Mar 212015
 

My Thanks To Glasgow’s Muslim Community

 

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Yesterday evening, I stepped foot inside the Glasgow Central Mosque for the first time, having been invited to attend the annual dinner which they host during Islam Awareness Week. As one would expect, this invitation alone was an honour. After all, to be invited into a community’s house of worship for a fantastic dinner and a guided tour – all free of charge – was a great privilege in itself.

And yet, somewhat ironically on the day of Scotland’s first solar eclipse for sixteen years, these honours – great though they undoubtedly were – were eclipsed by what happened at the end of the evening. Previously, I had been told via email that representatives of the Glasgow Central Mosque and Feed Glasgow – the Muslim run community group whom this website raised funds for last season – wished to give me a token of their appreciation.

Naively, I presumed this would perhaps be a certificate or something similar, and I also took it for granted that several such small presentations would be made, but this was not to be the case. In fact, as the evening drew to a close, prior to the last prayer and blessing rounding off the seated part of the event, a gentleman took to the stage and began to speak of the great charity work carried out by one individual in attendance. Typically, it took a good minute or so before the proverbial penny dropped that the man in question was talking about myself. A few moments later, amid more than a minor flurry of nerves I must confess, I was invited onto the stage and given a rousing round of applause. As someone who generally attempts to avoid public speaking unless it is absolutely essential, I declined the offer to take up the microphone, said my thanks, and returned to my table, but having stayed silent last night, I felt the least I could do was to write this article today.

Now, those of you who know me personally will be able to attest to the following fact – I am not someone who particularly seeks any sort of recognition for my charity work, nor am I an individual who enjoys the so-called limelight. In fact, generally speaking I’d much rather be the person sitting away up the back of a room applauding someone else than I would be the person receiving the applause front and centre. In all honesty, I could have shed the odd tear or two last night, because whilst neither adulation nor applause are things which I seek, that does not mean they do not mean a lot to me when they do come along.

Latterly, we were treated to a tour of the Mosque, including the prayer hall itself. This tour was not simply informative, but very enlightening also. Whilst it will come as no surprise to you all to know I often do not trust sections of the mainstream media, even as someone who doesn’t believe everything they see on the television or read in a newspaper, the number of misconceptions which are often spouted by the aforementioned sources became abundantly clear.

Do not believe any individual, be they a politician, media representative or any other, who tries to suggest that the Muslim Community of Glasgow or Scotland harbour any ill intentions whatsoever. These are a peaceful, honest and spiritual people who deserve love and respect rather than vilification. They are Glaswegian and Scottish, and form an integral part of our modern, ever more inclusive society.

In closing, ladies and gentlemen, I would firstly like to thank all of you who have contributed to any of our previous or ongoing charitable appeals. This award may have been presented to me last night, but without your continuing generosity, neither this success nor any of that of our other appeals would have been possible, and for that you all have my unwavering gratitude.

Secondly, I would like to thank all of those involved with Feed Glasgow, who work tirelessly to aid Glasgow’s homeless community. Although I wish to one day see a world where no such work is required, I know that the real world is not so idealistic as that sadly, and therefore I hope you continue to go from strength to strength.

Finally, my thanks must go to all of those at the Glasgow Central Mosque, and to Glasgow’s Muslim Community in general. I genuinely cannot put into words how much the honour which you chose to bestow upon me meant to myself and my family. It is sufficient to say that it was an experience which will stay with me forever. You are a credit to yourselves, to your city, and to Islam, and I wish you all the very best for the future. Thank you.

 

Mar 192015
 

A Statistical Breakdown Of Celtic’s Season So Far

 

 

Introduction

Good evening ladies and gents, I trust you’re all in a rather buoyant mood as in the last week alone we’ve secured our first Scottish League Cup since 2009 and came through a replay to book our place in the Scottish Cup semi-finals scheduled for the middle of April. However, what some people may have overlooked today is that Virgil van Dijk’s injury time tap-in last night, although irrelevant to the outcome of the tie itself, carries some significance, for it was the hundredth competitive goal which Ronny Deila’s Celtic have scored this season in all competitions.

As such, I’ve decided to write a brief article on Celtic this season from a statistical standpoint. After all, its been a long time since Callum McGregor’s goal in Iceland opened our goalscoring account, as is pictured above. If football stats are your thing, then please read on as I presume this will appeal to you, but if not, you might feel your time could be spent better elsewhere, I know stats aren’t everyone’s favourite subject. Regardless, for those of you who decide to delve in, enjoy.

 

 

Goals

Well, for a start, let’s have a glance at where the one hundred goals in question have arrived.  Fifty-five have come at Celtic Park, forty-one have been scored at away grounds, whilst the other four were netted at Hampden Park, which is, of course, a neutral venue. Also, for anyone who may interested, only Leigh Griffiths, Anthony Stokes and Callum McGregor have scored more goals away from Celtic Park than they have done at home.

Six of these hundred goals have been penalties, with both John Guidetti and Kris Commons scoring two each, and Leigh Griffiths and Nir Bitton responsible for bagging the other two. Three own goals have added to our scoring tally, with two arriving in Europa League competition against Dinamo Zagreb and Inter Milan, whilst the other one came against Hearts in the Scottish League Cup.

Continuing on in this vein, on average we score one in every 7.65 shots we take, whilst our opposition only score one in every 10.95 they attempt. They may just sound like random numbers, so allow me to quantify them somewhat. Of the 765 attempts we’ve had to score this season, 100 have resulted in goals, whereas of the 416 attempts our opponents have had, only 38 have resulted in goals for them (half of which were scored by Legia Warsaw, Red Bull Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb and Inter Milan it must be said). Therefore, our current goal difference for the season, if we combine our goals scored and conceded in all competitions is +62.

And so, let us turn our attentions to the scorers of our one hundred goals.

 

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Despite his barren spell of late (dramatic equaliser against Inter Milan aside), John Guidetti still leads the scoring charts, with thirteen goals to his name. However, Kris Commons, Leigh Griffiths and Stefan Johansen are hot on his heels, with twelve, eleven and ten goals respectively. As such, these four players essentially account for almost half of all Celtic’s goals thus far this season.

When one considers the fact that Stefan Johansen only scored two goals last year (in seventeen appearances having been signed in the January transfer window), it is a pleasant sight indeed to see him scoring on a more regular basis nowadays. Of course, Ronny Deila’s decision to push him into a more offensive position in the midfield set-up must take some credit for this, but the point stands.

Regardless, whilst John Guidetti also leads the way in the “minutes played per goal” standings, with a current average of one every 131 minutes, Leigh Griffiths, who has actually played the equivalent of approximately two matches less than the Swede, has been gradually chipping away at his advantage for months now. Griffiths currently averages one goal every 137 minutes, and I doubt I am alone in thinking he will likely overtake his counterpart in the coming weeks and months when current form is taken into account. Other ratios of note are displayed below:

 

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One critical point of note is that of the number of goals coming from the defensive line this season, the current total of which stands at eighteen. Over the entire course of our last campaign, this figure finished at just eleven. Now, when one considers the fact that we are only currently midway through March, and therefore a few more goals are likely to arrive from Virgil, Jason and company before the end of the season, the importance of this becomes clear.

Equally, changing our focus to the other end of the field, we come to the revelation which has been Craig Gordon. Doubted by many (including myself), not for any lack of ability but for concerns regarding a recent lack of playing time and a history of long term injuries, he has proven himself to be a truly integral part of the current Celtic team, producing an array of stunning saves in the process. At present, Craig has made forty-one appearances for Celtic in all competitions, and to his immense credit, he has kept twenty-one clean sheets (including eight consecutive shut-outs), giving him an admirable clean sheet ratio of 51%. Lukasz Zaluska, for the sake of clarity, has kept one clean sheet in four appearances this season.

 

 

Possession

Another individual whose influence mustn’t be overlooked is Nir Bitton. Initially left of out the squad largely in favour of Charlie Mulgrew, he too has seen his standing within the Celtic squad rise rapidly after an array of sterling performances. To quantify this, Celtic have won 64% of the matches which Nir Bitton has started this season, compared to 62% without him. Now, at first that may not seem like much of a difference, but when we begin to peel the layers back, the significance of it will become clear.

For example, included in the figures without Nir are two victories against K.R. Reykjavik who, with the greatest respect to them, were not a side we would expect to draw or lose against – therefore, for the sake of this comparison, I shall discount them. Doing so drops the latter percentage to 59%, whilst ignoring the second leg of the Legia Warsaw debacle and a mish-mash style team put out at Inverness between the Maribor games increases Nir’s win percentage to 70%. Of course, I could be accused of twisting the figures to suit an argument, and I suppose such an argument could be made, but one statistic which does not require any dressing up is this – since Charlie Mulgrew last played for Celtic (a one-nil home win against Partick Thistle in early December), Nir Bitton has started all but one match in his old position, and since then, Celtic have won 70% of the matches which Bitton has started.

In terms of team possession, we have enjoyed an average of 57% of the ball in all of our matches across this season, with the individual peaks and troughs coming against K.R. Reykjavik (75% home and away) and Inter Milan (34% away) respectively. We’ve dominated the ball in forty-one of our forty-nine matches thus far this season, and that is pleasing for a variety of reasons. After all, when you have the ball, your opponent cannot score (unless you’re Cha Du Ri and you feel like attempting a pass back, that is).

 

 

Cards

Ignoring double yellows momentarily, Stefan Johansen has been booked more than any other Celtic player, with eight yellow cards to his name thus far. However, the inclusion of double yellows (and therefore red cards) would allow both Virgil van Dijk and Scott Brown to overtake the Norwegian and share the title of the most carded player, with nine cards in total each. Of course, whether or not such statistics have anything to do with the fact we have committed more fouls than our opponents in more than half of our matches this season (including ten of our last eleven ties) remains to be seen.

 

 

Conclusions

In closing, I feel it is clear to see that Ronny Deila’s Celtic are continuing to progress from strength to strength. Having struggled to settle on his best eleven early in the season (not helped by the unavailability of some players at points due to injuries and suspensions), it is now relatively easy to predict the majority of most Celtic starting elevens.

Craig Gordon has been imperious in goal; three of the back four – Emilio Izaguirre, Virgil van Dijk and Jason Denayer virtually pick themselves, with the right back slot now contested by three players; Scott Brown has led the team with his usual verve and determination whilst his partner at the base of the midfield, Nir Bitton, is proving himself to be a magnificently talented player capable of picking out sublime passes and brushing aside opponents with the minimum of fuss; new additions Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong (not mentioned in this article previously) have settled into the team instantly and if it weren’t for their ineligibility in cup competitions, they would likely be starters every week, and Stefan Johansen remains one of the most important figures in the squad; and finally, Leigh Griffiths appears to be Deila’s striker of choice, certainly in recent times, and his industrious work rate coupled with a clear desire to score goals is pleasing on the eye.

Of course, there are other important individuals within the squad, including Kris Commons, Adam Mattews and Efe Ambrose to name but a few. In my opinion though, I’d now consider our strongest starting eleven to be: Craig Gordon; Emilio Izaguirre, Virgil van Dijk, Jason Denayer, Mikael Lustig; Scott Brown, Nir Bitton, Stuart Armstrong, Stefan Johansen, Gary Mackay-Steven; and Leigh Griffiths, but I’m sure many would have differing opinions as you would expect.

Ronny Deila has passed the majority of the big tests put before him as Celtic manager, but as you would expect with the nature of the job, as soon as one fades into the distance behind him another appears on the horizon. As such, his predominant aims for the springtime will be to attempt to lead his side to Celtic’s first domestic treble in fourteen years, and only their fourth such success in its modern format (post-war).

And yet, whether he is successful in this regard or not, he will likely face big challenges in the summer also, with prominent current players such as Virgil van Dijk and Jason Denayer widely expected to depart the Club. Therefore, wise and prompt replacements will be required, all whilst attempting to prepare for Champions League qualifiers and trying to shift some of the deadwood from the peripheries of the squad.

In saying that, with every passing week, more and more people within the support climb aboard the so-called “Deila Bus”, and the general good feeling and confidence in the fanbase continues to grow. Virgil van Dijk will likely not be a Celtic player when the two hundredth goal of Ronny Deila’s tenure finds the back of the net, but the supporters and many of the characters within the current squad will be there, and for that reason alone, I look forward to its eventual arrival.

This is a very good period indeed to be a Celtic supporter, and long may the good times roll.

Viva Ronny Deila.

 

Our annual charity raffle, in aid of Alzheimer Scotland this year, is currently underway. With tickets priced at only £2 each and a fantastic variety of seventeen prizes on up for grabs, if anyone is interested in taking part you can find out more information on how to do so by CLICKING HERE.

 

 

 

Mar 172015
 

Help Us Take Action On Dementia

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great delight I would like to announce the opening of what I consider to be our best annual charity raffle thus far. With eighteen prizes on offer, ranging from signed memorabilia to books and stadium tours, I believe it will allow everyone interested to take part regardless of their financial situation whilst, most importantly, helping a very worthy cause in Alzheimer Scotland. Please note, at the start of this season I arranged with our chosen charity that half of our total raised over the course of this campaign would go directly to Alzheimer Scotland’s “Football Memories” project (more information about this project is available HERE). The other half will go to the charity as a whole to use however they see fit.

As I write this, we have raised £435.66 for Alzheimer Scotland this season, but I would love to see us break the £1,000 barrier for our chosen charity for the fourth consecutive year and therefore I hope this raffle will be a great success.

Please note, if anyone requires any further information about the raffle or any of the prizes contained herein, please feel free to contact me via Twitter or by following the instructions on the “Contact Us” tab above.

And so, without further ado, allow me to take you through the excellent list of prizes on offer this season.

 

Celtic Shirt Signed By The 2014/15 Squad

 

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Kindly donated by Celtic Football Club, this replica shirt with tags is emblazoned with over twenty signatures made in bold, black marker pen. Contained in a presentation box with a certificate of authenticity enclosed, it is a lovely piece.

 

Seville (Celtic F.C. v F.C. Porto) Programme Signed By The Celtic Team

 

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My thanks goes out to one Twitter user for this prize, which is sure to bring back some fine memories of a mass exodus to the south of Spain in 2003. Signed on the front cover in black marker pen by fourteen individuals, I have no doubt that this programme would be a welcome addition to many Celtic supporting households.

 

Roof Slate From St. Mary’s Church, Abercromby Street

 

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Donated by a generous individual who wishes to remain anonymous, this piece is one of the original tiles removed from the old roof which adorned St. Mary’s Church in Glasgow. Founded in one of the old church halls, Celtic Football Club has always had a strong tie to St. Mary’s, and I am proud to say this continues today. Inscribed with the following message, “Slate from the roof of Saint Mary’s Church, Abercromby Street, Glasgow, 1842 – “, this weighty item is a very interesting, if somewhat odd, piece of history.

 

Signed & Gift Wrapped Celtic Ball

 

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Although the donor of this item was unable to confirm exactly which season this ball is from, by its appearance one would assume it was signed within the last five years or so. With several signatures in black marker pen etched onto its surface, it is a neat item as you can see.

 

Family Tour of Celtic Park

 

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Generously donated by an individual at Celtic Football Club, this voucher entitles a family to a guided tour of Celtic Park, Scotland’s largest football stadium.

 

“Hampden Experience” Family Voucher

 

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Contributed to our raffle by those at the football museum at Hampden Park, this voucher entitles a family of four to enjoy “The Hampden Experience”, including a guided tour of the stadium and also access to the museum itself. I have no doubt all fans of Scottish Football, not simply those of Celtic, would enjoy such a day out.

 

Three Autographed Copies of “Caesar & The Assassin”

 

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My thanks goes to the good folks at Celtic Quick News (C.Q.N.) for our next two raffle prizes. Considering “Caesar & The Assassin” firstly, each of the three hardback copies on offer have been signed by both ex-Celtic manager Davie Hay and the author, Alex Gordon.

 

Three Copies Of The Celtic Quick News Annual (2015)

 

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Continuing in our previous vein, C.Q.N. have also provided us with three copies of their full colour annual. With almost two hundred pages contained within its covers, it is not only a nice memento for the future, but also an interesting and invigorating read. Again, our compliments go to C.Q.N. for this donation.

 

Autographed Copy of “Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants”

 

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I’m very happy to offer up a copy of my own book, “Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants”, for our raffle, and I will, of course, sign it for whoever the eventual winner is.

 

Bottle Of Aberlour Single Malt Whisky

 

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Presented to us by a Twitter user who wishes to remain anonymous, this decade old Speyside single malt whisky is described as “Welcoming, vibrant and rewarding”.

 

“The Young Lions” Print

 

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A print of an original piece by James Dinnen, “The Young Lions” features lads in the colours of their beloved Celtic taking on other boys in a backstreet football match. Mounted and ready for framing, it would likely bring a smile to many reminiscent faces.

 

2011/12 Player Celebration T-Shirt

 

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Contributed by “The Celtic Shirt”, this t-shirt was worn by one of the players as they celebrated winning the Scottish League title at the end of the 2011/12 season.

 

Commemorative Lisbon Print (Number 1/150)

 

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Kindly donated to us late on in our fundraising efforts by John from the Twitter account “@insidethehoops”, this item is the first numbered print of the latest piece from the aforementioned gentleman. It captures the prelude to Celtic’s greatest victory as the team lined up in Lisbon in an abstract but striking manner. The print is A3 in terms of size and comes unframed.

 

Tesco Voucher

 

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Donated by a Twitter user, this voucher has been loaded with a value £15, usable in any U.K. Tesco store.

 

 

How To Buy Raffle Tickets

 

Tickets for this year’s raffle are priced as they were previously, at £2 each. As is explained in more detail in the “Raffle Rules & Important Notes” section, although donations totaling more than £20 are very welcome, no single individual will be allocated more than a maximum of ten raffle tickets.

Beginning today, Tuesday 17th March 2015, our raffle will remain open until sometime midway through May. The exact date will be confirmed once the fixture list for the final five matches of the league season is announced.

Anyone wishing to purchase any raffle tickets has four ways in which they can do so:

1. Just Giving - The first option for purchasing tickets online is via our Just Giving page (click here if you wish to do so). If at all possible, this is the option I would encourage you to use. If you choose to do so, please be sure to leave your name and/or your Twitter username when doing so, otherwise we will have no means of identifying you should you win a prize. If you wish to hide your donation amount from public view, you are more than welcome to do this by following the instructions therein.

2. Paypal – Next up, we have Paypal. If you wish to use this option, please contact myself for the relevant Paypal details, although the previous option does cut out the middle man.

3. In Person – At several of the home games before the end of this season, I will make myself available pre-match outside the South Stand for those who wish to purchase tickets in person.

4. Via Cheque/Postal Order – Special dispensation can be made for those unable to make use of the previous options, but only as a last resort.

 

 

Raffle Rules & Important Notes

 

1. Whilst any individual is welcome to donate as much as they would like to our appeal, for the sake of fairness I have the made the decision to once again implement a rule whereby the maximum number of tickets which any one person can hold is ten. For example, a £20 will see ten raffle tickets allocated to your name, but should you donate £25 or £30 say, you will still only be allocated ten tickets. This rule is in effect so as to give those who may wish to buy a couple of tickets but do not have the financial means to buy any more than that will still have a relatively fair chance of winning a prize.

2. Winners will be allocated prizes in the following manner. Whoever has their ticket drawn first will be allowed their choice of one item from our prize list, thereafter whoever has their ticket drawn second will have their choice of the remaining prizes, and so on until every prize has been taken by the respective winners. Should you win one prize, you will not be eligible to win another should another one of your tickets be drawn latterly. Again, this is a rule implemented by myself to ensure the prizes are spread equally. Therefore, with eighteen prizes on offer at this point in time, there will be eighteen separate winners come the end of our raffle.

3. No physical tickets will be issued. Participants will have numbers allocated to their names as tickets are purchased before the draw is made.

4. I am happy to personally cover any first class postage and packaging costs incurred for prizewinners who live within the U.K., but if anyone from a foreign country wins a prize, I would kindly ask you to cover the postage costs involved. Please note, due to weight and fragility, I will not post either the whisky or roof slate. Winners of these prizes will have to arrange a meeting with myself to receive their prize, somewhere in or around the Greater Glasgow area.

5. The winner of the whisky must either be over the age of eighteen themselves, or have a parent or guardian over eighteen present when receiving their prize.

 

In closing, I would just like to wish you all the very best of luck and thank you all for your continuing support of our annual fundraising initiatives. Clichéd as it may sound, it really wouldn’t be possible without you, and for that, you all have my eternal thanks.

 

Mar 022015
 
Change For The Better Or More Of The Same?

 

 

As many of you will know, since carrying out a large-scale catering survey in the autumn of 2012, I have been in contact with representatives of both Celtic Football Club and previous caterers “The Lindley Group” on many occasions, in the form of meetings, emails, letters and phone calls. The end of last season saw the expiration of Celtic F.C.’s latest contract with “The Lindley Group”, the company who had been responsible for operating all of the kiosks inside Celtic Park for almost a decade.

However, having been told by the Football Club no new contract would be signed with Lindley – which did turn out to be true – it later became apparent the Club would sign a new deal with “Centerplate UK”, the American catering company who recently bought over Lindley’s operations.  Unsurprisingly, this decision led to some cynicism on my part, but for the sake of fairness I believed we must give Centerplate a chance to see whether or not things would improve.

Therefore, as we enter March of Centerplate UK’s first season in control of the catering kiosks at Celtic Park, I would ask you all to take two minutes of your time to fill in the following survey so that I may be able to best put across your opinions on the current situation to both the Football Club and our caterers. Essentially, the primary aim of this survey is to determine whether the Celtic support feel things have improved this season when compared to years gone by, or whether the general feeling is that little or nothing has changed.

I am scheduled to meet with Celtic’s General Manager, Mr. David Stothers, on Thursday of this week to discuss these matters, so any input which the support as a whole could provide would be both helpful and very much appreciated.

Please Note:

1. Having been contacted by a Celtic supporting student researching large scale catering, questions nine, ten and eleven have been included at their request. Once again, I would ask you all to also answer those three multiple choice questions in order to assist their hard work.

2. This survey does not relate to the catering on offer within the Kerrydale Bar, hospitality lounges or executive areas, all of which are run by Celtic, not Centerplate.

3. All questions denoted with an asterisk (one through fourteen) are mandatory, whilst question fifteen can be left blank should you wish to do so.

Should any of you wish to add any lengthier thoughts regarding the catering at Celtic Park to the survey, you can do so by contacting myself via Twitter (@MaleysBhoys) or leaving a comment at the bottom of this page.

Thank you.

 

Celtic Park Catering Survey 2014-15

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