Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Archaic Chaos


The saddest thing about the way Peter Lawwell operates is that, for many, far, far too many, it still works. I've been preaching for years that Celtic is a dictatorship run by one man with an occasional dip in the water from the toe of Dermot Desmond. People slag Celtic's "PR Department" (me included) but the reality is, it's just a token effort. Lawwell is the PR department. I've personally witnessed Iain Jamieson run through a week's events at Celtic only to be told by Lawwell "We're not doing that, that needs moved and I am now travelling that day" (Incidentally, the "travelling" excuse is well-worn by Lawwell. I've seen it so many times but one time it was used, I was actually hosting the Armageddon premiere at Celtic Park and saw him an hour after I was told he was "flying somewhere")

The use of old media is what really grinds my gears. I've personally challenged him on it and have been batted away with numbers of people who buy newspapers. Peter Lawwell actually thinks everyone still walks to a shop in the morning to buy a newspaper, reads it, then bases all their opinions on what they have been told by the newspaper. Indeed, recently, we have seen chief Celtic-hater Keith Jackson brought back into the fold just because his newspaper sells around 90,000 copies a day. No matter that Jackson despises us, has little to no relevance anywhere but if Peter brings him back in now then wee Keith won't write naughty things about him and ruin his Christmas.

It would actually be funny if it were not so serious.

By the same token, why do people proclaiming to be part of "Celtic Fan Media" (whatever the fuck that is now) appear on the media that hate us? I get that it massages egos and gets you 35 more followers and a bigger chance of a seat at some backslapping ceremony but really? We started our own platforms to provide alternative narratives. The old media had helped prop up things like racism, discrimination and Rangers (IL) Why then kowtow to them?

I'll never get that one.

(Incidentally, I've been on the BBC. It's the only one I would go on because it's a publicly funded broadcaster that I believe in the idea of. You also may be aware it's the one I berate. I couldn't care less about Radio Clyde, Sky or the newspapers, they mean nothing to me)

Remember your history. At the advent of fan media, the old guard called us "Internet Bampots" poured scorn on podcasts and laughed bloggers out of court. Then they immersed themselves in all that just to survive. What's happened in the last few years is that so many blogs and podcasts have popped up that simply replicate what the old media do. Let me tell you a couple of three things, the old media use you and Celtic will never employ you.

Getting back to Lawwell, the playbook remains the same. Any time he wants a narrative built, he gets his wee Nokia out, phones a few pet journalists and they start tweeting the line. Most of them don't even bother writing up a story, just tweet out, fuck you supporters, good night,

I've said on Twitter recently, that this is a hard fight but not impossible. Peter Lawwell doesn't run a slick, dynamic operation. He runs the whole thing on his thoughts and his feelings. He puts out the mirage of consultation but never listens (Someone told me he gathered all his heads of department in a room once and asked them what the price of a season ticket should be next season. All agreed on a similar price and then Lawwell told them what the price would be)

What Celtic need is a freshness to engulf the club. Out of the three tournaments already and hanging on with our fingertips is bad enough.

Not changing now would be catastrophic.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

This is The End

I was 19 when Celts for Change formed in 1993. I'd seen the seeds at the SECC in 1991 when, at a rally that was about supporters clubs getting less tickets, became an all out attack on the board. Previous to that there was a Save our Celts meeting which was well-meaning but, bizarrely, by invitation only. The first Celts for Change meeting I attended was in Candleriggs in Glasgow. It was the first time I saw Brendan Sweeney (now a great pal) and he said something that confused me that night. In the midst of talking about their position, Brendan said "This isn't a battle for comfy seats" I hadn't a clue what he meant. At that point I'd maybe sat down at Ibrox and Pittodrie but none of the seats were that comfy. Matt McGlone, also there that night, repeated this phrase in his brilliant book, Emotionally Celtic, when meeting with the Celtic Supporters Assoc. and he told one of them the same thing Brendan had said that night and the CSA guy had exploded,



Of course, I get it now.

I don't know what the current CSA position is, I'm not aware of any statements made (By any of the supporters assoc. actually) so I don't know where they stand (or sit for that matter) but I do know this the end. For me anyway.


People who know me regard me as a fervent Celtic supporter. Some folk I know see Celtic winning or losing and immediately think of me. Often people will ask me questions about Celtic as if it's me making the decisions at the club. (I once was chastised in Nairn for not doing enough for supporters who travel great distances to watch Celtic) Yet, lately, some people, ones I know and some I don't, have been telling me I am not a supporter. I've been told to "Fuck off and support Man City" I've been slaughtered for sharing Green Brigade statements (without comment) and I've had numerous folk telling me "nobody speaks for me" when I, nor the Green Brigade for that matter, have ever claimed to do so.


This weekend I was in conversation, separately, with two Celtic employees. Essentially we were supporters bemoaning the state of the club but within these conversations, both asked me to look out for my own health. It was only when I scrolled back that I realised what they meant. The anger pouring out of me was akin to a lava spewing Volcano.

My wife has been ready to strangle me for ages too. She's a Celtic supporter as well but, bizarrely, doesn't feel the need to argue about it on the internet 24 hours a day. (The look she gives me now when I reach for my phone is akin to the one Phil Leotardo gave in pretty much every episode he was in of The Sopranos) and now I spend the time when I am not arguing on the internet, well, arguing with her.


I'm not a special supporter, my views are no more valid than anyone else's and I know there are millions who feel it like I do. I would never, as James Sanderson would berate folk for, flash my credentials at you,  Defeats I can handle, bullshit from the board I am well used to but the fences and police presence this week was a line in the sand for me. No one will ever convince me they are justified (although plenty have tried) and, in all honesty, what has saddened me more is the glee that some have espoused at the club taking action against the protestors.

If you are like that, I have nothing in common with you.

The vitriol going round now, for me, is unprecedented. I've had my fair share of abuse and threats over the years. This stuff is different. Daily, I see Celtic supporters slaughtering Celtic supporters. Really awful and hateful stuff. I wonder why. What brings someone to abuse folk to the point of dehumanisation just because they have a different point of view to them? I've seen it from both sides and the very fact there are two sides is where the problem is really.

This fight, and it absolutely is a fight for Celtic's soul, is about the betterment of Celtic. I could sit here now and tell you why certain people hold certain views but it would serve no purpose but to divide more. My view is clear, I want Celtic to do well always and don't believe the people trusted with that just now are up to that job.

There's nothing really I can add to that.


I'll let you into a secret that I have been telling my circle for about five years. This season will be my last as a season ticket holder. I've been one since 1990 (save for 1993/94 for obvious reasons) and I held the belief that after clinching 10 in a row, there would be nothing left for me to see and it would be time to pass the baton on to someone else. (That doesn't mean I stop being a supporter or that I will never be at any games)

Bizarrely (I've used that word far too much in this blog) I now feel more drawn to the club now in adversity and will probably get a season ticket again.

Just not under this regime.

I've never had a comfy seat (I've been to corporate hospitality three times in my life-One I won and two I paid for) and have no interest in acquiring one. 

All I want for Christmas is a happy and united Celtic support, with a winning team on the park.

That's my wish, is it really that different from yours?



Saturday, December 5, 2020

New Rules




I've been trying to keep one step away from being taken away for my own safety. There has to be some New Rules put out there for the sake of  my and many of the supporters sanity (I'm doing in this in the way first Bill Hicks then Bill Maher did/do, for comedic value, so wind your neck in if you get triggered)


Rule 1- I don't give a flying fuck about the opinion of the high and mighty who see change at Celtic as an end to cosy wee arrangements and comfy seats. I've seen you all with your suits and cigarettes, milling about the main stand watching the rest of us like you've made it and we haven't. This is football. Heated lounges full of flat free beer and samosas have about as much to do with football as a Christmas jumper has to do with Celtic. (Apologies for the language but I thought I had to grab your attention)

Rule 2-If you react to a Green Brigade statement saying "They don't speak to for me" then you must provide evidence where they said they do. The histrionics of people when they see free speech is doing my nut in. It's ok to disagree but the way to react is to counter-protest, not bust a blood vessel on social media. That's just Bad Manners.

Rule 3-If you think Celtic employees have influence over Peter Lawwell and Dermot Desmond, you've not been paying attention. It's like thinking that Billy Jo Jim Bob in Alabama is influencing the policy in The White House....(Hang on, scratch that one)

Rule 4- When the club is going through its worst crisis since 1994, don't announce a Christmas jumper day. (Aye this Christmas jumper thing is a trigger of mine)

Rule 5- If you claim to be a "club open to all" don't put fences up to stop the people who pay the wages.

The last one was the whole point of this blog. With apologies to Bill Hicks and Bill Maher.

Stay safe


Thursday, October 22, 2020

New Digital Magazine

 


Today we officially launch The Front of The Bus digital magazine. It's a twofold strategy. The first is to continually update the three books I did that became films The Asterisk Years, Anyone but Celtic and Armageddon. This is because there are lots of stories out there not big enough for books but deserve an airing all the same.  The second is to provide a voice and platform to those who need them. There are lots of stories and opinions that the Scottish mainstream media refuse to acknowledge so we will.

We have set up a Facebook page @thefrontofthebus 

We want stories too, send to westillwon@yahoo.com 

We are delighted to have over 100 subscribers already which allows us to commit to four issues. 

To purchase those four issues, and get issue 1 emailed to you right away, Paypal £10 to westillwon@yahoo.com 


Thanks for listening.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Celtic List




There's a new novel by John Niven called The Fuck-It List. The premise is that it's America in 2026. Donald Trump was President for eight years and now his daughter, Ivanka, has taken over. Frank Brill, the main protagonist, has found out he has cancer and refuses all treatment, instead writing a list of people he intends to kill before he dies. Not that I am saying we are at the point (although judging by Social Media, I'm sure I'm on a few folk's lists) but it's worth exploring why we ended up with that clusterfuck at Celtic Park yesterday.

We were feeling good. Kindae. In the midst of a global pandemic, we were declared champions for the ninth time in succession. I was brought up with tales of our first nine in a row and it felt sweet now to have my own. Celtic announced an online celebration of sorts. I was working that day and only saw it on repeat but I had a message in my Twitter DM from a good friend, Paul, whose opinions on Celtic I have a lot of time for and he was saying he didn't feel it was appropriate for Celtic to have an online party whilst people were dying every day. I don't know if my mind went further than watching it, enjoying most of it, with a few beers. 

Then came the realisation that Celtic were sticking with the season ticket price increase. I thought that was wrong. Admittedly, they thought we would have fans back by September, but the realisation has crept in that fans won't be back any time soon. The club said they would add value to season tickets and this has consisted of an ability to watch all home league games, some European games (unfortunately) a digital programme emailed out and the chance to hear the likes of Gordon Strachan and John Hartson preview and analyse games. 

This came with a backdrop of a season ticket refund for games we didn't get last season being as easy to get as a flu vaccine right now (I'm speaking from experience on the flu vaccine thing) which left a bad taste some people's mouth and threats to murder those who took a refund from others.

On the park things haven't been much better. Damien Duff left the club and John Kennedy wanted to leave the club (For Dundee Utd) whilst Neil Lennon wanted Tommy Johnson and got Gavin Strachan.

The Leigh Griffiths fiasco erupted, with Neil Lennon the volcano, and he was banished from the pre-season tour of France with the manager telling us Leigh wasn't fit enough (something he repeated about the player yesterday-three months on)

Then came the football itself.

A half decent performance against Hibs apart, the rest of the season has not been of the standard that we normally set. Games at Rugby Park and Tannadice were very average whilst the performance at McDiarmid Park would have seen a Mowbray or Deila hung, drawn and quartered. Ferencvaros was the same movie we see at least once, often twice, a season.

Then came Saturday.

Lenny eviscerated the players after Ferencvaros and you wonder if some have got over it. It looked then, for all the world, that a few players would be out the door but none of them went. Missing six players on Saturday, we were always going to be up against it but I think the level of ineptitude coupled the complete lack of urgency, shocked even the most hardcore of supporters.

Where now?

I think Neil Lennon's time may be up. (I'm about 80% on that) I'm not sure if he has lost the ability to motivate the players or they simply don't like him any more but the harsh reality is we can't get rid of unhappy players this side of January, so something has to give. It pains me to say because I love Neil Lennon and what he has had to go through to be first a Celtic player, then coach, then manager should never be forgotten but right now we have history to make and however bad you feel now will be nothing compared to how you'll feel if we don't make that history.

You may even start your own Fuck-It list.


Monday, September 7, 2020

Paradise Lost

 


I went to Celtic Park today. That's strange for me as I hate going to Celtic Park when there isn't a game on. There's an eerie feeling about the place when there's nothing going on and walks from the station or city centre seem a lot longer when there aren't thousands of your own around you. Today was even stranger as most of the thoroughfares were blocked off and the only real places you could go were the Celtic Way and the new fangled Celtic Shop (which is exactly the same as the old one except Adidas is all over it) which made my trip pretty pointless in all honesty and I feel pretty deflated about it now. Thinking about it made me feel incredibly sad that football is going on without the fans and there doesn't seem to be any real impetus to have us back. I know Celtic want us back and I'm sure that would be the same for all clubs but, frankly, the media seem to be loving the fact that they get full access and can still do their jobs without those pesky fans bothering them./ 

It worries me.

When I look around the place, online and off, I see many folk who simply don't understand Covid-19 or the things we must to do to try and defeat it. The latest "I AM A MORON" Bat signal is those who refuse to wear a mask or plaster the internet with conspiracy theories about the disease. I've even had people say to me that it's a hoax because they don't know anyone who has had it. I do. 17 people just now. Five of them died over one horrible weekend. I can safely say that, after witnessing these events, if someone came up to me and said it was "FAKE NEWS!" I'd have smacked them in the fucking mooth.

I miss being around Celtic folk. Personally, since March, I've been to two pubs and one cafe,  that's it. Don't get me wrong, I'd love nothing more than to be in amongst it but that's just not possible just now and folk need to realise that.


Whilst I was walking about Celtic Park, I started thinking about all the times I've came out grounds and said "Never mind the game, what about the fans" That's what makes Celtic special, the fans. There hasn't been a player yet better than the fans (Although Danny McGrain comes damn close) and I could tell stories all night about occasions I had, even in adversity, when being among Celtic fans made me feel 10 foot tall. 

I can remember packing out grounds all over England and feeling like it was a celebration of Celtic and it's support. God I miss those days. Away early, all your mates, tanked up by 10.30am, invading a new city without a care in the world. This was before football became so corporate and cynical. And they needed us then (or at least that's what they told us)

Despite rumours to the contrary, Celtic isn't an easy club to follow. It costs a fortune, there's never enough tickets and you get treated like shit all over Scotland. Similarly, it's a hard club to defend when it increases the price of season tickets when no one can get in and creates a rabbit hole akin to Wonderland in order for fans to get a refund for games they didn't get last season.

Yet I still love it and all of you as well



Thursday, August 27, 2020

Take The High Road

Nostalgia can be a good or bad thing. Recently, STV have been plugging old episodes of Take The High Road. People in their 40's and over will remember all the characters and think back to a time when it was on and get a wee glow inside them. Right up until they watch it again.

I read today, admittedly from not anyone who knows about Celtic, saying that Neil Lennon should not be criticised because of the stuff he has gone through to be Celtic manager. Sorry, but that's bollocks. Lenny would not be the kind of man he is if he ran away at the first sign of criticism. 

And he does deserve criticism.

His whole demeanour this season is of a man who is fed up. I think I know a couple of the reasons why. Firstly, Gavin Strachan was not his pick as part of his management team. Lenny approached the board and asked for Tommy Johnson but was vetoed. This came after Damien Duff had abruptly left of course. The usual family reasons were trotted out which is fine but doesn't explain John Kennedy lobbying to get the Dundee Utd job when it was available.

The reality is though Neil Lennon can't really complain about any of this as he knew what he was getting into when he took the job and things reverted to the old way of things (Peter Lawwell doing everything bar picking the team and challenging decades of cheating) that had been banished under Brendan Rodgers.

Speaking of Rodgers, however you feel about him, it cannot be denied that he brought a level of professionalism to Celtic that enabled us to absolutely steamroller the league. I don't really know if this has been maintained under Lennon but his barb last night about players not wanting to be at Celtic doesn't exactly paint a good picture right now.

When I saw his team last night, I text a couple of friends saying "Cluj Mark 2" because whatever  anyone says, it was unfathomable picking that team and those tactics last night. (Something the manager himself admitted post-match)

Where do we go from here?

I still think we are more than capable of winning the league but it has been said ad nauseum, the biggest threat to 10 in a row is ourselves.

As usual, our forays into the transfer market have been pretty bizarre. We have had Klimala since January yet the manager tells us he's not match fit, why?

There's also the Leigh Griffiths situation. We were told he came back overweight, why? Surely the club were monitoring all the players in lockdown?

It all feels a bit disjointed just now and, in this season of all seasons, that should not be happening.

I don't know much but one thing I do know is if this continues, we will all be taking the high road.