Early tests required, playing poker with no cards


It’s been six weeks since Celtic have had something to play for: 1 May, a five goal win over Dundee.  Since then we wound down the remaining Premiership games before cranking up a fortnight ago at our new second home in Paisley, but it all comes into focus on Wednesday at Celtic Park, when we are expected to humble apparent Champions League whipping boys from Iceland.

People at Celtic have complained for years about having to play such important games in the middle of July, but I’ve never bought that argument.  If we have to face Legia-type opposition later this month, we can’t have an early enough test.  The challenge is known, it’s the responsibility of the club to be ready.

Stjarnan are likely to be the least resourced team we will face this summer, but if we get a comfortable win on Wednesday, these two games, as well as the friendlies against Eibar and Rennes, should provide ample opportunity to physically and tactically ready for the real test.

A few weeks back we discussed the game of brinksmanship involving Greece and it’s analogy in Scottish football, “Those sitting at the Syriza side of the table know they may be marching their citizens off the edge of a cliff”.

8 days ago Tsipras won his referendum mandate but quickly accepted that you can’t play poker if you don’t have any cards, never mind aces.  I wondered if he hoped to ‘lose’ the referendum.  I wonder if others hoped  the SFA would find ‘against’ them a few months back.  As we mentioned, it was “one of the classic failures of leadership – telling people what they want to hear in order to gain power, without any way of delivering on the promises made”.

If the Greeks had said ‘Yes’ Tsipras could have capitulated, blaming the will of the people.  If the SFA said ‘not Fit and Proper’, others could have declined to invest, blaming Peter Lawwell and his ‘cronies’ at Hampden.  I’m sure you could write the script yourself.

Populism’s easy, until you are given control, then it’s harder than granite.  We’ll see the same lesson played out in Scottish football in the months to come.  You need five aces in your hand to play poker with a billionaire, even then, don’t make assumptions.

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  1. Aye but when you play a billionaire you know you face a cheat and a liar






    09:00 on 13 July, 2015


    Is there a CQN fantasy football league this season? If so, does anybody know the details?



    H H



    It’s gonnae be fantasy government this year





    One thing about holding all the aces,never mind five of them(!)



    It sure makes it difficult for an opponent to hit you with a Royal Flush…


    bobby murdoch’s curled-up winklepickers



    12:18 on 13 July, 2015





    10:14 on 13 July, 2015


    John McGinn potentially off to Houston? What a shame.



    Wish him the best but we ought to have had a punt on him. Put him out on loan.





    The standard is definitely on the up over there. Aside from those topping up a pension that is!



    4-4-2 did an article on it recently.



    At Houston,he will team up with Giles Barnes. He’s still only 26 and a great young player who really struggled wi injury.



    McGinn will love it and return a better player,IMO. Though he might love it too much to leave!

  4. saltires en sevilla on




    Yeah we have known the timetable for long enough.



    No excuses for failure in this round.



    The latter qualifying rounds will not be easy and no-one in the Celtic family should feel entitled to get to group stages.



    Feeling more positive than I did at the same stage last season.

  5. weet weet weet(GBWO) on

    Primary school football



    The Rules Of The Game






    Matches shall be played over three unequal periods: two playtimes and lunchtime. Each of these periods shall begin shortly after the ringing of a bell, and although a bell is also rung towards the end of these periods, play may continue for up to ten minutes afterwards, depending on the nihilism or “bottle” of the participants with regard to corporal punishment meted out to latecomers back to the classroom. In practice there is a sliding scale of nihilism, from those who hasten to stand in line as soon as the bell rings, known as “poofs”, through those who will hang on until the time they estimate it takes the teachers to down the last of their G&T’s and journey from the staff room, known as “chancers”, and finally to those who will hang on until a teacher actually has to physically retrieve them, known as “nutters”.



    This sliding scale is intended to radically alter the logistics of a match in progress, often having dramatic effects on the scoreline as the number of remaining participants drops. It is important, therefore, in picking the sides, to achieve a fair balance of poofs, chancers and nutters in order that the scoreline achieved over a sustained period of play – lunchtime, for instance – is not totally nullified by a five-minute post-bell onslaught of five nutters against one. The scoreline to be carried over from the previous period of the match is in the trust of the last nutters to leave the field of play, and may be the matter of some debate. This must be resolved in one of the approved manners (see adjudication).






    The object is to force the ball between two large, unkempt piles of jackets, in lieu of goalposts. These piles may grow or shrink throughout the match, depending on the number of participants and the prevailing weather. as the number of players increases, so shall the piles. Each jacket added to the pile by a new addition to a side should be placed on the inside, nearest the goalkeeper, thus reducing the target area. It is also important that the sleeve of one of the jackets should jut out across the goalmouth, as it will often be claimed that the ball went “over the post” and it can henceforth be asserted that the outstretched sleeve denotes the innermost part of the pile and thus the inside of the post. The on-going reduction of the size of the goal is the responsibility of any respectable defence and should be undertaken conscientiously with resourcefulness and imagination. In the absence of a crossbar, the upper limit of the target area is observed as being slightly above head height, although when the height at which a ball passed between the jackets is in dispute, judgement shall liewith an arbitrary adjudicator from one of the sides. He is known as the best fighter”; his decision is final and may be enforced with physical violence if anyone wants to stretch a point. In games on large open spaces, the length of the pitch is obviously denoted by the jacket piles, but the width is a variable. In the absence of roads, water hazards etc, the width is determined by how far out the attacking winger has to meander before the pursuing defender gets fed up and lets him head back towards where the rest of the players are waiting, often as far as quarter of a mile away. It is often observed that the playing area is “not a full-size pitch”. This can be invoked verbally to justify placing a wall of players eighteen inches from the ball at direct free kicks. It is the formal response to “yards”, which the kick-taker will incant meaninglessly as he places the ball. Tactics Playground football tactics are best explained in terms of team formation. Whereas senior sides tend to choose – according to circumstance – from among a number of standard options (eg 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 5-3-2), the playground side is usually more rigid in sticking to the all-purpose 1-1-17 formation.



    This formation is a sturdy basis for the unique style of play, ball-flow and territorial give-and-take that makes the playground game such a renowned and strategically engrossing spectacle. Just as the 5-3-2 formation is sometimes referred to in practice as “Catenaccio”, the 1-1-17 formation gives rise to a style of play that is best described as “Nomadic”. all but perhaps four of the participants (see also Offside) migrate en masse from one area of the pitch to another, following the ball, and it is tactically vital that every last one of them remains within a ten-yard radius of it at all times.






    Much stoppage time in the senior game is down to injured players requiring treatment on the field of play. The playground game flows freer having adopted the refereeing philosophy of “no post-mortem, no free-kick”, and play will continue around and even on top of a participant who has fallen in the course of his endeavours. However, the playground game is nonetheless subject to other interruptions, and some examples are listed below.



    1. Ball on school roof or over school wall.



    The retrieval time itself is negligible in these cases. The stoppage is most prolonged by the argument to decide which player must risk life, limb or four of the belt to scale the drainpipe or negotiate the barbed wire in order to return the ball to play. Disputes usually arise between the player who actually struck the ball and any others he claims it may have struck before disappearing into forbidden territory. In the case of the Best Fighter having been adjudged responsible for such an incident, a volunteer is often required to go in his stead or the game may be abandoned, as the Best Fighter is entitled to observe that (a) “you can’t make me”; or (b) “It’s not my ball anyway”.



    2. Bigger boys steal ball.



    A highly irritating interruption, the length of which is determined by the players’ experience in dealing with this sort of thing. The intruders will seldom actually steal the ball, but will improvise their own kickabout amongst themselves, occasionally inviting the younger players to attempt to tackle them. Standing around looking bored and unimpressed usually results in a quick restart. Shows of frustration and engaging in attempts to win back the ball can prolong the stoppage indefinitely. Informing the intruders that one of the players’ older brother is “Mad Paul Murphy” or some other noted local pugilist can also ensure minimum delay.



    3. Menopausal old bag confiscates ball.



    More of a threat in the street or local green kickabout than within the school walls. Sad, blue-rinsed, ill-tempered, Tory-voting cat-owner transfers her anger about the array of failures that has been her life to nine-year-olds who have committed the heinous crime of letting their ball cross her privet Line of Death. Interruption (loss of ball) is predicted to last “until you learn how to play with it properly”, but instruction on how to achieve this without actually having the bloody thing is not usually forwarded. Tact is required in these circumstances, even when the return of the ball seems highly unlikely, as further irritation of woman may result in the more serious stoppage: Menopausal old bag calls police. Celebration Goal-scorers are entitled to a maximum run of thirty yards with their hands in the air, making crowd noises and saluting imaginary packed terraces. Congratulation by team-mates is in the measure appropriate to the importance of the goal in view of the current scoreline (for instance, making it 34-12 does not entitle the player to drop to his knees and make the sign of the cross), and the extent of the scorer’s contribution. A fabulous solo dismantling of the defence or 25-yard (actually eight yards, but calculated as relative distance because “it’s not a full-size pitch”) rocket shot will elicit applause and back-pats from the entire team and the more magnanimous of the opponents.



    However, a tap-in in the midst of a chaotic scramble will be heralded withthe epithet “poaching bas*ard” from the opposing defence amidst mild acknowledgment from team-mates. Applying an unnecessary final touch when a ball is already rolling into the goal will elicit a burst nose from the original striker.



    Kneeling down to head the ball over the line when defence and keeper are already beaten will elicit a thoroughly deserved kicking.



    As a footnote, however, it should be stressed that any goal scored by the Best Fighter will be met with universal acclaim, even if it falls into any of the latter three categories.






    At senior level, each side often has one appointed penalty-taker, who will defer to a team-mate in special circumstances, such as his requiring one more for a hat trick. The playground side has two appointed penalty-takers: the Best Player and the Best Fighter.



    The arrangement is simple: the Best Player takes the penalties when his side is a retrievable margin behind, and the Best Fighter at all other times. If the side is comfortably in front, the ball-owner may be invited to take a penalty. Goalkeepers are often the subject of temporary substitutions at penalties, forced to give up their position to the Best Player or Best Fighter, who recognise the kudos attached to the heroic act of saving one of these kicks, and are buggered if “little Billy” is going to steal any ofit.



    Close Season



    This is known also as the Summer Holidays, which the players usually spend dabbling briefly in other sports: tennis for a fortnight while Wimbledon is on the telly; pitch-and-putt for four days during the Open; and cricket for about an hour and a half until they discover that it really is as boring to play as it is to watch.





  6. It’s gonnae be fantasy government this year








    A few Rockets from the site will be Rocketing straight up to the top of the league then…..

  7. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    Result of CQN FantasyLeague:



    1/Queen of the South [Chps]



    2/St Mirren









    5/ Morton



    6/Raith Rovers












    10/Sevco [R]





    He may be both of those but chances are he can also hire better lawyers than you to disprove it in court(!)

  9. A quick question – is Wednesday’s game on TV?



    I’m down south with work so hoping to watch the game in a Celtic pub.




  10. Good article Paul.



    It’s heartbreaking what’s happening in Greece, but it should be a salutory lesson to many of those who spent last year telling us that “currency doesn’t matter”; “we’re so oil-rich Europe will do what we tell them”, “stop scaremongering…” etc etc



    The reality of the world we live in is tough. There is no such thing as national sovereignty any more, as the Greek fiasco so horribly demonstrates.



    You want to buck the global economic order? Go ahead, just don’t expect your ATMs to work, your people to get paid, or any of the imported stuff you rely on – like food and medecine – to reach your shores.



    We are such a spoiled generation. We have never seen how quickly and drastically things can fall apart. My grandparents knew fascism, famine, war, and economic depression. They saw violent death first hand.



    My great grandmother was forced to donate all her jewellery, including her wedding ring, to Mussolini’s war effort. She remembered one morning being ruled by the Italian fascists, the next by the Germans, and then the Americans.



    None of us has seen the sheer random ferocity and unfairness of the world first hand. Not really. We assume these epoch-defining catastrophes are history and they will not happen to us. Greece is a reminder of how quickly disaster can befall an entire nation. If it can happen to them it could (can) happen to us.



    Bullet. Dodged. For now…



    As for the GaSL… I detect a few rumblings in the MSM about his lack of, erm, “over-investment” thus far. Wonder if the kid gloves will stay on, and for how long…

  11. glendalystonsils on



    12:10 on


    13 July, 2015


    The Herald are reporting that former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is to be offered a specially-created role within the Scottish FA in which he will promote and develop the game in Scotland.









    Will he be promoting and developing any team in particular? HMmmmm.

  12. Delaneys Dunky on




    I have watched Celtic matches in Charlies bar, and Moe’s bar in Es Cana Ibiza. Enjoy a lovely island and Ibiza Rocks.

  13. http://WWW….



    very good… made me laff and brought back memories of the Tarmac playground…



    Pater not impressed by shrinking of his drinking funds and/or mater didn’t enjoy sewing on the knee patches.

  14. Any news on the Celtic 7 fitted up by Stephen House’s jackbooted jaeger junta and the SNP’s sectarian stasi squad?

  15. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    You have to imagine that if the poor souls who were killed in the road accident near Stirling had been singin’ the ole Role of Honour it wouldn’t have taken the polis 3 days to find them.

  16. Just on train back from court. 5 of the 7 got absolute discharges. Basically it means that they’ve been found guilty but they’ll remain without any criminal record!

  17. weet weet weet..,


    Pretty comprehensive description of how I remember it, thems was the days :)

  18. Jungle Jim Hot Smoked



    12:18 on 13 July, 2015






    I think this is the correct address should anyone feel inclined to take Lynsey Sharp`s comments up with her sponsor.





    Thanks mate – just sent off my complaint. Here’s hoping Macjay 1 for Lennon does the same.

  19. jmccormick



    13:00 on 13 July, 2015



    am off down south on Wednesday, could do with finding out if there is any tv coverage?






    None jmc, unless Celtic tv carry it.



    2nd leg is live from Iceland 8.15pm BT Sport next wednesday 22nd July.

  20. Stjarnan v Celtic


    UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round 2nd Leg




    BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 1 HD

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