What Have The Romans Ever Done For Us?


A welcome change of theme this morning,with a guest article from JIMTHETIM53 about the pros and cons of signing foreign players.

I’ve been thinking about foreign players recently. The amount of them in our domestic game. Let me say first off, there isn’t a racist bone in my body. I couldn’t care less about the colour of a person’s skin, their nationality or culture. But I do wonder about the effect that bringing players in from all over the world has on home grown talent.

Of course,we have a long and chequered history in foreign signings. As far back as the 1930s,we were happy to sign Mohammed Salim,an Indian who played wearing bandages rather than boots! His homesickness saw his time cut short,much to the disappointment of Mr Maley,our manager. Fast forward to the 50s which would see us signing Gil Heron,a Jamaican who played in the early North American Football League . The Black Arrow as he was nicknamed was relatively successful in his few games for us,and I’m unsure why he didn’t get more time with us. He later joined Third Lanark,and took a bit of Scotland back with him to the States,in the shape of a Scottish wife.

He is also the father of legend Gil Scott-Heron,pioneer of many musical genres including rap.

It would take until the early 70s though for us to sign a foreign player and regular first-teamer.

Big Shuggie Edvaldsson! He appeared for us almost 200 times,in central defence,midfield,and even up front in his later years with us. He was our first successful import,but the last for some time. It would be another ten years before Dariusz Dziekanowski and Dariusz Wdowczyk would bring us an international flavour. The former was a frustrating genius,the latter a solid and reliable defender,and they were a pleasure to watch in difficult times. Rudi Vata arrived shortly afterwards,again solid but unspectacular.

Even though Tommy Burns was partial to foreign players-largely via the scouting genius of David Hay-signing the likes of Andreas Thom,Pierre van Hooijdonk,Paolo di Canio and Jorge Cadete,the trickle was yet to become a flood. Wim Jansen brought in Henrik Larsson and Regi Blinker,but Dr Jo added some impetus with the signings of Johann Mjalby,Vidar Riseth,Mark Viduka and Lubo. John Barnes added Dmitri Kharine and Olivier Tebily-just to prove this article isn’t all sweetness and light!-Bobby Petta and Stan Petrov. Damn near wrecked the latter’s career by playing him at right back.

Martin O’Neill was famed for his core of British players,yet he signed the likes of Didier Agathe,Magnus Hedman,David Fernandes,and a whole host of centre-backs like Bobo,Joos,Stan Varga and Ramon Vega. This opened the floodgates in earnest,and really underpins the article.

For these ready-made replacements halted the emergence of our youths into the first team. Sure,he gave us Shaun Maloney,David Marshall and the unfortunate John Kennedy,as well as introducing us to Aidan McGeady,but none would establish themselves in the first team with him as manager. Martin wanted experience,and giving young players that opportunity wasn’t in the game-plan.

Since then,of course,we have signed many more players from abroad than we have brought through the ranks. Is this The Glasgow Celtic Way?

We still boast about the Lisbon Lions being from around Parkhead, and I include the lad from Ayrshire! What would you think of the day when we field 11 players with no Scots amongst them?

We at Celtic have been blessed with some superlative foreign players in the past. You only need to think of Henrik. But we have also signed some duds too. I remember during the nineties when Scottish clubs were trying to play catch up with David Murray, overspending and signing foreign players. It seemed to be the fashionable thing to do. Fans often criticised their clubs for signing very ordinary players from abroad when there was just as good available locally.

Of course there are duds domestically too.

Celtic recently tied up with a Polish club, to be a feeder club in a way. In the article I read they listed about ten Polish players we have signed in the past. Who can forget The Holy Goalie? But apart from the top 4 or 5 there were players I can’t remember!

Celtic spend a fortune in relative terms, on our academy. Do we get value for money?

We live in a multi cultural world nowadays so maybe it’s a stupid question to pose. Maybe in the bigger picture frontiers are a bad thing. I asked a couple of Celtic supporters in the pub what they thought. One said there should be a limit of 3 foreign players in a matchday squad. To give more Scottish lads a chance. The other said he couldn’t care less if they were all foreign. If they wore the hoops that was enough for him.

My own feeling is that until the academy system in Scotland gets to the level of Holland or Iceland for instance, we will need to rely on our foreign brothers for the foreseeable future.

Something for us to chew over while we wait for Sunday! You can have Article of the Day my mailing it to Mahe


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Our best performers this season,apart from Ajer,have all been Scots.



Great stuff there,mate. A lot to think about. Stop buying duds,that’s the first thing!

big packy

first of all please except my apologies for that stupid post last night, because someone upset me I should not have taken it out on the blog, JIMTHETIM53, you should post more often that’s a lovely piece of writing hh.

Two fine men being interred today.

Billy McNeill and Stephen Houston.


Packy, BMCUWP helped me a lot with that article. I would encourage anyone with the bones of an article to get in touch with Bobby through the email address.

Thank goodness you are sorted out. I can rest easy now. Off to a funeral now. Life goes on. Or not!

Good stuff Jim.
It’s a very difficult one in reality as there is no easy solution, I don’t believe we get value for money from the academy, we do great for all the other Scottish clubs, we school them and they all get the benefit for virtually free. Like you I couldn’t give a what nationality anyone is, but in the same vein it would be better and cheaper to produce our own, there are many many reasons why we are not doing this any more, money being the main one, if you think back to the 60s. 70s and even the 80s there was conveyor belts from most scottish clubs producing top quality players, top english teams were full of scottish players, what happened in scotland to change this, I am not sure but the likes of Souness arriving in scotland had a major effect, he in one fell swoop basically got rid of the huns youth policy and started to buy in players, “mercenaries”, other scottish clubs followed suit and it’s taken generations to get any kinda youth policies producing again, another problem in the intervening time is money has taken over and clubs can no longer afford to gamble with the kids, they need success instantly or they have problems.
It’s a sad sad state of affairs.


Another reason why money may well be an important factor is the sheer cost involved for a young player’s parents.

Transport to and from training alone,never mind equipment costs etc.

Plus the time involved! It’s a huge sacrifice.

Aye, it’s all about the filthy lucre these days, it’s not quite there yet but an oxygen tax will happen at some point 😉


Good article Jimthetim53 and gives plenty pause for thought.
Watched Glasgow cup game the other day and felt Celtic looked more like a European side while the young huns played a typically Scottish up and at them style.
The refereeing in Scotland will always be a deterrent to signing skillful foreigners.
Would love to see our youth program succeed but there is a clear disconnect on pathway to senior side.
Are our coaches at all levels not in sync?Or are we just a bunch of random parts therefor hoping that luck will see one or two make it.
If Lennon gets the job then i fear the youth program will suffer.
Henderson who had a good assist ratio has been left out of picture like Johnston since Neil’s arrival.
A sensible balance between signings and youth products like Ajax is the way forward but our frugal board would rather hoard cash for the PLC than spend on the football department.
A future of cheap options seems to be their strategy.


Brown ,McGregor Christie and JF have all done well.
Though i think McGregor has faded in second half.
Tinkering and tactically poor coaching have not helped.
KT for me has declined at an alarming rate.

The Gombeen Man

Fine post Jim,

A Priest once smiled as he told me, “death is a promotion.It’s just a transition, nothing to fear at all.”

I’ve always accepted that. It’s okay to be sad and mourn but life has a much deeper meaning for me.

That helps me not to get so caught up in all of the stuff of day to day life.(Sometimes).

Billy, Stevie and MAH have been promoted. They both lived good lives and today it’s opportunity to thank Billy and MAH for enriching our lives and showing us the path.

My bhoy is at Celtic Park at the moment and I’m delighted about that. If he follows Billy, Stevie & MAH’s example he won’t go far wrong.

Jim, I see you are offline. I’ll reply to the article later.

Packy good to see you back.


Mike in Toronto


For most of the past fifteen years, we have had British/Irish managers, who played a British style of football. So, not a surprise that, for the most part, players who have been brought up in that style would do best in it.

The flip side of that is that, when taken out of Scotland, we dont cope well with more skilful, organized teams.

Even in the big money BPL, the few teams that play good football (city, Liverpool, Spurs), are coached by foreigners, and are full of foreigners, who play a very different style of football.


Big Packy good to see you back on here. I always read your posts and regard you as a new friend I was lucky enough to meet.


Maybes we should look at the nations that are producing good weans and employ the same kinda coaches as they do, then Pedro needs to earn his corn by challenging the referees for allowing hammer throwing football in Scotland, till this is resolved footballers will never flourish.

bada bing1

Archie McPherson take a bow…?


You and i are on the same page about referee’s being the biggest factor in the decline of Scottish game.
They are truly throwbacks to another time and it’s all done approvingly to help one team only.
Just look at the numerous career ending tackles KT has had to face in his short career.
Our clubs silence on this has given them free reign.


Great article, JimTim. It made me think of a slice of footballing history.

In the early sixties one Scottish club changed the face of Scottish football virtually overnight. That club was Morton who had just won promotion in dramatic fashion from the then, second division. The club was run by an rare innovator in the Scottish game, Hal Stewart. Stewart’s team tore up the second tier with a group of players who were rejected by other clubs. Once in the top division, Stewart realised that he needed a new way of freshening his team when in the top division. Trouble was funds were limited…a very common problem today as well.

At that time, the Scandinavian leagues were amateur, or more accurately, shamateur…….you know money left in the boots! Players could be signed for virtually no fee direct from the Danish, Norwegian leagues. Swedes were a bit more expensive but still way under British values. The first to arrive in Greenock were Eric Sorensen(goalie) and Kai Johansen(FB). Sorensen made an immediate impact….no yellow jersey for him, he wore an all black outfit. Sorensen was very athletic and, although he over egged it, he made some spectacular saves. Johansen, who started slowly was to make the biggest impact of the incoming Scandinavians. These players were an instant success in the league. So much so that Stewart went out and bought another from the French league(Metz, I think) for around 15,000 GBP…….Jorn Sorensen. Jorn was a clever midfield player who made up for his lack of pace through good ball retention and clever positioning. All three of these players were transferred out to Rangers for a substantial profit.

Morton did not mind losing these players…..they thought they had a never ending supply of talent. In came the free scoring, Carl Bertelsen and a very clever wing half, Preben Arntoft. Arntoft was to end up in the top division in England.

Other Scottish clubs jumped on the bandwagon to tap the motherload. Dundee United acquired an excellent winger from Sweden, Orjan Persson, and a powerful but clumsy CF from Denmark, Finn Dossing. DU also added a gritty midfielder, Lennart Wing, who I think captained the side. As was their tradition, Rangers vacuumed up Persson.

Finally, Hearts acquired a very tricky winger from Norway, Roald Jensen.

These players, and others, brightened up the Scottish league in the sixties. I believe it was the efforts of Morton that sparked the end of amateur status in the Scandinavian leagues. But what was the effect on young players trying to break into the game? I can only speak from my own experience which was that was a terrific opportunity to learn from these players. They brought different techniques and attitudes to the game. The youth program at Morton continued and produced players like Joe Jordan, Joe Harper and Alan McGraw. The answer is found in finding the correct balance.


Mike in Toronto


I tend to think that refereeing, like a lot of problems in Scottish footbal, is the symptom of a much larger problem; as opposed to the problems itself.

From the late 60’s/early 70’s, even through the 70’s are early 80’s, Scottish players were doing very well at top english clubs, and Scotttish teams were even doing well in Europe.

Then, I dont know if Scottish teams/players have gotten worse, or most other countries have just blown by, or a bit of both … but what a decline, relatively speaking.

From liverpool dominating Europe with Dalglish, Souness, Hansen, Nicol, etc…. to …. Robertson (a good player, admittedly), Snodgrass and McTominay (maybe the three most successful Scottish exports at the moment)….

Jonathan Wilson’s Inverting the Pyramid looks at the development of football and tactics in a sort of geo-political context… and I think there is considerable merit to that sort of approach.

Even within Britian, why/how did the English teams (who were banned from Europe) explode financially in the early ’90’s? Why not Scotland? The EPL was not great, but it marketed itself somehow, and is now financially a behemoth,..

Conversely, why, even with all their money, has it only been in the last few years (so, almost 30 years since the TV boom in England) have English teams only started to learn how to play decent football? ?the easy answer is to point to the number of foreign players and coaches (Man City, Spurs, Liverpool, for example) …and there is probably a lot of truth to that.

Who was the last really great Engolish midfilder? Paul Scholes, maybe? Delle Alli reminds me of Aiden McGeady … bags of skill, but doens’t seem to know how to play the game effectively so as to maximize those skills …

Now, England’;s acacdemy seems to be turning out some decent youngsters, but I haven’t seen enough of them to know if this is a pattern, and, if so, why?

This leads to questions of what is it about British society, and Scottish soceity, even more so, that produces the retrograde football and the obvious cheating that we are seeing.

Within Scotland, why is the standard of football, and refereeing not only bad, but bent?

Why do Celtic and Celtic fans accept their position as second class citizens?

To me, these are all inter-related questions, and, I suspect, part of a much larger discussion..

bada bing1

Just back from Celtic Park, a fitting farewell to the Greatest Celt of all Time, RIP Billy

bada bing1

Mike in Toronto
Definitely agree that there are much wider reasons for discussion regarding the best wee country but having the refs apply the rules as written would improve the game immediately.
We we might end up with a game that resembles football in most other countries?
The English youth are doing well due to the English FA realizing that the SKY gravy train would not be forever and investing part of that money on the future.
Would be interesting to see how much of the SFA’s budget is actually used for youth football and how much is spent on the outdated blazers jaunts and freebies?
The recent vote against allowing colt teams in lower leagues shows how outdated and protectionist the Association is.


Many many thanks for todays article partner. And no more of this I cant write malarkey thats great pensmithery there hey.
Anyway ,, the Romans,,I used to think we should have been left alone tbh and seen where it went but then you read of how the pre Roman world worked and its kinda like actually thats sounds a bit more up my street.
Sewers for instance , and roads for Pete sake ( TGM ? )
As an example before civilization ( if this is what you can call a society that pays to watch a corrupt league ) back in old Erin to have the honour of becoming chief of the O Neill clan the prospective fellow had to gather the clan at the sacred place and under a full moon while the shaman said the special words , stand on a specially made rock and have sex with a pure white mare ! I kid you not.
I would have like to have witnessed a cavalry choir in full voice though , no doubt your fine self would enjoy that also.
Theres a tv out right now showing the conquering of Britannia by Caesars legions but its not the best tbh.
Boudica had them on the run and could have went all the way but lost a battle and walked into the woods and ate poisoned shrooms on purpose and that was that .

Anyway as for your excellent article we are in agreement that Johnny Foreigner can eff off back to where they belong 😉
I think the less money in the league the more that league tends to produce home grown players , not rocket salad really , and as such the domestic league is well placed .
I personally am hoping for a mini revival of Belfast soccer getting kicked off by our new , or should I say old , branch returning , Belfast Celtic,, and boy I cant wait to see how the new strip looks. Guess who wants one !
With roughly a third of our current squad being able to be labelled as home grown we are much better placed than other teams , and Ajax recent exploits should reinforce the fact that foreigners arent always better. Cheaper many times but that doesnt necessarily mean better.
The Spl rule giving foreign special talents an automatic work permit regardless of caps is a loophole I dont think we exploit enough,,,I would grab every starlet everywhere and start becoming prime traders to the Brits below our arse pumping the profits into team and community and actually become a club like no other if I had the reigns.

We will probably see less of the foreigner who joined and fell in love with his new fans and home as anything even remotely standing out nowadays is going to be the subject of bids.
We do seem to have been successful overall with our continental forays but some bad eggs do stand out just as some stood up !
Viduka , Graveson , Guidette , Blinker , Donati ,, etc all promised much and delivered little.
Naka , Henk , Agathe , Boruc , Joos , Bobo all overperformed if you ask me.
THeres no real reason to it , its down to the man and his circumstances really and to mitigate this you can attempt to get to know him or contact ex managers etc but its still a pot shot.
I myself couldnt handle that climate or food anymore ,,, asking someone to go from sunshine and outdoor active lifestyle to move to inner city condo life in that weather is a major shift in the daily grind.
As such many wifes and kids stay where they are while daddy is away earning .
THis is not conducive to a long term stay and play strategy ,, you are merely a wage payer until bigger wage offered. Way of the world and the Brits get away with it despite having pretty much the same climate as there are many little communities of say Brazilian or Portugese in LOndon plus the dosh is soo much better not to mention some of the top bracket of players in the world can still be found there.
These facts are why I think those from lesser climes such as Poles or Danes should be targeted more ,, stay away from good looking prima donnas ( like myself ) is my advice.

Martin also never really had the luxury of an easy title race to blood any youth and that was to our detriment . He did bring in Mc Manus who can be considered a success.
I would love your 3 maximum rule and that would really help the league but I think its illegal tbh ,, maybe Brexit will help that ?

Anyway ,, happy Friday pal . Im off to meet a fellow Belfast fella in Santa Cruz later for a pleasant surprise and he tells me he brought a gift from home !
Will try and get some snaps for ya. That big Packy one,, I cant wait for you two to sit down for a yarn over a few at this hoot ! Hes going nowhere hey ! Except the bar hopefully 😉

Hail Hail

The Gombeen Man


A great read this morning. It’s clear that you’ve put a lot of time, thought and effort into the article.

The Old Firm or sectarian model holds back Scotland and Scottish society in so many ways. Football is just one.

The old fearful ways of thinking and entitlement have meant that talent and merit is rarely a prerequisite for an appointment at the top level of the game.

Take Alex McLeish’s appointment or young Dallas. The lengths that the referees go to protect Sevco, the complicity of the media. The bias of the authorities.

The pretence of 54 Titles, the nudge and a wink given to EBT holders. David Murrays’ retention of the knighthood. Dawn raids, kettling, Dave King, Res 12.

All of this focus on Old Firmism holds the whole of the game back. It’s led to inappropriate people in influential positions and they are not up to the job.

The PLC are caught in this snare too. Reform is a big job and heaven only knows what would be uncovered if we had full disclosure of the shenanigans in the game.

So the loser is the quality and integrity of the game. We have an inward focussed cartel ran by luddites.

The punter is so intoxicated by resentments held against the ‘other side’ that he/she fails to grasp the nettle and legitimises failure and lack of accountability in their own club(s).

As MIT, has stated it’s symptomatic of a much larger problem in Scotland. The silence of the PLC enables it and will hopefully lead to the awakening that may of us wait for.

The Scottish game isn’t so much asleep but in a state of comatose.

As Celtic PLC try and spin their way out of the loss of a talented coach and a recruitment headache. All the focus is predictably on the personality of the Coach.

Deflection, deflection, deflection.

Scottish football or Celtic won’t break out of this downward cycle until new thinking is embraced.

It’s fitting that we are discussing this on the day of the funeral of Billy McNeill. The Lions were a team that briefly broke out of the toxic paradigm.

The problem is that the toxicity is a profitable comfort zone for a small minority.

The PLC are a part of that minority. The last thing they need us for the support to wake up and realise that the back of the bus is money in the back pocket for the PLC.

Great post Jim.


bada bing1
Mike in Toronto


Should have started off by saying I enjoyed your article. Sorry about that!


I think that, as a mark of respect to Billy, today, of all days, would be the right day for our club to start to address the crap that pollutes the game in Scotland.

The players that came before, blazed a trail, but many paid a high price for doing so… professionally, economically and socially.

For me, the greatest tribute we can pay to players like King Billy or Stevie Chalmers is to do everything possible to make sure that Celtic, its players and its fans are no longer treated like a second class citizens.

The Gombeen Man



Problem is that many seem to revel in the role of Second Class Citizens.
It might provide a distraction that prevents the unpalatable business of looking at ourselves?

The all or nothing/black or white thinking needs to be revealed for the immaturity it is.

So many or just too busy pointing fingers.

Possibly the Lions and their legacy might yet provide the inspiration and pathway out of this.

The programme as it is doesn’t work.

Looking forward to your tunes later.

Heading out for a few hours to the Irish Bank Holiday sunshine.


The Gombeen Man


Thanks for posting the celticfc website description of Billy’s funeral. The coincidences continue…

“Remarkably, it is 44 years to the day that Billy played his last game in the Hoops – the 1975 Scottish Cup final win over Airdrie.”


Just received this from a friend of the site.


bada bing1


Celtic TV’s excellent report on Billy’s funeral…..

bada bing1

Another wonderful piece on Billy by Bernard Ponsonby on STV

I should have read back, sorry Bada 😉


Finished early today to go to Celtic Park to pay my respects to our Captain. A truly Celtic experience. HH


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bCuhuePlP8o Someone you loved Lewis Capaldi


Wheres our Jim?
He either drank too much or pulled a lady in the bar last night I’m guessing . Both easy done to a man like him 😉
Hail Hail

As has been said,the reason we are signing foreigners is because we can’t get enough good Scots!

That much is true,but the talent must be out there somewhere,just waiting to be nurtured. Now,I’ll agree that bringing in,say fifty kids at 10yo who are whittled down to twenty at 15yo and hoping to get one player good enough sounds rather wasteful,time-consuming and costly. But it must cost less than an Amido Balde/Teemu Pukki does over the length of the deal we have given him?

And one in fifty success rate isn’t much worse than Peters Projects over the years!


I think Jim also had a funeral to attend.


I take it it was mobbed?

A thing of beauty

Great rad JTT53. We’ve always had a history of signing foreign players but you’re right about us getting caught up in signing some real garbage in response to our rivals doing the same. Also there seemed to me to be a big gap between Paul McStay to Shaun Maloney. I know there were others but no one that sticks out as a player that we knew could play at the next level that came through our ranks. I like to see youngsters coming through but I like to be the best team we can be and if that means our youngsters can’t get in then so be it.
I’ve just watched the coverage of Cesar’s funeral – befitting of the great man. I’ve said before that Archie McPherson’s biography of Jock Stein is one of my favourite football books and trust me I’ve read a few, so it was no surprise to hear him speak so well of Billy.
To tomorrow’s game. Quite frankly, enough of this Footering about. Time to stand up and get the job done. This is an Aberdeen team without many first team picks who are not exactly Barcelona when they are at full strength. No excuses. I’m getting tired of Lenny telling me they’re tired. It’s one game a week now and they need to lift themselves. I’m waking up in the middle of the night thinking about blowing this league. It needs to stop. I need my beauty sleep, so cmon bhoys, carpe diem.


I’d be more confident if we were scoring goals,but an average of one a game in the eight league games under NL doesn’t leave much wriggle room.

Especially not when Cheatin Beaton has been rewarded with the match. That’s a disgrace which I’ll be covering in more depth in my preview tomorrow.

Btw,I could do with some beauty sleep anaw! Got eff all on the way up.

bada bing1


Bernard Ponsonby, well done again sir.HH

bada bing1

G64- it was a fantastic occasion at CP,BMCUW- must have been about 15,000 there,

Big Packy, you back on?


Cesar Where you went others followed. HH

Mike in Toronto

a little friday night music …

Gregory Porter … Be Good

bada bing1

I hope to say, Polis Scotland, got today’s event spot on,re road closures,escorts, credit where it’s due.