Our Anger Over This Continuing “Old Firm” Insult Is What Must Drive Us On Today.

Celtic F.C.Today Sevco will play against Celtic at our home ground, for the very first time. Two matches at Hampden against a Ronny Deila team have lulled some of these players into a false sense of security. Some of them have never been in an atmosphere like this in their lives.

The media has hyped this game up, as they will forever more. I’m resigned to that fact, but it should give us the upper hand more often than not, because as long as we’re in front of their club they are the ones who have to rise to the occasion.

I don’t want to get into knocking Ronny today; that’s an era at our club that delivered two titles and he deserves credit for that. But in two matches against Sevco we never once showed the limits of our superiority, except for a spell in the first one. It was as if, in that tie, we played within ourselves, treating it as a simple exercise in going through.

I was delighted at the time, but it’s burned me since. We ought to have stuck six past them that day, and I will never fully understand what stopped us from doing so. They were a demoralised shambles, ripe for us handing out a right good tanking.

The second game was a disgrace, pure and simple, with the most negative tactics I’ve ever seen administered by a Celtic boss in a domestic cup match. Back in the days when Rangers were around, I saw Celtic managers who went into those games spectacularly outgunned, but until Hampden last year I never saw one go out and play for a draw.

Brendan Rodgers is not Ronny Deila; he understands what drives our club. He gets it, and as long as the media wants to call this a Celtic – Rangers game, I expect him to approach it as if it were, whilst understanding that we’re much the superior team. In short, I expect him to feel the same raw emotion as we do, the same will to administer the football equivalent of a punishment beating today. This mob are more than just jumped up upstarts; they are vain, arrogant, boastful, prideful and in need of bringing rapidly, and painfully, back to Earth.

Today should hurt. Today should be psychologically wrecking. We should start at high speed and not stop until the final whistle. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Barcelona in midweek is a much more important game, but that should not be used as an excuse or a reason to be soft today. Our players and our manager know how important this one is.

The existence of Sevco, playing in the guise of Rangers, the assertion that they are one in the same, is an insult to every club in the land, but Celtic especially.

Because we’re the club who was damaged most in the era of Ibrox cheating, and we are the club the media endlessly tries to shoehorn into this corrupt notion of a rivalry based on hate, and it doesn’t matter what we as supporters say or do. This website has written a thousand times that we want nothing to do with this. I wrote it on E-Tims and on The CelticBlog, and every other Celtic blogger is unanimous in saying the same.

I can’t put it more plainly than to say this; every single word I’ve written on that club in the last four years has been a reaction to this debased idea. As a Celtic fan and a Celtic blogger I do not want any part in this media inspired, PR fantasy and I don’t care whether they call themselves after the OldCo, accept they’re a NewCo or get fully on board, at last, with the facts as we know them; just leave us out of it.

Stop trying to drag us into your grubby circle.

I care about the Survival Lie only inasmuch as it affects Celtic and the reason I am such a passionate advocate of calling this what it is, is that as long as the media pretends they are Rangers they will drag us into the swamp chained to the hated Old Firm term.

So, I suggest this; if the media and their supporters put their guns away, I’ll put away mine. I’ll stop banging on about them being a NewCo. Hell, I’ll even stop calling them Sevco. As long as they accept, at last, that Celtic fans could care less, and just want shot of them.

Take this millstone from around our necks, consign that ugly phrase and loathed tag to the dustbin of history, treat this like just another game, and as far as I’m concerned they can get on with pretending to be whatever the Hell they want and I’ll be as happy to indulge their fantasy as I would be to grant the local glue sniffer his fairies at the bottom of the garden.

Because all I care about is the well-being of my club, and this rancid association and its toxic connotations has been smothering us for far too long.

Back in 2012, when liquidation and death overwhelmed them, any number of their fans and media apologists clung to the idea that, deep down, we needed them and wanted them, as if they were necessary to validate our own existence.

Over the four years of Sevco, one of the things that’s bothered them most is the slow dawning realisation that we weren’t even remotely kidding … if they’d been swallowed up completely and no version of them ever rose again, we wouldn’t have missed them far less mourned them.

They call us obsessed anyway, not recognising for a second that nearly every single word on this blog and others in relation to them has been written from the perspective of people who are happy their club is dead and would be even happier if no version of it existed at all. They can call that hate as they like, but I’ve seen what real hate looks like.

I grew up sharing a city and a country with it, and it didn’t flow from their ordinary supporters, amongst whose ranks I’ve had colleagues, relations, great love affairs and lifelong friendships. No, it flowed from the institution itself, because it was built on that emotion, marketed on it and for years thrived by sucking greedily at every morsel of that hate which spilled into the public sphere. I am entitled to hate the institution a little because of it.

What was it Liam Neeson said in Michael Collins?

“I do hate them. I hate them for making hate necessary.”

When Sevco was formed, it had a chance to consign that hate to the grave.

It didn’t.

It used it as a foundation stone, and so along with the Survival Lie the Victim Lie was born.

They say that Scottish football depends on them, and Celtic most of all.

Paul67 is the guy I credit with best getting right to the heart of the matter; “Whichever part of my club is dependent on Rangers, I am quite willing to lose,” he said, in 2012. He spoke for a great many of us that day, almost every single person I know.

But one of the many truths they just can’t face is that Scottish football thrived without all this, even as every day at Ibrox there was another psychodrama in the media. Four long years of their dirty laundry, hanging out there for everyone to see, as they struggled to stay relevant in a world which wouldn’t have given a shit that they were there at all but for the constant wailing, like a child trying to get attention.

Yet strip it all down and what do you find?

You find the real obsession.

You find the real dependency.

It’s all tied up in the Old Firm tag.

Because they are like a junkie who just can’t kick the habit.

They need it, like a vampire needs blood; they need it for their very survival.

You never read reference to the Old Firm on Celtic sites unless, like here, we’re denying we want any part of it, but it is promoted, endlessly, on theirs, along with the pitiful, almost pleading, suggestion that without it we’d be less than what we are … which is their way of admitting that without it they would be absolutely nothing at all.

Because they do define themselves by this rivalry, and in the end it’s all they’ve got, the one thing they cling to that makes them important in a world that otherwise would have passed them by a long, long time ago. Their backward, irredeemably narrow appeal renders them insignificant without the Old Firm name because without that who outside of Scotland would even care they existed at all?

I believe Celtic survives quite well without it.

Our existence as a football club and a social institution neither relies on nor is helped by an ugly PR invention at the end of which are fist-fights and stabbings and drunken yobs fighting in the street and the promotion over and over and over again of blind hate.

Today I want us to win, and I want us to win big, and it’s not because they are our biggest rivals.

It’s because they aren’t.

It’s not because we’re participants, willing or otherwise, in this rivalry they call the Old Firm.

It’s because we’re not and we don’t want to be.

I want the win, the big win, because I want to be done with this nonsense once and for all, and I’ve come to believe that the best way to do is to expose the lie for what it is, but not by UEFA letters or media admissions, or changing the minds of their ridiculous fans … the best way to do it is to burst the fantasy bubble, to expose this idea to the ridicule it deserves, to destroy the notion that this is a rivalry at all.

Because once that illusion is gone, I think the Ibrox operation will collapse, and then we might well get what we should have in 2012 … a world where the Old Firm tag is never used to define our football club again.

If there was ever a good reason for wanting to see our team win a game, that’s surely it.

In Brendan We Trust.

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It’s Commons Knowledge It’s Kris

kris-commons-448361It may seem a little premature to be talking about the Player of the Year.

But without a shadow of a doubt, Celtic’s attacking midfielder Kris Commons is a stonewall certainty to pick up all of the awards from both his fellow professionals and the media.

Kris scored the only and winning  goal at the weekend, against a plucky St. Mirren, and this on the back of scoring in the 4-0 win over Hibs at Easter Road. His goal tally for this term sits at 21 in 31 appearances – a record any striker in the land would be proud of, and is all the more exceptional coming from a midfielder.

It seemed almost strange that he never got on the score sheet in the midweek thrashing of Kilmarnock. But I’m sure all Celtic fans will forgive him that.

The 30-year-old hit the ground running in January 2011, the day after signing for just £300,000 from Derby County. Commons found the net with a cheeky lob in a 4-1 League Cup Semi win over Aberdeen.  He further endeared himself to the Hoops faithful when he scored in a 2-2 cup draw at Ibrox. Not long after, he made his home debut in the Glasgow derby fixture, scoring the 3rd in a 3-1 win.

Not only was Commons scoring, but he was creating goals too. He immediately became a key player as the Parkhead club went on to win the Scottish Cup.

However, for some strange, and still unknown, reason he appeared to lose form after that. During that season, Commons appeared to lose his way. He looked overweight and unfit and devoid of confidence, which puzzled many Celtic fans including myself. The rumour factory was in overdrive at the time, hinting at arguments going on behind the scenes, at a relationship with the manager that didn’t work, and would have to end in one of them leaving the club. Both are still with us.

Hats off to Commons, that whatver it was he soon got over it Cap duly doffed. He’s knuckled down over the past couple of season’s and is probably the first pick on Neil Lennon’s team-sheet. I shudder to think where Celtic would be without him.

We’ve struggled to find a striking partnership. Lennon has tinkered with Stokes, Samaras, Pukki and Balde, but Kris Commons who has outshone them all. We’ve bought in Leigh Griffiths and Hólmbert Friðjónsson with Griffiths being the most likely first pick striker, but my bet would be that Commons will keep his place in the team no matter what.

Some are subscribing to the theory that his decision to quit international football has aided his incredible rise in form, and maybe it has. If it’s true, Scotland’s loss is most definitely Celtic’s gain.

Yeah I don’t think that’s it. How often are players away with the national team in any one season? Not enough to matter. Besides, I don’t think Commons was held in such high regard by The Tartan Army. Undoubtedly, his best performances have come in club colours. Talking to some of the Scottish international foot soldiers, I get the impression he’s not terribly missed, although I’m sure Strachan would welcome him back with open arms.

I’m not in favour of him returning to the national set-up. This is purely for selfish reasons. I don’t want him getting injured, especially not if there are Champions League games on the horizon.

Kris and his family seem to be settled in Glasgow. He is happy on and off the field. Simple things like this allow players to get on with their jobs. His partner, Lisa Hague, does a tremendous amount of charity work, and she’s a wonderful ambassador for the club. I think it would take a lot to prise her away from Glasgow.

Commons is an exciting player. Not only does he score goals, but he can pick a pass out superbly. He is never found wanting in a game. He has a tremendous work rate and he constantly wants the ball. He oozes self-belief without being cocky. This is often displayed in post-match interviews. There’s an air of humility and maturity when he talks, something we can only hope is rubbing off on the younger members of the squad. In a game full of big heads, braggy show offs and bad role models, he is the real deal, a model professional that others can look up to.

Remarkably he’s scored the opening, and oft times most important, goal in 14 games this season. Those fans prone to betting on Commons as the first scorer have seen the odds shorten dramatically. I’ve noticed a rise in people on social media with comments such as “Commons First Scorer/Celtic 3-0” in a bid to get some return on their stakes.

Neil Lennon recently revealed he’d bid £4m for a striker, so to think Celtic paid just £300,000 only 3 years ago, for a player of this effectiveness beggars belief. He could easily have been asked to pay ten times that, based on this season alone. The last player to give that kind of return on an investment would be Moravcik, or the great Henrik Larsson.

This isn’t a comparison, of course, but Commons’ contribution since he signed has been nothing short of marvellous. There’s a lot of praise going Fraser Forster’s way, and rightly so, but for me, Commons eclipsed “La Gran Muralla”.

If he doesn’t pick both Player of the Year awards, I’ll eat my hat.

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