Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dublin Up

Let's face it, the Dublin Super Cup was badly organised, overpriced, and almost a  waste of time(hey, we did win eventually). I am very uncomfortable with the SPL playing and we are not, folk say that is not our fault, but aren't we supposed to be running Scottish football now? There are lots of reasons why we are in Dublin but the main one is the incessant need Peter Lawwell has to boost the bottom line. Let's be clear here, no amount of "prestigous" friendlies will ever boost our transfer kitty. If you think they will, then I ask you this, where is our £5m a year from Nike? This type of money helps keep the bonuses of the directors in line, nothing more. How anyone can say these two games in any way prepares us for the SPL is beyond me. The organisers were hoping that Man City would have hoovered up the world's best players and that thousands would have flocked to see them whilst of course they would have came from all over Ireland to see Celtic, right....wrong.

Ireland was given another 7.5bn Euro bail out the other week, the country is on it's knees at the minute and if anyone seriously expects folk to be able to drop everything for a weekend in one of the most expensive cities in Europe, they really need to wonder if they are in the right job. The world economy is changing, the money is in Australia, Brazil, China, developing a new type of economy, you know, one which gives you something for your money or in other words "A capitalists nightmare" Also, on the subject of daft friendlies, It's not like there was any precedent set at recent international tournaments in Ireland or anything.

The mindset at Celtic right now is very New Labour under Blair, lots of spin, very little substance. Peter Lawwell is full of himself, I'd say "at the moment" but anyone who has dealt with him will know he genuinely believes he's a master of the universe, because of his SFA appointment, despite the fact he has overseen the worst Celtic era since the mid 90s. Therein lies the problem, on paper a Dublin Supercup sounds great, the reality though is very different and that is the lesson we must learn in the next month or we still going to wondering how much substance there will be at Celtic next season. My view is not much, quite simply our buy off from the SFA was a Peter Lawwell career move, where he assumed, like the Dublin Supercup organisers, this will look great, this will be great, the fans will love it.

Problem is Peter, like the Dublin Supercup itself, the fans are asking "What good is this to us?"

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ordinary People

I was kind of glad today happened. There has some amount of utter rubbish spouted this week since we won at Easter Road. The assumption that we will walk away with the league is based on nothing more than fanciful delusion from a support who really need to wake up to the reality of our own situation instead this ridiculous obsession with what goes on at Ibrox. Because let's be clear here, if the last three years has taught us anything it is that no matter what happens at Ibrox, they are still capable of being better than us. If that doesn't make your blood curdle, you're reading the wrong blog. We have a squad full of ordinary players who two good ones and a couple of decent ones sprinkled around. This was proved by today where we looked ordinary against 10 men a month behind us in fitness. Think on Lawwell.

When John Collins saved my life.

I have been inundated(one person) with requests to blog a tale in 1994 when I attended Ibrox for a Celtic game. Nothing too interesting there except of course Celtic fans were banned from Ibrox. 19 years old and mental, I acquired a ticket for the main stand and took the train through from Edinburgh then got the underground out to Ibrox. As I walked past the Stadium Bar(hun cesspit) I saw Big Gordon, he of the famous "Hats, Scarves, Badges and Tapes" shout. He saw me and gave me a look like "What the fuck are you doing here?" I had a very brief chat with him in which he offered me a huns scarf to carry. Thanks but no thanks. I walked round to the main stand and pretended to watch an amateur game on the astro turf opposite. I turned round to see where I'd be going in and, to my horror, heard, loud as anything, "What the fuck are you doing here?". It was a hun from Edinburgh I knew, Deek, who was as shocked as I was. I moved closer to him and his two mates who eyed me suspiciously as I desperately tried to move the conversation away from my presence there. It was no good so I left them sharpish and went over to the ground, into the turnstile and took my seat in the rickety old seats in the centre of the main stand. My arse had just touched the wood, steady, when I heard "That's the cunt I was telling you about" no, surely not me? Before I could gather my thoughts, an immense booing started, FFS had everyone sussed me, no it was a plane with a banner that said "Hail Hail The Celts Are Here". It made me feel good for about three seconds as the hun team came out and I got one mighty boot in the back of the head, followed by a series of punches. As quickly as they started, they stopped. A policeman saw , came up, said he watching me and that was it. For the next 20 odd minutes, every time the crowd got up, I got leathered. To the point where I became immune to it. So much so that when Celtic got a free kick at the huns end I lurched forward to see it better knowing full well a thousand eyes were on me. As John Collins stepped up, with Predators on, and swung the ball right into the top corner I could not control myself and leapt up. Just previous to the goal, the huns behind me, taking a break for kicking my head in, said to his mate "I bet this Polish Cunt scores here", I turned, after leaping up and cheering, and said "I bet his disnae!!!!!". I was set upon quickly but then dragged out by the Police. Before I knew it, I was outside and wondering what to do. Then the three main guys who had been leathering me also were thrown out. FFS. They chased me and I ran but was in agony, in my head I calculated "three of them, one was massive and fat, other two normal size" in front of me I saw a scaffolding poll and thought "Fuck it", the fat guy would never catch me, I was going to smack both of these hun bastards. As I turned one last time, the fat guy had overtaken the other two! I kept running, and jumped a taxi on Copland Road, telling the driver London Road. He saw my pursuers but didn't really care, it is Glasgow remember. Afte two minutes he said to me "See those Fenian bastards have scored eh?" I looked in his mirroor, realising the mess my face was in for the first time and said "I know mate, that's why I got thrown out" It took him a few seconds to tipple before he screamed "Ya bastard, I've just saved your life!!!"

Naw mate, John Collins did.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

All off to Dublin in the green...except me.

It seems everyone I follow on Twitter is off to Dublin for the weekend. The last weekend trip I did for football was to The Emirates Tournament with my son James and I've got to say, I'd give my right ball(I've got two kids already) to be going to Dublin this weekend. There's something great about watching Celtic in Ireland, maybe it's the friendly pubs, the history, the romance of it all or the chance to wind up Irish folk who follow English teams (No, I don't get it either) but it something that every Celtic supporter should try to do at least once. I've been two see us in two European Cup ties in Ireland, numerous friendlies and the odd testimonial as well. I'll state clearly now, I was paraletic at all of them.

Loads of great, if hazed memories, from Big Mooney screaming "Whae's gonnie stoap us now" as we, finally, hit a second goal against St Patrick's Athletic, to being told to "keep it low" in Cassidys Bar after major rebel sing song and everyone sitting down on the floor and keeping the singing going. Leaving from Edinburgh for those games, it's was always a 45 minute Aer Lingus flight and you were there, one can of Guinness as a freebie, which I'm sure is now long gone. I've also been to two AICSC dinner dances at the City West which, if you ever get the chance to go to, pack an extra Liver just in case.

It wasn't always drink-fuelled, well it was, but I did go to Kilmainham Gaol and the Garden of Rememberance too, not to mention to see the statue of Big Jim Larkin on O'Connell Street, not far from the bullet holes in the G.P.O.

Everyone going, have the best craic ever, I'm away for a greet and a pint of the black stuff.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Celtic Universe

I'm a watcher. Not like Tommy Sheridan but I do like to observe a lot. In the last weeks there is a movement going on online amongst the Celtic Media. Shows like @BTWCelticShow, @HomeBhoys and @OAONews are interlinking more with each other, solving each others problems and yet still retaining their own individual uniqueness. I said a few days ago that I just have no need to read online papers in Scotland, listen to the hun phone ins and so on, it's all old, stale and, frankly, boring. You can tell all these guys on our(Celtic) shows are sort of feeling their way around what they are doing at the minute, again not like Tommy Sheridan, yet are still producing quality output and essential listening.(In fact @Harper1888 "Hun" rant on HomeBhoys last week had my heart leaping out my chest)The only complaint I had, and it's very minor, was that it was hard to keep up with them all in terms of when they'd be on, what time etc.

Not anymore.

Like a cold pint on a warm day, along comes The Celtic Network ( and @celticnetwork) and what has clearly happened here is the webmasters have taken the time to figure out what was needed for The Celtic Family online and bhoy have they delivered. This is everything the official Celtic website should be. And then some. The work that has gone into it, not to mention the talent that has been displayed, is absolutely phenomenal and already they have set the Celtic online community alight.

We are slowly taking over the media and, frankly, I fucking love it. In fact, another time my heart leapt out my chest was when this new blog appeared done by the fantastic @lauren_mcclos. A complete breath of fresh air and a writing style that you just warm to immediately.

I urge you to not take my word for it  on any of these and go see for yourself.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sing me an old fashioned song

There is clearly an, if you'll pardon the pun, amped up, campaign against the songs some Celtic supporters sing at the minute. For their own reasons, there are a section of people who cannot take hearing the word "IRA" in any song unless the words "FUCK" and "THE" come before it. This is not a new thing but there is definite upsurge in people who are offended by it or maybe just an upsurge in outlets they can let you know on.

I don't proclaim to have the answers to this debate, in all honesty I'm sick to the back teeth of it, but I do have some opinions on it. Up until I moved to America in 2006, I didn't miss a Celtic game in 19 years, Falkirk at home in May 1987 to be precise, and before that none since 1983 when I was first allowed to go to Ibrox. I am a Republican and always will be. I'm not going to attempt to try and "flash yer credentials" as James Sanderson would have said, I don't need to justify myself to anyone bar her indoors and I struggle to do that so would have no chance with you all, but I feel qualified enough to have some opinions.

First off, standing half cut at a fitba match chanting "Ooh-Ahh Up The Ra" is offensive. It's offensive to anyone who has ever been involved with or contributed to The Republican Movement. The struggle was about lots of things but retaining a measure of respect was always a huge part of that. Now I've met a few people in The Republican Movement over the years, guys, like Gerry Kelly for example, who have forgot more about it than any of us know and guys like Jim Slaven who has been furthering and promoting The Republican cause in Scotland for the last 25 years at least. On the numerous marches Jim has organised, rule no1 was always to weed out drunk idiots and stop them from embarrassing us. As a Celtic support, we should take note.

It has to be said though that every support has idiots, every one of us has stood or sat beside someone and thought "Aw naw" and the vast majority of us have probably been the other guy too. I've been to a few games in England and heard disasters being mocked, Gas chambers being sung about and dead kids laughed at, in Glasgow there is no monopoly on offensiveness.

The Provisional IRA are of course long gone now, I know that will shock some people who they are still fighting but they are now actually governing in the north of Ireland and people in Scotland need to stop fighting in their heads. That said, songs like The Boys of The Old Brigade and  Let The People Sing wonderful songs about freedom and strength in the face of oppression and, quite frankly, if they offend people who are offended by our existence alone, then they can Pogue Mahone.

We need to be sensible here and not give our enemies an in, chanting Up The Ra after a few bevvies in a stadium doesn't do anyone any good, and I've done it many times in the past, but we are fortunate in that now we don't just have an away support at Celtic, we have movement because when you're in a bar in some remote location at the crack of dawn and you see that kind of thing (pictured) happening, your heart is leaping out of your chest and don't let anyone tell you different.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Outside it's America, inside it's....

A lot of you will be aware of the ongoing situation in the summer in North America in terms of the Celtic games being shown. A brief background to the story is that more and more clubs were making the NAFCSC aware that they simply could not afford the Premium Sports prices for this season as they were being raised. Then the Kearny CSC had made the NAFCSC aware at the AGM in Las Vegas that they had made a deal with Celtic and were going with Channel 67 this season. Within days it was clear that things had changed massively and Premium Sports were told that the deal with the NAFCSC was over and everyone would be going with Channel 67. There was some toing and froing, and lot of pertinent questions asked, not to mention a lot of worry about prices, would fans come to clubs to watch Channel 67 and would this lead to the end of the NAFCSC? As a huge supporter of the NAFCSC and the clubs therein, I was very worried that all the hard work and effort that has gone in in the last 16 years was all going to be lost.

So today there was a free trial, Channel 67 gave all clubs a password to see the service they would be asked to pay for game by game. It was worrying day for Celtic, the NAFCSC, Tony Hamilton and everyone who runs clubs, not to mention all the members of them. If this did not work, what then?

I couldn't sleep much last night, I hate these early KO's on a Sunday at the best of times and with the added pressure of it being the first game of the season, a must win and quite possibly the last time I ever visited my club if this all fell through, I was out the house at 6.15am and walking deserted, but boiling streets hoping for a good day. On arriving at the club, pretty early, it can be a strange experience if you arrive first, it's just you and a barman, it's early morning, you probably won't drink, although on special occasions you will and there is a kind of eerieness to it that can be a bit surreal. The first worry is always "will the feed be good?" then you're worried if it will fuck up at any point in the game as well, of course, also worrying about how the team do. That's a lot of stress for 7.30am on  a Sunday morning FFS! More people flooded in and the picture came up, a pre show, and then the game.

So the question everyone must asking is, did it work? You know something, it pretty much did. With a brief blackout apart, and a few minor complaints at the start about audio being ahead of the action, it was not too bad at all and plenty people must have breathed a sigh of relief. It's not easy supporting Celtic in America, the hassle you have to go through just to see a game, but with a possible, fruitful relationship between the North American CSC's and Channel 67 on the horizon, things could well turn out the way today did for us, a win-win.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

James Connolly-Enough of a man without the myth

James Connolly is my hero. The only person on the planet that even comes close to inspiring me as much as he does is Malcolm X. An often repeated story is how James Connolly was a ball boy at Easter Road. In fact, as his wont it seems, Hibs Historian Alan Lugton, goes further

“As a twelve year old barefoot street urchin James Connolly would carry the player’s kits down to Easter Road for them which ensured him of a sixpence and free admission to the match, and he carried out hundreds of odd jobs at the ground”.

He then goes on to say that James Connolly was at the formation of Hibs? Really? A 10 year old boy was there?  At a time when children were seen and not heard? Sent down mines and up chimneys, a 10 year old boy was at the formation of a football club? I don't think so. Quite frankly, in 1875, how aware of football do you really think a 10 year old boy was? Given that Hearts had formed a year before but hadn't played a game, I'm going to say not that aware.

Lugton goes on to state that Connolly went on to visit Easter Road on numeous occasions before his death in 1916. Really? He emigrated to America in 1902, clearly inspired by Hibs Scottish Cup win before returning, not to Scotland, but to Ireland in 1907 where he remained until his death.

Previous to that he got married in 1889, formed the The Socialist Movement in Edinburgh in 1890 before leaving for Ireland in 1896.

To suggest James Connolly was a "fanatical" Hibs fan is patent nonsense and how do we know this for sure? Connolly would never have supported anything which discriminated against anyone, something Hibs did throughout the entire time Connolly lived in Edinburgh.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Voices of Celtic

A growing community within the Celtic Family is the more and more people who are doing their own podcasts and radio shows. There are loads out there now so apologies to anyone I haven't listened to yet. The obvious start is the LostBhoys( With 48,000 downloads a month, a lot of the voices will be as familiar to you as your own family. Anchored expertly by Chris McGuigan, you can find lots of fantastic guests on here as well as various rants mostly from Jamie who is relatively new to the Celtic Family and I have to admit he has driven me nuts at times with some of his opinions but I've realised in the last few weeks that I am kindae warming to him, guilty pleasure probably.

Another huge favourite of mine is the Celtic Underground podcast (, Eddie Pearson has a unique style that moaning faced bassas like myself instantly relate to. I also love the fact that he never gets caught on the hop when the interviewee changes subject quickly. Another that has great guests but I actually enjoy it more when the likes of Harry Brady and Michael Dolan are on. Like Jamie from LostBhoys, I always like a non Scottish voice talking Celtic with passion.

Beyond The Waves is a recent addition to our airwaves. Based in North America and hosted by Graham Wilson, it's a phone in show with lots of opinions and some of the best impressions since, eh, Mike Yarwood. The Rev and Jim McGuigan are regulars on here and it can be heard through Spreaker format, normally about 6pm CPT on a Saturday.

The HomeBhoys are also on the same format, with Harper and Joe hosting. Anyone on Twitter will know these guys and they are a bit like Stuart Cosgrove and Tam Cowan. Except funny.

Finally there is OAO with Housey. If you like a wee bit madness mixed in with a few rebels and some superb banter, this is your show. His pre match shows from hotels are particularly legendary and towards the end of the season, they were a much needed pick me up.

The point here of course is, like the bloggers who have battered Old Media into submission, these guys are controlling our airwaves more and more and like I always say, don't hate the media, become them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's worth a sore Arse

The Celtic Family on Twitter will be aware of one Stephen Rodgers who is doing the Leadville 100 for the First Descents Charity which helps kids who have suffered or are suffering from Cancer. Between him and his wife Sorina, they have raised a staggering $6000, the majority of Stephen's coming from the members of the Global Hoops CSC which he is also a member of. Stephen, or "Tartan Heed" as he is known in certain circles, has been pounding the road for years now, boring us all to death with his tales of going up hills, coming down hills, going up hills and that's just on a Saturday night.

The Leadville 100 is one of the toughest cycle races in the world, with Lance Armstrong often competing, which gives you an idea of how tough it actually is. Some would say Stephen does all this because he's under the thumb. I can say now that's totally wrong, he's under the whole hand.

The cast you see is after an injury he sustained at the Las Vegas Convention. I'll not say what happened exactly, just that he asked a Brian McAvoy and Skippy for a donation, Skippy was fine, Brian, well, just watch Casino...

American Green

The pic above is from the last time Celtic visited America, Boston to be precise. No real thought was put into the trip, far less any consideration given to the Bhoys in San Francisco who had organised a convention in the same summer. No, Celtic approached it like they do everything, always the dollars.  Fast forward a year and Celtic completely ignored the Las Vegas Convention, sending no players and claiming the replica, not real mind, Scottish Cup would need to be insured for a small fortune before it would allowed to be taken to Vegas. I think it was Immanuel Kant who said "Bollocks". So here we sit now, on the dawn of a new era. Premium Sports, who used to have the rights to SPL games in North America have decided they don't want it any more. Quite frankly the costs they were charging were killing  a lot of the CSC's anyway. So, after some toing and froing in step Celtic and Channel 67. Now, as Chris McGuigan of the LostBhoys shrewdly pointed out, this was the ideal opporunity for Celtic to get some great PR and give the games to the NAFCSC at cost. As we all know though, Celtic and "great PR" don't go hand in hand and, wothout going into detail, they want money. In all the time I've known about Celtic's involvement in America I've known this, they act like they couldn't care less. They never bring merchandise over, never go near a convention and always rip the fans off with ticket prices. Now in North America no one knows if games will be on in clubs next week. Another great Celtic achievement.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hack Off

Hacking has been the biggest story around for a while now. On Saturday we had a little taste of it here, computer style. We launched our new book last Tuesday to everyone and due to the nature of downloads now, people were commenting on it almost immdediately. We are never going to win a Pulitzer Prize but the comments were nice and sales were steady. When you're promoting a book like this, especially for a cause like the Thai Tims, you need to bang the drum constantly but at the same time not go overboard. So on Saturday evening I was just relaxing in front of the box when Graham Wilson in America contacted me to say had just downloaded the book and there was chinese writing all over it. I was dumbfounded and he at first thought there was a problem with his i-pad. A couple of minutes later I realised it wasn't his i-pad. A few emails, calls and tweets later made it clear, we had been hacked.

Quite simply someone had managed to penetrate the books security, probably on Thursday evening and write some incredibly vile stuff about The Thai Tims. So from Saturday night til Monday afternoon we had to work constantly with the publisher in terms of the security as we try and get the word out to as many folk as possible about what happened, put up with the humiliation of it and wonder if this whole project would end up costing money which, of course, would be the ultimate disaster.

Sunday wasn't the best of days as you can imagine.

Then, what happened was, The Celtic Family started to find out and far from kicking up hell with us, everyone was understanding, and seething for what had happened, and guys like Phil Mac Giolla Bhain for example were adamant that they would be seeking no refund. That's never going to be our call but that also won't surprise anyone who knows Phil. We also have a new PDF available so just DM me @paullarkin74 if you downloaded one of the corrupted versions and I will email you a new one or if you-reorder a book and are seeking a refund, do the same.

The most important thing for us was to get the show back on the road as this not about our egos, it's about getting The Thai Tims to Celtic Park and no one is going to stop that, plus the book is now back on sale.

"We'll never be mastered...."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Riordan Factor

Derek Riordan has left Hibs to sign for Shaanxi Chanba in China. I've heard all the jokes about how many minutes he will last there and so on but, for me, the most interesting aspect of it was this quote from him:

'I've been playing in the SPL for a long time and it's getting a bit boring. I remember sitting on the bench at Hamilton last season and there could only have been about 2,000 punters there. That wasn't great"

Quite frankly if Derek Riordan is bored with the SPL, God help the rest of us. The game in Scotland is dying right now and has been since the petty, vindictive decision by the smaller clubs of the SPL to go with Setanta and consign the game in Scotland to a generation of being a backwater. We were told at the end of last year that change was coming. After meetings and press releases, no change has been made and the game slides further towards oblivion. Most clubs now are sitting panicking about season ticket sales, with very few fans now buying into season ticket plans and the ones who do choosing only to go to home games in the main. It is a terrible culture designed to give clubs a budget every year that could attract the very men who have killed the game in Scotland, the CEO's. Once more we face a season of half empty stadiums and most fans enthusiasm gone by September. Yet still they don't address anything. The fact that this season ticket culture effectively killed off the away supports of every SPL team outside ourselves and the huns seems to not matter a jot to the clubs who couldn't care less about that. Bizarre for men only interested in profit.

In my humble, oft demented, opinion, one of the reasons games are primarily crap in Scotland is the lack of an edge. Whatever else you think of Celtic games at Tynecastle, the fact is, it's now the biggest game in Scotland outside of a Glasgow derby and when all was said and done after the disappointment of last season, what would have made it ten times worse would have been Hearts stopping us win the league(especially when you've written a book about us stopping Hearts winning the league....:-)

We need more fans at games and we need lower prices to get them back. What is better, 8000 fans at £25 or 15,000 fans at £10? 7000 more fans at your game means 7000 more people who may buy a programme, who will be hungry, thirsty, who may actually like it so will spend in the club shop, can it really be that hard to do?

I hope Riordan does well in China, for someone with his obvious talent he has done very little in football and has made a complete mess of his career thus far. With a new daughter and a family life perhaps the fact that he can go in any nightclub in China now won't actually matter to him, then again...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Celebrity Tim

I watched an interview with Noel Gallagher yesterday and as well as being very sharp and very funny, he knows his football. Noel is a big Celtic fan and has been to watch us numerous times and never hides his alliegance to us. Rod Stewart is a one man PR machine for Celtic and talks with a knowledge and understanding of Celtic constantly. I also know for a fact that he gets weekly updates of all goings on at Celtic from the inner sanctum. Billy Connolly made one of the best speeches ever at Celtic in 2006 after we won the league against Hibs where he not only talked about all the greats he'd seen at Celtic Park but also talked about how he was sick of being tagged beside the huns. James McAvoy(pictured) is another proper fan who sees a lot of games in America and is updated by text by pals when he can't. John Higgins is a diehard Tim, very approachable, most people who have watched Celtic in the last 15 years will have seen him somewhere in amongst the diehards or singing along with the rest of us.

I use these examples because I know, no matter what, they will always support Celtic. The reason I bring this up it occured to me yesterday how many folk attached themselves to Celtic in 2003 that you never hear about now? I'm talking about people like Westlife. How many games were they going to private jet too? Did they ever actually make any of them? Travis, I remember Fran Healy waxing lyrical in that season a lot, last heard of in Berlin I don't recall him dodging the rain to get into any games recently? Darren Gough, who sat in front of me in the 2-0 win at Anfield in a Celtic scarf and now claims to be a hun on Talksport!

Not really got a point here, just a weekend ramble.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Celtic Family Jewels

 With Manchester City selling their naming rights for their stadium(aren't they loaded enough?), the spectre of Celtic doing the same has again risen on various messageboards. I am well known for being really irked when our ground is referred to as "Parkheed" (equally irked by someone saying "Rangers and Celtic") so I don't think you'll find it hard to figure out where I stand on this issue. The name of the ground is Celtic Park. The original ground on that site was built by volunteers. Why? Because they cared. I know caring about something so much you want to actually help it get on is becoming such an alien concept but this was 100 odd years ago.

In my opinion there are three things not up for sale at Celtic

1) The name

2) The colours

3) The name of the park

I know there are thousands out there who would sell it for the thought of money. What would we do with that money? Let's be honest, the most we'd get is around £5m a year.  You might think "Wow, that will do me" Well we also get that from Nike and how much difference has that made?

Please God someone somewhere reinforce what Celtic is all about, before it is too late.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When Hibs were good?

Celtic's first real game of the season takes us to Easter Road for a ridiculous early KO on a Sunday. Being from Edinburgh I keep half an eye on Hibs (and a shotgun on Hearts) and when I last lived in Edinburgh I lived a Fraser Forster throw away from Easter Road so knew what was going on. Quite frankly Hibs baffle me these days. I'm 37 now and as long as I have been alive Hibs have been garbage save for a wee flurry in 1991, 2000 and 2007 and none of them even lasted a full season. Their last great team was the early 70's, unfortunate to be up against the best team Scotland has ever seen. I've been going to Easter Road since the late 70s, not just for Celtic games, and have watched a Hibs support evaporate to the point where even most of the Leith and Muirhoose diehards have had enough. Of course they have had their days, and may even have one on July 24th, but they are becoming so few and far between now that they aren't enough to keep fans coming back.

I attended the 2006 semi final against Hearts. I didn't really want to go but my mate was insistent so I sat in a half empty Hibs end as Hearts romped to an easy 4-0 win and their fans revelled in it. Anyone with even the remotest concern for Hibs should have used that day as a wake up call but they didn't and good players were sold to the point now where Hibs look like a bottom six club with a good, if completely atmosphereless, stadium. Whoever sanctioned the decision to increase the capacity to 20,000 at a time where the average attendance barely gets above half of that would be lucky to get an HNC in Business Admin at Telford College.

I've talked before about the rising hatred Celtic face at Easter Road now and put this to a Hibby who put it down to Celtic continually spending more money than Hibs. I'm not sure I buy that if you'll pardon the pun. Quite frankly it's bad enough not winning anything but when you have absolutely no obvious identity who the hell do you hope to attract to your ground? Hibs as a club have long since distanced themselves from their Irish and Catholic roots and more and more their fans(but not at all it has to be said) have too, culminating in this attempt by their fans to cultivate some sort of Leith/Edinburgh/Anti-Glasgow image at a time when Edinburgh has never been so multi-cultural and Leith itself now has a huge and dedicated Polish community. Irvine Welsh has a lot to answer for.

This is not a dig at Hibs, it's a wake up call that none of their fans will heed due to my alliegance. It's time for Hibs to regain what they once were or it won't be long before they become the Leeds of Scotland.

Lost without The Bhoys.

We are just over two weeks away, bizarrely, to the start of the season and it is a season that is as big as any for Celtic in the modern era, probably since we stopped 10 in a row. Dress it up any way you like, the last three years have been drenched in failure. If we had stumbled over the line in 2009, who knows where we would be now but we didn't and it was only from January this year did the first shoots of recovery start to become visible. Whilst the horrific campaign against Neil Lennon, coupled with some extraordinary bias against us, made it almost impossible for us to win the league, on the park what snookered us was December and the run of form then. I don't know what it is about Celtic and December buy we seem to put in some horrific performances in that month. In 2008, we won at Ibrox then but also drew with Hearts at Celtic Park(the game before the McGeady-Strachan bust up) in one of the worsr performances ever seen. 

Fast forward a year and a shocking 2-1 loss at Tynecastle made it virtually impossible for us to win the league and it wasn't even Christmas. Then last season, three home draws in a row, two of which saw leads thrown away at the death, saw us drop the six points that we should have got and put a fairer reflection on last season.

A lot of people have every right to be worried at Celtic right now. There is no doubt that Neil Lennon did bring back the thunder last season and we should have won the treble but we didn't and no signings have the fans excited at the minute. There is also the fact that it was amongst the stupidest decisions ever made by Celtic to send the players to Australia for pre-season. The incessant lust for money at Celtic clouds every decision and karma may well bite them on the arse with the cancellation of Saturday's game in Perth.  Fans now won't be led down the garden path and, if you're a diehard, a new friendly popping up every day is an absolute farce for fans who only want to see their team but get precious little notice to book travel and accom, due to the complete lack of basic organisation by Celtic.

Speaking of which, in North America, no one is quite sure whether games will be seen in clubs next season as it looks like Premium Sports have shot the craw and Channel 67 will take over. There are issues surrounding that of great concern and they are summed up perfectly on Podcast 106 by The LostBhoys. Hearing them gives me hope, I really want Celtic to provide some too.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Nothing Average about Joe.

When you're writing a book, it is impossible to do it on your own and anyone who tells you different is lying. Especially when you are a nobody like me. At very best I might get someone look at me at a Celtic game and say "That's that cunt that wrote book eh?". One time I got a story for my first book, The Football Club, which wasn't really funny or interesting at all. When you're controlling the nub, you can't just put anything in for the sake of it, especially when a charity is involved, as they are the ones who will lose it when cost of production goes up. So I had to tell them, in a letter, it wasn't going to be in. Then, for years later, they would see me at games and just kind of glare at me. Honestly. So when I am selling books, I need all the help I can get so, at the very least, others will be glared at too.

The biggest help and most consistent partner in all my stuff has been Average Joe Miller. Most of you will know Joe as a founder of NTV, something he bizarrely was not credited for on the Official History of Celtic DVD. When I did my first book in 2002, I had Chris "Tonguemeister" McComb doing the cover at first, or so I thought, and whilst Chris did all he could, the real talent behind it was Joe. Of course, I didn't find that out til after it came out, for shame. So from then on, when any new book project is go, the first call is always to Joe.

His covers always have a huge impact and in the world of social media, it is essential you have something that can go viral in case it actually does. You can see other books without that talent and no matter how good the writing is inside it, most won't get past that cover if it's a standard one. I couldn't even attempt to do it either.

The fact that all this comes for the price of just his intake of Guinness a night, or £7000 a week, whatever you prefer, makes things much less complicated.

"Dougie, Dougie"-Rants from the front of the bus is out on Friday.