Pass the Parcel —- wherever you are!

6 Dec

 

Good Morning.

When Harald Brattbakk scored the second goal against St Johnstone all those years ago I suspect that I was in a minority of one. Whilst all around me celebrated the goal and the ending of any potential of ten in a row, I celebrated with them and thought of only one thing.

Europe!

I grew up on Celtic in Europe– and perhaps more importantly— Celtic Fans in Europe.

My immediate thoughts were Milan, Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, Amsterdam and so on. The names of all the great teams in Europe going into the hat– and in the same hat would be Celtic.

In my wee head that is what is meant to be, that is where the club belongs and where it has the chance to show a wider audience what is Celtic and what Celtic is all about. It is a chance to go abroad and make a Celtic fan out of someone who perhaps does not follow the club. More particularly, on Celtic Park nights it is a chance to bring along a neutral, show them the atmosphere and then watch and listen to them take in something truly special and witness that experience take hold of them and never let go.

However, sometimes football does not go the way that you want it to. Sometimes you lose– and when that happens all you can do is remember the good times and look forward to the next time you get the chance to feel the exhilaration of the good times.

The wee article below, was written the day after Celtic had lost to Inverness with the virtually inevitable consequence that the league title was headed down Ibrox way.

I recall reading all the blog posts on CQN that morning and the air of doom and gloom was really evident. 

I had no real intention of writing anything that morning, had no set agenda or script but decided just to write down how I felt and what I thought people who were tuning in should hear in that dark and gloomy footballing hour. Believe me I do not possess any crystal ball not have I the gift of foresight, and if any of what you read below seems to have been prophetic then that is purely down to Neil Lennon and his team– and maybe a bit of belief on my part!

I love hearing of footballing fans from all clubs and the efforts that they go to support St Mirrin, Falkirk, Queen of the South or whoever. Supporting any football club is a noble past time and can be a real good social influence.

Celtic, with its history and its whole purpose was always meant to be a positive influence, and so on that dark May day I wanted to remind folk that losing a football match was not– and never would be — the end of the world.

I have to say that last night I saw a truly great support for Spartak Moscow– the biggest I think we have seen for an away team from the former eastern block– although I am open to correction. Best of luck to them– they did their team proud with their noise and scarves and support.

As for the rest of us?

We continue on our European Journey. How far we will travel is hard to tell but we go with hope, confidence,  a smile on our face, a song in our heart and a bucketful of goodwill towards whoever we meet along the way.

And as you will see below we have something to pass on– to one another, to our kids and to the strangers we have yet to meet.

————————————————————————————————————————

Good Morning to you,

I suppose that there is a tendency to examine ones coupon in the mirror this morning and cast the eyes upon someone staring back with a look of despair and despondency. Last night, errors in defence, possibly in selection choice, but mostly because of a group of Inverness players playing for sheer pride handed a defeat to a Celtic team who just appear to be nothing like the team that dismissed Dundee United on Sunday– although it has to be said that there were signs there that the defence can be got at, and if the midfield and attack don’t keep the ball and the other team busy —then trouble follows.

Neil Lennon knows that– that is why we have already signed a centre half (Kelvin Wilson) and another back I believe.

Now, as far as the league goes that fat lady has not yet sung, although it has to be said she has the good dress on, is part way through her rehearsal and is ready to take the stage. Of course, as of last night, she has changed her choice of tune and currently it is not to our liking—- but the script is never written as someone said recently.

Notwithstanding all of that, I am on here to spout my usual rubbish and perhaps annoy a few by saying we lost a match– so what? Oh I know so what– I know it hurts, I know it is disappointing, I know it is not what we hoped for—- but so what?

I am of the class where not only is the glass always half full=== but there is never just one glass.

You see I am a supporter/member of CELTIC FOOTBALL CLUB. Yip there are those three words again and it is still the case that the most important is club. Club is different from team– dare I suggest that Club is more important than team?

The team have undoubtedly performed better than last year, but are not as yet where we would all like it to be. That is a work in progress, and it may yet be the case that the league swings once again in dramatic fashion. We can only wait and see.

Whether it does or does not there is a lot to be cheerful about.

It would have been easy for Dermot Desmond to throw in £20-£30m to go and buy a load of players a couple of years ago. At a value of £1800M or thereabouts that kind of money is available to him without too much concern. However in the interests of club, as opposed to team, the investment was made in Lennoxtoun,in Lennon, and others in the backroom rather than players. As we watch the youth sweep all before them it appears that there is real fruit from that tree– and make no mistake that will be a very rich harvest with more crops a growing.

The Mowbray experiment failed and so Neil Lennon has had to start from scratch and has had to do so amidst some extraordinary times and situations. It will eventually come right– of that I have little doubt.

However that is to do with team, which although the focus of the club is not its heart.

Others in the league cannot compete on a regular basis with Lennon’s from scratch team. Oh they can upset them– as last night– but none come near with consistency apart from Rangers. That Rangers team has been compiled at far greater cost over a number of years, and the latest signing (Jelavic)– perhaps the player whose form may yet deliver the league– may well have been bought using funding which is prescribed by the laws of the league. Whether that goes unpunished or not is not my concern here, it is just an aggravating factor.

No, you see I am a member of Celtic Football Club. Where we accept that we have no divine right to win, but where we do have the right to compete on a level playing field, where we take pride in representing that club and its ethos each and every day. We do not go about tearing up the place, or causing offence, or in the main causing controversy. No, we are Celtic supporters– and that counts for something whether the team wins or no. The guardians of the club do things properly, on a proper financial footing and within the laws of the game. We will challenge injustice where need be, and be compliant where that is appropriate. That is as it should be.

In the course of this year I have watched from the stands as the Celtic Graves Society, The Kano foundation and countless other charity groups further the absolute basic vision of Walfrid– to create a focus for like minded and like backgrounded people for their betterment– where that focus happens to be football. We strive to provide football of the highest level, but more importantly we strive to support the club and its football at the highest level. That is being achieved on a daily basis and in ways never before thought of.

Walfrid had never heard of the European Cup or The Champions League and had no idea how successful Celtic would become as a global brand etc. What he wanted and fostered was that collective spirit, a spirit that would be abundantly clear in the very name Celtic. The gifts and fundraising for Benfica and one of their players who died a few years ago show what a force Celtic have become in this regard even outwith Scotland. As for the Thai Tims– a whole school in a far off land? Walfrid would be speechless.

Even as individuals, the past few months show that spirit in remarkable abundance. Look at the lives of Reamon  Gormley and Stevie Reynolds. I know at this time it is easy to concentrate on their recent passing but it is their living and the way that they lived and the spirit in which they lived that was remarkable and worth remembering.

Still living– and presumably walking– is our own wee Blantyre Kev who has taken on the most onerous of tasks in the name of charity. Walking or running is one thing, but 10k every night– WITH YOUR MISSUS is beyond the call of duty ( Lesley if you get to read this— sorry — and yes I know your sacrifice is far greater than his! ) There are initiatives like that by the score. There are ordinary guys and ghirls doing extraordinary things and all in the name of or linked to CELTIC FOOTBALL CLUB.

No there is nothing bad about being a Celtic fan on this May morning other than that our team lost. So what? We will be there next week and the week after.

A number of years ago I went to Hampden with a lovely fella by the name of Kevin Cole. Kevin left these shores with wife and weans, sold his business, house  , car and his spare pair of trainers– everything– and went to New Zealand. Last I heard he was in Australia somewhere. He kept his season ticket though.

Anyway Rangers beat us 1-0 at Hampden and we trudged the long walk back to town along Aitkenhead Road. As we walked he asked me what kind of fan I was? What he meant was how do I take defeat? Do I get Angry? Etc  etc.

That question, I’m afraid, lead to one of my diatribic speeches.

” I am a fan of Galsgow Celtic. I believe in football– good football, played the right way and in the right style. There are those who will beat us on any given day and no matter who they are or what the score I will say good luck and well done– today was your day.

But there will be a tomorrow. A Tomorrow, a tomorrow and a tomorrow and We– Celtic Football Club will always be there tomorrow. No defeat will ever get us down and any who hope that we will just go away are sadly mistaken. A defeat just makes us want to come back and beat you all the more– and in certain cases to return and really beat you. To wipe you off the park and hand out such a footballing lesson that it will be talked about for years. We will never ever be downhearted or lose our resolve and when we do beat you we will say– well played, bad luck, see you next time– and we will celebrate on our own, with our own and because of our own. We are Celtic Football Club and each and every year we try to be better and better and better. Our aim is Europe, to be good in Europe at any level and to show Europe and the world that we are the best CLUB in the world,— teams and fans. So what kind of fan am I? We Lost– so what– never ever let that get you down– it happens, just get better”

Kevin used to say that wherever we went we would bump into someone that knew me from somewhere, and they would know I was a Celtic fan.

Later that day, we were in Rab Ha’s and we met a guy who was a barrister who had travelled up from London. I had never met him before. We were talking away when this guy suddenly said ” Wait a minute– are you…………?”

When I said yes he said that he had heard my name from a Manchester Utd/ Celtic fan in London who had told him he would end up bumping into me somewhere sometime– and I would be the one talking about Celtic and what Celtic is about.

The bold Kevin fell off the seat so to speak.

Being a Celtic fan is like the world’s biggest game of pass the parcel– and the Prize is Celtic. It is an Olympic sport and taking part is the winning. We all pass the parcel to one another, to strangers, to children, to people in far of places. It is a thrill just to take part. You don’t often win outright– only those that pull the Jersey on really win in this dream game. But passing the parcel is a just cause. I have seen Masai Warriors in Kenya wear the hoops and pass the parcel. There is an episode of great train journeys of the world with Michael Palin on a train in some far off South American country, with the train going to some remote area. The guy sitting behind Palin, complete with stretched earlobes and traditional earrings — is also wearing the Celtic away strip of the day. He passed the parcel. Pablo and Reamon passed the parcel. The Thai Tims pass the Parcel. From the Garngad to the Gold coast people pass the parcel!

This morning I have the parcel, I have to maybe tear off some paper hiding the prize inside. So I have done that and I am passing the parcel to whomsoever reads this, and who might feel a bit down or depressed by the events in Inverness.

Others today may meet you and perhaps take some joy at our reverse last night.That is all part of supporting a football team in a league or cup set up. However, there are always those who take the loss of a football match too far and who tend to want to make a losing supporter miserable, downcast and depressed. They are fools. A good friend of mine who supports the blue team in Glasgow once laid bare his soul and said that you can never really enjoy the sheer joy of winning  unless you have known the pain of a defeat.

This morning you have the parcel, You hold Celtic Football Club in your heart and hands whilst  others cannot even gain entry to the game and will never hold the parcel. They will never understand, feel your pain or understand your joy in things Celtic. They are not amongst the fortunate, the lucky, or of the spirit of Celtic.

They may support another club—I hope they do. I hope the support it to the hilt and are not just fair-weather fans who turn up every now and then only when their team is winning. I hope they are not fans who go to football games for the purposes of some other agenda—based on ridiculous, outdated, morally offensive and frankly irrelevant social and religious bias. I hope they are fans who recall and revel in the past glories of their own teams whether that be Dundee United, Aberdeen, Rangers, Kilmarnock, Queens Park or whoever.

Supporting a football team is a social event— a peaceable passion, a privilege, a joy.

So best of luck to those other fans and their clubs— but they are not my club and my passion. They are not Celtic—with its history, its raison d’etre, its purpose, its camaraderie—its soul!

No—- today is a good day to be a Celtic fan– maybe not the best day– but any day being a Celtic fan is a good day– and there is always tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow– each of which will, in due course, spawn a whole host of magic yesterdays to talk about and revel in.

Believe me– they will come.

Now– Pass the Parcel– it is worth it.

 

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8 Responses to “Pass the Parcel —- wherever you are!”

  1. droid December 6, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    History! History! We are the famous Glasgow Celtic and we’re off to Wembelee….. 😛

  2. lwordsblog December 6, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Another spectacular. Brilliant stuff.

  3. Dermot December 6, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    As someone who has shared my wallet with you in a few hostelries ,it is true there is alway somebody who comes over and says ” hey are you that lawyer bloke, I’ve heard about you….”good read old friend,now get your wallet open soon.

  4. Dan December 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    Wonderful article. We don’t care if we win lose or draw.

  5. zoyler December 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Another wonderful article that says so much about the spirit of Celtic and how sport should be enjoyed. Thank you!

  6. wsc3 December 6, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    Excellent read!

  7. lee December 7, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    You know I’ve been passing that parcel bit for years, and never realised, till I read this excellent
    Article. The amount of brand new Celtic tops I gave away everytime I go abroad. last one on a camping & rafting trip in Oregon USA.Theirs Something just so special and unique about those hoops.

  8. wulba December 7, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    Superb!

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