Mar 252013
 

All Funds Raised Donated To Motor Neurone Disease Scotland

 

signedshirt

 

UPDATE – PLEASE READ: Whilst the top prize is shown above, a runner’s up prize which has been kindly donated to us is pictured below. The 1995 Scottish Cup print, signed by both Paul McStay and Pierre Van Hooijdonk, will be the second place prize, whilst I’ll personally sort out whoever comes third with a free programme of their choice via @MBProgrammes.

The raffle will now run until midnight on Friday night, the 3rd May, before being drawn on Sunday after the Ross County match. Initially, it was set to end at the end of April, but due to problems with my internet last week I haven’t been able to publicise it as much as I would have liked, and that was, of course, somewhat frustrating. Thank you, and please find the original article with the main details of the raffle below.

 

runnersup

 

As many of you will know, we do our best at Maley’s Bhoys to raise money for a chosen charity every season with your help. Formed in January 2011, we raised £375 for the Good Child Foundation between February and May of that season. In 2011/2012, our total raised for the Kano Foundation was approximately £1,100. And, so far this season, 2012/13, we have managed to raise £800 for the good people at Motor Neurone Disease Scotland. In total now, our website, thanks to all of you, have raised over £2,500 for charity in our time in existence. We are tremendously proud of this, and cannot thank you all enough.

Having lost one of my grandfathers to this terminal illness prior to my own birth, I have a personal connection to this disease, as does Celtic Football Club, which lost perhaps their greatest player, Jimmy Johnstone, to the same illness.

In an attempt to surpass the £1,000 mark for M.N.D.S. by the end of May, we are happy to announce we will be running a small raffle. The main prize, which you can see pictured above, is a 1998 Champions T-Shirt, signed in black marker pen by the team that “stopped the ten”. There will also be a couple of runners up prizes which will be announced at a later date (if you would like to donate anything as a runners up prize please feel free to contact us).

 

Anyway, the rules of this raffle, for the sake of clarity, are as follows:

– Tickets cost £2 each.

– You may purchase a maximum of five tickets per person, totalling £10, but you may make a larger donation to the fund if you wish.

– For example, if you donate £20, you will still only have five tickets put in the hat with your name on them. This is to give both small and large donors a relatively similar chance of winning a prize.

– Postage and packaging inside the United Kingdom and Ireland will be covered by myself, but should you win a prize and you live somewhere else in the world, please be aware that you would be required to cover the associated postage costs.

 

Donations can be made on the home page of this website (www.maleysbhoys.com) by scrolling down the page and clicking the “donate” button on the right hand side of the page and following the instructions there. If you do this, and are, for example, a Twitter user, please add this as a note when sending the money so we know who you are.

Should you not have Paypal, or wish to donate in another way, please feel free to contact me on Twitter or click the “Contact Us” tab at the top of the page, and follow the on screen instructions, and I’ll be in touch.

The raffle will close at midnight on Friday, 3rd May – all donations to the fund until then will be allocated with the relevant of tickets. After the Ross County match scheduled for the 5th May, we will draw the raffle, and announce the winners, who will be sent their prizes accordingly.

As always, if you are unfortunate enough to be struggling financially, please do not feel obliged to donate any money you cannot afford. Whilst this is a very worthy cause, we would not want to take money from anyone who cannot afford it, and neither would our chosen charity.

Also, we are still selling picture discs with over 5,000 Celtic images on them for the same charity, if anyone happens to be interested.

All in all, if anyone has any problems, questions or queries, please feel free to contact us and we will do all we can do to help you out.

 

P.S. Apologies for the slight delay in publishing this article – thankfully my internet is up and running again now.

Mar 212013
 

Books - Paradise Road (2012) - Pic

 

Over the course of the past few weeks, I have been lucky enough to read Paradise Road, the first novel from Stephen O’Donnell. I have never written a book review before, but I shall do my best with this. Firstly, and this is perhaps a rather obvious statement, I should highlight that writing any book is a big ask. As I am currently working on my own debut piece, I can understand the amount of work that Stephen must have put into Paradise Road.

Having read it from cover to cover, I must say that it is a thoroughly enjoyable tale, which follows the life and times of the main character, Kevin McGarry, whilst the trials and tribulations at Celtic Football Club, from the mid-eighties until relatively close to the present day, play out in the background. Kevin is a footballer in his early days, before a combination of factors lead to his realisation he will not “make it” in the game. However, this doesn’t stop him supporting the Club he loves, both home and away. His reflections on both the “modernising” of the game before his eyes, and his life as a whole, are thoroughly entertaining to dissect.

I am, of course, a young man, at only twenty two. For this reason, I particularly appreciated the areas of the book wherein Kevin is of a similar age to myself. Whilst there will be few people who relate to absolutely everything that happens to the characters in the book, the vast majority of individuals who read this book will find several points which will strike a chord with them.

The beauty of Paradise Road is that it will garner differing thoughts and reactions from it’s individual readers. It is not a generic book, but that is no bad thing. Written in a Glaswegian style, it possesses an trait whereby a character (often Kevin), can finish a sentence in a typically crude manner (as is often the way with Scottish slang), before their personal thoughts are described in fantastically intricate detail. The story itself is told with a dry wit and sincerity that most, if not all, readers of the book will appreciate.

Kevin is a clever individual, but like all of us, he is capable of making mistakes. His hopes, dreams, regrets and fears are played out in both clear and subtle manners, whilst the changing dynamics of Scottish society are reflected not only through his story, but those of his friends and relatives.

To say this is a book about Celtic would be doing you all a disservice on my part, because it is not that. In my mind, Paradise Road is a book about the life of a Celtic supporter. The Club are a constant in the lives of the majority of the characters, and the differences in personalities and approaches to supporting the Club are played out over the course of many years. Throughout the good times and the bad, Celtic is an almost omnipresent force, but it is not the be all and end all of the tale itself.

And so, to sum up, Paradise Road is a book I would highly recommend to anybody with a love of a good story. It is easy to read, but more importantly, it is enjoyable to read. If you’re looking for a book which is exclusively about Celtic Football Club, this isn’t it – but if you are searching for something a little different, something which explores the lives of some of the Club’s supporters as well as the tales of football itself, then this may well be right up your street – and that street is called Paradise Road.

Mar 202013
 

As Celtic Open Player Of The Year Voting…

We Look At Some Of The “Front-Runners”

 

 

Earlier today, Celtic officially opened the voting for this season’s “Player of the Year” awards – for the link, please click here. With this in mind, I’ve decided to take a brief look at some of the candidates I believe may well stand a chance of taking the prestigious title. For the sake of clarity, they are ordered below by playing position, working from the goalkeepers forward, it is not an attempt to sway your opinions one way or another.

It is far from certain that the winner will come from the seven players mentioned below, as that is up to the support to decide, but these selections are, partly, my prerogative, and many of them are individuals being mentioned repeatedly on Twitter. I can only wish all of the players all the best for the future, and thank them all again for the service they continue to give to Celtic Football Club, whether they are mentioned below or not.

 

 

“La Gran Muralla” 

 

 

This season, Fraser Forster has been simply magnificent between the sticks, both at Celtic Park and away from home. His performances in Europe have been of particular note, thanks partly to the added exposure these have received, but domestically he has been, on the whole, very impressive too. Whilst some have questioned a couple of his performances since returning from a slight injury, some of his saves against the likes of Barcelona will live long in the memory of many, including myself. Having travelled to the Camp Nou and sat behind one of the goals, I was fortunate enough to see one of his finest displays first hand. An example to young goalkeepers everywhere, he is gradually proving himself to be the biggest threat to Joe Hart in the English national side, and the Great Wall is a real contender for this season’s award.

“@steventhetim Forster has kept us in games we would maybe have lost otherwise”

 

 

 

“The Unexpected Hero” – Kelvin Wilson

 

 

I think it is fair to say that Kelvin didn’t have the best of starts to his Celtic career in his first season at the Club, with the occasional mistake and some poor performances overshadowing many of the good things he did. However, this season, the Englishman has proven himself to be, in my mind and the minds of many others, the best centre back, if not the best defender, in the Celtic squad as a whole. He has dealt expertly with the attacking threats posed by both domestic and European opponents, whilst maintaining an admirably clean disciplinary record. Yes, he’s made a mistake or two, but his performances have improved tremendously, so much so that he has proven the majority of his critics from last season wrong, including myself. He has been fantastic, and even if he doesn’t win the Player of the Year award, he can take heart from the fact he has cemented himself in the Hoops defence for the foreseeable future.

“@GerryCurrie – has to be Kelvin Wilson ! The mount of times he’s saved us this year is ridiculous ! Only mistake this season was at weekend !”

 

 

 

“The Flying Full Back” – Adam Matthews

 

 

The inclusion of the young full back in this list may surprise some of you, but I personally feel he is worthy of a mention. The young man has performed admirably, not only against his opponents, but with the competition from fellow full back Mikael Lustig to deal with also. The Swede has been very good in large parts himself, but injury has limited his time in the first team somewhat. However, Matthews has impressed almost constantly, with his performances on both wings, as well as a couple of spectacular goals. His prowess in attack and competence in defence, as well as his agility and ability to read the game, make him a worthy candidate in the minds of many. Notably, along with many of the players mentioned here, it is likely that Adam’s best days still lie in front of him, as he continues to grow and develop as a Celtic player, along with his national side.

“@kevinleyden7 – Adam Matthews really stepped up to the plate this season! Reminds me of watching Jackie McNamara back in the day!”

 

 

 

“The Star Of Nairobi” – Victor Wanyama

 

 

At the age of only twenty one, Victor Wanyama is regarded as one of European Football’s rising stars. Whilst possessing an incredible strength and an ability to seemingly win the ball whenever he likes, Victor is far from a brute on the field of play. His game involves physicality, yes, but there is so much more to it than that. The vision of the Kenyan’s passing and his presence in the air have been critical in so many of Celtic’s matches this season, not to mention the goals which he has occasionally chipped in with (against the likes of Barcelona no less). Both at home and abroad, Victor almost always looks comfortable in his surroundings, and generally excels, whether it happens to be at New St Mirren Park or at the Camp Nou. Speculation continues as to whether or not Celtic will be able to hang on to “The Star Of  Nairobi” for much longer, but one thing is certain, Victor Wanyama has a huge footballing career in front of him.

“@mickwalsh66 – Has to be Victor he’s had a great season and he’s only going to get better . Would be great to keep him for a few seasons more”

 

 

 

“Captain Fantastic” – Scott Brown

 

 

Whilst he has been suffering from a continuing injury complaint throughout the majority of this season, it is undeniable that Scott Brown has played some of his best football in a Celtic shirt in 2012/13 thus far. As is his nature, he shows a dogged determination and will to win on the football park, and, as a Celtic captain should, he has always led from the front when he has been fit enough to play. Some of his performances have been simply inspired, showing a consistency which many feel has been somewhat lacking in the past. In a similar manner to Victor Wanyama, Scott’s physicality is one of the hallmarks of his game, but it is important to remember that he often provides the much needed driving force within the side, pushing the team forward whilst maintaining a relative degree of security at the back. Also, he has contributed a couple of goals as ever. His injuries have certainly prevented him from making as consistent an impact on the team as I’m sure he (and the support) would have liked, but when he has been playing, he’s generally impressed. This is not to say he’s been perfect, but no one has been.

“@joeconoboy92 – Scott Brown, every day of the week! Look a totally different team with him in in, been outstanding in the Champs League as well!”

 

 

 

“Silent But Deadly” – Joe Ledley

 

 

Ironically, Joe Ledley is regarded by many supporters as a “quiet” player, in that he goes about his business with minimal fuss, winning the ball back from opponents with both skill and courage, or efficiently receiving a pass, controlling it, and having the vision and ability with which to dispatch it to a team mate in a more advanced position on the field. However, from time to time, he does pop up with a few goals also, and this must not be forgotten. He has also made a few appearances as captain this season, whilst Scott Brown has battled injury, and led with a confidence and strength which has led to some speculation he could be a future Club captain. As one Twitter user beautifully put it, [Joe Ledley is the] “first name on the team sheet for me!” For these reasons, and many more, Joe is certainly a contender.

“@stephen0neill5 – No Brainer. Joe NEVER gives less than 100% and never hides. He gets what we are about and that’s important.”

 

 

 

“The Greek Gazelle” – Georgios Samaras

 

 

Now, what can I say about our Greek Colossus? In recent seasons, he has grown and developed both as a footballer and as a man, and can now regard himself as one of, if not the, most admired members of the Celtic squad. At the age of twenty eight, he is seen as an experienced player in a young team, and has shown the way with several critical goals and inspirational performances this season. He scored in every single one of Celtic’s away matches in the qualifiers and group stages of the UEFA Champions League, bettering the Club record for consecutive goals in away European ties set by none other than Henrik Larsson in the process. I doubt there are many supporters reading this who were not leaping about like lunatics upon seeing the ball fly into the net from the Greek’s head as he scored against Spartak Moscow in the final moments in Russia, and this victory was critical not only for this season’s campaign, but for the Club moving into the future, as it helped us to get the proverbial monkey off of our backs once and for all. With fantastic hair, and stunning ability, Samaras is an enigma, a puzzle wrapped within a riddle if you will, but when he’s on form, he’s almost unplayable.

“@Fritters7 – Sammy. Brought consistency into his game this season, been a massive player for us in big games, looks like he’s enjoying himself”

 

Please feel free to tell us who you will be voting for, and why, in the comments section below. Please also be aware that you will be able to vote for the “Young Player Of The Year” as well. You can cast your votes, here. 

Mar 162013
 

Dramatic Scenes On And Off The Park

 

The Greek Gazelle celebrates his dramatic late winner.

 

Earlier today, the Hoops fought back from two goals down at a rain drenched Celtic Park to snatch a late 4-3 victory against Aberdeen. Undoubtedly, this will have left many Aberdeen supporters feeling sick regarding what they witnessed in the last fifteen minutes of the match or so. The bad taste in their mouths will have been somewhat similar to that endured by the Celtic fans who travelled to Dingwall last weekend. However, whilst sport can do this to the supporters of any game or Club, it is sad to realise that the actions of a supposedly respectable body, such as the Police Force in Scotland, can leave a similarly sour taste in the mouth of the public.

And so, whilst an emphatic comeback culminating in a dramatic late winner from Georgios Samaras should be what today is remembered for, it is likely that the events involving the police and supporters prior to the match will live longer in the memories of many.

As a number of Celtic supporters gathered on the Gallowgate for a march in support of the Green Brigade, they were met with a couple of hundred police officers, between fifteen and twenty police vans, and a helicopter overhead. Upon the marchers having covered a short distance, their progress was halted by a line of police officers, who proceeded to kettle the group of a couple of hundred individuals, which included both the young and old. Age appeared to be of no consideration, as supporters were struck with batons, with some being thrown against walls or the ground beneath their feet before being arrested.

A fuller description of the events can be found in the following piece written by Angela Haggerty, who was in attendance as events unfolded earlier today – click here.

Now, the motto of Strathclyde Police is “Keeping People Safe”. With this in mind, one could presume that they felt the Celtic supporters gathering earlier today posed a threat to the safety of the Glaswegian public. This is, of course, somewhat farcical, but let’s stick with it for the sake of it for now.

 

A teenager, of school age, is pinned face down by three male police officers.

 

So, what could this “fear” be based on? The last major incidence of violence involving Celtic supporters (other than the infamous “Boxing Day Riot” at Dundee – please excuse my sarcastic tone there) was that of the 1980 Scottish Cup Final, over three decades ago. Since then, incidences of football violence in Scotland have decreased dramatically, so we can, perhaps, rule that out as a potential “fear” for the police. And so, presuming that wasn’t the issue, what was?

According to those on the ground today, police officers were quoted as saying that the reason for their presence was the lack of an application to Glasgow City Council regarding the march. Therefore, fearing a breach of public order, they had to be there.

Now, maybe I’m being cynical here, and perhaps an application should have been made to the council, but if someone were to unofficially organise a march online protesting about, for example, pensions, I doubt Strathclyde Police would see the need for there to be approximately one officer to one marcher. The story regarding a phone call reporting “a large gathering” on the Gallowgate is also totally farcical, as it is simply impossible to believe the police did not know about this event prior to today, especially when they pay close attention to several websites and unofficial outlets online. By all accounts, many of the police officers were there in advance of most supporters’ arrival, no doubts at great cost to the taxpayer.

Every year, thousands march through the streets of Glasgow, as well many surrounding towns, as they participate in the innately divisive “Orange Walks”. Of late, we have also seen thousands of the Rangers supporters march on Hampden. And yet, ironically, the police presence at these events is, proportionally, no where near as extreme. Below are two images, one from a TRFC march, and another from today – spot the difference.

 

Embedded image permalink

Blue? Check. Red? Check? Fluorescent Yellow? Nope.

Green? Check. White? Check. Fluorescent Yellow? Everywhere.

 

Fundamentally, nobody, regardless of who they are, or who they support, should have any presumption of guilt made against them purely because they are a football fan. To be a football fan does not make you a criminal. The tactics employed today by the police were both intimidatory and inflammatory, and they have only gone to worsen an increasingly volatile situation, when they should instead be doing all they can to defuse it. How can the Celtic supporters who travel to Celtic Park or any other Scottish stadia respect the police force that is meant to protect them, when they treat other members of our support with such disdain? In all honesty, I know I cannot, and I doubt I am the only one.

As I’ve highlighted before, I do not necessarily agree with everything the Green Brigade have done over the years. However, that is neither here nor there when it comes to such a basic issue as that of human rights. Simply because an individual describes themselves  as an “ultra” does not mean they are of any more threat than any other supporter. The group have no history of violence and this must not be forgotten.

It is also critical to note that not all of the supporters in attendance today were affiliated with the Green Brigade. Most were simply there to show their support for their group, whilst a few others were passing through and were caught up in the going’s on. The protest was wholly peaceful.  To discover a serious incident of violence within the Celtic support you must look back more than three decades ago, and this must not be forgotten either.

In Europe, the Celtic support is praised to the highest degree wherever it may go. Vast amounts of alcohol are consumed, and often the team loses, and yet this praise is almost continuous. Thousands upon thousands have travelled to more cities than I can mention, without disorder or trouble.

And so, why are large parts of our support vilified at every opportunity in Scotland? Perhaps the police believe that if they push the Green Brigade (and/or the Celtic support as a whole) far enough they will be able to force an uncharacteristic reaction which they could then use to justify their archaic treatment of football supporters in Scotland?

I’ll leave you to ponder that one.

One thing is clear though – this bullying has to stop. Now.

 

(Picture courtesy of TCN)

This picture says more than I can myself.

 

Please note: All photographs have been provided by “The Celtic Network” (TCN). I do not own them.

Mar 072013
 

Goodbye To Europe – For Now

 

 

“Hei.”

“Adjo.”

“Do svidaniya.”

“Adéu.”

“Adeus.”

“Ciao, Celtic.”

 

Last night, Celtic’s European campaign of 2012/13 came to an end in a rain soaked Turin. Most people would agree that the bulk of the damage was done in Glasgow with regards to this particular tie, but it was only yesterday that we officially exited the competition. On a day like today, when the hangovers are lingering and the odd work colleague may try to have a laugh at your expense, it is easy to feel somewhat despondent.

However, fear not, because the next few hundred words are specifically designed to put a wee smile on your face once more.

On the 1st August, 2012, Celtic went a goal down at home to HJK Helsinki, the Finnish Champions. At that point in time, the groans were audible around Celtic Park, and it would have taken a true optimist to foresee a run to the last sixteen at that stage.

Since then, Celtic have defeated the aforementioned Finnish Champions (HJK Helsinki), the Swedish Champions (Helsingborgs), the Russian runner’s up (Spartak Moscow), the Spanish runner’s up (Barcelona), and drawn against the Portuguese runner’s up (Benfica). Cities across Europe have welcomed a famous travelling support, who have continued to represent both themselves and the Football Club they support impeccably.

Despite being a goal down on the 1st August, we remained in Europe’s premier footballing competition until the 6th  March, a run totalling two hundred and eighteen days in length. The team scored seventeen goals in twelve European matches this season, winning seven times, and drawing once. Considering that heavy defeats against the likes of Sion (meaningless as the result may have been) and Utrecht aren’t too distant in the memory, it is clear that Celtic are once again finding their feet in European football.

People may say “ah it doesn’t matter that you beat Barcelona”, but it still doesn’t change the fact that we did. We really did match some of the greatest players on the planet over one hundred and eighty minutes of football, both home and away. We really did remain in the Champions League longer than the European Champions and the English Champions. And we really did announce ourselves as a member of the elite once more.

 

 

Not only was this Neil Lennon’s first season as a Champions League manager, but the vast majority of his players had no Champions League experience either. We may not be off to Wembley, but we are most certainly on the right track. With the potential of one or two high profile departures in the summer comes spending money, which I have no doubt that Neil and his scouts (who deserve incredible praise themselves) will look to reinvest in adding to our squad once more.

 

After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the foundations of our proverbial capital are already in place:

 

– a fiercely dedicated manager in Neil Lennon

- a tremendous behind the scenes set-up, comprising coaches, scouts and more

- youth teams brimming with both talent and enthusiasm

- a financially stable Football Club with minimal debt

- and a support which is admired the world over (certain parts of Scottish society ignored)

 

Whilst the current squad may change somewhat, the team will be built around players who both the Club and the support hope will be around for a long time to come, such as Joe Ledley and Kelvin Wilson. All in all, the Club is only moving in one direction – forward.

For now, we’ve got a League Championship to win, and a semi-final date against an exciting Dundee United team to keep us entertained until next season, when the Celts will travel across Europe once more, and the “goodbye’s” listed in various languages at the beginning of this article will be replaced with “hello’s”, as the support announces it’s presence on the European stage again.

Some people will tell you that Celtic will never win a European trophy again, but I have no doubt in my mind that it will happen one day. Ability, determination, and a little bit of luck one year will see European silverware come up London Road once again. Until then, we’ll continue to chase what is not the impossible dream, but simply the improbable dream.

 

Mar 062013
 

All Hope Is Gone – Or Is It?

 

 

Celtic supporters of all ages will know exactly what I mean when I refer to “The Celtic Way”. As a Football Club, we have held certain values and characteristics for the entirety of our existence, both on and off of the field of play. In the similar manner to which the Club have been renowned as being open to all, the team continue to be known for the style of football which we always attempt to play – even if we’re not always good enough to be successful in this regard.

Whilst, of course, there have been times when we have been forced to defend like there’s no tomorrow, Celtic are generally known as an attacking team. When you think of the sides built by Willie Maley, the immortal Lisbon Lions of Jock Stein, or the current crop under Neil Lennon, this attacking ethos continues to shine through on football pitches across Scotland and the world. This has always been, and will forever more be, a trait which we can all be tremendously proud of.

Equally encapsulated in “The Celtic Way” is that seemingly perpetual ability for any Celtic side to overcome incredible odds and triumph, or to fall at the feet of seemingly beatable opponents.

Throughout the history of the Football Club, there have been occasions upon which we have stunned the footballing world. Whether it was by winning the Coronation Cup in 1953, or defeating Internazionale in Lisbon in 1967, there have been points at which Bhoys have become men, and men have become legends.

On the other hand, results such as drubbings at Artmedia Bratislava also blot the Club’s track record. The bitter taste of these unexpected defeats is, partly, what makes overcoming adversity against all odds so special. The feeling of a big Celtic win is unlike any other. Ironically, whilst I cannot put this feeling into words, there is no doubt in my mind that you all know exactly what I’m talking about.

And so, after an easy win for Borussia Dortmund and a somewhat controversial victory for Real Madrid yesterday evening, thoughts turn to Turin, and Juventus versus Celtic. The home side have a 3-0 advantage from the first leg, and the Hoops are faced with an almost impossible task.

 

 

On paper, we have all but no chance. Juventus have better players, with a three goal head start and home advantage, but there is one thing paper cannot account for, “The Celtic Way”. It is almost unquantifiable, this unknown element of chance, but from time to time, we all know that Celtic are capable of huge surprises. In the same breath, there is always a chance they will disappoint, but hope springs eternal.

Will we go through this evening? I highly doubt it. I genuinely believe that progression by any means would be the  greatest comeback in my lifetime as a Celtic supporter, if not ever. If coming back from 3-0 down against Kilmarnock was like climbing Ben Nevis, to overturn a 3-0 deficit away to Juventus in Turin would be akin to climbing Olympus Mons.

However, with all things Celtic, you just never know.

If, theoretically, you were to play this game a hundred times, there would be an occasion or two upon which, for example, a Celtic player would be brought down in the box early on, leading to a penalty for the away side and a sending off for Gianluigi Buffon. With the home side both a goal and a player down, they would likely revert to the typically Italian style of defensive football. From there on in, Celtic would proceed to throw everything at them for the remainder of the match, and anything could happen. Equally well, an early mistake from Celtic’s defence could see the Hoops a goal  down within the first fifteen minutes, and the prospect of a real hammering could become very real.

In these potential scenarios lie the beauty, and the beast, of the sport we all love. Anything is possible in football, and this perhaps applies more to Celtic than most. Yes, I know that on paper, we don’t stand a chance. I’ll be honest, I’d be stunned if we progressed – speechless, amazed, flabbergasted – whatever you want to call it. However, should we have matched Barcelona over two legs on paper? Not a chance in hell. Therein lies the element of the unknown, and therein lies Celtic’s small, small hopes of progression to the quarter finals this season.

I could sit here and list countless possible scenarios for tomorrow night’s match, but fundamentally, only one will occur, whatever it may be. It is unlikely that the scenario which becomes reality will lead to a historic night for Celtic, but no one can know for certain until it actually comes to pass.

José Mourinho said last night, “Celtic are Celtic”, and that statement alludes to the unpredictability of our team. On our day, we can beat anyone. Neil Lennon’s side have proven this to be the case. However, on another day, we can fail miserably. This has also proven to be the case at times.

We have nothing to lose. In the minds of many (and hopefully those of our opponents), we are already out. If tomorrow is to be our last appearance in Europe this season, we can hold our heads high. We have outlasted the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United. As I said earlier on Twitter, if you had said that prior to the first leg against HJK Helsinki you would have been ridiculed by many, but it has become reality, just as, with the element of the unknown, anything could be come reality tonight.

If, as is expected, we fall in the last sixteen, no supporter should lambaste the Club, the players, or the manager. We’ve done incredibly well, and in the heat of the moment, it can often be easy to forget that.

All we can do now is hope and pray that the team do the best performance they can and that maybe, just maybe, lady luck smiles upon us to give us a fighting chance once more.

After all, when Celtic are involved, anything can happen. Anything.

 

 

Mar 032013
 

Bill Boland Receives His Surprise Gift

 

billboland

 

On Friday afternoon, as many of you will no doubt know from Twitter, I was proud to present the oldest living Celtic player, William “Bill” Boland, with a signed Celtic shirt, donated by the Football Club, which was then framed using money raised by members of the support. The small card below the shirt reads:

“William Boland – Once A Player, Always A Supporter – 4 Appearances, 2 Goals – 1944-45″

Mr Boland, who was born in 1919, first saw Celtic play in the 1930’s, before featuring for the Club as a player during World War Two. Having spent his entire working life as a coal miner, he continues to watch every Celtic match to this day on television.

I have been fortunate enough to get to know him through the research and writing I have been doing for my first book, which will feature a lengthy chapter devoted to Mr Boland’s life so far. He is the living definition of the word “gentleman”, and I cannot thank him enough for the time he has spent speaking to me.

He was absolutely delighted with the shirt, which was kept as a surprise by both myself and his family members until I carried it into the room a little over forty eight hours ago. He was tremendously appreciative, saying he “could not thank both the Football Club and the support enough” for what they had done for him.

Finally, on a personal note, I would like to thank Celtic Football Club for donating the shirt, Hutton Fine Arts (of Glasgow’s East End) for their superb work framing the shirt, and all of those supporters who donated a few pounds to pay for the framing itself.

You all made one elderly gentleman very, very happy.

 

Bill Boland

Marquee Powered By Know How Media.