State of the club report, year-end 2011


My friends in Celtic, a year ago I signed off on 2010 by saying, “I have never spoken to less confident Celtic fans ahead of a game against Rangers than I have this week”.  Celtic had won only five of their previous 10 league games, seven of which were at home, but with a squad ravaged by injury, they found a formation which over several games dominated Rangers.

After three defeats and an Ibrox draw against 10-man Celtic, Walter Smith eventually got it right and beat Celtic at Hampden.  The league challenge floundered in a scrappy defeat at Inverness, the home team fought for everything and found some vulnerabilities in Celtic but the season ended on a high with the first trophy of the Neil Lennon era as the Scottish Cup was won at rain-soaked Hampden against Motherwell.

Neil Lennon, Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn all had to deal with more serious events than football in the first half of the year.  Bombs and bullets were sent to Celtic’s three Irish stars, prosecutions are pending.  These events put Scotland on the international news circuit in a very unwelcome light.  First Minister, Alex Salmond, promised to take action but instead of tackling a century-old anti-Catholic, anti-Irish tradition, his government passed a law which criminalised all sorts of non-sectarian, non-racist activity.

Despite this initiative taking on flagship status for the Scottish Government, Salmond has steadfastly refused to re-gather and publish information on sectarian attacks in recent years.  Policy has been made without reference to facts.

The new season brought great promise.  Neil Lennon had a year under his belt and was no longer up against Rangers’ most successful manager, instead he would face rookie Ally McCoist, but a humbling by Sion, ultimately neutralised by Uefa, and poor early season league form saw the manager consider his position.

A home defeat to St Johnstone and an utter collapse at Ibrox set the tone, but it was Kilmarnock’s three goal lead which caused Neil Lennon most concern.  The story of the second half comeback at Rugby Park is likely to take on legendary status in years to come, but as with much in life, it contained prosaic events.  Celtic came out of the dressing room like a condemned team and failed to register a genuine attempt on the Kilmarnock goal for 25 minutes.  Anthony Stokes struck a free kick which would have been stopped by most defensive walls but the Kilmarnock version was made of butter and Celtic had a platform to stage a comeback.  Killie’s reserve keeper, Jaakkola, failed to reach Anthony’s shot a few minutes later and Celtic were level six minutes after they realised they had a game of football to play.

In their next game Celtic failed to score at home to then-bottom Hibernian, allowing Rangers to open up a 15 point gap over their rivals, who by then were in third place, although with two games in hand over Rangers.  Celtic then went to Motherwell and promptly fell behind, our season hung by a thread, but it was that guy Stokes who again had the stomach for the fight.  Anthony equalised within minutes and Gary Hooper scored a late winner.

Celtic have not dropped a point since, while Ally McCoist and his boss, Craig Whyte, now look like the rookies they are.  They have lost three of their last six games, completing a collapse at Celtic Park on Wednesday night.

A year ago I reflected on the 46 players who played for Celtic during 2010 and suggested we would be better starting with a blank sheet of paper.  The league challenge ended in failure but 2011 didn’t.  This year ends with a coherent team strategy which could deliver the first sustainable and successful Celtic team in 40 years.  We have a young squad, on wages the club can afford, with a scouting and management team that have delivered a clutch of players destined to achieve an enormous amount in the game.

Despite the energy and excitement around Celtic Park, attendances are down.  Football is not as fashionable as it was three or four years ago.  For much of the season, we play in a cold, wet, environment against well-organised but defensive teams; it’s a hard sell.  We all know fans who have drifted from the stands, large areas of the stadium are now scarcely populated unless Rangers are visiting, which will impact income and subsequent expenditure.

Still, the shambles of 2010 has gone, Celtic look like a club with purpose and the tools to move forward with confidence. A two point lead at this stage of the season is largely symbolic but it’s a deserved honour that your team deserves.

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    Hogmanay ……………………………………………………
















  2. Philbhoy - It's just the beginning! on




    Been in the Marine, the Ship and the Belvidere, before coming home for dinner.



    Heading back down town shortly to get a good place!



    Will be having a beer with Bob A tomorrow.



    Happy New year to you too my friend!

  3. Lennybhoy



    You are a special guy among special guys.



    This could be a wonderful year ahead but we’ll just have to put up with the Thunder.

  4. The Spirit of Arthur Lee on




    I expect the two of them to be on Scotlands greatest albulm after B A Robertson and Jesse Rae.

  5. SOAL



    What are you listening to?



    I’m listening to a guy singing “Papa was a rolling stone”



    Disnae sound too porridge and shortbread.

  6. The Spirit of Arthur Lee on




    My out of tune bhoy on his mp3 player trying to be Rihanna .



    Dreadful to be honest

  7. Bjmac @ 19.58


    Brilliant story mate. I have visions of you wearing a black Castrol GTX jacket.

  8. Happy new year to CQN’ers all over the world :)


    I do enjoy paul67 state of the club



    Now for Sydneytims state of the club



    Well 1st of all I could just cut and paste many of Paul’s points


    Especially the religious crimes aspect



    But!!! The crowds down in the last 3 or 4 Years


    No Paul you are wrong


    Back home in Scotland , I know 4 friends who given up their season tickets


    Those 4 fans were not regular fans before fergus


    They were some of the legacy that fergus left us


    Ie. 56,000 season ticket holders


    Why did these 4 fans stop their season tickets ?


    Because they felt the CEO and board stopped bringing in quality


    The board stopped investing in the team, so they just chucked it



    That is the main reason we gave dropped from 56k to 42k


    Sure there are a few other reasons, but smaller


    Most have stopped to our policy of zero debt and zero trophies


    So thanks Peter lawell and board approx3.5m pounds lost in last 3 years every year



    Great of course finishing of year top of the SPL


    But we need to move in the transfer market to improve and not let talents if forest and Mathews go to waste



    Leave you with this point


    Fat ally now has a worse record than Paul le guen


    We are only 2 points in front of that



    Not making things up, just putting a few things into perspective



    All the best when it comes to you




  9. glendalystonsils on

    A very happy new year to Paul 67 and to all of his CQN “children”. And may I wish you all good health with which to enjoy Celtic’s treble winning first stage on the road to greatness.


    Wanted to get that posted while I’m still stone cold sober!

  10. !!Bada Bing!! Kano 1000 on

    Deko-Wednesday 4 Jan,Linn Park @ 3 pm.Will read back to see if you get this mate.HH.

  11. A very Happy New Year to One and All on CQN…



    To Paul67 and his family and to all those who are here everyday to make this a special Celtic Place..



    Hail Hail from the Starry Household..

  12. Heading off to the club and on to her sister’s


    so have good one to all Celts everywhere


    especially to my boy Kev in Melbourne


    (who is probably suffering with a hangover at the minute)


    If Ragers sink into oblivion in 2012 will that mean Glasgow city council


    will create a Rangers “Quarter” in the city even if half of it’s citizens don’t care to have it ?


    Just a thought


    Ath-bhliain faoi mhaise daoibh

  13. A very happy New Year to Paul and all the posters who make this a very addictive blog. And don’t forget the difference between Guy Fawkes and Santa Claus……………………17 Points!

  14. Watching BBC Alba The Vatersay Bhoys at the Barrowlands gets you right in the mood for a party.(Sky) 168 + Freeview. All Celtic fans everywhere have great and prosperous New Year, Hail Hail Hebcelt

  15. I left home at 1 at am wednesday morning to get to the game did not get home until thursday at 8 30 pm for this reason I dont go to often. Iam not articulate enough to explain how much I enjoyed the whole experince One thing I cant believe is our own support shouting insults at Samaras and Ki that bad you could not print hail hail greendave

  16. SydneyTim



    I sincerely hope that 2012 will be a great year for your goodself, your loved ones and


    all fellow Celtic suppporters.



    Have a good one mate.

  17. El. Thank you for your kind words



    May 2012 be a good year for health and wealth if your family when it comes




    Is it just me bhoys or is everyone the same in new years day, in that even looking at a bottle if beer makes me feel sick



    Countdown now for my friends in northern hemisphere


    1st Dresden, a city I lived in for 5 years, have a good one bhoys




  18. Paul, many thanks for all the insightful leader articles and a quite excellent website. You should have been an investigative journalist or a lawyer of the Gareth Pierce variety.



    Happy New Year to you, Fiona and the boys, to Kevin and his family and to your Dad and Maureen.



    Hail, hail

  19. A Happy Healthy and Prosperous New Year to all on CQN.


    Roll on The Future……


    I Believe…


    These Young Bhoys are heading in the right direction!

  20. Jinky's A Legend on

    Could I just wish every single one of you and your families a very happy, holy and prosperous New Year. Hail Hail. Hoopy New Year

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