Kelly’s Zeroes

greenies_2750714bIt’s common knowledge that newspaper sales in the UK are in decline.

Most readers of the red tops or the high brow broadsheets have been reading the publications online for a good while now.

Amid this, some genius at The Scotsman decided to ask the former shamed director of Celtic and Lord Provost of Glasgow, Michael Kelly to write a column.

Sheer genius? From a man who used to run his own PR firm, and I’d guess would have an idea of how to perform “damage limitation”, he seems hell bent on alienating Celtic fans even more (if that’s possible).Utter folly be the Edinburgh based broadsheet.
What next? Katie Hopkins: My 10 Steps to Finding a Job for the Workshy Scots?

His latest ramblings entitled “Michael Kelly: Green Brigade can’t rewrite history” is not only laughable but highly questionable, patchy and miles off the mark.

Kelly was, of course, a member of one of the families who had controlled Celtic with an iron first and an old biscuit tin. The former Lord Provost of Glasgow sat on the club’s board of directors until 1994, when the club reached the verge of administration and these days is largely silent on subjects regarding the club, unless it’s to complain.

The subject here were the Green Brigade’s banners at the last two home games. I’m not here to discuss the rights or wrongs of what they did, and I won’t get into it on the subject of Motherwell last night either, when a group of neds masquerading as Celtic fans shamed the support with a rampage of flare throwing, smoke bombing and seat breaking. The club is investigating, and they will have final word on that.

But why should the Scotsman or any other publication curry favour with Kelly and his out of touch opinions? The idea that he speaks for any Celtic supporter aside from his himself was blown long ago. This is the same man who said we, as a business and as a football club, should financially assist Rangers – for the good of the game. Had Celtic gone in 1994 would Rangers have helped us with a life-giving financial injection?

As James Forrest has written elsewhere, Murray is quite clear that he would have killed Celtic himself, just to watch us die. The idea that we should have held out the hand of help to a club that spent itself to death in an effort to bury us … utterly ridiculous.

His opening gambit was this: “Some of the club’s fans are flying the wrong flags, displaying a lack of understanding of their club’s true traditions”

He goes on to state that, “The Green Brigade, who have created a false history in which Celtic, since its inception, is portrayed as an institution committed to and supportive of Irish nationalism – a tradition which they see as their responsibility to carry on.”

Ok, Michael – let’s get down to the basics here.

Whilst your family were in charge, the Irish Tricolour proudly flew majestically above the stand whilst the Union Jack hung wearily and grey at the side of the Main Stand battered and sepia-like. You played on these roots and milked them to line your pockets. Some called it the Green Pound. This was your audience, and you knew it. These were the people who funded your lavish lifestyle.

Celtic has, and it always will, been proud of, and proud to promote, its Irish roots and with aplomb. Why should they not? People of different nationalities and cultures do the same.

Kelly can do his utmost to re-write history, but for large numbers of working class Celtic supporters Irish nationalism is at the heart of supporting Celtic and has been since the inception of the club.

Accusing the  Green Brigade of having a  distorted view of Celtic’s history, he offers anecdotal evidence that Irish politics were never on the agenda of his great family. I’ll you something for hee-haw Mick – you must have lived a very sheltered life or were very misinformed. It’s a huge slight on the Green Brigade too, who whatever else you might say about them, demonstrably have a firm grasp on the clubs history and of modern day politics. They might not have great instincts for what wins hearts and minds, but I would credit them with knowing their stuff.

Kelly then goes on tell us that the Irish flag was flown as a symbol of the club’s antecedents  and how they “were never forgotten”, of which the “flying of the Irish tricolour at the Park was a symbol.”

He talks about how Celtic has a social conscience, and how James Kelly lost two sons in the First World War and how brave Desmond White lost use of his right arm whilst fighting as with the RAF in WWII. Then he goes on to tell us how “Celtic used its influence to have Russian clubs barred from European competitions after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.”

He follows this up by proudly reminding us (as if we needed it) that “Basque and Palestinian flags are seen at Celtic Park as opposed to Spanish and Israeli ones.” Yet, this appears in the context of an article slamming the Green Brigade for mixing politics and football.

Let me get this one straight. It’s OK to take an anti-Russian stance and support the Basque and Palestine cause, but by Christ don’t back the Irish? What is this blatantly contradictory drivel?

The ramblings get even better, as Kelly goes on to say: “While the reaction of the Dutch police does seem to have been excessive, Celtic fans must share the responsibility for the trouble in Amsterdam. Thousands travelled without tickets. For what? A bevy. It’s a recipe for trouble that has brewed again and again. Responsible people do not put themselves in a position to be chased by police. As well as seeking justice, the club should take a hard line”

Jesus wept. Celtic took an army of 80,000 to Seville for a “bevy”. There were probably enough ticketless fans in Seville to fill the Amsterdam ArenA, yet there was no trouble. We won awards for it, for God’s sake.

But his tales from the asylum get even more ridiculous.

“The fact that the Green Brigade organise huddles during the game which demand the supporters turn their backs on the pitch says it all about how much interest they are showing in the football. I doubt if they spend more than ten minutes actually watching the game. No wonder Neil Lennon has had enough of them. He’s well rid of fans like them. They hold him in high regard for all the wrong reasons. They perceive him to be persecuted for his nationality and religion. They view his occasional petty behaviour as a justified resistance to authority rather than incidents which themselves embarrass the club. They do him no favours encouraging him.”

White is the same man who publicly defended Donald Findlay by saying: “just because you sing a sectarian song that doesn’t make you a bigot,” IIt must have been his father who told him that, in bygone days of yore. And what is this nonsense about Neil Lennon and “percieved” persecution? This is a man who has been vilified in the press, targeted by yobs, send bullets and even bombs and attacked at the side of the pitch as he tried to do his job. There is no “perception” required here. Neil Lennon has been subject to persecution. That is a stone cold fact. And if it wasn’t because of his nationality and religion what was it about? His red hair?

White also appears to be content with the fact that Celtic fans are being arrested and jailed for singing what many agree are political songs. He justified the Russian stance portraying Celtic as “champions of the underdog”.

But like Vanessa Williams, the once Provost gives us this beauty saving the best til last.

“The Celtic board are running the club as well as it could be, given the parlous state of Scottish football. Showing profits in the current climate shows exceptional commercial skill. On the field, Lennon has produced results well above what could have been expected from severely limited budgets. So Lawwell, who is credited with how well things are running, is in a position of strength to remove this alien and unhelpful element from the support. In any action he decides to take he can call upon the genuine Celtic fans, who are mainly looking for success on the field and not a united Ireland, to back him up in the certain knowledge that he is not betraying the club’s history. He is strengthening its traditions which demand that Celtic continue to pursue sporting excellence as a non-partisan, non-sectarian organisation fully aware of its social obligations.”

So here we have a man who was complicit in running Celtic into the ground giving us the benefit of his extensive business acumen. A man who preyed on the working class Celtic fan squeezing the green pound from the fan base during his stay. He knew the connection. Did he condemn the singing from The Jungle back in the day? I can’t recall. As long as it was full or as full as they could manipulate the figures to keep him in his salubrious surroundings him and his cohorts were happy.

Someone needs to tell Mr Kelly that someone shot John Lennon, Britain had a woman PM and that a man landed on the moon. The days when he was relevant, or had anything relevant to say, are over, and they have been for a while.

What was it Brian Dempsey said on the stairs of Celtic Park on that famous night when Fergus McCann swept into the ground?

“The game is over. The Rebels Have Won.”

Kelly’s importance to our club ended that evening, and it remains that way.

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