The Great Return
After another seven days of soap opera at our great club-preceded no doubt by some considerable time spent on rehearsals and casting,as well as trying to make sure that the understudy is up to speed-we are still no nearer to the truth of why events transpired as they did.
If we have learnt anything during our years following Celtic,then we know that thinking the unthinkable about The Board is far from that. It turns out usually to be merely a starting point. But the major shareholders are fully behind them and their long established course,and as mere bit players-who happen to pay the effin bills!-we can only look on from afar.
Irvine Welsh published a collection of short stories a number of years back,and I think three of them made it into the movie adaptation. The others were simply unfilmable,or way too graphic for the sensibilities of the delicate audience. It is not too much of a stretch to compare the fans to the poor sap in The Acid House who was paying for his neighbour’s lifestyle even as he was knobbing his wife.
Something will turn up,declared Mr Micawber. And for once,Dickens came up with a happy ending. But then,he had never heard of Celtic Plc.
Tonight sees us return to a wonderful city which made so many of us so welcome only eighteen years ago. This time,the landlords and restaurateurs of Seville need not bother with emergency airlifts of supplies as a mere handful of Celtic supporters will be there for the occasion. The continuing restrictions imposed on our lives,work,leisure,are something we could never have dreamt of in 2003-or even in 2019. But they are a reality nevertheless.
Celtic had their greatest season in the last fifty years in 2003-with the possible exception of The Invincibles in the 50thAnniversary of Lisbon. Yet we won nothing! Cheated out of the League Cup by a ridiculous offside decision against BBJ,cheated on the last day of the season on goal difference because our respective opponents “performed at different levels”,depending on who they were facing that day-and that mob still needed a late nothing penalty to pip us.
But a special pain and a special pride was reserved for That Night In Seville,or that week,depending on how long you were there for. There is no doubt that Porto were a very talented side,nor that we were a very talented and powerful side. Clearly Mourinho had to figure out a way to nullify our power,and the only way he could do it was to use the media to impress on everyone that we were not,in fact,a talented and powerful side,but merely a bunch of thugs-the expectation being that this would filter through to the officials. And he intended to emphasise the point by having his players go down like they’d been shot if anyone as much as looked at them.
In fairness,if Bobo or Big Mjallby drew me a dirty look,I’d be screaming for my Mum. Turns out the Porto players were right up for that,and not even perhaps the finest performance (in the wilting heat) seen under Martin O’Neill was good enough. The 6-2 game,or away to Ajax,4-0 at Easter Road one Mother’s Day,the 2-0 at Anfield,for me Our Night In Seville was that team at it’s peak.
Not even two goals from Henrik could do it-including,IMO,his finest ever. Running away from the goal,running away from the ball as it came across,and maybe six yards beyond the post. Only about four feet from the bye-line,he somehow looped the header back across goal,over the head of the keeper at the most oblique angle,and in off the far post.
And I’m telling you that like you don’t know?
Tonight,we don’t have the calibre of players I’ve mentioned,nor a Stan,NL,Evil Genius or a Jackie or Tommo. In those eighteen years,our standing in Europe has disintegrated as we fiddled while the game around us changed. We return to Seville with few fans to inspire us,and few players in our group who know the significance of that beautiful city. Yet even returning empty handed,anyone who was there still has nothing but wonderful memories.
Hopefully tonight will give us a wonderful result to match them.
Above article by BMCUWP