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

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