He’s a pensioner, and in the message he said he thought it was important to keep alive what Celtic means, and to keep on highlighting our “contribution to world football.” He was right.
As time goes by, as I get older, I think about what Celtic has meant to me all my life. I think about the way it has affected everything I do.
I strongly suspect I got my personality from Celtic, everything from my optimistic outlook to the way I handle adversity. I know, for sure, that no other institution, from the church to the political organisations I’ve been a member of along the way, has had as profound an impact on the way I view the world. Celtic is part of who I am.
I do believe this club has made a major contribution to world football, and we continue to.
The Celtic supporters have also had a major effect on the world around them, as the Thai Tims can attest, as the kids from the Kano Foundation know well, as the children of a hundred African villages will grow up to respect. We have changed lives. No doubt about it.
Like every other successful football club we have enemies and it’s probably not exactly unusual to find that the bulk of ours exist in our own country. Whereas Celtic fans can go just about anywhere in the world and be made to feel welcome, here at home we have to run a gauntlet of criticism and spite that we simply don’t get elsewhere.
Right now, the opposition are in paroxysms of joy at the prospect of us getting into trouble at UEFA for our latest wee indiscretion, where a group of morons decided to bring flares into the San Siro not giving a damn what the consequences were.
I say to those fans first that your behaviour is disgusting. You’re not Celtic supporters, and I don’t care that you flew over there on your own dime. You weren’t representing us, you were representing yourselves and you made that quite clear. The club is going to weed you out, and that’s a fact. It will be better off without you.
But to those who would use this event to beat us … well, you’re barking up the wrong tree. A few idiots aside we are what we have always been; the best supporters in the world. You won’t change that. UEFA fines won’t change it. A few halfwits on Sevco sites pointing to our “record” won’t change it. I don’t give a damn what they think … because the rest of the world knows better.
Celtic fans are amongst the moved loved and respected on the planet.
Our reputation wasn’t built on the back of the way we’re viewed in Scotland. It was built on the way we’re perceived by those friends we’ve made across the world … and that part of our reputation will be forever beyond the reach of those who hate us.
Our friends know who we are, just as we do, and they are everywhere; in Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Holland, England and elsewhere … wherever we have played in recent years, we have built relationships with the fans of other clubs.
You know, about five years ago I read a Rangers fan site actually mocking Celtic fans for going out of the way to make friends wherever we went.
We had just been invited to Villarreal for a tournament, cementing a bond which goes back a while now.
The writer was expressing his opinion on that.
I would love to say the piece in question reeked of jealousy, because that would be semi-rational, but in fact it was worse than that; it was written in a tone that was honestly hostile to the very idea that a club’s fans should go abroad and try to make friends.
The writer had his own ideas about what a European city should expect from a visiting club’s supporters; mayhem. Chaos. “I want them to be terrified when we are in town,” he said … and I found that the most profoundly revealing statement of all.
It was something they made good on time and time again.
Villarreal didn’t forget them any more than it forgot us.
Manchester would probably rather it was never visited by them this side of Armageddon.
We have a few recidivists in our support, a small group who continue to engage in behaviour that I’d call moronic except that morons would be offended, but without defending these people – I wouldn’t even try, they ought to be outcasts – I ask you; what exactly are these terrible crimes of which the Celtic support stands accused by our friends here at home?
Letting off fireworks. Songs UEFA doesn’t like. A couple of banners pointing to the hypocrisy of our the Scottish Government, and telling the game’s governing body what a section of support thought of their decision making.
UEFA takes this stuff seriously; pyrotechnics in grounds, political banners and singing … but without trying to downplay the significance of this, we’re not talking about rioting in the stands here. Celtic’s crime count is the equivalent of loitering, of being drunk and incapable, of peeing in public. This is hardly a list of the most heinous sins ever seen in a football ground.
UEFA charges are bad news. We could find ourselves with a stand closed, or having our fans banned from travelling to away games. Indeed, Peter Lawwell must be tempted to refuse our next European ticket allocation … but that would punish the best fans in the world for the actions of a few and I doubt it will ever come to that.
Celtic fans have always been self-policing. No-one is any doubt that our club is being harmed by the actions of a few idiots. That will not be allowed to continue.
But the damage to the club does not impact on the esteem in which we are held.
Never forget that. Our contribution to world football, the good we have done, will forever outweigh the bad when it comes to how the rest of the sport views us.
On a day like today, with anger replacing our justifiable pride after the heroics on the pitch last night we should have been buzzing and eagerly awaiting the big match against Aberdeen at the weekend.
It is all too easy to be disheartened by negative headlines and a gleeful media who will milk this as much as the Sevco supporters who have been dying for something like this to deflect from their own scandalous behaviour of late … but nothing has changed here.
We are still special supporters. We are still welcome everywhere we go. The Celtic Park atmosphere is the best in Europe, by far, and the vast, vast majority of our away fans continue to do us credit, as magnificent ambassadors.
The respect others have for us, the affection many feel across the continent whenever they see the green and white hooped shirt … it is the same as it was yesterday. A few halfwits will not wreck that, no matter what the press here would have you believe.
Our football club has improved out of sight since this season began. The name “Celtic” rung out across Europe over these two legs. We did more than just regain our pride, we started to rebuild our reputation on the pitch … and that work stands us in good stead as we look ahead to the rest of the domestic season and our next European campaign.
My pride in this football club is undimmed. My pride at being a Celtic fan will never fade. We are what we have always been. The special fans of a special club.
How does the song go? “When you walk through a storm hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark.”
Whatever the media might tell you, this is no more than a light shower.
We know who we are, and so do those friends we have everywhere, because that is what we’ve always been about. Our club will be forced to defend that reputation in the halls of UEFA and that is sad, because this organisation was giving us awards not long ago, but that reputation was not made there and it will not be harmed there.
We are – still, and always will be – the greatest fans in the world.
Don’t let anyone tell you different.
(It’s that time of the year again, when we need your support. You can help our work by making a donation at the PayPal link at the top or the bottom of your page, depending on which device you are using. Thank you in advance, friends.)
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