Glasgow Celtic. What is the point? What is THE PURPOSE?
“ Pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses our understanding”. (The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran )
Painful as the defeat to Ferencvaros was on Wednesday night one outcome as sure as night follows day when something painful happens, is folk start thinking.
The thinking starts during the game and depending on the events on field causes emotions of despair (their early goal), hope and joy (our equaliser) and anger (their winner.)
However, the emotions gradually subside (unless there is another game on hand to take us back on the emotional roller coaster) and in that space the game of pass the buck begins. It’s El Hamed fault, Christie is rotten, no strikers ffs, what is the manager playing at? He’s lost it, he’s lost the dressing room, that’s Edouard’s offski , Lennon is useless as a coach, he has to go.
Then it goes up the ladder to The Board/Peter Lawwell and ultimately to Dermot Desmond, the “Thought Commander in Chief”, for all failing to prepare once again for Champion’s League qualification. Its Ground Hog Day or watching repeats of The Shawshank Redemption except Celtic never escape after doing the hard-working equivalent of crawling through shit for most of the game.
I get amused watching it all until I realise I’m doing the bloody same, all over Twitter like a rash to express my thoughts and feelings in what is a judgement frenzy based on opinions that do not take all the various factors at play into account because NO ONE KNOWS ALL THE FACTS AND FACTORS. (so we make things up).
In the modern world thoughts that were once confined to a few in a pub after a game, proliferate like a virus via social media with no social distancing. Unlike our current unwelcome virus visitor , thoughts are already in the heads of supporters just waiting to be coughed out, mostly with unintended but painful results that nevertheless stimulate the kind of post-match frenzy only now subsiding as a more reflective mood emerges: which brings me to the point of this article that asks
“What is the Point of Celtic, What is THE PURPOSE?”
The purpose of the article is not to answer the questions posed (how the feck would I know) but to get what is a community who gather under the Celtic FC totem pole to think about their answers and maybe – stretching it a bit I know – even get a consensus on the answers. Celtic means different things to different folk at a personal level but at a higher level, do we all, starting from The Board, as the embodiment of Celtic (dare I say the spirit made flesh – I just did) have an agreed purpose, and are Celtic as a whole and as that embodiment serving it?
To kick things off I draw on responses by John Reid from the 2008 Celtic AGM when addressing questions raised by The Famine Song.
John Reid’s Statement at Celtic AGM 2008
Why did you decide to speak out about ‘The Famine Song’ and is it important that the club make sure that our supporters protect the integrity of Celtic’s name?
I spoke out about it because this is a pretty vile song and I don’t think that any reasonable person who has read the words of this song can see it as anything other than a pretty vicious, racist song.
It combines racism and sectarianism and goes beyond a lot of other things that we have seen in the past. That’s one of the reasons why I spoke out and I also come from Irish and Scottish descent myself, so that’s the main reason.
BUT THERE IS A BIGGER AND WIDER REASON AS WELL AND THAT IS THE NATURE OF THIS CLUB
We are proud of the fact that we have Scottish origins and Irish heritage and we are never going to deny that. We will defend that and that is not a cause for shame, it’s a cause for recognition and celebration.
Indeed our very name ‘Celtic’ is about the unity of the Scottish and Irish people. It stands against those who would divide, discriminate, and oppose those two entities. And because we start from that basis of the unity of peoples then we have always been open and inclusive as a club.
That’s why traditionally we have never discriminated. That’s why our board, our shareholders, our footballers and our footballing heroes come from all sorts of different backgrounds, religions, ethnic groups and do so internationally.
That’s why I said last year that whatever differences we have when we come into this club we leave them at the door because we believe truly, in a Scotland that is one bit of many cultures and is way beyond now being Scots and Irish.
That is our stance, therefore we have to speak out when we see racism or sectarianism being practised and of course, if we are going to do that WE HAVE TO PRACTISE WHAT WE PREACH.
We have to be careful, from our own point of view and that’s why I am absolutely delighted that our fans in recent years have had accolades from the world football authorities, from the European football authorities and let me say when I point out that there may be a minority who are transgressing our own rules, that they are our own rules.
I don’t know any Celtic fans who have been chanting racist slogans or anything of that nature, so I am not comparing like with like here.
BUT I AM SAYING THAT WE HAVE GOT TO BE WHITER THAN WHITE AND THAT WE HAVE TO EXPLAIN AND TO EDUCATE EVERYBODY AT THIS CLUB, INCLUDING THAT TINY MINORITY WHICH AT AWAY GAMES SOMETIMES LEAVES US EXPOSED TO THOSE WHO WOULD ATTEMPT TO SAY THAT WE ARE ALL THE SAME
We aren’t all the same, but we have to make sure that that is evident to everybody. That’s the nature of Celtic Football Club.
I searched for the above as my memory told me John Reid said there what Celtic stood for, but does it set out Celtic’s purpose?
Purpose is defined as:
“the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”
and if our purpose in 2008 is one of seeking unity and not division ,should we not be asking ourselves
a) Is that still our purpose?
b) If so what have we done since 2012 to fulfil that purpose when the perfect opportunity arose to do so?
c) Have we been successful in meeting the 2008 purpose or has it been jettisoned for other purposes and if so what are they?
Come next spring if the current season does not come to another premature end, whether we win ten in a row or whether we do not, what will be our purpose then? Now is the time to start thinking about that and that thinking should be starting with the “Thought Commander in Chief”( I bet you were wondered “wtf?” when I gave Sir Dermott Desmond that title earlier ) taking the lead.
In an ideal world that would see the opening up of a dialogue with all who constitute the Celtic community, not just an internal discussion between those on The Board who have lost our trust, perhaps because of a perception that their purpose for Celtic and the support differs?
In taking such a lead they might actually start a process of rebuilding the kind of trust sustainable long lasting good relationships are based on. Given the way Celtic supporters have paid up for games they are not guaranteed to watch and helped keep Celtic the business afloat, the very least they deserve is to be involved in such a meaningful dialogue. (in business speak in my day it was called Strategic Planning / Alignment of Activities with Purpose)
Under such a dialogue approach to review the future point and purpose of Celtic, perhaps we should go back to the original purpose from Brother Walfrid for guidance.
“ ‘A football club will be formed for the maintenance of dinner tables for the children and the unemployed.’”
It certainly can be argued that today The Foundation fulfils that purpose, sustained by the effort of the support, where Foodbanks are the modern day equivalent of dinner tables for children and the unemployed , but does Celtic the business meet the same underlying principle of charity at the core of Celtic’s original purpose?
Charity is defined as:
- Benevolence or generosity toward others or toward humanity.
- Indulgence or forbearance in judging others.
- Charity in Christianity is a theological virtue defined as love directed first toward God but also toward oneself and one’s neighbours as objects of God’s love.
I suppose the question is where in Celtic’s business purpose does charity as defined above sit and does the Celtic business model promote it?
Celtic are a great club because they are supported by a great community but is it not time to consider how to build more on that strength and less on the strength of the incorrectly named balance sheet, that only causes imbalance.
Over to Dermott Desmond, Thought Commander In Chief!
Above article by Auldheid. Grateful thanks as ever,and much to think about there!