The Front of The Bus from now via Paypal to lovest86@hotmail.com for £15 (Inc P&P)

Book on general release from November 1.


Friday, May 24, 2019

The Cup

Diminishing the importance of the Scottish Cup is like, for me, saying lunch isn't that important. With all the talk of managers new and old, Treble Trebles and Bus parades, it can be easy for folk to see the Scottish Cup as just another tick in a box.

They're wrong.

The Cup was something that could salvage your season when I was growing up. It was as prestigious as the league and whole summers could be defined on the basis of 90 minutes (or 120 for that matter) I increasingly find myself looking back on the 80's as the last real golden period of Scottish football. I follow a plethora of accounts on Twitter that post old clips of Celtic games and find myself swimming under a waterfall of nostalgia after one click bursts the dam.

With that being said, I thought I'd indulge myself by writing about the five Scottish Cup finals I attended in the 1980's and see if I can awaken any kindred spirits (whom will probably have nodded off by now anyway)

Celtic 1 Rangers (IL) 0 (AET), May 10, 1980.
This was my first ever Hun game. My Dad and Uncle, in their wisdom, thought it was time for me to go to one and what better way to get my first taste than in a cup final? I'd been to the semi-final and saw Bobby Lennox play and score in a 5-0 win against a Hibs team that contained George Best. For the final, we went in my Uncle's hatchback and I can vividly remember me on one side of the boot and my pal, Mark Henderson, on the other. At the old "Cutty Sark" bridge a bus full of Huns pulled up and were giving us dogs abuse. At this point, one of our number got out the car and attacked their bus with an axe. I was just coming up for six years of age.

Aberdeen 2 Celtic 1 (AET), May 19, 1984.
Gordon Strachan, eh? He nipped at Bob Valentine so much that it prompted him to send off Roy Aitken and leave us really up against it having already gone a goal down. What happened after that was typical of Celtic at the time, we revelled in the adversity and played brilliantly, equalising with five minutes to go with a fantastic goal from Paul McStay. The big factor in the game was referee Bob Valentine who put in a grand masterful performance. After the game, Davie Hay and the Celtic board complained to the SFA. Davie Hay slaughtered SFA CEO Ernie Walker after the game proving that whilst we may have got beat, at least we had some balls then.

Celtic 2 Dundee Utd 1, May 18, 1985.
This was another one of those potential season-saving cup finals. Dundee Utd were a brilliant team at the time and we had an awful recent record against them. The writing seemed to be on the wall when Stuart Beedie put them 1-0 up in the second half such was their efficiency on the counter attack. Davie Hay then played a master stoke and made a few subs that enabled us to push Roy Aitken into midfield and enabled him to win the "Mr Superfit" MOTM award in the 100th Scottish Cup Final, He drove us on to equalise at a time when we still liked Davie Provan and then set up Frank McGarvey to win the cup for us with final ever touch in a Celtic jersey.

Celtic 2 Dundee Utd 1, May 14, 1988.
Bliss. The completion of a centenary double whilst at Hampden in the sun. There was an inevitability about this game. Dundee Utd were getting a reputation of being the perennial bridesmaids having in the previous season managed to lose to St Mirren and Gothenburg in finals despite having vastly a vastly superior team to both. Even when Kevin Gallagher scored (chased by Roy Aitken who has been booked a minute before and didn't want to touch him) you just had a feeling that day that we would win. And we did,

Celtic 1 Rangers 0, May 20, 1989.
Rangers just had to turn up and win the treble, right? Aye, right. Put simply, Super Joe Miller was on fire at the time as a centre forward, our defence had one of those rare days then when it was rock solid and we had been boosted by a certain "signing" but I'll leave that there. One of the best days of my life as it was one of those days that reminds you why you are a Celtic supporter. 

I hope you all enjoy your cup final day, no matter where you are.