Saturday, November 25, 2017

Phil

In the melee of games we are in, it is important to remember that the cup final tomorrow isn't just about the game itself. We are approaching the 10th anniversary of the passing of one of our own. I walked out a subway on 53rd street in New York and my phone alerted me to the news that Phil O'Donnell had died. It stopped me in my tracks on a cold afternoon. There was an air of disbelief among the Celtic support, and wider Scottish football community, that this could happen to someone so young and to someone who meant so much to so many.


Phil was one of us.

I've spoken to his close friends who told me that when they went to console Eileen and his family, they felt like wee boys sitting on his couch, not knowing what to say or do. Would anyone know?

I don't want to hover over the sadness any more though, because Phil had a life less ordinary. He scored for Motherwell in a winning cup final when just a teenager, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of signing and playing for Celtic, he played in the English Premier League and he left a mark on all that knew him.

There are many stories of his life and soul nature but when that sticks out is him dancing on a table after Celtic had stopped 10 in a row, with wife Eileen in tow, and promptly falling off much to the amusement of all his watching team mates.


Tomorrow, his son Luc will have the cup and lead the teams out, as he does that, the wish from the family is that the Hampden air is filled with Phil's name so Luc can hear just what his Dad meant to everyone in the ground and beyond.

I think it is the least we all owe him.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Gordon Strachan


I've fallen out of love with international football for a while now. In a general sense, tournaments bore me by the quarter final stage, the faux nationalism annoys me and the widespread corruption by FIFA makes me think I am watching a Mafia court case when taking in certain games.

In terms of Scotland, I was done going to watch them by 1990. That was after going to see Scotland play Poland at Hampden and witnessing incessant abuse of two Polish players who just happened to play for Celtic. I've probably been to six Scotland games since then and the record is lost 5, won 1, with the solitary victory actually coming at Wembley. I think most people reading this will know my views on the SFA as an organisation and I know all about the discrimination and treatment of Celtic players in the past too. I also have absolutely nothing in common with anyone who chooses to go to a football match in a kilt.

With all that being said though, I still want Scotland the team to win when they play. I also went to the pub to watch both the last two Scotland games for the first time in yonks.

Recently on Twitter, I responded cheekily to a tweet by a girl who said something along the lines of "If I ever split up with my boyfriend, I'll never want anyone else" So you can imagine the type of reply and when she saw it she responded "Who hurt you?" My reply to that?

"Probably Gordon Strachan the most"

Now I have met Gordon Strachan loads of times. We grew up on the same street, his parents lived in the same house for years, he returned to my scheme on loads of occasions and I've attended loads of local events he was part of. I also met him a lot of times when he was at Celtic, both at the park and in the area when he would visit his dad at the local golf club.

When he became manager at Celtic, I was having a bad time with my health. I resolved to write a book about his first year at Celtic. Average Joe Miller did a brilliant book cover (Trainspotting type theme) and I even got Adrian Chiles to do the foreword (if you remember back then, he and Gordon were a double act on MOTD2) and off I went to games and press conferences reinvigorated after a health scare.

It was two months later that I completely abandoned the idea.

My thought was that I could write about his first season, throw in some old Muirhouse stories, and finish with the sort of cult book (no typo) that I would end up writing many more of in years to come. Thing was, I had no idea what Gordon Strachan was like at press conferences. I discovered really quickly that he was only interested in engaging with one journalist (Jim Black) and anyone else who asked him a question was always looked at as if they just asked to sleep with his wife.

Over the years at Celtic, it became so bad that by 2008 he used the same golfing analogy ("From tee to green we are fine, it's just the putting that needs work")  8 weeks in a row. Now, I know what you are thinking, I am glossing over his 3 leagues, 1 Scottish Cup and 1 League Cup at Celtic and you are right, they were great. As were some of the Champions League nights where the likes of Milan and Man Utd were beaten.

There are lots of other factors though and I don't just mean Artmedia.

His treatment of Chris Sutton, Alan Thompson, Jackie McNamara and Bobo Balde was a joke. He even blamed Jackie for that reverse in Bratislava despite the fact he had signed for Wolves a month previously.

His football was eye-bleeding at times and resulted in Celtic losing 10,000 season ticket holders whom the media branded bigots because they didn't like Gordon Strachan. I should say at this point, I am speaking for myself here, I know not everyone doesn't like him. I was taken to task on Twitter last week by a son of Tommy Burns for my views on Strachan and I know there is a side to Strachan that he will have seen that very few others do and I appreciate completely his friendship with Tommy. However, you cannot overlook the likes of his petty treatment of Aiden McGeady and the lengths he went to to get him out of Celtic. (Just look at all the "replacements" he signed never mind the singling out for constant abuse)

The problem is, Gordon Strachan is a product of his environment. I've asked a few folk from the area recently and they have all agreed: Pretty much everyone from the area is like Gordon Strachan. In Muirhouse, men of 6ft5 have small-man syndrome and not a genetic problem in sight.

When Gordon took the Scotland job, I did think he was the man for the job. I know he loves coaching and developing players and the lack of week to week press conferences would definitely suit him. Yet, all the old traits came back and another generation was damned. The first campaign was awful. A victory over Ireland at Celtic Park should have made progress fairly straight-forward yet Scotland managed to finish fourth in the group.

At that point, a PR campaign was launched to keep him in the job. His comments had fallen in line with SFA top brass ("We need a strong Rangers") and he was given another crack. Reality being, he lost Scotland the group in the first four games. I don't say that lightly. This was a winnable group with a truly awful England side as top seed. Yet as Brendan Rodgers Celtic tore up Scottish football it seemed that the only one who wasn't watching was Gordon Strachan. Indeed, Griffiths only got a game when Strachan thought he was done for and then the likes of Armstrong and Forrest were suddenly thrown into a Scotland team that thought qualification was as likely as an SFA admittance of being wrong.

Suddenly Scotland were playing well.  Throw in the added bonus of John McGinn playing in the top flight again and Callum McGregor banging them in for Celtic and the future actually started to bright. So bright that Scotland put the play offs in their own hands. So what does he do? Goes back to a tired formation and picks his pals again. Even when the midfield is being overrun and Slovenia have equalised and looking likely to score again? He does nothing. With pacey, in-form players on the bench who can score goals regularly, he opts for none of them and the dream dies once again.

Thing is, I know Gordon Strachan won't give a shit about this blog. I am fan who never played the game professionally so my opinion doesn't count in his eyes. No, because he has the wealth of knowledge provided by Mark McGhee and Calum Davidson so why would us Kestrel drinking, devil dug owning monsters matter?

I don't see where Scotland go now. I fear he stays or, worse, Malky gets the job but whoever it is, just give us back our game, please, Mind you, as long as the SFA exist, I see nothing changing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

PSG epitomise reality



I'm old enough to remember and to have attended the Neuchatal Xamax games in 1991. Liam Brady decided, in his wisdom, to go with a back three in Switzerland that badly exposed a defence that was already shakier than a Frank De Boer coat peg and we were battered 5-1. European football was changing then. We just didn't know it. Most fans expected us to still turn the tie around at Celtic Park, despite a reduced capacity, and hope sprung eternal when we were awarded a first minute penalty. Charlie Nicholas sent the penalty sky high and brought us back down earth with a bang.

Last night was always coming. From 2001, when we first took part in the group stages of the Champions League, every year since the gap has got a little bigger. Barcelona in 2012 was probably our last strong punch in a tournament that now belongs Oil teams and Oligarchs. I was in Dubai in the summer of 2015 and saw first hand the wealth behind a lot of these teams. This isn't a different ball game, this is a different sport.

There was a clamour to buy a centre half before the deadline but in reality who would have made a difference last night? John Stones at 49m? Virgil Van Dijk at 80? This was a team that cost almost a billion euros to assemble. They are about join Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the elite of world football. (Fucking incredible we get two of them in our group) And by elite, I mean they can and will leave everyone else eating their dust, including the chronically boring EPL.

We've have seen Celtic lose six and seven in Barcelona and now five last night to PSG. Whilst it still majorly hurts, there is really very little we can do about it as long as we play in Scotland. That's a reality that every supporter needs to get in check. I'm not advocating a move to the EPL, I'm not for that at all, just trying to meet the new boss, who may well be the same as the old boss, it's just now he  has Emirates or Qatar on his shirt.

I wouldn't want Celtic to sell out to the oil barons. I love our identity, I love our supporters (apart from maybe that one Bam last night) and I love that fact that we have guys like Tony Ralston coming through the ranks and already fighting for the jersey. I guess you could say I'm an idealist or a romantic (or maybe just plain daft) but I think games like last night are the price I need to pay to retain all that.

It was also still better than that night in Switzerland.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Lies, damned lies and The SFA



I've wanted to blog a few times this week but was stopped by those who slaughter "Bloggers" yet claim to hate the MSM. (Sarcasm, come on in) Right now we are getting to the heart of the battle to save Scottish football.

On one side there are the supporters who paid into a rigged game, Celtic FC, The SPFL Board(bar one dope) and a few people within the game who want an inquiry but fear the same treatment that Ally McCoist ensured Eric Drysdale and his family got back in 2012. There's also the sad reality that at least four clubs in the top flight of the SPFL live in hand to mouth and put money above pretty much everything (especially when it comes to spending it)

On the other side is The SFA, The MSM, Sevco, Fans of Rangers(IL) and Sevco, various bigots who run football clubs and all being led by Daryl Broadfoot (Not now officially employed by The SFA but on a retainer from The SFA) who has been tasked with firefighting this thing for The SFA (Probably should mention Chris McLaughlin here who, although banned from Ibrox and not paid by The SFA, is doing his level best to ensure there is no inquiry and is praying for a total whitewash and lifting of his ban from Ibrox)

Let's deal with this nonsense that fans are "sick of all this". You would only be sick of this if you had a vested interest in there not being transparency in Scottish football so who gives a flying fuck what they think? Propping up a corrupt game makes you as culpable as those who corrupt it every day so you can spare us the crocodile tears. I know it is irking certain parts of the media gravy train that this isn't going away but if they had done their job properly, we wouldn't be here now.

I've listened with interest as Daryl Broadfoot has attempted to build his profile again and wondered why? On a good earner from the SFA and part of his new PR company it may seem that he has played a blinder and to a certain extent he has but don't be fooled by his jokey demeanour on Sportsound. He is working every day to ensure no transparency in Scottish football.  And you can be damn sure he has a vested interested in that.

Stewart Regan is a man who just wants this drawn out as long as possible. Of course he is highly culpable in this sham but he is also acutely aware he is in a job with a salary and profile that he will never get anywhere else so the longer this goes on, the happier he is.

And what of Celtic? I've known for a long time that Celtic have been all over this. I've told people this when they have asked me and was usually met with scorn. I can understand the scepticism in the same way that I can understand Celtic not making every utterance public. Celtic, internally, can drive me mad at times but I've said it before and I'll say it again, Celtic want this as much as we all do. They play a long game and try to be measured (sometimes too much in my view) but ultimately the statement on Saturday was clear and concise as to the position.

The question is: So what now? Sadly, I've never believed any fan-led movement will bring the change we want in Scottish football. Because the only thing clubs would act on is a long boycott of their grounds and that's never going to happen. This has to come from within the game and I was delighted to see Celtic vocalise that. This is not a Celtic v Rangers (IL) thing though, This is a justice thing and a few folk would do well to remember that.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Boo Bhoys enjoy the silence



In a climate of continual chat about how you should support Celtic, it was nice to see two of the Boo-Bhoys silence their critics last night. James Forrest and Nir Bitton played massive parts in Celtic's progress into the Champions League play offs. Supporters know, every generation has players who get it in the neck from the fans more than most. In my lifetime I can remember Pierce O'Leary, Paul McGuigan, Derek Whyte, Mike Galloway and Peter Grant, to name but five, who all got it. None of these players were ever going trouble the Ballon D'or judges but all of them gave everything they had.

I was talking on @HomeBhoys on Tuesday about how when players got barracked in a game, this normally ensured greater support for them in the next game (Similarly I always remember fans being even more keen to go on a Saturday after a Wednesday defeat) Many moons ago, The Jungle used to chant the name of every player in the team before a game. It was routine. If I think about it, I can still hear it. Indeed, it was also how you knew the team back then (One Packie Bonner, there's only one Packie Bonner, One Chrissy Morris, Anton, Anton...)

Davie Provan, not brought up in the Celtic tradition, always spoke about how the affinity between the players and fans was what drove the team on (Why else do you think we go the reputation for last minute goals?)

In recent years, Calum McGregor was a target. Ronny Deila said it really affected his game as he got scared. Think about that, a Celtic player scared of his own fans. Nowadays, it's Forrest and Bitton. Some of the comments aimed at Forrest after the first leg against Rosenborg would have seen a ban from Follow Follow never mind be befitting of Celtic supporters whereas the collective gasp on Twitter when Bitton came on was akin to a vaping convention.

Yet, guess what?

Bitton strolled through the game at centre half and Forrest scored a goal so good that it dropped Rob McLean's bitterness to a new level.

The moral of the story is, a lot of us forget, we aren't the coaching staff or judges on some sort of Football Factor, we are supporters and it is time a lot of us remembered that.

Or shut the fuck up.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pipe up Peter

When the draw for the game against Linfield was made, I scanned the usual airlines and looked for a deal. Pretty soon I realised that we were a while away from getting a confirmed date and I just don't have the dough to go for a week or anything like. When Linfield were our confirmed opponents, it became obvious quickly that it was going to be on Friday the 14th. I went on Easyjet and saw a flight to Belfast for £28.99 over, £34.99 back on the Saturday afternoon. Then it dawned on me, we are playing Lyon on the Saturday afternoon. So I hesitated and in that time, it was announced we would not be taking/getting an allocation for Betty Windsor Park.

Hmm.

I know some folk have an image of the stadium and the area surrounding and probably saw good reasoning in this but most of that reasoning doesn't apply. One day I was in Belfast, this was probably four years ago, after a night in Larne. My mate who looks after me in the north, Gary, always takes me wherever I want to go and we decided to go to west Belfast. We did all the usual things, a pint in The Rock, various murals and even had a chat with the Mayor of the time. After visiting a guy in the RVH, we got back in the car and I nodded off for 10 minutes or so. When I woke up, all around me I saw union flags, red, white and blue kerbs and even a U.V.F. mural in the distance. Gary was just parking the car up and I looked at him like any Fenian bastard would having just pulled up into a bastion of Loyalism (Boucher Road to be precise) Now anyone who knows Gary, knows he wears Celtic gear almost everywhere he goes. So there he was, breezing out the car, Celtic tracksuit top on, not a care in the world. And guess what? No one batted an eyelid. This shocked me at the time but Belfast has changed a lot since I started going there in the 90's. Then, you stuck pretty much to places like Ballymurphy, Turf Lodge and Andy Town (sic).  Not that I am suggesting everything is fine now, it never will be as long as the British occupy the six counties, but I saw a lot of comparisons with the time Ireland played at Windsor to qualify for the 1994 World Cup back in late 1993 and, quite frankly, they were ludicrous. When Ireland played there, there was a war on. I can't be any more concise.

It is 2017 now and Ireland is a very different place from 1993. Of course, the sectarian hate-fest provided by the Orange Order still rains over the six counties but then look at the ongoing situation in Palestine and I don't remember anyone saying we shouldn't play there last summer. All this centred on Celtic pre-match. There were suspicions that the club made the choice to not take tickets and this was backed up Linfield and the PSNI (Hold on, I'm getting there) Now, I've never had any dealings with Linfield but there hasn't been a police service in the north of Ireland that has been a bastion of truth and so I'll take anything they say with a pinch of salt. My own sources at Celtic are adamant that the only way they were getting tickets for that away leg was if the tie was switched to Celtic Park first. Brendan Rodgers did not want that. Over-cautious? Think back to a year ago...

There were a couple of operations meetings at Windsor Park that had Celtic officials bewildered. Quite simply, Linfield said one thing and then did another. This is what led to the announcement at Noon on the day of the game that there would be Celtic section for existing ticket holders. Like you, that majorly pissed me off. I could have been there. You could have been there.

Cut to the game itself and as we strolled around the park, bigots threw batteries and bottles. For some reason, the referee deemed that a bookable offence for Leigh Griffiths. You will always get a bonkers/corrupt Ref but are we really going to just accept the one match ban?

The home tie was played last night although you'd barely know it given the coverage since. A banner went up. Some folk didn't like it, others loved it and Celtic put out a statement about it. I won't moralise about it, I would not listen to me if I was an angry young man just as I didn't listen to folk like me when I was an angry young man. I did know though that as soon as it went up, UEFA and Celtic would go ballistic.

I think we all did.

Just as all on Twitter threatened to collectively lose their minds, there was some comic relief although it was about as funny as the actual show. "Celtic Travel" (one guy in an office basically) released a price for a day trip to Trondheim. £489. When I saw it, I felt like a Doctor Who fan who hates women.

Then as encore, Celtic announced we would be charged £25 for the Rosenborg game. This after we watched the bulk of the academy side against Lyon? Come on, eh?

The overriding thing in all of this is, where are our leaders? The SLO appears to be answering for most of the club right now as everyone else seems to have lost their tongue. Nameless statements won't fly these days and neither will the complete lack of communication with a support who are getting restless about the increasing lack of transparency at Celtic.

Peter, it's time to talk to your public.






Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Peeling the Orange


The photo above, I think, pretty much sums up the attitude we face every day from a lot of people in Scotland and the north of Ireland. It's been that way in the 43 years I have been alive and never really changed. After the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, there was talk of a peace dividend that all involved would reap the benefit of.

It never reached Scotland.

This pre-bonfire erection isn't in Scotland (Thank God says Iris Robinson) but you can see the references to Celtic. You all have experienced the attitude that slithers out of that photo and very rarely does anyone outside our own community give a monkey's toss.

The SNP have been in power in Scotland for 10 years now. Yet still orange feet march on our streets with impunity, spreading their hate like butter on warm bread. In a climate of dodgy deals with the DUP and well-known bigots like Richard Cook facilitating campaign funds to them to fund a Brexit campaign, there seems to be a reluctance to tackling this hatred head on.

You could draw a line from West Lothian to Belfast and pretty much take in the home of every bigot in Scotland and Ireland. I've experienced most of them over the last 25 years or so. Even last month I was walking into a cafe with one of my sons and a couple were sitting having a meal outside. As we walked past them, the woman said "Haw Larkin, do you want me to sing The Sash for you?"

The fact that Scott Sinclair is facing this kind of thing on an almost daily basis is not surprising. Especially when you consider the pathetic punishments handed out to the perpetrators of this hate. Quite frankly, you can't even think about an independent Scotland when you have thousands of Orange men and women marching every year and spreading these attitudes that they learn from events like July 12th in the north of Ireland.

That photo at the top of this blog should act as a reminder as to why we have to fight this with everything we have. We are not second-class citizens and we demand equality always.

Otherwise what? We just accept that we can be treated like this? We just accept our place in society as victims?

Fuck that.

These people are awash with bigotry and hatred and they should be exposed always. When the DUP did that dodgy deal with the Tories, the UK MSM woke up to the fact that they were anti-gay and anti-abortion. Nowhere was it said that their whole reason for being was their unadulterated hatred of Catholics.

And as long as all of this goes unchallenged?

You'll always see banners like the above.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Eyes on the prize. 14 to be exact.

The verdict on the Rangers FC (IL) EBT scheme was welcome. Among the melee, let us remember that it was just a part of the financial doping that took place in the entirety of David Murray's regime between 1988-2011.

The one blot of the whole investigation was that it was only focused on 10 years or 14 trophies. It should have taken in the entire Murray era or, at the very least, since 1995 when Paul Gascoigne was the first EBT recipient at Ibrox.

I've seen a few people rush to pat themselves on the back in the last 24 hours. I don't get that (Well, I do really) because the fight just begins now. See, for those of us who actually attended football matches in that era, we were cheated. That's not just Celtic supporters, that is everyone who attended a football match in that era. It's that fact that riles me when I think of the complete apathy from every club in Scotland, outside of Celtic Park. I fear they have calculated this one and thought they don't want to upset the Sevco hordes and risk that blue pound.

This is almost certainly the reason why Scottish "journalists" have flapped around this issue, Jim Spence aside, they see that blue pound disappearing and a pitch fork carrying mob replacing it. Journalism in Scotland is not fit for purpose and it should be treated accordingly.

Celtic always said they would push for a new inquiry into this the minute the courts were done with it and the statement yesterday was very welcome. There still is though a suspicion out there among a lot of fans that Celtic will do as little as they can get away with. This is NOT what has been said behind closed doors but I both share and understand fans scepticism. There is no hiding place for Peter Lawwell on this one.

As fans, we must unite. When I say fans, I'm talking to all you who buy the season tickets, buy the shirts, buy the match day tickets, subscribe to Celtic TV, turn up all hours in your club to watch the games, all of you who support the club, you are due a refund from the game. 

Anyone reading this will know that I call the Murray era The Asterisk Years.

I could use a lot more expletives there.

Friday, June 2, 2017

ABC comes to an end...well the tour anyway.


So we suspend crowd-funding on Armageddon today. This is the link if you want to invest before tonight's deadline www.ls86productions.com/armageddon 

So the 'Anyone but Celtic' tour comes to an end in Las Vegas on Thursday. I had no idea how much this tour would take over my life since the premiere last November.  I was out every Friday and Saturday night from November to May with the occasional Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday thrown in for good measure. My health suffered in this period, I put on a bit weight and my sleeping pattern was all over the place and still really hasn't recovered. In that respect adrenaline helps a lot when actually at gigs. Sometimes I'd be so exhausted that I would have to make a huge effort just to get out of bed to go to a gig.

Yet it's all worth it.

The point of the tour is to get the information out there. The film does a lot of that, the book even more and I hope to fill in any blanks along the way. Of course, it's not always like that. For example, I had my director prep on possible tech questions yet to this day no one has ever asked one. Also, I've had some really funny questions along the way (From "Should I get my Ronny Deila tattoo removed" to "Why don't folk rate Didier Agathe")

The best part of the tour is the people you meet. People seem demonised everywhere now but my experience has been brilliant. I've met more characters than Marvel have, received so much love and warmth and kindness too that it can overwhelm you.

I am also immensely proud of this.


The above can't be done unless you have a lot of people pulling in the same direction. I don't claim credit for it, the credit goes to each and every person who made it happen, further imprinting the Celtic ethos around the world.

This will be my last tour of this kind any time soon. Armageddon is my total focus now and that will see a premiere, book, dvd and stream all released on March 2nd 2018 (Details of the premiere will be released on June 23rd)

In the meantime, I want to say thanks to everyone who has supported me and the tour. I am no one special. I am just a Gadgie who loves Celtic who won't lie down if I see us being cheated.

Enjoy your summer and I'll hopefully see you in Vegas.

Hail Hail
Paul

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Journalism History X

It has been a strange few weeks for those of us who keep half an eye on what goes on within the Scottish mainstream media. First you had Keith Jackson win sports writer of the year for the sixth year in a row. This is the man who brought you "Pressley for Hearts",  "Mackay for Leipzig" and told us all Sevco players were battered in the Scottish Cup Final. They tell us bloggers that we don't get held to the same standards as they do but you know and I know that if I had churned out such pish, so regularly then I would be the one getting battered.

From you.

Then we had the unwelcome return of Daryl Broadfoot to the airwaves on (where else?) Sportsound with the Kenny MacIntyre Glee Club.

The most bizarre news came though with the arrival of a site for "Old Firm Fans". Now, aside from the fact that those not hard of thinking know the "Old Firm" died with Rangers in 2012, there is no such thing as an "Old Firm Fan". Never has been and now there is no opportunity for there ever to be. Which makes news of this new "Scope" platform all the more bizarre. Set up by Graham Ruthven and Stefan Bienkowski, both of whom seem to have all-of-a-sudden developed an enthusiasm for Scottish football, it is the worst kind of media. Ruthven describes himself as a Stirling fan whilst Bienkowski calls himself a "lapsed Celtic fan" so it begs the question, why bother setting this up?

It is a subscription service so the obvious answer is money but what can they provide that folk would pay for? They won't get exclusive access to anything and any time I saw either at a press conference they weren't even asking questions never mind breaking news lines or encouraging interviewees to open up. Yet they are calling their future content "Premium".

Even looking at their online output just now, one seemed totally focused on German football and the other talks of moving to America,

Both like denying Rangers died as well. So perhaps it is yet another attempt to make Sevco relevant.

There is quality fan media all over the place and I know all the Celtic sites and pods that have been on the go for years. They provide top quality content and do not charge a penny.  They do it out of love. They aren't trying to exploit anyone and, most importantly, they live in the real world.

That should be enough scope for you to completely swerve this Newco,

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Anyone but Celtic in Las Vegas-How to buy tickets

http://www.nafcsc.com/ticket-sales

If you click on the link above, it will take you to the page that you can buy tickets for the screening which is one Thursday June 8th at 4pm in the main hall of The Westgate Hotel. Tickets are $10 each.

Afterwards there will be a Q&A with John Fallon and I.

As this is the last screening of the tour, I hope to see as many of you there as possible so we can go out in style.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Scottish Football: An unreal reality

This last week has been a tough one for me, there have been some highs but a few lows too with a little time to take stock. Sitting back and looking at the big picture is often the last thing folk do but often the most important. I wish everyone in Scottish football would do that now and again.

On Saturday, whilst in the Highlands, I learned of Hibs return to the top flight. A club who were badly mismanaged by Rod Petrie, though did stick to the rules, were out the top league far too long and will be a welcome addition. The thing I need to point out here is that whilst we all know they were guided by Neil Lennon, the question is: Why? This is a guy who guided Celtic to three league Championships in a row, a Scottish Cup and the last 16 of the Champions League. So why were Hibs, a Championship club then, the only club in Scotland that were interested in employing him?

Then came Sunday and THAT refereeing decision. As more people have seen and read Anyone but Celtic I have became a bit of "go to" guy regarding referee decisions. Aside from those people who loathe themselves more than anything it seems, folk were going absolutely ballistic and rightly so. I even had folk tell me that Don Robertson is a Celtic fan (Kenny Clark claimed to be too) but all that misses the big picture which is he and his linesman both agreed that a dive, the whole ground seen instantly, was a penalty. This added to the upsurge of ABC decisions as Celtic remain unbeaten and surge towards a treble. Why do we keep putting up with this?

Then tonight we find out that EBT McCann is the new Dundee manager. Where do you begin with that one? We know there is a desperation among some to keep employing EBT recipients (I wonder why...) but this takes it to a whole new level.

I've heard and read folk say it keeps him off our screens and this is a good thing. Who will his wee mate Tanner joust with now though? Tanner was actually on my train home on Sunday (although he sat in first class). As we both got off at Haymarket I knew already that he had tried to justify the Ross County "penalty" on TV so I asked him "How can you try to justify that Ross County 'penalty'?" He looked at me a bit startled and said "Ach, big picture, it doesn't matter does it?"

Sure David, sure.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hiding behind the Rodgers mask

So tickets for the Hydro are sold out then. That doesn't surprise in all honesty. Celtic were aiming at a certain demographic and had them well prepped for today. I said on HomeBhoys on Tuesday that I was completely underwhelmed by the whole event. In all honesty I have been completely underwhelmed by the whole 50th anniversary celebrations where I've seen nothing that wasn't about monetising it. I know there is a bus parade planned for May 28th but that is treble dependent.

I'd have loved to have seen the club put on exhibitions and talks at the park all season. Instead we were offered the chance to pay to see Jim Craig. There is a raft of Lisbon related stuff out there in the hands of serious Celtic collectors (Some of which I have been privileged to see) and I know thousands of fans would love it. (It would even drive them to the park and give them the CHOICE of buying stuff)

I appreciate the fact the club will monetise some stuff and I would like to buy good, quality stuff around the time but I feel we have missed a massive trick this season in not taking the opportunity to really imprint Lisbon in the minds of our younger fans.

The Hydro event is not my cup of tea. I'm a fan of Madchester and Hip-Hop so the musical side of it was never going appeal to a guy like me. I'd hazard an educated guess that it won't to most of the Celtic away support either and therein lies the problem. Communication and knowing your base. I know you are shouting now saying "But it's sold out!" and that's because, as I already said, there is a demographic in the Celtic support that will lap it up and they have but don't tell me this is an event that appeals to all.

There did seem to be a seismic change in thinking this time last year in terms of communicating with the support. A resolution was even passed at the AGM to enshrine forums into the fabric of the club. A little background now, I attended forums from late 2014 until they abruptly stopped with very little achieved. They weren't really forums either, they were Q&A's that occasionally got heated. Some people I spoke to spoke of their intention of changing club policy on certain things. I always chuckled inside at that notion. In all my years of dealing with Celtic, going to meetings and forums, the vast majority of it has been people making points, Celtic nodding their heads and then absolutely nothing happening.

A quick recent example: I knew the Brian Wilson story was coming a few weeks ago. I relayed this to Celtic. Nothing happened. I mentioned this to an employee on the day it broke and was told "You always bring us bad news"

Similarly, I did raise concerns re the Hydro that a certain part of the support was not being represented within the talent on show that night. I was given good reasons for the acts and I really do appreciate it's not easy pulling a line up together but maybe if that had been communicated to the support early, they could have helped?

A lot of things have gone right at Celtic this season and Brendan Rodgers has been responsible for most of them. This cannot mean however that communications go back to the dark ages just because we are winning every week again.

It also should not mean that with the two biggest games of the season coming up, folk who go week in, week out are struggling for tickets. After all, we were told back in October that the ticket system was changing , right? What happened to that then? I know there was resistance to change but has it now been quietly swept under the carpet?

Celtic do get a lot of things right, this is not just a grumpy old man piece, the Celtic Foundation continues to be a beacon of hope, the tributes and support for Tommy Gemmell and Billy McNeill were outstanding and Celtic TV is getting better and better (something I can testify to recently) Brendan's Invincibles continue to please also.

They just need to make sure that the people who stick by the club in the bad times, aren't forgotten in the good.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A tale of two former politicians



It was with great sadness this morning that I received the news of Martin McGuinness passing. I remember reading in a book in the early 90's that "No person was a greater threat to the British state" than Martin McGuinness. All the while he was paving the way for a peace process that could not have worked without his input. A lot of that included things that stuck in the throat of Republicans, none more so than meeting Elizabeth Windsor, but I always got the feeling that Sinn Fein were taking their lead from the A.N.C. handbook. I met him once. January 2000 at the Vol. Tom Williams re-burial in Belfast. What struck me more than most about him was how tall he was (I guess standing next to Gerry Adams for so long would make anyone look small) He put up with numerous threats over the years to keep the process going but always remained calm. The most remarkable feature of his life had to be his friendship with Ian Paisley. This led to one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen in Irish politics, Ian Paisley Jr thanking him for his contribution to Ireland and his friendship to his father. With that statement, I saw a dawn of light on the road to peace and eventual reunification and Martin McGuinness played an enormous role in that.




It was with utter dismay this morning that I read Brian Wilson label half of Scotland bigots. Accusing Nationalists of trying to "sectarianise Scottish politics"  The nonsensical rhetoric, spawned out of his hatred of the SNP, should be the end of his association with Celtic. I've watched Brian polarise on twitter for the last few years and cringed at the insults he has given out to fellow Celtic supporters. The fact that this man takes £25,000 a year out of Celtic both mystifies and angers me. I was appalled to hear that he would be chairing the latest Celtic forum and made my feelings known to Celtic which fell on deaf ears. I'm not a Scottish Nationalist nor am I a SNP voter. In fact my politics are very similar to Brian's before he sold his soul to New Labour. I've no personal grudge to bear and care only about Celtic and the supporters in this thing and both are being cheated by this man. When a man brands half the country bigots, he should not be welcome at Celtic.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Down Under 2.0



I was leaving on the 8.10am flight to Abu Dhabi on Valentine's Day from Edinburgh. Disappointing lots of women obviously (When they realised I wasn't leaving for good), the flight to middle east was fairly uneventful. I had a two hour turnaround and made for the Duty Free with the intention of buying cheap booze and cheap fags to spread around my genial hosts. "Can I see your boarding card please Sir?" I was asked as I looked like I was stocked up for a council house party. "I'm sorry, you are only permitted to enter Australia with 500ml of alcohol and 50 cigarettes"  I'd find out why later.

A few folk have asked me what the flight to Australia is like and the brutal honesty is, it is boring as fuck. Especially as Etihad were tighter than a dead heat when it came to bevvy dispersal. I get bored watching films on those tiny screens on planes and never find the setting convivial to book reading either. On arrival, due to having a visa, I breezed through immigration and was met by two friendly faces at Sydney Airport, Jim Reilly and Ron Dorran, the latter would be putting me up. Jim drove and seemed set to take us to the shores of Botany Bay before Ronnie put him right on directions. We stopped at a boozer near Ron's and I discovered the full extent of the Duty Free scam, it was $11 a pint and $30 for a packet of fags.

(I'll pause for a minute there as I know a few regular readers will need to sit down after reading those numbers)


Ronnie, and his lovely wife Cath, have a great place in Sydney in an area known as "The Spot" and I settled in right away ("There's the pub, the cafe, the bookies and the cinema"). Ron and Cath were incredible hosts. Whether it was lovely meals, incredible stories or even just a comfy bed, I loved my time there. My mind started freeing up, stresses were disappearing and I was very relaxed. That was all down to Ron and Cath.

I also got to spend a lot of time with the bold Jim Reilly, the man who can tell six stories at once using voice skills that a ventriloquist would marvel at.

The screening itself was great. Good crowd and a lot of laughs.

I had initially meant to have been in Brisbane for a gig after Sydney but about three weeks before I was to leave, they got in touch with the tour organiser in Australia to say they were out. The flip side was this gave me time to head up the country and stay with Steff and Sharon Gilmartin for a four days. What a riot. We were sitting up drinking one night and Steff says to me "What time will you be up tomorrow?" I retorted "Eh, 9 or 10 maybe?" he says "Ah we would have taken you to Tits on Toast at half 6" I waited for the punchline but none came. He was serious. We had a good laugh about this notion that topless waitresses served you scrambled eggs on toast and I went to bed around 2am.

I was awoken with my name being repeated over and over again and realised it was Steff calling me telling me my breakfast was ready. I ambled upstairs and was met with the bold yin standing, holding toast, stark bollock naked.


From there it was off to Melbourne and to stay with Australia's most hated man, Sean Fitzgerald. That's not true of course but if you ever have some spare time, just mention Sean's name on Facebook and his fan club are sure to appear.

What a week in Melbourne, looked after by he and his lovely wife, Maeve, amidst the backdrop of a stressful time for them both, I can't be more thankful to them. Sean has been a friend for many years and just chilling over one or twenty four beers with him is always good.


The screening was in St Kilda, as beautiful a setting as you'll find, and was great. It was a big, lively crowd and a great time was had by all.


From Melbourne it was on to Perth and met at the airport, in blistering heat, by club President Andy Gordon. Andy is one of those guys you meet that drives a club forward. Normally clubs are lucky to have one guy like that but Perth actually has loads, male and female. From Cathie taking the money at the door to Davy providing the fun and frolics, you can't go wrong in Perth. You also have hardcore Tims like Paddy McConie who keep you laughing day and night.

Then you meet guys like Stuart Campbell and the strong Celtic heart makes you feel at home.



Perth was a real chill for me. It allowed me to write and take stock of a few things. The tour was absolutely flying and I had had a brilliant time in Australia. I was feeling a lot more comfortable in my own skin and the support I am getting is now incredible.



Australia is a huge beating Celtic heart.

This was summed up after I left Perth, had an eight hour layover in Sydney and Jim Kinlan travelled two hours on the train to come in and keep me company for a few hours.

Things like that are what matter in life and the more you experience them, the more you love life.

I experienced loads of them in Australia.

HH
Paul

PS The guy I am with in the picture at the top is Paul Kane, a gentleman and brother of the late Martin "Kano" Kane.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The 10 in a row elephant in the room

Tonight is a funny game. I've not seen any of the real build up that you normally associate with a Celtic V Aberdeen game and that worries me a bit. Aberdeen have ended unbeaten records at Celtic Park(and Pittodrie) before in midweek games and our injury situation doesn't help. That said, I still find it remarkable we are still talking about being unbeaten in February. It sort of drip feeds into the big picture: Our domination and can anyone stop us?

Dave King was supposed to do that wasn't he? I remember him talking about 20m, 30m, 50m, his children's inheritance and all that. Cut to today and things aren't really going to plan. Current CE Stewart Robertson has little or no clue what is going on as he is constantly undermined by John Gilligan and his Club 18-30 colleagues. Often he will get phone calls from other people in Scottish football asking him to explain another Ibrox statement and Stewart won't have a clue what the person is talking about. He does know, however, they made a monumental mistake claiming Celtic fans damaged Ibrox and he knows the consequences of that are still to come.

With Sevco's train coming fully off the rails, you just wonder what else certain aspects of Scottish football will try to come up with to stop us getting 10. A clue was given by ex St Mirren owner Stewart Gilmour, one of the most anti-Celtic men in the country, when he launched a personal attack on Peter Lawwell. As the tabloids splashed all over themselves with headlines like "LAWWELL RUNS SCOTTISH FOOTBALL" the devil, as usual, was in the detail. Stewart tried to defend his former club voting against league reconstruction whilst failing to divulge the reason that he gave in the room on the day "It's a Celtic proposal, so we are against it"

Sportsound is the platform for these views to be aired constantly with host Kenny Macintyre asking his hero, Barry Ferguson, on a weekly basis about 10 in a row. Kenny does this to keep the narrative live in the hope that someone, somewhere will come up with the masterplan to stop us,

In that vein, don't be surprised in the near future if you hear a proposal that runs along Heneken Cup terms. Because believe me, there are silly wee men in Scotland currently devising plans like this and others in the hope of an SPFL break up sooner rather than later.

Me? I'm more worried about Aberdeen tonight.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No such thing as 'Fake News'


"There's no such thing as chicks with dicks, just dudes with tits!!!" is probably the line in a movie (Ted 2) I laughed at most in 2016. Sometimes you just need to hear something said bluntly to be like "Of course!!!" and, thankfully, I didn't need any personal experience to zing that one into my mind.

It is not difficult to pinpoint the time the Scottish MSM jumped the shark, it happened pretty much the day Sevco kicked their first ball at Glebe Park, Brechin in 2012. Since then, a web of lies has been spun better than a Pringle jumper in the borders of Scotland circa 1815. Leaving aside the usual trumpeters of Jackson, Jack and Williams, even some relatively sane journalists have bought in (or been bought off) to the ludicrous notion of the "same club" This has taken them to a level that is usually reserved for the Willie Frazer's of this world yet they actually demand to be taken seriously by the populous. This in turn has led to the likes of Barry Ferguson and Kris Boyd being elevated to the point where we are told their opinion matters. We are asked to respect two people whom throughout their lives have shown little, if any, respect for others. Barry Ferguson now is a regular Monday night feature on BBC's Sportsound. The official line is that it "provides continuity for the listener". The reality is it provides a platform for Barry to talk about ABC (Anyone but Clyde). Then there is Kris Boyd, a man who has found the perfect medium in Instagram to share his thoughts (For any huns reading, that's because he doesn't have to write). Kris was given a platform, again by BBC's Sportsound, to attack the incoming Hearts manager, Ian Cathro. This set a narrative of poison around Cathro who, as far as I can see, was guilty of nothing more than learning his occupation.

Dec 31st was a watershed in Scottish football. Celtic's win at Ibrox sent alarm bells ringing in the ears of everyone who banks on that blue pound. There had to be a change of narrative and there had to be money into Ibrox quicker than a Scott Sinclair dribble. So the ludicrous Red Bull Leipzig friendly was talked up like the World Cup final right up to the point of the fourth Red Bull goal. Then, Scotland awoke to the knowledge that it had a new saviour of the game in the form of the six million pound man Barrie MacKay. Well, that's a relief eh? I personally have been sitting around all of January praying that we would be saved and if anyone can do it, then Barrie must be that guy, eh? It was noticeable that this £6m bid, immediately dismissed as nonsense by Red Bull Leipzig, is still being talked about in the MSM as if it is real. Kind of like how they still talk about Bigfoot in Canada.

All this is done for one reason, the appeasement of the Sevco hordes.

We still live in a country where the MSM are simply the mouthpiece of certain people and there is even a phrase now been concocted "Fake News". Except it's not. They are lies. Nothing less. Lies with the agenda of  propping up the four year old club whilst attacking your senses.

And by the way, there are plenty dudes with tits in Scotland, you'll normally see them whispering in their ear.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Shut em down

Ibrox was a good day. Even against the tribute act that now play there, you want to put them in their place all the same. It did happen, right? Cause, like me, you could be forgiven in thinking it was all a dream. The media shutdown since has been amusing if not surprising. Sportsound didn't bother to release their post-game podcast and the evening show has conveniently shut down just now. You could argue, with no top flight football, that was inevitable but surely this was a golden opportunity to focus on the rest of Scottish football or do Barry Ferguson and Kris Boyd have no views on that?

I caught a bit of Sportscene on Saturday and, whilst confirming the game actually took place, there was a collective agreement that Sevco should have had the game won after 30 minutes. The thing is, they did, it's just that a game of football lasts 90 minutes or 95 if Sevco are losing.

This is all deflection of course.

Similar to the kind of guff being spouted by the press regarding Sevco's potential loan signings (The new Messi and Pirlo) whilst Celtic tie up an outstanding prospect from Africa for £3m and the first articles you see touted are about him leaving before he has even signed for us.

Yet we are told constantly that there is no agenda.

My own take is that a realisation has finally hit the Sevco propagandists that Celtic's domination of the Scottish game shows no sign of ending. In fact, it feels like we are only at the beginning. This was conversed beautifully by Stuart McCall who said Sevco "needed to sign Messi and Ronaldo to stop Celtic winning 10 in a row" That's the real Messi, not the new one mind.

In the meantime, Celtic go from strength to strength. Huge assets are on the club payroll whilst Virgil Van Dijk is soon to be responsible for a rather large cheque coming our way. More importantly, on the pitch we are blooming. The difference Brendan Rodgers has made to the likes of Armstrong, Forrest and Rogic is incredible and playing the Celtic Way is now back with a bang.

Not that you'd know it from the media in Scotland, of course.