Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Celtic, we love you.

I was talking to a few mates, Tims of my era, and we were collectively berating the Celtic social media output. Our main criticism was that it appears to be run by 14 year olds who can't see past the end of their phones. At that point, I was going to blog and berate them but then I thought perhaps that's the way they deal with fear.

It is probably becoming apparent to folk at Celtic that nothing is going to be the same again and a lot of people are going to lose their jobs. Whether you agree or disagree with folk, that's a scenario nobody wants. I saw a thread yesterday where a lot of supporters were concerned that there is a season ticket deadline on May 29th and, by that point, they will not have had any income for three months. The response from the club, from the SLO, was to say "It will be reviewed when we get more information" which will be exactly what he will have been told to say and really is not very helpful to anyone.

The wake up call is simple.

There is not going to be any football matches with spectators this side of Christmas. I know there are folk out there who still don't take this pandemic seriously but let me break a few things down. First of all, there are people dying every day with no end in sight. Even when the curve starts to flatten, that does not mean we will all be heading to the pubs as many predicted at the start of this thing. What will happen when the curve flattens is that some restrictions on places like garden centres and DIY places will be lifted and your half hour exercise may be increased to an hour.

In Scotland, as much as we love football, it is the absolute last thing on the government's agenda right now. There is no chance any time soon that they will divert a single emergency service to a football match and, once all the squabbling dies down, clubs better get their heads around that.

Which brings us back to the season ticket question. I am "fortunate" enough to still be working in this crisis so I can afford a season ticket. Don't get me wrong, I've not been paid any extra, had overtime or received any kind of backhanded bonus, I'm just working full time and also am not spending on anything outside of the usual essentials. None of this makes me special or above anyone and nor would me buying a season ticket right now either. Yet that has crept into my Twitter timeline and I've had folk saying to me "You better buy a season ticket or the club will go bust"

I don't want the club to assume I will buy a season ticket with no prospect of football on the horizon. I want dialogue, I want leadership, I don't want pie in the sky interviews with the manager.

Also, imagine you have three kids, no income and have supported the club your whole life and a complete stranger  on the internet adds to your worries by telling you that you're also going to be responsible your club going bust?

That is a mentality the club needs to squash and needs to squash soon.

As supporters, we love Celtic. For the vast majority of us, it occupies our every step, our every breath and the reason we ride the rollercoaster of life. That's why we need leadership now. Supporters need our club, the biggest and most successful in Scotland to stand up and guide us through this. Someone said to me "Celtic don't have a crystal ball" and I totally agree with that which is why they should not be acting like it's business as usual.

I make this plea simply as a supporter who loves the club, Celtic, tell us what you think and how we can help guide the club through these treacherous times.

If you need help, think of Tommy Burns on that pitch at Hampden in 1988 and you're halfway there.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Corona Season

After I did my last film, Armageddon, I knew I wouldn't be doing another one for three years minimum. I'd also just finished my degree and was at a crossroads in my life. One night, whilst on holiday with my future wife in Berlin, I decided I wanted to get into support work. I did an HNC in Social Services, got my SVQ's and started working in a homeless shelter. I was dealing with people every day who had been alienated, had addiction problems,  had childhood trauma to deal with and were in an out of jail all their lives. In other words, people I can relate to a lot. The job was fantastic but the boss wasn't. She was an uncaring, unhinged, cleaning obsessive who if you told her a resident had chopped their own head off, her reply would be "Have you cleaned it up?"

I stuck with that as long as I could but eventually left and, after a few months of searching (soul and jobs) I got a job in a care home, starting at the beginning of the year. My job now is to get elderly people ready for home again after a fall or illness. Providing round the clock care, you develop a rapport with these people and get to know everything about them. All was fine until this horrible disease came along and changed everything.

It's because of that, I don't have any perspective on self-isolation, looking for things to do or the various listening parties and the like going on, as good as they sound. I've just been working throughout this and witnessing the indiscriminate nature of this thing.

It's also changed my perspective on Scottish fitba because I feel like an outsider looking in and have watched in bewilderment as silly wee men (and women) run about trying to squeeze every penny they can out of anyone daft enough to believe that a switch will be flicked and all will be well.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know I have been very vocal in my opposition to the league being called. I asked a well known bluenose in the media why he thought there was such a push for this and he replied "Peter wants the league for Celtic, it's that simple". Well, I don't buy that. I'm a well-known critic of Lawwell, I believe he and others at the club led supporters down the garden path with regards to the decades of cheating we endured, intimating they were doing something when in reality they did absolutely nothing about it.

The question is would Lawwell really push this just so we can get 9 in a row? You see the reaction of the angry mob (not something I give a toss about) and their desperation to add an asterisk to a season they had long since given up on whilst conveniently forgetting the honours "won" by Oldco by cheating therefore trying to equate a global pandemic with David Murray's financial doping is the kind of logic that creates no reaction in the mind of your average Sevco fan but rings a bell with anyone not hard of thinking.

I'd love to know Lawwell's thinking but, as usual, everything he is doing is behind the scenes and without consultation with fans leaving us leaderless and without the sort of clarification that his own statements normally ask for.

Football is changing forever and Scottish fitba better realise it soon or it will die. Fans need to ask serious questions like; Why are clubs selling season tickets now as if it is business as usual? If the league is called, what happens with the games fans have already paid for? I'm not saying I want money back for my 2019/20 season ticket but I don't want the club to assume that. They need to be talking to supporters on these issues because, whether they like it or not, the club will never be the same again.

On that, I've laughed at the notion that football will be back any time soon. People hear of a possible lifting of certain lockdown restrictions and, somehow, equate that with 60,000 people being allowed in a football stadium (That's another season ticket question btw, what if the government socially distance football stadiums and half the capacities?)

The SPFL board (Remember when Ian Maxwell of the SFA was all over the media? where has he gone?) have shown a complete lack of regard for the people in the game who pay to get in. Yet you can bet your bottom pound coin they will be all over us for money when the shit really hits the fan and that irks this fan. I hate the way clubs basically ignore us until season ticket renewal comes along in the same way politicians do until an election comes along. That has to change.

And so does the SPFL board.

Quite frankly,. appointing someone as unhinged as Ann Budge to be put in charge of reconstruction,  is akin to putting Boris Johnson in charge of running the country. There seems to be little in the way of reality at the SPFL and those who care, watch it all unfold through their fingers.

These are strange and bewildering times we live in. I've had a few dark moments. Yesterday the enormity of all this hit me hard and I took to Twitter to express that. I've also had long conversations with my wife (also a frontline worker but in a different department) and it's been dark at times.

One ray of light was in a big brown bag on our doorstep about a month ago. It was a huge selection of fruit. It baffled us at first but then a few weeks later someone left two Easter eggs on the door and a note just saying "thanks"

Maybe they should be on the SPFL board.