I was 19 when Celts for Change formed in 1993. I'd seen the seeds at the SECC in 1991 when, at a rally that was about supporters clubs getting less tickets, became an all out attack on the board. Previous to that there was a Save our Celts meeting which was well-meaning but, bizarrely, by invitation only. The first Celts for Change meeting I attended was in Candleriggs in Glasgow. It was the first time I saw Brendan Sweeney (now a great pal) and he said something that confused me that night. In the midst of talking about their position, Brendan said "This isn't a battle for comfy seats" I hadn't a clue what he meant. At that point I'd maybe sat down at Ibrox and Pittodrie but none of the seats were that comfy. Matt McGlone, also there that night, repeated this phrase in his brilliant book, Emotionally Celtic, when meeting with the Celtic Supporters Assoc. and he told one of them the same thing Brendan had said that night and the CSA guy had exploded,
Of course, I get it now.
I don't know what the current CSA position is, I'm not aware of any statements made (By any of the supporters assoc. actually) so I don't know where they stand (or sit for that matter) but I do know this the end. For me anyway.
People who know me regard me as a fervent Celtic supporter. Some folk I know see Celtic winning or losing and immediately think of me. Often people will ask me questions about Celtic as if it's me making the decisions at the club. (I once was chastised in Nairn for not doing enough for supporters who travel great distances to watch Celtic) Yet, lately, some people, ones I know and some I don't, have been telling me I am not a supporter. I've been told to "Fuck off and support Man City" I've been slaughtered for sharing Green Brigade statements (without comment) and I've had numerous folk telling me "nobody speaks for me" when I, nor the Green Brigade for that matter, have ever claimed to do so.
This weekend I was in conversation, separately, with two Celtic employees. Essentially we were supporters bemoaning the state of the club but within these conversations, both asked me to look out for my own health. It was only when I scrolled back that I realised what they meant. The anger pouring out of me was akin to a lava spewing Volcano.
My wife has been ready to strangle me for ages too. She's a Celtic supporter as well but, bizarrely, doesn't feel the need to argue about it on the internet 24 hours a day. (The look she gives me now when I reach for my phone is akin to the one Phil Leotardo gave in pretty much every episode he was in of The Sopranos) and now I spend the time when I am not arguing on the internet, well, arguing with her.
I'm not a special supporter, my views are no more valid than anyone else's and I know there are millions who feel it like I do. I would never, as James Sanderson would berate folk for, flash my credentials at you, Defeats I can handle, bullshit from the board I am well used to but the fences and police presence this week was a line in the sand for me. No one will ever convince me they are justified (although plenty have tried) and, in all honesty, what has saddened me more is the glee that some have espoused at the club taking action against the protestors.
If you are like that, I have nothing in common with you.
The vitriol going round now, for me, is unprecedented. I've had my fair share of abuse and threats over the years. This stuff is different. Daily, I see Celtic supporters slaughtering Celtic supporters. Really awful and hateful stuff. I wonder why. What brings someone to abuse folk to the point of dehumanisation just because they have a different point of view to them? I've seen it from both sides and the very fact there are two sides is where the problem is really.
This fight, and it absolutely is a fight for Celtic's soul, is about the betterment of Celtic. I could sit here now and tell you why certain people hold certain views but it would serve no purpose but to divide more. My view is clear, I want Celtic to do well always and don't believe the people trusted with that just now are up to that job.
There's nothing really I can add to that.
I'll let you into a secret that I have been telling my circle for about five years. This season will be my last as a season ticket holder. I've been one since 1990 (save for 1993/94 for obvious reasons) and I held the belief that after clinching 10 in a row, there would be nothing left for me to see and it would be time to pass the baton on to someone else. (That doesn't mean I stop being a supporter or that I will never be at any games)
Bizarrely (I've used that word far too much in this blog) I now feel more drawn to the club now in adversity and will probably get a season ticket again.
Just not under this regime.
I've never had a comfy seat (I've been to corporate hospitality three times in my life-One I won and two I paid for) and have no interest in acquiring one.
All I want for Christmas is a happy and united Celtic support, with a winning team on the park.
That's my wish, is it really that different from yours?