Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Cause

Celtic now face the biggest end to a season since 1948 when a Jock Weir hat trick saved the club from relegation at Dens Park. Football seasons go on too long now, there's just too much and by April you're kindae sick of of it if truth be told, you just want it wrapped up and to go on your holidays. Not this season. Now is the time we need to be more enrgised than ever. What I am frankly sick of is, to quote Irvine Welsh, "the most fucked up scum that were ever shat into creation"

As Celtic were cantering to the league in January/February, a plan was put in place, to unsettle the Celtic manager at any and every opprtunity. Bullets in the post, fake nailbombs, death threats, a media campaign to blame him for every ill in Scotland and a constant extreme provocation from every talking head fuckwit the BBC employ. It's worked. Our manager had to move house, get 24 hours security and his kids can't go to school.  The thugs are winning and laughing about it as wel("What's it like to live in fear")l. My own view was that Celtic should have pulled out of football the minute this started until the authorities actually did something about it but we know there is very little backbone at boardroom level.(Has anyone heard Dermot Desmond comment once on this?)

It sickens me to the bone that Scotland rejoiced in the huns recent win against us rather than look at the facts, huns win=violence, domestic or otherwise, way down. They are allowed to actively promote a rancid sectarian organisation and still not get any of the blame for the Celtic managers constant threats.

It is time now for every Celtic supporter on the planet to unite behind the Celtic manager. This is our Cause.


A worrying trait I've noticed amongst Celtic supporters is their willingness to have vile bigots and racists on their social networking sites. Are you ever going to wake up? They hate you and always will, and having them on your site makes you look like a stupid naive fool. To quote to The Specials "If you have a racist friend, now is the time for your friendship to end"

Monday, March 28, 2011

Outside it's America

America could be wonderful place if wasn't always ruined by morons. It could do so much good if it didn't constantly pander to the 20% of the country who will never accept an African-American President, hate all Jewish people and spit on immigrants. People who see Rosa Parks as a troublemaker.Every single person in politics in America does things with half and eye on that 20% and it's why a lot of people hate America. In Scotland we have a similar situation which is killing not just Scottish football but society itself and it's time to stop fucking around and hoping that it will all just go away. Every rounded human being knows that the biggest problem in Scotland is the one the establishment want to brush under the carpet. In any society, any group of people will always have it's idiots and Celtic are no different, no one would deny that. However, to equate that with a living, breathing sectarian racist hate machine that manifests itself at will, would be like comparing a bump on the road to Mount Everest.

Here's the thing, there are a big percentage of people in Scotland who will always hate Celtic, Catholics, Irish, Neil Lennon and Kerrygold Butter. That's a fact. No amount of Summits will ever change that. The people who mocked Tommy Burns in Lisbon will never ever listen to reason nor will the 20,000 who lustily sang The "Famine" Song at Hampden the other week. If you're reading this, chances are, you'll know that, if you're reading this and don't, wake the fuck up. We are up against a media who will always pander to their own agenda, take Graham Spiers defending of the banana throwing and racist jeering of the Tartan Army on Sunday, akin to Nick Griffin telling us the BNP are ok really. No one is saying all Scotland fans are racist, far from it, but to dismiss any notion that even some of them are, means you are as bad as the banana thrower.

With New Media sweeping the world and guys like Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, Mince&The Research Department, Huddleboard and Paul at CQN all one click away from naming and shaming,  not to mention Tony Hamilton's forensic study, it may be a brave new world but it's the same old fight. It's just that now, we're sitting at the front of the bus, whether they like it or not.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Interview with Simon Donnelly

How did your move from Queens Park to Celtic come about?
The move to Celtic came about after some rumours they'd been watching me for QPFC. I think they'd asked Eddie Hunter ,the Queens Park manager at time, if he'd recommend anyone for an U19 tournament in Geneva and he put me forward,of which I'm eternally grateful. I remember training with Celtic in the week leading up to the tournament and scoring a hat-trick at Helenvale in a friendly. Liam Brady was at this game and looking back on it I feel this swung my move even before I travelled to Geneva with the team!!!I went on to sign shortly after.

Lou Macari compared you to Kenny Dalglish after your debut, was that a help or a hindrance?
My honest answer to this is it didnt affect me at all. I'd grew up a huge fan of "The King" thanks to my Dad, the fact that I'd just made it into the first team at the time was the best experience I'd had in the game so far and just found the headlines a bit embarrassing! It was a story for the papers at the time but I'm still grateful to Lou for giving me my debut!!

You joined Celtic at quite a tumultuous time in the club’s history, can you give us an insight to what it was like at the time?
Although it wasn't the best part of Celtic's history when I signed, this was still Celtic!! And for a boy growing up wanting to play football it didnt come better than this!!I always like to think Id have had the ability to break through regardless but these times ensured Celtic had to use youth and bring players through, I got my chance at this time and wasnt going to waste it!

You really started to blossom at Celtic under Tommy Burns, was he a major influence on your career?
Tommy Burns and Billy Stark were major factors in my development as a player, they were great coaches but also father figures to a few of us that came through then. I never got the chance to ask Tommy what he saw in me to suggest I came from being a forward to also playing deeper on the right side of midfield but it definately developed my game play and understanding of different positions. It's one of my biggest regrets in football that TB's team never won the title, I enjoyed playing in that team, unfortunately I think we were up against Rangers best ever at the time.

You’re well known for having a great relationship on and off the park with Jackie McNamara, did you both just “click” right away?
Yeah Jake and I clicked from the start, we'd met on U21 duty beforehand but it was when he signed for Celtic we really became mates, we were the same age roughly and had the same things in common. Add to that that we played beside each other on a Saturday so we got to know each other very quickly, it's a friendship that has lasted till now and both families are very close.

Tommy Burns leaves, Wim Jansen comes in, we stop 10 in a row, can you put into words what that season was like as a Celtic player?
Wim arrived and at the time the players never really knew him, we went on to find out he'd been a major player for Holland at two world cups and a respected World coach, he was much more calm in everything he did than Tommy, he'd came from outside the Celtic background and liked to approach everything a little different.There was no loss of temper after games with Wim he'd prefer to let the dust settle and approach things on a Monday morning when all the heat had went out of any situation. I personally liked him and his training, typical Dutch all with the ball, in many ways like TB but he had his own little touches which brought something new to training.

East End Park, May 98, what was said in the dressing room after it?
I cant honestly remember what was said after this game, we were all numb in disbelief, I remember phoning Jackie the day before when Killie had scored at Ibrox, we were all set for picking up the title on the Sunday, I think the fans were as well,we just couldnt believe how it panned out, I was gutted personally as for a while it had looked like my goal was going to be enough. It just added to the enormous pressure that was building for the following weekend!!

Can you put into words what it was like as a player the day we stopped 10 in a row?
I'll try,.....relief was the main feeling at the time. As a player you get caught up in the whole event but at least you have the power to change things,what I mean is when I came off in the 2nd half of this game its the most nervewracking experience Ive had in my career!! This was probably what the fans were going through, I just remember Harald scoring and I jumped on John Clark, this was the first time I relaxed, the whole occasion was amazing but its only nowadays I appreciate how big a day it was!!

France 98, you're in the squad but don't play, still a good experience?
France 98 on the back of winning the title was another highlight in my career. We'd seven Celtic players in the squad I think and we were enjoying the occasion together. I'm obviously disappointed not to have actually taken part in a game but the whole experience, the build up in the States, right through to walking out in the Stade de France in kilts for the first game, these are moments you'll always have and make all the hard work getting there worthwhile!!

You left Celtic in 1999, along with Phil O’Donnell, for Sheffield Wednesday, was it the right time to go?
I think at the time it was right for me to move, Sheff Wed were in the Premiership at the time and I was 24, I'd been in Celtic's first team for 5 years,as much as I'd say my time at Celtic has been by far the best in my career it was maybe my only chance at a crack in England. It never worked out for me or Phil down South football wise but I did enjoy my time in Sheffield, it was a new experience after the "Glasgow fishbowl" and we did meet some great people and have good times there, my first son was even born there!!

Phil O’Donnell was obviously a great friend of yours, can you tell us a bit about the “Walk 10 for 10”?
Yeah Phil was a great friend and sorely missed.The Walk 10 for 10 basically came about after talking with his wife Eileen about doing something on the day of Phil's passing. I know she and the kids find this a real help on this day to do something positive and raise a few quid for BHF and Mary's Meals at the same time. We've done two now walking from Fir Park to Celtic Park and both times the turnout was brilliant, we hope to keep it going!! This year we are also doing a trek up five volcanoes in Ecuador in memory of Phil and this too is to try and reach a 100k total for the British Heart Foundation, if interested we have a site where you can see exactly what were doing and if anyone wants to support us there's a justgiving facility there, any support at all would be hugely appreciated!!

Ever had any strange request from fans?
No not really but it still amazes me that you can be in the most remote place in the world and a Celtic fan will approach for a photo or autograph!! A few years back I was visiting my sister and brother in law in Ottawa Canada, my brother in law, a Celtic diehard, had mentioned this to a friend in a supporters club there and they invited me as guest of honour for an evening, they even had a guy pipe me in!! We had a great night and they really looked after us, this was after I'd been away from Celtic five years!! It just highlights the support the club has!

Finally Sid, ever see yourself as a manager?
I never say never but at the moment I feel I'd be more suited to coaching with younger players or maybe alongside someone, I've done part of my coaching badges but still have a bit to go.Who knows what the future holds!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Interview with Tam Donnelly

*For the maximum Tam experience, this interview is done in Tam's own words.

What’s your earliest memory of Celtic?
My earliest memory is seeing them come through the Gorbals with the Coronation Cup. I had been to games with my Da before that he took me to a game when I was only 2, so I don't remember much about that to be honest, except the Pie he got me and some Bovril in my bottle, (Joking) The first game I can remember was Clyde Game not sure what age I was but going to that game with my Da we met Charlie Tully on the Tram Car and he gave me a silver Tanner. I will never forget that. He also said he would get a goal for me. And he did.

You were once arrested at Hampden, can you tell us what happened?
Scotland V Holland was the game my Pal came down to our street and shouted up to the windae, and asked me if I fancied going tae the game, I said "naw nae chance, nae Celtic players got picked, and there are six Huns playing for Scotland" He said "uch come on lets go doon see the game they wull get stuffed anyway" I said ok. As I started tae get ready, putting on my Celtic Scarf my Da said "where you goin? " I said tae him "gonny go doon and watch Scotland getting humped" He says "yer aff yer heid, no be any Tim's there the night, it's aw Huns playing for Scotland the night". I said "uch nuthing else tae dae" he said "please yer self ya daft bastard" and "yer wearin yer Celtic Scarf?" "aye" a said he just shook his heid. So off we go me and my pal we decide to walk it to Hampden save a couple of bob so we can go for a pint after the game. We count out much we got between us and we come to the conclusion if wan of us jumps the turnstile we hiv enough for a couple of pints each and a packet of fags between us. So big mooth me said tae ma Pal your hopeless at runnin so I will do the turnstile you hod back the Polis block thum at the turnstile door when they come efter me it will gie me a chance tae get inae the Park. As we walk up to the turnstile we are going in the Celtic end section O it used to be there is wan Polis and wan gate open "uch this is the doddle Archie, naebody about at all" I say. I walk up to the turnstile big Polis nods tae me I nod back and woosh up and over that turnstile like a hurdler, over and up the stairs like whippet no even looking back. As I get tae the tap I run in and low and behold not a sole in the Celtic end it's empty. I stop running and think (cleaning this up) Oh my goodness I am in Trouble noo. I turn round and 2 big polis staunin there laffin wan says "kimeer you". I walk over to them we are at the tap of the stairs . I figure there gonny take me doon the stairs and throw me oot. WRONGGGGGGGGGG. Hands twisted and both erms up my back and run me doon the stairs towards the track and up and over we go onto the track. I figure go left tae huckle me oot. WRANGGGG again. We go right past about 32,000 huns that way. Round we go towards my Scottish bretheren who are all cheering me as my scarf is noo hanging out as the polis shove my erms further up my back I bend over so the scarf is hinging right out. As we get tae the end where my Scottish bretheren are now calling me a hooly hooly hooligin, and they where all in fine voice, and in unison. As we get round the track right behind the goal at the hun end they are awe hinging ower the fence geein me pelters as these two polis are lovin it. I can see wan hun who is spoutin venim and eyes bulging out his napper leaning ower the wa. I figure oh well in for a penny in for a pound and I suck wan up fae ma toes, and as we are passing him I let it go it was a big green beach baw right on his coopon. As this happens two polis shove erms further up ma back and we all three hit the deck both of thum landing on me . Anyway they take me to the black maria and smack me about a bit. Then when they stuck me in a cell they came in there a wiz bollock naked they gave it tae me again. Lesson I learned there was dont wear a Celtic Scarf tae Scotland games.

You’ve lived in Canada longer than you lived in Scotland, is that now home?
Yes but I still call Castlemilk and Scotland home too.

How did the formation of the North American Federation of Celtic Supporters Clubs come about?
Way back when the Rangers supporters over here NARSA were first to get the games via Satellite and were away ahead of us getting jump start. They were getting the games and we had no been organised enough to get it going,plus the fact only a few big clubs in Canada, Huns were getting the big games like O** F*** games and we had to watch it with them in their clubs and we were getting charged big bucks, a lot more than their guys. Then Jacky Meehan (St Cathrines csc) Pat McGauley (Toronto csc) Harry Aire (Hamilton csc) Eugene (Durham csc) And Myself (Bramalea csc) decide after a few meetings to put together the Canadian Federation of CSC. Word got out and next thing you know San Francisco , calls to join then Kearny, then New York,  Then L.A. ,then Manhattan, then Chicago, then Houston, then Dallas, then Florida, then all the Canadian  provinces and Cities jumped in and within I would say withing six months we had 36 clubs, the huns had 18. We went as high as 74 clubs at one point but Ch67 plus the economy kicked the crap out of the clubs and we are back in the 40 or so but I feel it will come again and the NAFCSC  is something that is very near and dear to my heart and all the clubs that helped it get going. A lot of people sacrificed a lot of time and effort to make sure it worked.

You’ve been a tremendous supporter of and friend to The Lisbon Lions, any stories that stand out?
Oh dear there are loads. One story and it stands out in my mind, Jacky Meehan and I were invited to lunch with all the Lions up at Celtic Park one day during the week in the restaurant there at the time. I was like a wean in a sweetie shop waiting for this meeting. We go in and we meet Lennox and Chalmers. Jacky and I were already sitting at a table, wee Lennox says tae me "wit ye daen sitting here Tam?"  I said "we wur waiting for youz", He says "they are all up there" and points to the other end of restaurant "through that door we have a special table set up for the Lions and you two. I said "oh, I have got the waiter tae set this table up for us and you" he says "aye nae bother go and tell them tae come doon here". I saunter aff and through the door next thing ye know am in a stairwell and canny get back in. I banged and kicked the door waiter opens it and aw the Lions ar pissin thumselfs laffin, I could have choked that wee Lennox but we all had a great laugh at it. We had a great day. A few days later Jacky and I meet up with Jinky, and he asked "did youz enjoy the other day?" So I say to Jinky "Aye thanks a lot Jinky, ye invite us tae dinner then ye awe went away and we got stuck wae the bill". "Wit ye talking about Tam" Jinky says, I say "Ye awe went away and naebody paid the bill" Yer kiddin Tam" he says, "Naw am no Jinky, that's shite wit yeez done". Jinky looked gobsmacked "Tam that bastard Bertie collected awe the money aff us all as we awe chipped in, wait tae a see him" I say "it's ok Jinky we can cover it". "Naw" he says "not on" , I say "never mind Jinky its no a problem". "Ye sure Tam?" "Aye Jinky nae bother ok" Jinky says "Tam thats awfy good o ye. But a want ma 20 quid aff that bastard". A couple days later Bertie phones me and says  "Fur fux sake Tam will you tell that Jinky wan I paid the bill! He's sayin he wants his money back coz you telt him I got off my mark and didnae pay the bill and he is calling me everything under the sun and disnae believe I paid it" We had a good laugh at that one. From that day on I had to be careful cause I knew they would get me back, and over the years we have had some good ones that I will keep private.

It's fair to say that the NAFCSC really put Celtic on the map in North America, in all your time there, how much have Celtic helped you out?
Very fair to say we put Celtic on the Map in NA. Wee Fergus was the only one who has been any help as far as board level is concerned. Celtic used to help us with tickets for games but when the new system came in it made it much harder to get tickets but to be fair they do try to help with getting guys tickets, As far as the Convention goes, they don't do a thing. I have been in touch with them regarding the 2011 Convention have told them they should launch the new away strip for next season in Las Vegas. I have told them if they do that I will make sure TV stations are there to make a report on the evening news. I think its a great idea but it's still up in the air so we will see what happens.

Las Vegas, The NAFCSC Convention, how did it come about?
The LA csc, decided they would do the Convention way back when and everyone who went to Vegas as that's where LA decided to have it. We all enjoyed it so much we made it the venue each year but it was getting ho hum, so we decide that make it every two years.

Is it true you played a round of golf with Fergus McCann?
Aye that was a experience and a half. Fergus is something else. I like him a lot but we did get off to a bad start. Fergus can be very abrupt, straight forward and demanding. In The Gorbals we would call it a cheeky wee &%&*%&%($^$ but as you get to know him you find out he is honest and has Celtic truly at heart. This particular golf day he was something else. We were in Vegas for the Convention and everyone was feart of wee Fergus and didnae want tae play with him. So I said I will play with him so Fergus Tommy Love LA csc, me and I canny mind the other guy all set out to play as a foursome. Fergus is very competitive trust me and he shiriked us all day for being Diddys at the game. We go round and, as we are going to the 10th tee, we stop at the hut where they sell pop and stuff. I ask Fergus and the other two "ye want a pot?" they all say yes. I get out the cart and go to the counter and the three of them take off. Now we are in Vegas, it's noon and it's 120 degrees that day, and the 10th tee is about 300 yds fae the counter, I get the drinks and hiv tae walk there wae thum in ma erms, I get to the 10th tee and they have all teed off. They are waiting for me, then wee Fergus says "come on, hurry up, you're up, what kept ye?". At that point, wi sweat belting out my arse, I could have stoated him over the heid wae wan of the bottles. We carry on and we are going round and my baw went intae the mud so I pick it up and wipe it clean on the wee mans towel and don't think another thing about it.  A few holes later wee Fergus goes over to the Cart and lets out a yell ye all know the way he talks so you can guess his voice as he says to me  "Mr Donnelly have you been wiping your balls on the towel I use to dry my bald head?" Oh dear me I think there a opening for a cheeky answer if ever there was but I crapped out and said "No Fergus must have been one of those two other guys". He just threw me a look. Funny thing about it when he said what he said about "my balls" the other two heard it and cringed. But all in all it was a great day for me and I fully respected the man after Vegas.

What’s the state of play with the NAFCSC and the games being shown in the clubs, is the future secure?
Depends on ch67. If that stays alive and the economy doesn't get better we could be in trouble but as long as I have a breath in me I will work my butt off to make sure all Celtic Supporters in NA get to see our beloved Celtic.

When Celtic tour North America, do they get it right?
No. In fact they dont have a clue. They really are way behind. They could not organise a piss up in a brewery here and that's a fact. I always have to get on them with things like "why did you not get in touch with Jacky or I? We would have sorted better training facilities?" Alll kinds of stuff. It's a joke  the way they do things and have voiced that till I am sick to the back teeth.

What’s your views on the current on going madness within football in Scotland?
I feel for Neil Lennon. It's a bloody shame what's happening to him. I am proud to be Scottish and would dealy love to go and support Scotland National Team but since as far back as I can remember they and we all know who they are, don't want us there. My God almighty you only have to look at the number of Caps Bobby Murdoch got for playing for Scotland yet he was one of the finest mid field players you have ever seen in your life. As long as you have people like Peat and the likes running Scottish football it will always be a shambles. As far as I am concerned there is one helluva campign to run Neil Lennon out of Scotland. I hope he stays even if it meant they took us down to the second division I will still support Celtic and Neil Lennon and thats coming from my heart.

Finally Tam, what is a rivit?
hahahahahahah something hard you Ram into.   oh geez or a ships hull hahahaha.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interview with John Paul Taylor

What was your first memory of Celtic?

It’s hard to say, I think it was in the garden when my dad was teaching how to play football, I’m sure that’s the first time I actually became aware of Celtic, probably around 1969 / 1970

When did you start going on your own to Celtic Park?

I started going to matches when I was 6 years old, 1971.  I remember going to a European match against Ujpest Doza, I have a vivid memory of my dad throwing me into the air when Celtic scored, we were in the old main stand, we always went to the main stand when I was young.  My first cup final was in 1972 when we beat Hibs 6-1 and Dixie scored one of many hat tricks against Hibs.  I can remember that day like it was yesterday

How did get the job at Celtic, who interviewed you, what was your first day like?

 I got my job at Celtic through John Maguire who is the Head of Celtic Pools.  John recommended me for a position as Manager of the ticket office.  The Head of that Dept at the time was a lady named Mary McAdam, a very nice woman who was Financial Controller at the time.  Mary had a very difficult job at the time looking back on it but she was always very calm and composed, she was a real professional.  I liked her immediately and although I didn’t do great in my first interview she invited me for a second interview where I did much better.

My first week was pretty hectic, at the time it was pay at the gate for home games and only tickets for home games were for European and Old Firm games so there were only 5 other staff, remarkably I think they are all still at the Club.  We had a European match against Sporting Lisbon and Chris White, Club Secretary at the time had applied for permission to use the Rangers End, this was supposed to be closed due to new UEFA regulations surrounding seating and standing at matches.  What Chris omitted to tell anyone was that he was successful and immediately called Ritchie’s printers in Edinburgh to produce tickets, he then announced it on radio.  He conveniently forgot to tell us so the first thing we knew about it was when we were descended on by hordes of people looking to buy tickets which we didn’t even have!!!

Shortly after the tickets arrived in and then there was chaos, we had no float, no change to give to give customers; in fact we didn’t even have serving positions.  I think it’s safe to say they didn’t really think that one through.

At the weekend we had the small matter of Rangers at Ibrox, that was the day we won 2-1 with goals from O'Neil and Collins, in hindsight that match was a breeze compared to some we had to deal with in the later years.  An old colleague and Celtic Park legend John McAlinden gave me some handy hints at that time and he was spot on, I’ve never forgotten them or John for that matter, he was a great man

Describe what it was like, as an employee, when Fergus took over?

 It was actually very worrying, we were full time employees and anyone who has been involved in any kind of takeover at work will tell you that the uncertainty is extremely un nerving.  We all had mortgages and other financial commitments so you were worried if you would still have a job.  A lot of new people were now hanging around, and you didn’t know who was who so it was a pretty worrying time as an employee. 

As a supporter it was naturally very exciting, there were a lot promises which you were convinced would be followed through.  Fergus appeared to be a man of his word and you just felt confident that he would deliver what he said he would

What was the Hampden season like for the Ticket Office?

 The Hampden season was horrendous.  Everything had been agreed with Queens Park very late in the year and I think it was late May, early June before we got renewals and application forms out to supporters.  I actually recall one evening where Rangers were playing a European match at Ibrox and we were just starting to process season ticket applications.

The other big problem with Hampden was that there were no real systems in place at the time, the ticket booking system had just been replaced and none of us were all that sure how it all worked, reconciliations were a nightmare and we had a huge map of the Hampden stadium on the wall outside the ticket office.  Of course 5000 people marked down that they wanted to sit in seats bang on the halfway line.  Well you just knew that was going to end in disappointment!!

For every home game we worked from a Portacabin in the car park selling tickets, it was dismal, I don’t think the sun shone once that whole season.  I’m sure everyone who was there would agree it was a very depressing season.

New Stadium comes, easy to shift season tickets?

New stadium presented a whole new set of challenges.  Firstly everything had to be mapped on to the ticketing system and bearing in mind this was all being done from drawings, there were quite a few seats which did not correspond, especially in the corners.

In answer to the question though, yes demand was incredible, we managed to take the 18,000 sold at Hampden to 22,000 in year 1 and that was us full to capacity, we had to retain some seats to meet with shareholder obligations, which was a whole other story and enough to accommodate Rangers Fans when they played at Celtic Park

Can you put into words the day we stopped 10 in a row?

It’s hard to if I’m honest.  I remember driving to work that morning and made a detour down
Garngad Road.  It was a sight to behold with a sea of green white and gold everywhere.  You looked on and just thought, there is no way we can’t win this today.

As the day went on so did the tension, I was desperate to clear the office so we could all get across to see the match, we were just about finished when Henrik scored the first goal, the place just went crazy and it was a case of just doing what you had to do to make sure everyone got in and we could join in on all the excitement.

Having got across the tension was almost unbearable, we desperately needed the second goal and when Harold slotted it, the relief was evident amongst the whole crowd.  The celebrations were amazing and it was inevitable the pitch invasion would take place, after the match I went back to my ma’s and joined the celebrations with my dad and other family.

I think the whole day took so much out of everyone though and I don’t think it was a particularly late night but certainly a very happy one

In 2000 you were the architect of the Away Ticket Registration scheme, which still goes today, was a that a big breakthrough for the allocating of them?

I would say so yes.  Football was changing, everyone wanted to be part of it and more and more fans wanted to go to all matches.  Rangers had been a dominating force in Scottish football and there was a sense amongst our fans that we were about to lay down a challenge.

It was obvious that we needed a better allocation system than what had been place in the past, which was very much a manual process of drawing vouchers from boxes.  There was no recognition of loyalty and it was a hassle and expense for the fans as well as ourselves so it seemed like the time was right to come up with something new.

The key was to provide a scheme which recognised and rewarded attendance at the less attractive matches.  It seemed to me that you can’t have fans missing out on big matches when they have attended the less attractive games at the likes of Kilmarnock, Dunfermline, St Johnstone, St Mirren and cup matches against opposition from the lower leagues.  So we set about building a scheme where you applied once at the start of the season, indicating what games you wanted to be considered for.  We also allowed fans to apply as a group so that if you were successful the whole group was successful, that way the standard travelling arrangements were maintained.  There was little point in splitting groups so that fans who went together were split up.  This would lead to problems in terms of why someone in the group got a ticket and someone didn’t.  Also what if the driver didn’t get a ticket, there was no transport so it seemed illogical to split groups.

I think the scheme was a success, it certainly provided a rationale for the allocation process whereby if someone obtained tickets through the scheme it counted toward future tickets, I believe that’s how it should be done, you must reward your most loyal fans

It is said that Martin O’Neill “Ran Celtic” when he was there, true?

Yes, that’s absolutely true.  Martin was Celtic, he wanted to be involved in everything.  He wanted to know everyone and he spent a lot of his time with the staff and getting to know them.  On many an occasion Martin would pop across to the Ticket Office for a cup of tea and would sit for a couple of hours taking questions and sharing stories of his time at other clubs and his family.

He would tell us all about his time at Forest and Brian Clough, John Robertson did a brilliant impression of Clough.  When we won the league for the first time under Martin we threw a huge party in the Ticket Office, at about 6pm we had some gatecrashers, it was Martin and all the backroom team with their families, they said they were in the mood to party and the ticket office was where it was at.

Martin was also very generous to the staff, I think he appreciated how hard everyone worked to make things successful and he wasn’t slow to acknowledge this, on more than one occasion he made a significant contribution to the office night out.  He also brought over trophies to the office to allow everyone to get a photo and made everyone feel they were a part of the team which had won it.  He loved a wind up as well and wouldn’t be slow to get in on the act if he thought there was something going on, he had a wicked sense of humour but you would never want to get on the wrong side of him, he was no soft touch and I caught the wrong side of him one day after we had drawn with Bayern Munich.  Some of the players were unhappy with the quality of tickets they had been able to purchase and made him aware of their displeasure the night before the match.  The result being that the day after the match I was summoned over to see him.  He certainly made me aware of his feelings reminding me that the players were the most important people at the Club and must be looked after at all times, I tried to explain but he wasn’t in a listening mood.  A few days later he called me over and we settled our differences but I never had a problem with him, he was the manager of the Club and you respected that.  I had and still have huge admiration for him

Can you put into words what the demand for Seville tickets was like?

Well I guess that’s the period everyone will associate with my time at the Club.  You can’t actually explain what it was like. Unless you were in that office during that period you can only guess.  The demand was insatiable and every day from qualification through to the final itself was taken up dealing with ticket demands, complaints and other related issues.

The whole thing got off to a bad start when the offer letters were dispatched a day early so when we came in to the office on a Saturday morning to do the prep for the Monday when the offer letters were due to hit we were faced by an angry mob of about 100 people.  They had been advised by friends they had received offer letters and blazed a trail to Celtic Park to find out where their letter was, so we were on the back foot right from the off.  That day I set up what could only be compared to a doctor’s surgery and met with everyone who was there taking their details and promising a follow up.

Every single day after that was full of enquiries from supporters, demands, threats and accusations.  Ticket prices were going through the roof and it started to become a bit of a phenomenon with newspapers and radio stations carrying all sorts of stories.  Of course we had all the stories about Westlife and Rod Stewart and every celebrity getting tickets, none of which was true but it was like a red rag to a bull and I was the red rag!!!

Every night when I arrived home from work there were queues of people at my front door and we even took phone calls at home from people we didn’t even know, it was way over the top but it was my job  and I just had to deal with it.

Two of the best stories of that time were when I did the super scoreboard show on Radio Clyde to answer queries from fans, it all went very well and I was very pleased that it was all over when the next thing I heard my mother on the show defending me from the flak I had been taking.  I have to say I didn’t see the funny side at the time but looking back it was really funny, I certainly took some stick for that but hey, it’s your ma, what can you do.

The other story was during the build up we went to Seville to meet with the UEFA delegation and the local police and organising committee, it was myself, Ronnie Hawthorn and Rhona MacDonald.  During the pre match meeting I was informed of our ticket allocation which I think was about 15,000 and was asked how many would come, I replied about 50,000, the people asked me to repeat and when I did they thought it was a mistake and asked me to write down the number.  When I did they said, you must say no, you must tell fans not to travel if they do not have a ticket.  We explained that was standard procedure but it would make no difference.  The people were bemused they could not understand why so many people would come, I can only imagine what they must have thought when they seen the number that actually did travel. 

Another story which people won’t be aware of is how close we came to not receiving tickets until the week of the match.  Due to the value of the tickets no couriers would deliver them, on the Monday two weeks prior to the Final we received notification from the organising committee that our tickets were awaiting uplift and we must do so in person.  It was a bank holiday and I was in a restaurant with my family, I received a phone call, it was Ronnie in a panic, there was a flight leaving for Heathrow in 2 hours and I needed to be on it, if I had missed it we couldn’t get another with a connection for a week.  So, I had to leave the family, head home pack a bag and be at Glasgow airport in an hour, I would then travel to Heathrow, book into a hotel, catch a flight to Madrid at 6am and then a further flight to Seville.  On arrival at Seville, I was met by a man with a two huge boxes, they were in hold all bags, he passed them to me and left, I did an about turn and then caught a flight back to Madrid, then back to Heathrow and finally back to Glasgow where I went straight to the office with what felt like the Holy Grail.  Had I missed that flight we wouldn’t have got the tickets until the Tuesday prior to the match, I can only imagine how much worse that would have made things, if in fact it could have been worse

 Come the day of the match anyone who was there will know that getting a telephone signal was impossible, we made our way to the stadium with club guests and sponsors, I had three tickets which had to be given out at the stadium but as communication was impossible panic began to grip me, it was now less than an hour to kick off and I was outside waiting.  Eventually and almost in tears I decided it was going to be impossible to get these tickets to their intended recipients, I made my way into the stadium.  There was a perimeter fence which you had to get through and from there you passed through the turnstiles, as I made my way to the turnstiles I saw a young lad running towards me his face was pure panic, he had made it through the first fence but was being pursued by police, he had no ticket.  As he reached me, he begged can you help me, as the police approached I produced one of the three I was holding and said, no problem, the police backed off and the boy got his ticket for the face value  of the ticket, 30 Euro I think, he thanked me and disappeared, I’ve no idea who he was.  As I made my way further round I was stopped by another supporter, the guy knew me, he was with his elderly father.  They had made it this far without tickets but like the young lad before them the road in to the stadium was blocked, no tickets.  I produced the last two and saw them in to the stadium, that was it, my job was done I could now enjoy the biggest match I ever saw Celtic play in, sadly it was to end in disappointment but I’ll never forget those few weeks.

It has to be said for every five people who like you, one will hate you, all because of tickets it seems, why is that?

 I think that’s just the nature of the job I did, when you are in a position to dispense a rare commodity you will be held in high regard by those who benefit but equally you will be held in disdain by those who didn’t.  The key was to ensure you worked to a stated procedure to protect yourself but its understandable that when you can’t satisfy demand people will hold you personally responsible, it’s just the way life is.

It has been said that probably your most manic week ever was Rangers, Liverpool, Rangers, Liverpool in March 2003, true?

 Yes that was crazy; we had two Liverpool and two Rangers matches in just over ten days.  In many ways it’s a similar situation to the one which Rangers find themselves in at the moment, with back to back Old Firm games in between two European games, one being a league cup final.  One thing which really helped at the time was I did an interview with Not the View to explain how the tickets for Anfield were being allocated, I gave them it all open book, down to the last ticket.  Once that had been done there was complete transparency and everyone sort of backed off, we got very little grief for tickets for that match but overall the demand during that short period was pretty intense.

Its worth highlighting that a lot of work goes on in the background in terms of the setting up of events, so when the team qualified for the next round of the European campaign in order to be on sale the next day we needed to have a team of people work through the night setting the event up on the system.  In addition not everyone can manage to Celtic Park to buy their ticket so again we had a team working round the clock printing and fulfilling envelopes ready for the mail the next day.

It was for these reasons I sought to partner with Ticketmaster to provide us with a greater capacity to handle our incoming bookings and set up the online booking facility, I believe that partnership has continued and proven to be very successful in helping cope with the demand for tickets during successful periods

Can you describe a typical pre season in the Ticket Office?

 Pre season is a hectic time, naturally you have the Season Ticket renewal campaign going on with intense pressure to sell as many tickets as possible, you have the sales side, the relocation process, the reconciliation aspect, the marketing of the product and the resourcing, a whole host of different constituent parts make up the whole campaign.  You also had the setting up of the away ticket registration for the new season, the pre season fixtures at home and away so you had to be on your toes constantly.

A lot of people think it’s an easy summer as there is no football going on but it’s by far the busiest time of the year and if you qualified for the Champions League, which the team did often then there was no real respite until the back end of then year, it was extremely demanding

You left the Ticket Office for a new role but left the club in May 2008, was it the right time to go do you think?

 I think so yes.  I had been at the Club for almost 15 years and had seen a lot of great times, I had been treated very well, my role allowed me extensive travel throughout Europe and I was privileged to travel with the first team on many memorable occasions.  I had managed a variety of campaigns including a European Final and set up the partnership with external partners to facilitate sales and provide additional channels.  I felt that there wasn’t much more I could achieve in that particular role and I began to find it all very mundane.  I’m ambitious and it appeared to me at that time that there weren’t any great opportunities for me to progress my career at the Club so I elected to look elsewhere.  That may seem strange but in the end up you can’t kid yourself you’re enjoying something if you aren’t no matter whether it’s Celtic or anywhere else.

Unfortunately for me the role I moved to proved not to be what I had expected, I’m sure there are a number of reasons for that, I think I struggled to settle, after such a long time in one place its difficult to start again, it takes time to adjust.  Fortunately I did settle into a new role with a different Company and am very happy with the way things have turned out

What do you do to relax?

 Watch and play football, go to the gym, watch TV, read and listen to music, same as most folk I guess

What’s your favourite film, band, holiday destination?

Favourite Film would change from day to day but possibly Alfie, the original with Michael Caine

Favourite band would also change on a regular basis but right now it’s probably Fleet Foxes

Favourite Holiday destination is South of France

As a supporter, what do you think of the on-going madness in recent times?

I think that the media have to take a huge share of responsibility in everything that’s gone on this season.  It should be pointed out that at no time have Celtic called anyone cheats or accused anyone of bias.  This all came about as a result of a referee telling a lie to the Celtic manager.  Celtic quite rightly made their feelings known in the same way that any Club in world football would have done.  The media then turned on Celtic and the Club were made out to be the bad guys for asking for the matter to handled in the same way that any disciplinary matter would be, Celtic did nothing wrong.

In relation to the recent issues, I think the Scottish Cup replay antics were completely blown out of proportion, when you consider what happened in Milan a few weeks back, which was far worse.  Again the sensationalism of events as portrayed by the media make it look much worse than it was.   I was also very annoyed at how everything was geared towards the ‘Old Firm’ Celtic players behaved perfectly well over the two games yet somehow an image of bad behaviour by both sets of players is projected.

With regards to the Manager, I think it’s sad that he has been demonised in such a way by a large part of Scottish society.  I don’t understand what he has done wrong, why do people appear to dislike him so much?  I hear people on phone in shows talk about Neil Lennon in a way that you would think he had committed some horrible crime; I can’t see what the man has done wrong, sure you may disagree with players and managers of other Clubs but there is a vitriol reserved for Neil Lennon which doesn’t exist with anyone else in the Scottish game.  I can only hope that whole aspect settles down in order that we can get back to football and a healthy sporting rivalry

Finally, do you miss the job?

I miss parts of it, it is a very difficult and demanding job but I did have some great times, some real highs but also some huge lows.  I think when you have been part of something for such a long time it’s difficult to feel indifferent to it.  I don’t miss the grief that comes around during successful periods and big matches but I miss the involvement and being part of a decision making process at such a major institution.  I am however very happy and settled with life at the moment, I work for a great Company with great people; it’s a new industry for me so I’m learning a lot.  I have a great work life balance and I enjoy going along to the match on a Saturday as a regular fan without all the stresses of queues, turnstile failures, segregation worries, duplicate tickets, lost tickets, restricted view seating, seats that don’t exist, fans scared of heights, relocations, angry fans……..

Er, no I don’t think I do!!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

What a Waster

Yet another campaign from the demented minds of Follow Follow ends with them all looking like bigots. Come to think of it, it started like that as well. After one bigot made up stuff about his wife being a lip-reader and that Neil Lennon had racially abused The Sewer Rat, they went into overdrive, the usual suspects, we all know who they are, and before you could say "Vile Hun", the police were inundated with complaints of a hate crime against The Sewer Rat. All was going swimmingly, the likes of Graham Speirs were happy to go along with it on Twitter(that not a hate crime right there?),  until two things happened that they just never saw coming, can't blame them for that given the blinkers they wear. The first was Paul McBride QC promised to go after the people behind this campign to demonise Neil Lennon, squeaky bum time for Big Mark and Wee Sandy. Then, just as they were flushing again, The Sewer Rat admitted he wasn't racially abused. Oh dear, how to end a campaign eh?

Now, we are all used to the sick minds of Follow Follow, there's no surprise there. The recent new feature has been Graham Speirs return to the dark side. See Old Speirsy, we thought, was on a moral crusade to to rid the huns of their bigotry. Or so we thought. The reality was different, he's fallen out with his hero David Murray, he could no longer be trusted to be a Lapdog so poor Graham was cast aside, sniggered at by new pups Jackson and Leckie. He didn't take this lying down, like he used to, he wrote a book, dressed up as a study of Paul Le Guen, but in reality just a load of shots at Murray. Oh gosh Graham. Once Murray himself was cast aside by Donald Muir, Martin Bain had an idea from his sunbed, let's get Graham back onside. So he went to see Walter Myth and told him "Hey Dad, you're doing a book aren't you?, why not get Big Graham to do it, he's really one of us you know", So Mr Myth said "Yes son" and the die was cast.

Graham then remembered what he is, a diehard hun, and set about appeasing the mass hordes of non-humanity by talking non-stop bollocks about Neil Lennon, safe in the knowledge that his chum Walter would sail off into the sunset, Treble secured, and Graham would be back in the bosom of his brethren.

Well guess what Mark, Sandy, Martin, Walter and Graham? You fucked that one right up.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Let the huns win everything

Not a sentence I ever saw myself writing but the only way this madness will ever end. The implosion that should have happened two years ago down Ibrox way is finally happening now, on and off the park, and of course when that happens, you know the high profile Fenians will cop it. None more so than Neil Lennon. I'm fed up of arguing against these morons, they hate us, they hate Neil Lennon and that will never ever change. Neil is their bogeyman, his arrival as a player at Celtic coincided with an upturn in our fortunes, his taking of the captaincy saw him lift trophies for fun, coming back as a coach saw us snatch the league in 2008 and his stint as manager has seen the best football at Celtic Park for seven years. They have tried anything and everything to get rid of him, assaults, death threats, bullets, graffiti, abuse, you name it, they'll do it. Then the media will ignore it. We even had Dickie Gough wheeled out claim he brings it all on himself. This is a man who shat all over his three countries, played with the likes of Goram and Gazza and tried to go toe to toe with a Scotland manager, he's telling Neil Lennon that he brings it all on himself? The "Whaes like us" garbage that some Scots believe has been replaced by one of the most polarised countries on the planet, if indeed it ever did exist and still the media sit silent. Fanatical huns like Keith Jackson and Graham Speirs have gone into overdrive to tell Neil Lennon how to behave and act. Listen guys, see if you ever achieve anything like the success Neil Lennon has, then you can have an opinion on his behaviour. Until then, shut the fuck up about him and do your job.

See, that's why I said the thing about letting the huns win everything, because the real way for this madness to end is a media who can do their job (see Mac Giolla Bhain, Phil) and an admission from the huns that they have a serious problem with racism, sectarianism and a huge superiority complex. There is as much chance of that happening as there is of Martin Bain being asked to go on Mastermind, so until then the campaign to demonise Neil Lennon will go on, hand in hand with the desperation to let Walter Myth win something before he gets put down.

Well, we've got news for you, we're not taking it on the chin now.