Being as celebrated as the Lions have been for the last 54 years must take its toll, but with Bertie Auld, it never showed. If you have only met one Lisbon Lion, it most probably was Bertie. The news, released by his family yesterday, that he is the latest Lion to suffer dementia, will be distressing to all who cherish him. This is not the time to share our fondest memories of him, but I know we all send him our best wishes.
I have enjoyed watching much of the Euros. The element of surprise and the hope of discovering an emerging force. Watching how weaker teams, like Sweden, successfully earn a point against feted opponents. Watching talents such as Ronaldo prance like a prized stallion; it’s sheer theatre. The best part: for me, it is stress free. I can watch the sport as entertainment.
It is different, of course, when you have skin in the game. I have watched great and not-so-great Celtic teams all my life and I often find myself less than entertained by Celtic teams at both ends of the ability spectrum. Celtic is a mood-altering phenomenon. The joy from wins can be merely satisfactory as the result was expected, or it can lift spirits beyond anything else I know. Defeats, well, you know about them.
The problem here is that I have no choice in the matter. For me, Celtic is an addictive mood-altering phenomenon, I would not have it any other way, of course. Fortunately, there is more sunshine than shadow.
I want Scotland to win tonight and it would be great for Ryan Christie to score a cracker (eye on the LSD, if I can confuse the metaphor). But this is Scotland, the pain-joy balance is not the same as with Celtic. My expectation is they will lose, there will be trauma and we will probably hear about it for the next quarter of a century.
Watching Scotland is also a mood-altering phenomenon. For me, though, it is not addictive. I can take or leave it; build a shield of indifference against inevitable disappointment. I might see if there’s a film on tonight, leave the intoxicant for others. Enjoy your night.