Exile On Kerrydale Street

celtic-virgil-van-dijk(A Guest Blog by George Paterson.)

I love the Rolling Stones. No secret there, I suppose.

They’re one of my go-to bands if ever I want to feel like an (ageing) rebel, drive my Prius a little faster or just party like the rock star I wish I once was.

53 years after their formation, they remain the industry standard for rock rebellion, standing firm – with their thick lips, tousled manes and suspiciously bulging jeans – as the greatest and most balls out survivors in popular music history. A red hot streak of albums from 1968’s ‘Beggars Banquet’ to the seminal ‘Exile on Main Street’ a mere four years later cemented their legacy and created the blueprint from which every other bad boy rock band has subsequently sprung.

It’s been 10 full years since they released a studio album. ‘A Bigger Bang’ was another in a long line. A collection of jagged riffs, forgettable lyrics and nondescript fillers that is best left in the bargain basements.

In fact, the last 32 years have seen them produce 6 studio releases, with about half a dozen tracks worth recalling between them.

Not a great average, I have to say.

But the Stones aren’t about being relevant anymore. They are more than happy to trade off on past glories. And the public lap it right up.

From their much talked about Glastonbury appearance to their magnificent ‘Sweet Summer Sun’ farewell in London’s Hyde Park, they are masters of giving the people what they want.

And what they want is the hits. Lots of them.

And played by the guys — 60% of them anyway — who brought them to us,

50 odd years ago.

Past glories, like I said.

Like a one hit wonder who can still get beers bought for him on the back of a single smash hit.

Yesterday, I compared Celtic Football Club to a Rolling Stones type band, and James asked me to amplify that and write this piece.

It seems to me that there are key similarities.

What we have is a merchandising juggernaut, trading on past success, knowingly retro but constantly angling for your hard earned while dropping in the occasional reference about the regard in which the brand is held throughout the world.

Thinking about it again, in more detail, I think that this is actually unfair.

On the Stones, that is.

They know what they’re about and they know where they’re going.

They don’t have to remain relevant.

They’re the Rolling Stones.

There are amoeba in ponds in Ulan Bator that could hum ‘Satisfaction’.

We are a different case altogether.

We were only briefly ‘the biggest rock band in the world’, and in that respect we’re more like Neil Young, to be honest.

Or we should be. Consistently trying to push the envelope while retaining affectionate links to a once heady past.

Because Young can still surprise and shock, even in his dotage.

He’ll never sell out stadia like The Stones but he’ll pack them in at a more reasonable level and more importantly, never sell out his principles.

He knows his market and adapts when he feels it suits.

He’s influential and relevant, even now, and he probably never compares what he does to The Stones.

We should be aim to be Neil Young.

But that dream is too much of a stretch for our current custodians.

The model they have for us is more like The Drifters, in more ways than one.

The most lasting of the doo-wop R&B bands of the 50’s and 60’s, The Drifters’ legacy is one that’s nowhere near as secure as it should be -or as secure as the previous artists I mentioned – despite being ever present on oldie/hit radio stations.

Constant chopping and changing meant that legendary vocalists such as Clyde McPhatter, Ben E. King and Johnny Moore only rarely reached sustained heights and virtually never together.

Money was a major factor in the regular splintering of The Drifters.

Rather than keep a settled line up, their managers reckoned that if Clyde wanted too much money, they’d release him and get another cheaper version while keeping the name going.

Sometimes it worked (the aforementioned King and Moore being the prime exceptions) but given that there have been over 60 vocalists in various versions, it’s absolutely certain that the quality was diluted.

They may have had their successes but they lacked the stability of a Four Tops for instance; 44 years without a single personnel change, by God! Think what that might have led to for The Drifters!

The Stones themselves — on the rare occasions they’ve had to — have replaced top men with even better ones, even poaching Ronnie Wood from a rival powerhouse, The Faces.

See, they know what our club’s custodians haven’t twigged yet.

Substandard signings diminish the brand and with it the selling power declines.

Look at where The Drifters are playing now.

Clacton and Cleethorpes instead of Las Vegas and Paris Olympia.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that if you set your sights low, changing your personnel regularly by taking the cheapest road, you find that tends to take you to Cleethorpes Winter Gardens, or in Celtic’s case The Aker Stadion, Molde instead of the Nou Camp.

Of course football is a sport, not the entertainment business (though these days, I’m not totally sure the purity of sport is as cherished by the custodians as it should be but that’s for another rant). And granted, we are hampered by Sky’s massive investment in English football but this may be where we’re going wrong. Perhaps we shouldn’t try to compare ourselves to the giants of their league, their Rolling Stones and U2.

Look at the Neil Young’s of the game. The Ajax’s, Benfica’s, The Anderlecht’s.

Sure, they can’t always get what they want — our first Europa tie is against the former Dutch powerhouse — but they rarely sell themselves short in the attempt at self betterment.

None of the sides I mentioned has the cushion of a huge TV deal and they all realise that though their fans are desperate for another ‘Exile on Main Street,’ they’re unlikely to get it.

But it doesn’t mean that they should continually serve up sub par crap like ’Bridges to Babylon’ and expect their fans to pay through the nose for it, just because we’ve obediently kept our end of the bargain, over and over again.

There are plenty of failed businesses who gambled on the continued loyalty of an increasingly choosy public.

Our recent dwindling attendances might be a symptom of a greater malaise.

In short, we need to forget about being the Stones – but just as importantly, stop acting like the short sighted management of the Drifters – and concentrate on being a bit more Neil Young, albeit with a heart of Green, White and Gold.

Bizarre rant over.

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12 comments on “Exile On Kerrydale Street
  1. That was a very pleasant and pointed read George, really like the analogies and agree completely with all that you have said. Get working on your next rant as I will look forward to reading it 🙂 HH

  2. Totally agree with you I would also point out they still always charge over the top, I was recently speaking to a Sunderland supporter and was stunned to learn his season ticket was in the £350 range where mine is £520 and worst facilities in the stadium not even a tv lower south stand
    I went to buy Europa package for me and my two sons £198 I went in form Livingston because they wanted to charge me £1-50 per ticket surely if it is a package the booking fee should be for the package we don’t have the choice of buying one ticket
    If 10000 supporters buy a package online the club make £45000 just to activate your card not even a ticket no postage what the he’ll are we paying for as usual taking the pics out of their loyal supporters
    RANT OVER

  3. A child could of wrote this article , best article today was believe it or not in the Daily Record , written by a blogger from the other side talkin abt the obsessed , ( you James ) c,mon over to my place we are having a party , was.a Drifters song , the 2016 version might read , c,mon over to my place , the party’s over . Once again posted by a Celtic fan ( me ) for the last 43 years before you all abuse me ,

  4. Duncan:

    You’re a fucking moron.

    For many reasons. Primarily this article wasn’t written by me.

    Here’s a clue: IT SAYS SO IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH.

    The article isn’t about a certain other club.

    Here’s a clue; THEY AREN’T EVEN MENTIONED IN IT.

    The rest of your post makes no sense whatsoever.

    I repeat; you are a moron.

  5. Great read George. Supporting Celtic has never been an easy ride through the years but the last 3 or 4 have been infuriatingly painful. We should be going from strength to strength and making ourselves untouchable domestically for years to come. We\’re going backwards. The \”strategy\” has us in reverse when the foot should be to the floor and all our rivals can see us our dust on the horizon. While we\’ve all enjoyed and pissed ourselves laughing at the train wreck \”sevco\”, we\’re not so far off being a laughing stock ourselves, on and off the park.
    At work today, I was giving a driving lesson to this young lad. The conversation went something like this:
    \”Who did you draw in Europa league?\” he asked –
    – \”Ajax, fenerbache and molde.\”-
    – \”tough one, though you should beat molde.\” –
    – \”I bet there\’s a driving lesson in Norway now where the pupil has asked his instructor the same question and the kid has said \’tough group tho you should beat celtic\’ \”
    When we should be steam rolling all before us domestically and to a lesser extent, the minnows of European football (a club we now belong to) we stutter and struggle, but the punters keep coming back for more and we are definitely short changed when it comes to getting satisfaction!

  6. Clever analogy with the Stones. An over hyped band that really couldn\’t play the blues and had to ask L&McC to write them their first hit. When Mick Taylor left, the music died, leaving a logo and a memory.
    At least we had 67! And 70 and 2003 and 9 in a row. And Big Jock. Better fare than the Stones ever had 🙂
    But point taken. There has to be a balance between investment and results. And you know what? I wouldn\’t like to be the one trying to do that job. Fucked if you do. Fucked if you don\’t.
    It\’s not the transfer fees that stop Celtic signing players. FFS they splashed out 5 Million on Simunovic. It\’s the wages. Celtic offer 15k a week for an average player who can get 35k a week sitting on the bench for Swansea. Get it? 20 X 52 = 1 million per year for one guy. I don\’t think so.
    The Engs have the richest league in the world. Will an Eng team win the CL next year? Probably not. What a waste of money.

  7. Thought when I seen the heading you were referring to the worst Celtic sight there is!

    100% Agree with you post James this downsizing is destroying the heart of the club and sorry to say we are in free-fall and the ever decreasing support is testament to this.

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