Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Defending the culture

You would be hard pushed to make up an identikit Celtic manager and not have him exactly like Brendan Rodgers. The huge strides Celtic have made this season were exemplified at Rugby Park on Friday when at least 1000 supporters stood outside the ground ticketless for a fixture that normally fills us with as much enthusiasm as an episode of Question Time.

I got the opportunity on Tuesday to sit down with him in the No.7 restaurant after a press conference that flowed between the usual negativity and the ridiculous. What strikes you immediately about Brendan Rodgers is the ease he is at among Celtic supporters. Celtic isn't just a job to him, Celtic were never a second team to him, Celtic is a mission for him. This is a guy who was born to manage the football club.

When the shutters come off, what you see is a genuinely nice guy who loves the club. Not only that, he gets it. Like anyone born and bred into the Celtic culture, this guy doesn't need a handbook. In batting back in forth with him, he used a phase that set my heart on fire "I'm here to defend the culture of Celtic"

42 years I've lived, I don't ever think my heart has ever leapt higher.

You know you are talking to one of us with Brendan when talks about following the games on the radio as a kid in Ireland and the completely "no regrets" attitude he has when defending his celebrations after the semi-final win at Hampden in October.

The other thing that hits me about Brendan Rodgers is his attention to detail, dossiers are compiled on everything, no stone left unturned as he strives to make Celtic bigger, stronger and better which leads to things like our academy realising it has to get even better to get players in a Brendan Rodgers team.

The last thing, and probably the most important thing, about Brendan Rodgers is he leaves you in no doubt who he is at Celtic, the boss.

A boss who defends the culture, that will do me.

Monday, November 14, 2016

ABC-The Premiere

And so to Paradise. The last few weeks for me have been like how I imagine standing under a meteor shower must feel. Producing the film is a hard enough job, organising the premiere would have been a hard task for some governments. In the week leading up to the event you answer so many questions about the night, you feel like a Chaser in The Chase. This can lead to you reacting like Nigel Farage to an Ice T song when someone asks you to choose between coffee or tea.

Sorry to anyone who had to suffer that!

I won't bore you with the organisation of the event but the lesson I learned was that having a crowd of 450 people there is probably too big to ensure everyone enjoys themselves. I was actually amazed over the course of yesterday how many photos of folk I saw at Celtic Park and I had never clapped eyes on them once during the night. That is both exciting and a little scary.

Yet it almost never happened.

We got there about an hour beforehand because I had spotted something I didn't like. There were no table names on the actual tables. Celtic tried to fix this but it was totally inadequate and I apologise to people as we had tried to make the names relevant to the people at the table, three in particular were friends and supporters of us who have passed away, John Murphy, Liam Fowler and Alan Adams. Celtic were left in no doubt how we felt about it. Meanwhile, as this was going on, there was a laptop malfunction. The film was supposed to be shown on DVD but the Celtic DVD player didn't work and then the back up laptop that was brought in suddenly wouldn't work. This all before a body had came into the Kerrydale Suite. The cool head and quick thinking of Tabatha Jussa saved the day and I really can't thank her enough.

Then they came in.

Hundreds upon hundreds swarmed in and most seemed in great spirits which is also good. Our MC, Joe Miller, did an absolutely phenomenal job at getting folk ready for the night, not an easy task when you are dealing with 450 folk, but he went above and beyond and really helped me personally.

First up was Eamonn Coyle who delivered a poem, completely memorised, to an astounded audience and brought the house down. I'd only read the poem once so the impact was just as huge for me as it was for everyone else. The standing ovation he received was richly deserved.

Joe then got me up to say a few words, introduce me and the enormity of the crowd hit me. It was like an ocean swirling around me as I introduced the film.

The film is just over an hour long and you just hope everyone can stay silent so that everyone can hear the information. In crowds that size, you're never going to get and so I am immensely thankful to Joe Mackin and The Kano Foundation for ensuring folk were told to shut the hell up.

After the film had finished, everyone rose to a standing ovation, if no one expects the Spanish inquisition than I never expect a standing ovation and it really blew me away. If you were part of that, thank you, you made it worth all the grief, all the hassle and all the threats.

After the buffet was done, the Q&A began. It was a little too late for my liking and impossible to control a crowd that size but I hope if you didn't get the chance ask a question in it, you did after it as plenty did.

One guy that made me think was a guy who is actually a Falkirk fan who said the film has opened his eyes. That made me feel immensely proud.

We then did a raffle and auction with a grand each for The Celtic Foundation and Down's and Proud being raised, thank you.

The band, Fat Alligator, then came on and lifted the roof off for most, you'll never please everyone but they certainly pleased me.

In terms of the organisation of the actual night, it could not have happened without the work of Joe Miller, Lisa Miller, John O'Farrell, Laura Dewar, Jim, Steven and Elaine from Celtic, Steph O'Neill, Nas Mohammed Allison Orr, Louise Lavery and, of course, everyone who came and supported it.

Without you, we are nothing.

Two legends also came along, John Fallon and Simon Donnelly whilst Donny McNamara was there to represent Jackie and gave me a real warm bath moment when he came over, hugged me and said "That's from my auld man for The Asterisk Years"

Finally, I want to pay tribute to a 14 year old called Gabriel, At the Q&A he stuck his hand up, asked a brilliant question and thanked me for making the film. I can tell you now, that was one of the best moments my life.

Thank you Gabriel, you made it all worthwhile pal.

We have a new website up and running here

Monday, November 7, 2016

New website and all that

"It's my work he'd say and I do it just for pay" That's what The Hurricane told Bob Dylan apparently. Well, my work is finally starting to get some sort of organisation about it. I've had a website built to start streamlining all I do in the one place. It makes it easier for me to point folk in the same direction and, hopefully, it will make it easier for you to get info about the work. It's not a personal website, it's strictly for LS86 Productions and all we do under that umbrella.

I took a decision to have a shop as part of it (Don't worry, there will be no pictures of my face on a T shirt) which will sell signed books and various things like posters, DVD's and t shirts all related to the films and books. All that money will be ploughed back into future projects, rent and beer.

There's always something nagging at you when you try to monetise anything as an independent. The road I tried to go down was to write another novel (The IRA Block) as a passion project and say to folk "Look, if you like what I do, support this, and I can keep doing it" but then I realised I had no right to expect that.

I want to thank Richard Swan for making it painless and LD for helping with the shop.

So here is the new website