A House Divided?

article-2519675-19EA733400000578-867_634x355For the last few years, I’ve spent a great deal of time blogging on the unfolding shambles at Ibrox. I’ve been branded a bigot, I’ve been accused of being obsessed. I’ve had insults thrown at me from every section of the DeadCo support. That doesn’t bother me in the least.

I enjoy debate. I debate everything. One of the most venomous reactions I’ve ever had to an online post was a piece I put on Facebook regarding Jade Goody. You’d think I’d accused her of murder, when all I did was question a recent article that called her a “great British role model.”

A woman who had oral sex on live TV, who spewed out racist remarks and frequently demonstrated such ignorance Boris Johnston could have dedicated a party conference to her? I suggested the answer just might be no, and I thought the response I got for daring to do that was as bad as it could get.

Yet, it took criticising some elements of our own supporters to over-reach. For the first time since I started blogging, and I’m talking about years, I’ve finally had an email threatening me. And it was, of course, from a Celtic supporter. Talk about a turn up for the books.

I wasn’t going to write this article before that email. The press has had a field day since Friday night at Fir Park. The club had reacted. Even Neil Doncaster had found his voice and expressed an opinion. The Supporters Association had released a statement. There didn’t seem like a whole lot I could say to add to the arguments on both sides. It seemed un-necessary.

But here I am. Thanks to my “friend”, who will remain anonymous, and to a select few others on Facebook who have called me all manner of names in the past day or two, for not toeing the party line on this one, and for daring to speak my mind.

Odd that, isn’t it? It’s always the ones who go on about “free speech” who are the most intolerant of others when they express a dissenting view.

This is going to be a dissenting view. But not in the way some people might think. I am not going to criticise people who are expressing their own opinions, cause we all have the right to do that. What I will say is that there’s a time and place for it, that my arguments are more about strategy than real substance and that what we’re really talking about here is ways and means.

Celtic is in a perilous position. We are not yet “a house divided” but we will be if things continue as they are. We need to heal, and we need to do it quickly, or the divisions are going to set us back years.

Some of our supporters really do need to get a grip on their behaviour. There is an element amongst our fan-base, small in number for sure, that has ceased to recognise that they are ambassadors of a wider family, and not just for themselves.

They have left the club with no choice but to respond.

At the same time, they have left people like me, people with very serious issues to raise about some of the policies of our club – in other words, natural allies – in the uncomfortable position of having to voice my support for some of the people I want booted out the Celtic Park door.

I find myself, therefore, disagreeing with guys I’d ordinarily agree with, on the side of people I self-exile myself from Parkhead because of. It’s the strangest position I’ve ever found myself in as a Celtic supporter, and it’s one I am finding hard to reconcile.

I believe in freedom of speech, for all. Back in the days when I was a political activist, I had real issues with things like the “no platform policy” which saw members of “mainstream” parties refuse to engage in debate with extremists. I believed that it was both cowardly and politically damaging, and gave those people some kind of left-field legitimacy. Better, I always thought, to actually challenge their ignorant opinions and crush them.

Worse than that, the second the policy was established, ostensibly to deny a platform to the BNP, I knew it would be extended, sooner or later, to cover other organisations and it had the potential to become a weapon against any non-mainstream political view, and of course that’s just what did happen, and has been happening ever since.

UEFA’s blanket ban on “political expression” is the natural extension of the no platform policy in action. It was designed, in the beginning, to combat right wing extremists who wanted to use football grounds as recruiting centres. It was brought in to combat fascism and racism from taking a hold on the Beautiful Game.

As with all such regulations, however, there was a sting in the tail. You cannot ban extremism on one end of the scale without banning it on the other. And because racism and fascism can manifest themselves in ways which aren’t always readily apparent, UEFA sought to ban right-wing political expression as a whole. But how, in a democratic society, can you protect people from one type of political expression without, yourself, taking a political stance? Well there was an answer to that too. You ban political expression entirely.

I’ll be honest right now, I understand how this happened, and I understand the dangers inherent in allowing political expression in football stadiums. There you have groups of angry young men, predominantly working class young men, with all that entails. You add the tribalism which goes hand in hand with football, perhaps some alcohol, you scatter reactionary politics into the mix, and what you get is potentially combustible.

Now, I personally disagree with the banning of political expression inside football grounds, or anywhere else. At the same time, I don’t necessarily believe that football stadiums are appropriate places for that kind of thing, but that’s another debate entirely.

What I do respect is the reason why it was done, and the difficult position the governing bodies were, and are, in when it comes to enforcing it.

There is little doubt that the blanket ban is routinely enforced, and that clubs across the continent have paid the penalty, and continue to pay the penalty, for violating it. This is not, as some would have you believe, UEFA picking on Celtic.

Why would they want to? This is not the SFA, with its history of institutional bias, the organisation that has bent every rule to have a club calling itself Rangers playing football again, the one which would have had them in the top division if we had let them away with it.

UEFA were handing us awards not so long ago. They know what the Celtic support is all about. They understand that we’re not like other fans. These people bear us no grudges, or ill will, and the notion that UEFA is “the enemy” is ludicrous, and it’s why a scandalous banner provoking their ire last year was both un-necessary and stupid. Since when did the Celtic support go out actively looking for enemies? Do we not have enough, right here at home?

If you need reminding of who the real enemy is, read some of the gleeful articles from the MSM in the past few weeks, especially the disreputable garbage spilling forth from that washed out hack Keevins, who’s mocking, smug, sarcastic, mentally deranged piece in the aftermath of Wednesday’s Champions League hammering is one of the most loathsome pieces of work ever turned out by a man who has spent a lifetime writing arrant nonsense.

His assertion that a tier three NewCo, hovering on the edge of administration, mired in controversy, and where police investigations continue apace, is hot on our heels because of mismanagement at our club would be hilarious if I didn’t know he really believes this stuff.

Celtic’s fans have built their reputation over decades. It will take more than a clown like Keevins to declare that reputation ruined, but The Green Brigade’s fight with UEFA will have only one winner, and that will be the governing body. Their suicidal stance in front of the guns would look ridiculous even if it were not doing enormous damage to our club.

It also appears to have no purpose, because the notion that banners are going to shame UEFA into a change of stance are ridiculous, and it is infantile too because it suggests that this is a set of supporters which sees the rules as being for other people, and Scotland already has one set of fans who think this way and neither the game, nor Celtic, needs another.

The on-going debate over the Offensive Behaviour bill is another area where I am in agreement with them on the substance, but not in the manner in which they’ve chosen to fight it. I think banners are great for raising awareness, but they’re not designed to win hearts and minds. And the truth is, most of the people we’re trying to convince are already convinced.

The Offensive Behaviour bill has overwhelming public support, and that’s not going to change, especially when the people claiming to be victimised by it are now being accused of wrecking seats at a rival’s football ground. Even if this had been a winnable campaign, the one to have Parliament overturn its own law, that was the moment attitudes hardened and we lost the one weapon that might have made a difference here; the moral ground.

I was in politics. I know how it works. It doesn’t matter what the reality of this matter is, only what people perceive it to be.

Perception is reality in political debate.

With overwhelming public support, this bill will never be overturned by the politicians. There’s simply no cause for it, no political reason why they should, no downside to leaving it in place. Only two things ever changed a politician’s mind; an angry electorate or a financial downside, and I don’t mean necessarily to his or herself. You put money in the political equation and minds can be changed just as quickly as by bad polling numbers.

Money could still swing this. If the CPS squanders enough of it, the Parliamentary Accounts Committee can start screaming blue murder, the press might turn on the issue and then public opinion will follow it. I haven’t given up hope on that happening.

I’ll tell you, though, what I think our best bet is here, and I’ve thought this from the start, when the law was first passed.

The law itself is a joke. It’s an assault on basic freedoms, and it’s disgraceful that it was ever proposed, scandalous that it was ever debated and abhorrent that it was ever passed and turned into a reality. Shame on everyone involved in it.

I also think it goes too far, and edges into a violation of our rights under the ECHR. I think if this is challenged in the European Court they will rule it as a breach of human rights and dismantle it immediately. I can’t see that it’s anything else.

So, I say to the guys who’re fighting this to keep on doing it. But we don’t need to call the Scottish Government hypocrites, and especially now in comparing William Wallace to Bobby Sands, which only turns people off who might otherwise be on our side. Expose this law for the violation of our rights that it is, keep the parliamentary pressure on … but the real fight is through the courts, and that is where we stand the best chance of getting a win.

The Scottish Government, of course, are hypocrites on this issue. We know it.

I’ve heard tell that The Green Brigade’s stance is designed to oppose hypocrisy at UEFA too.

Someone suggested to me the other day that UEFA honouring Mandela is an act of political theatre, and I agree. Under UEFA regulations, a club would have been fined if it’s supporters held up a banner of the statesman whilst he was alive, and that does make UEFA’s decision of the other night look utterly at odds with policy. Yet the governing bodies would doubtless say that if they did allow fans to fly the Mandela flag it would only be a matter of time before the Arkan banners returned to the Stadio Olympico and elsewhere, and they’d have a point.

Simply stated, Mandela deserves the praise, and honour, of the entire world, and if there was going to be an exception made to the rule then this was the guy to make it for. Before he took power, South Africa was a house divided. He could have tipped it into civil war and an eternity of darkness and he chose not to. He was a healer, a man who made things whole.

That our support had such a voice right now, to make us whole again.

I’ve heard Celtic’s board labelled hypocrites for asking the fans to leave politics at the door when we have, and have had, major political figures on the board of directors. This is less easy to support when one considers that, first and foremost, those men were brought to the club to provide their expertise. I look at the chain of command at Celtic Park and I see serious men.

One only has to look across the city to see how different things are for those clubs which can’t attract such people of calibre.

Should we disqualify people with political backgrounds from working at Celtic Park? Our club does not, itself, have a political “ideology”, no matter what some of the more wild theories might suggest. We are, ostensibly, open to all, tolerant, respectful of race, creed and colour, as we’ve always been, and are mindful of any action which suggests otherwise.

Do I agree with everything the board does? Hell no, as numerous articles on this site and others have demonstrated quite clearly.

I think the failure to pay workers the living wage is highly offensive, and an insult to the founding principles of Celtic, and I believe the failure to give Neil Lennon the money we brought in from the sales of Wanyama, Hooper and Wilson was in no small measure responsible for the ignominy we suffered on the pitch during our disastrous Champions League campaign.

In those particular examples, there is a contempt for the wishes of the supporters and an attitude of casual disregard for our history and roots that is, frankly, breathtaking. I also think that as long as we have men like Iain Livingston on the board he should, at the very least, be doing his damned job better so that the PLC does not have to rely on cutting the football squad in order to balance the books. What we have at Celtic Park right now is the tail wagging the dog, and the results of it were all too obvious in Barcelona the other night.

So yes, I think something is far wrong in the Celtic Park boardroom but it’s not that it’s developed a political outlook.

I think Peter Lawwell and others have failed in their basic responsibilities, which are to run the business side of Celtic to support the football one, and that Lawwell, in particular, has instead been allowed to make the football team the cornerstone of funding the business. It’s a perversion of the job he was brought in to do, and I will not set foot in Celtic Park again until he and the “strategy” he presides over are gone.

The truth is, my indictments of that man and his strategy are based on facts, and the evidence of our own eyes when we watch the team dismantled in the manner of this European campaign. They are not based on rumours, supposition, innuendo and conspiracy theories. They are real, and as such they are all the reasons I need to want Lawwell and others removed before this club can begin to move in the right direction again.

This club is on the verge of a monumental division, and it is to the ultimate shame of our so-called leaders that it has come to this. The collapse, liquidation and then death of Rangers, and the way in which we all came together to oppose the NewCo masquerading as the defunct club being given a free ride to the top league granted the Celtic board an opportunity for unifying and growing this club like no other in our history could have dreamed.

They have squandered that sense of unity in under two years, and that is a disgrace and a failure so epic it will never be equalled. Our sense of purpose, of focus, is lost.

With the foot on the enemy’s throat we balked from finishing the job. Campbell Ogilvie remains atop the scandalised SFA, who’s chief executive, Stewart Regan, similarly remains in post following some of the most scandalous scaremongering imaginable.

Those one brave man, Turnbull Hutton, labelled “corrupt” still have their hands on the controls, and it has cost us the one honest to God chance to reform Scottish football we’ve had in front of us since Fergus McCann broke Jim Farry. We could have changed everything and made this game fundamentally clean again, and that chance is gone for the foreseeable future.

Those who are opposed to “the strategy” know that Lawwell has to go. Those who are opposed to the treatment of the fans blame him, and believe he has to go. Those who believe we didn’t do enough to bring down the people who have wrecked the game here know his spot in the SFA enhances the positions of men like Doncaster and Regan, and lends legitimacy to Ogilvie, the very men who propelled us to the edge of darkness.

And for that, he has to go.

It’s hard, at this point, to picture the reasons why someone would want him to stay. It is clear that it’s Peter Lawwell himself who is, easily, the most divisive figure at Celtic Park.

I’ve been asked a million times this week if I believe the bans handed out by the club to our fans, and the decision to disband the Green Brigade, was a proportional response. Almost all realise that the small number of supporters who shamed us with the breaking of the seats have to go. That’s not the question. The question is; was the response too heavy?

I say that we have people at Celtic Park who will want to divert blame onto the fans because our own fans are an easier target than a media comprised of lairs and cowards, and people who despise us. Targeting our own supporters is less difficult than taking on the vested interests who allowed, and perhaps even aided, a decade’s worth of cheating, and it is divides the people who, otherwise, might be focussing all their attention on, and asking serious questions of, a board of directors which has watched as our team has declined in quality at the same time as our balance sheet has never been so healthy.

But the club was right to take action in this case. They are right to defend the reputation of the rest of the support, to take their time to investigate what went on at Fir Park and then to do whatever they feel is necessary in the aftermath.

This does not make me a board supporter or an apologist. I am far from either of those things.

I am pragmatist, and a realist, and this week’s events have put me in a place where a little criticism ain’t no thing at all. When someone on your own side is threatening you because you have an opinion he doesn’t like you quickly come to realise that pleasing everyone is a non-starter and that upsetting people goes with the territory.

I am part of this family, just like you are, and I love it just like you do. And what I want, more than anything else, is to see this family brought together again, and pulling in the same direction again, and fighting not with each other but with the enemies we have right here at home. To focus on the bigger picture instead of on unwinnable battles which bring us no credit.

I love, and cherish, our roots like you do. I believe in the politics and I honour the history that you do. I want what is best for Celtic Football Club just like you do, and I want to see us restored to our rightful place at the pinnacle of European football, just like you do. You are my brothers and sisters, and we are all on the same side of the lines.

I want to see this family united once more, as it needs to be.

I will disagree with you when I think you are wrong, as you are welcome to use the comments section to disagree with me, but, brothers and sisters, don’t waste your time, or mine, questioning my credentials and my affection for this thing, this family, of ours, and do not question each other’s because everything we do is an act of love.

In the end, we have bigger fish to fry. Some inside our club, some outside it, and unlike the wars some of our number want to fight, these are ones we actually can win and must win, and they are the most important things some of us will ever do in our lives.

Our enemies would like nothing more. Are you going to give them exactly what they want?

A house divided will not stand. Think of your brothers and sisters.

You, by your conduct, can help to heal this family. Or you can help to pull it apart.

The choice is yours. God willing, you make the right one.

(James Forrest recently published his first article on Yahoo. You can help On Fields of Green by reading his work there, becoming a “fan” and subscribing to his updates.)

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James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

47 thoughts on “A House Divided?

  • 15 December, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    james its a simple question why did you feel the need to tell every one that a celtic fan threatened you

  • 15 December, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Cause there are people amongst our support who would have us believe that none of our fans has ever commited a sin and that it’s only Rangers or whatever it calls itself who have fans who are out of order. It’s not true. If I had written that it was a Sevconian you’d not have cracked a light, except maybe to say that it proves they are all the same. They’re not. Neither are we. We have our own brand of muppets, and they were breaking seats at Fir Park, and some of them are not beneath making inane threats to those they disagree with.

    One person, out of the thousands who’ve read my stuff in the last few years, and it was “one of our own.” That surprised me, and saddened me, and so I wrote about it, which is what I’m supposed to do.

    The Rangers fans who accuse of us being “obsessed” would rather no-one ever said a bad word about their club. Some of our own fans feel the same way. It won’t fly.

    You ever heard the term “sunlight is the best disinfectant”? It is.

  • 15 December, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Have to say I am very depressed with all that is going on with the Tic, this on top of the appeasement on every level by the MSM, SFA etc of the Tax Dodgers. I have not returned to a game since the LNS decision and nothing has improved. I am beginning to doubt I will ever return to Celtic Park. The shower from the South-side of Glasgow have caused all this mess and it appears that it is the Tic fans that have seen the punishments.

  • 15 December, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Family? This rhetoric I hear from some fellow Tims is getting tiring. There is no family. It’s an image the PLC seek to conjure up for marketing purposes. The sooner Celtic fans realise and accept there is nothing special about this club, the sooner we can get over ourselves and look to the future. In fact, the only things which truly distinguished this club in popular perception (whether you agree with them or not) are being slowly eroded; the banning of the GB is the most recent, and stark move in this direction.

    Celtic fans who condone the banning of the Green Brigade are being incredibly short-sighted. The Green Brigade had to go because they were a thorn in the profit-centric, normalising aspirations of the board. People poke fun at English teams for being soulless institutions, based purely on investment and a growing appeal to the middle-class family market. Guess what? That’s exactly where we are heading too.

    Say what you like about NewCo and their fans, but they have managed to hold on to what they perceive as their identity pretty well. What is Celtic these days? What makes us Celtic? Nothing.

  • 15 December, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Kieran … you’re joking, right? Especially about the DeadCo. They are about to rip each other apart over this AGM … and I’ll have a full piece on that during the week.

  • 15 December, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    if i am talking crap James why have you deleted my question to you . It’s not about me James or a matter of what i believe or not James and if you think i am talking crap as you put it why not prove it by answering the question and put me right James WHY DID YOU FEEL THE NEED TO TELL THE ONLINE COMMUNITY THAT A CELTIC FAN THREATENED YOU by refusing to answer my question James and accuse me of talking crap and have no interest in debate and delete my posts as you have done. this looks to me as if you know you should not have gave out this information as it was a matter for you and the aggressor and if you feel need the police but just cant admit it and would rather accuse me a celtic fan of talking crap and delete my post for having the cheek to ask you a question about your blog .over to you James

  • 15 December, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Everything will be done to deflect from the real issue concerning Scottish football by the smsm.
    Their agm is looming upon them, Celtic is being used as a deflection from the charade at ibrox.

    Why the board deemed fit to expel the gd at this time, when the evidence has not been put forward is a disgrace.

    Our board are either complicit with the sfa or don’t understand how deep the cheating of deadco has affected the fan base.

  • 15 December, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Top article ! But don’t see getting rid of Lawwell and Desmond will help , it’s hard to get it right spending and winning Spurs getting Humpt today after spending big proves its hard to get it right

  • 15 December, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    A brave and thought provoking article, James.
    I disagree that racists and fascists should be allowed a platform from which to promote their agenda of hate and actual harm towards those with whom they don’t like. History shows us that these people thrive unless they are challenged. Don’t equate “no platform” with anti democratic. The test is if the message promotes hatred or harm to a generic group then it is not entitled to a platform.
    Nationalists only come into this category if they advocate harm to others, not simply their desire for self determination.
    As regards Celtic, I would love us to mount a realistic challenge in Europe. Do I want us to be paying world class superstars wags of £100k+ per week? I don’t think I could stomach that. It’s not what I believe Celtic is about, and I’m sure many Celtic fans share my unease.
    For me, the real battle is to take back our beautiful game from the financiers and broadcasters who have skewed the game so much in favour of the big 4 countries’ leading clubs. I don’t know how this can be achieved, but it is at least a goal towards which we should be working.
    I think the civil war among the Celtic support is fanned by a Media House led MSM who will do anything to distract attention from matters Ibrox. We need to be more savvy in how we make our voice heard and pick our battles. Let’s not tilt at windmills. For example, had the GB displayed a huge banner simply saying something like “No to the Act”, the point would have been made with no repercussions for them or Celtic.
    PL’s overreaction to the Motherwell debacle was not clever but he is not the problem. We should be going after Ogilvie et al in the SFA and SPFL. Perhaps link up with like minded fans from other clubs and force the issue into the general public domain. We know that some Aberdeen fans are up for it..
    I don’t share your pessimism and believe that the truth will always eventually prevail.

  • 15 December, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Hiya James

    Feelings are running high and you are not the only one being threatened, out of order.

    I am a big fan of your material but feel you have ignored the obvious linkage between the influence of the unionists on the board. We are at a very important point in Scottish history with the referendum, the GB are a platform for expressing views at odds with the hegemonic unionist influence on the board. I mean a Tory Lord and others like Brian Wilson a British labour intellectual, plus influences like Haughey another one who had bought and paid for a British peerage.

    Is this really our club, and do you really feel they have no malign political influence?

    I am most dissapointed by your very eloquent ‘the board had to do something’ angle.

    How about punish the actual perpetrators instead of carpet bombing? Indeed most banned weren’t at Fir Park, and display’s of Scottish and Irish national heroes should be defended by those acting in our interests, regardless of punishments. Sure we might get beat up and have to compromise but instead we now have an open anti-republican stance.

    The worst part of this weeks events have been GB haters -none of whom make any sense- breaking cover and enjoying their moment. I honestly find it difficult to recognise these people as Celtic fans, given that I have been brought upto believe in fan solidarity. The glee has sickened me, and given yesterday’s attendance many others too.

    They GB haters acted out yesterday, young guys had a banner pulled from them according to the bullying culprit on twitter, stewards were heard telling Irish fans to “go back to Ireland!” Add this to the harrasment I witnessed myself by stewards.

    I noticed a heavy prescence at the turnstiles obviously looking for political contraband, so I joked that I had left my John Maclean badge at home, cue examination of my jacket. No joking. I then seen at least 5 people ejected for next to nothing and stewards attending and hassling others. I’ve since seen video evidence of other harrassment.

    You are correct it is a time for healing, but many of us are determined that a truce or Lawell’s removal is not the answer. We need people in charge who will not pursue an agenda at odds with out heritage and history. Having a fiscally responsible board as well is that is not mutually exclusive.

  • 15 December, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Success, and the prospect of continued success, breeds arrogance. It was a trait that I disliked in the RFC support before they shuffled off this mortal coil. However there is now a section, all be it small, within the Celtic support who are now displaying all of the traits of the deceased club from Govan.
    The football itself, almost ironically, seems an after thought which is strange given what I’ve just written.
    I find it difficult to reconcile people being told not to do something time and time again only for them to carry on as if no rebuke has ever happened and then compound their stupidity by issuing statements as if they are somebody that we should all listen to.
    Are they simply thick?
    What do they hope to gain?
    Safe standing while letting off fireworks and smoke bombs. What warped intelligence thinks that this is going to influence people in authority.
    Some aspects of their arguments will find a lot of sympathy within our support and should be debated from a point of strength by using evidence gained via their own video’s and written support.
    Their attitude always seems to be to ‘stick it to the man’. Well let me enlighten them when you put on a football scarf you simply lose lots of protection from the law. There are fewer sections of society, as a whole, discriminated against more than football supporters.
    This is where you have to play the long game against the system. Gather your own evidence, present it to the club via your own solicitor and at the same time present it to the chief constable and your MP as well as your local councillors. Political pressure can also come from within. If, after presenting your evidence, you are stopped by the police then that’s harassment and the police need to justify that in court. The police are there to enforce the law but they are not above it themselves.
    The attitude of the GB though is confrontation with no thought of consequences. This way ‘the man wins, wins, and wins again’. If you can’t win a battle then you simply don’t take the fight on. Any military commander in history will tell you that.
    You pick the ground to fight on where you can win, you lay out your tactics, possibly even leaving pitfalls for your enemy to fall into, you take them to places where they are not comfortable and you make examinations of their weaknesses. This is the legal system that you use. You use it well and you win the battle one bit at a time.
    The GB have lost the support that they built up. Their credit line has now run dry with the rest of the support. They have been disastrously led by people that, if they had used even a little of the intelligence that led to some of the excellent banner displays, then this would have ended far differently than it did.

  • 15 December, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I’ve never deleted a single post in the history of this blog fella. Not one unless it was racist or bigoted, and as yours was neither I have left everything as it is.

  • 15 December, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    James, I have read and enjoyed almost every article you have written,but the more I read into this one the less enjoyable it became,maybe because as an older fan it,s hard to understand the extent some critics will go “I,ll never set foot in the park as long as they are still there!….. I used to stand in the old enclosure facing the directors box Booing the board including Bob Kelly at every home game as they took their seats, but NEVER EVER thought of not setting foot inside the park,as long as.THEY were still there. After a defeat my old rant was “ah,ll no be back” but I was there the next game,that,s why my 3 sons now and their sons will be at the next game! even with Peter still there! One surefire way to divide a house or to disunite a family is to stop setting foot in the place! but that,s up to you James.HAIL HAIL

  • 16 December, 2013 at 12:12 am


    You make excellent points mate, and I understand well where you are coming from. It was a difficult decision to make, and it remains a difficult thing to do. But I do it. I left the Labour Party over the invasion of Iraq, and I was as torn about that decision as I was about not setting foot inside Parkhead until Lawwell was gone.

    What’s now is not forever. The institution lasts longer than the man, and when the man is gone the institution will still be here. It is immortal. He isn’t.

  • 16 December, 2013 at 6:06 am

    Great post as ever James and especially on the money re your comments on Keevins. What a buffoon of a human he is. I remember him being torn a new one when Alex Thompson was live in the SSB studio with him and Rodger Hannah, funny how he wasn’t so smug then!

  • 16 December, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Excellent work I don’t agree with all the content but the important part is the unity of our great club….”football without the fans is nothing” we are a club like no other lets keep it that way

  • 16 December, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    The key to Celtic getting shot of it’s massive hooligan problem is to first admit you have a problem in the first place. You sir live on planet Reebok when it comes to that. Celtic won awards in the past? yeah they did but they also forced to play behind closed doors not once but twice in the 80s and hit a Liverpool keeper with glass bottles in the 70s spare us this guff about the good wee Sellik fan and all the Uefa super duper awards please.

    Celtic fans have attacked players on the park, been fined for terrorist chants, Bigoted banners, fighting setting fire to your own ground and a number of other things over the last 10 years now Uefa have marked your card and it a won’t be long till they ban your club from Europe.

  • 16 December, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    One of the worst, most nonsensical, posts in the history of this site, and that is saying something. Take a bow Jim Smith. That was an incredible effort.

  • 16 December, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    James, as a fellow blogger I salute you. Great piece and to a word it’s what I believe. You got all points spot on-well balanced but with passion. keep up the good work. If you’re being threatened it probably means you’re standing up for what you believe and this takes guts. People who threaten are people who can’t/won’t think for themselves and are unable to rationally debate so take it as a compliment. HH

  • 17 December, 2013 at 12:11 am

    great article.
    I was there on Saturday and watched as stewards moved fans for moving to empty seats to join in with the group who were singing and attempting to create an atmosphere.
    I sympathise with the GB and reckon CP & the PLC will miss them more than we appreciate (wonder how much the PLC made from the GB’s displays, songs etc – think of all the tat that is on sale in the Celtic shop, Glasgow’s green & white, the Barcelona display, Just can’t get enough, etc etc).
    The PLC needs to wake up quickly to the need to cater to the youngsters (and I don’t mean the family section). We need standing areas behind the goals were fans can sing, dance, jump around, bang drums & wave flags and banners – and we need this fast or we’ll lose the lifeblood of our club.
    I still can’t believe that the PLC didn’t question LNS decision – everyone knows they cheated, everyone knows this was a cover up to save them going out of business altogether – why didn’t the PLC put up a challenge?
    Why didn’t the PLC question Ogilvie’s place on the SFA ?
    Why did the PLC not fight UEFA over the ludicrous charges / fines – just about every ultra group in Europe has hoisted a “f’@@@ UEFA” banner (check youtube) – why are we the first (only) team to be fined – why didn’t the PLC produce evidence of other groups / teams doing this?
    Why are the PLC providing the police with personal details about (GB) fans?
    I’ve been watching Celtic since the mid 60’s – I’ve been a season ticket holder for the last 30 years but I’m seriously thinking of calling it a day unless things change. The fans need to unite and tell the board exactly what we think – I’m tired of reading in papers what the majority of Celtic fans want (nobody from the media has ever asked my opinion). I have no issues with the GB -I can’t believe the PLC were happy to sacrifice them in order to protect it’s image – when have we ever had a good image with the press?
    I can honestly see us playing in front of 30,000 next season in a soulless CP – all old men like me yearning for the good old days. There’s too much alternatives on offer for the young ones these days – when I grew up all we really had to entertain us was football, so we never had much choice. Today it’s different and the PLC need to find that out fast.

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