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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  1. falkirkbhoy



    I was lucky to get to 2 on corporate trips…..and the pre game party which lasted for 6 hours !



    Unfortunately both games were one sided with the Ravens and Bucs winning by a long way…..still great events.



    The Ravens win was a great story though after Lewis was up on a murder rap from the year before. The NFL commissioner Tagliabue had quite a job defending that scenario at the pre game press conference.



    Their Defence was awesome that season and it won them it……IMO



    Their owner had sold the future rights to the franchise to fund the team which mae it an amazing story too, after he moved the franchise from Cleveland and repalced the old colts in Baltimore……



    The SPL and other small Euro leagues would benefit from a similar cross country model to the NFL rather than the current small domestic fare. Imagine a pre xmas conference with a Scottish / Dutch / Belgian / Danish / Portuguese / Swedish Divisions of 5 or 6 producing a post season league and play off event after xmas for 18 weeks.

  2. kentbeth



    I was there in 78 !



    The Burnley Fans chanting Argentina and throwing their metal fance at us….



    Abiding memory is of the police dogs running away from the celtic fans….



    The low point of our football history for me on the park losing to a division 2 team…….until I was in Artmedia 6 years ago just after black sunday !

  3. Burnley78



    Watched the NFL on channel 4 1st time around, bears and the redskins, didnt really know the History, till i actually went to a game! My family stay in Baltimore so seen the orioles a few times also.


    Since the London NFL games its got me right into it again, also the movies from ESPN 30 for 30 are awesome.



    Never mind the league model which would be amazing, what about towns/ regions with 1 sporting college, the draft system, wage caps….



    pipe dreams, stuck with club chairman with eyes only for a seat in the SFA and holidays around the world.

  4. Burnley78



    Good luck and all the Best for the year to come.



    Still have the scar above my eye from that bloody game.

  5. Paddy Gallagher on

    I had the pleasure of enjoying a pint with ‘on top of the ground’ Harry on Thursday night. He was entertaining us with a tale from his early years in Ireland. Apparently he was travelling between Belcoo and Enniskillen with five others in a Morris 1100 engaging in the common practice of searching out a Sabbath drink. Allegedly the drink had been flowing and our adventurers were all in good feckle.



    The story continued and the bold one tells how they came round a bend to find an Army checkpoint had been set up. They were ordered out of the car, instructed to put their arms out on the stone dyke at the roadside and then spread their legs apart allowing them to be frisked. Now Harry explained he was feeling very brave because of the copious amounts of Black courage flowing through his veins and in his own words he asked ‘could he take a piss first’. A simple enough request you would have thought, but one which seemed to upset one bawfaced angry Soldier who now zoned in on our hero? As he frisked under Harry’s arms then down his rib cage he started to giggle which didn’t help his efforts at holding in his need to relieve himself. The other five lads were now struggling to hold in their laughter and even a few of the other troops were starting to snigger, which only seemed to raise our red faced soldier to an even angrier state. The now raging trooper took his revenge by putting his Doc Martin between Harrys legs first kicking Harry’s right then his left leg outwards causing him to spread eagle further. Our hero then without malice or contious thought let out the loudest, longest fart of his life, the result was five mates killing themselves laughing and the other troops not coping much better.



    Harry then bent down and lifted his trouser leg to show us a lifetime scar down the back of his right leg, a present from the farted upon one. I asked did he feel bitter and did it ever give him bother? No mate Im not bitter but yes my neck hurts quite badly, because from that day to this I never expel my gasses without looking over my shoulder.

  6. nothing without fans



    Ach, you’ve eased up on me.



    Marcus Fraser and Marc Crosas.



    And I spelt Hoo Velt wrong.






    Cross-country model? Away support?



    Football is nothing without the fans.



    Hail, hail!

  7. Paddy Gallagher on

    timbhoy2 says:



    1 January, 2012 at 21:10



    all the best PADDY BHOY.



    All the very best to you mate, I hope 2012 is good to you and yours and delivers everything you hope for.

  8. Good evening all and happy new year bhoys!



    Needing some info about travel for the game tomorrow so this goes out to anyone staying in the southside of Glasgow who get buses to the games. I’m not a regular at away matches but as I’m now working in Dunfermline during the week I’m going to go along tomorrow afternoon and watch the hoops before work the next day. Was wondering if I’d be able to get myself and two others on one of the buses that go from Victoria Road or the local area. Does anyone know if it’s out the question to get a place on the bus if you’re not a member of the local CSC or would we be able to get any spaces that may be available.



    Any feedback is much appreciated.

  9. Away to Dunfermline.



    The words never fail to evoke nostalgia & sheer joy in my cynical old soul.



    There is no Celtic man who was at East End Park on that happy day in April 1966 , who will ever forget that joyous occasion.



    Simpson, Gemmell. O’Neil, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, McBride, Chalmers, Lennox, Auld.



    Twenty minutes to go.



    It has all gone wrong.



    4-2 Dunfermline.



    Will we head home & avoid the traffic ?



    Will we EFF.



    Suddenly the Stein magic happens & we are going to salvage a point.



    4-4,…. not nearly so bad.



    Seconds to go & miracle of miracles,… Big Tiny is pointing to the spot.



    Step forward the ever dependable hero of so many Celtic triumphs.



    The legendary JOE McBRIDE.



    The rest is history & the scene is set for a new dominant force in European football.




    Let’s hope tomorrow’s Hoops know their history.



    ( Being drunk is not as bad as it is made out to be. )



    God Bless our great club & every one of its supporters.

  10. Burnley78 says:


    1 January, 2012 at 21:25



    Im doing well sitting with the cubs watching crap on the TV with a glass of red….



    Im still worried about PL and they way he hung the fans out to dry over the singing. Ive heard DD is behind it due to potential sponsorship and the fines are loose cash but they dont understand the loss of faith.. In 1 way they are in a no win situation but my feeling is they have not stuck up for the ‘consumer base’ and are chasing the dollar.

  11. Eyes Wide Open on

    Wee wan finally away to bed – 2 hours after her usual bed time on the 1 night her mummy and daddy had both planned to head out for a bevvie.



    7 months old and shes that smart!



    good luck granny and grand dad – yous are in for one (better rush off before they realise!)

  12. To all my friends,



    I wish you, one and all the best of everything in this year of Our Lord, 2112.







  13. TootingTim



    A fair few of our fanbase travel from Ireland / England and beyond to away games at Inverness and Aberdeen, Dundee & Edinburgh….



    I dont see that Amsterdam / Copenhagen / Brussels etc are a lot more difficult for much more meaningful games for these guys….



    The essence of the NFL model is a fair few local rivalries and away games augmented by a series of attractive cross divisional games. Many of our current home support would vote for that ahead of the dross the travel to Inverness and Aberdeen to witness I am sure.



    As Falkirkbhoy suggests it is hypothetical as we are tuck with what we have due to lack of vision of our custodians and the governing bodies.


    The current long slow death model is what we have as EPL hoovers up.







    Yes it is difficult to know whay the board accepted it as they did…..



    i doubt there is any significant sponsorship in the pipeline though.

  14. jay_mac



    There’s a bus leaving from Kelly’s in Pollockshaws Road at 1pm tomorrow.



    I don’t know if there will be any room though. You would have to get a number for a bus convenor.

  15. Burnley78 says:


    1 January, 2012 at 22:09



    Ive heard DD had our major sponsor over on a jolly and they were shocked with the singing . Its from a good osurce but then again everyone thnks they have them….

  16. Burnley 78,


    I hope you are well and had a good Xmas.



    I am going tomorrow, but , I am now looking for a ticket for a certain young man who didn’t bother to get his **** into gear. If you know of any can you leave me a shout.

  17. Paddy Gallagher, Thank you.


    Like I have told you before, your big Uncle John would be proud of you.



    Martin 42, Thanks for your kindness. That game is locked in my head forever.

  18. hopeful we will get a win tomorrow and the return of izzy is something that will improve our team even with kayal out.



    so many people talk about tactics etc… as being so important, but lennon’s 100% correct its about players forming an understanding a bond, a togetherness and the better the plalyer the better the understanding.



    a good coach knows how he wants his individual players to play within a team and when individuals dont undertake duties he removes them.



    a good coach looks to bring players in on the basis of their strengths if he’s a good passer dont ask him to dribble, if he’s a good dribbler dont ask him to make passes and link up play, play to everyones strengths.



    missing link in our group of players:



    striker = powerful, strong header of the ball, hold up player



    centre back = commanding, powerful, good reader of game



    and to much of our money being spent of poor to avarage players whilst young bhoys are getting kicked out the game without a chancve, is bad and i hope its now changing

  19. Off topic



    Watched Jools Holland’s Hootenanny (rhyming slang?) last night.



    Not a bad show but the guy who runs around with the clock on his head gets on my nerves. I’d love to smash his ‘face’ in !

  20. mic1888,



    Usually watch Jules and his Hootananny, but did not fancy it too much last night, thought the standard of guest had dropped from previous years.



    much of the New Year programmes were pretty poor.



    Ended up watching Andre Reiu on Sky Arts.



    Pure entertainment




  21. Is it just me?



    Why is it I feel absolutely elated? Really, I just can’t get enough.



    Kayal is out for a bit and I’m still really confident about the next month or so.



    Big Vic (The Rock) is cooking, boy is he cooking. Cooking up a storm of a finish to the SPL. Cooking up another power shift. You know what our Rock is cooking.



    Skoosh, the much maligned (by me, it must be said) SPL player, is now a Celtic player; the Celtic player we hoped he’d be. A Celtic player of some standing in the future perhaps?



    Izzy is fit, and can I say this: needs to play himself back into the team.



    Matthews is, well, possibly the next Welshman we’ll all talk about when discussing the Welsh amazing record of not qualifying for tournaments. What a list: Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs, John Hartson, Gary Speed (God rest his soul in peace), Craig Bellamy, Adam Matthews?



    Joe Ledley? Powerhouse.



    Kayal himself? Crikey, what a player on his game. Has his off days, which are very few and so far between. Played in the middle with Our Rock behind him, Skoosh to his right and Ledley to his left: frightening. Stillyan who?



    Gary Hooper, our much maligned mobile statue? He of the ‘does no work, but somehow puts himself into great positions to score’ enigma. Nothing less than Andy Caroll’s fee, thank you. Just. A. Better. Player.



    I just love young Master Stokes’ lazy stride. Love it. It’s like watching a player in slow motion that still somehow, overall, covers the same ground as those running at full speed around him. Celtic to the core tae, which helps.



    Big Dan is simply a frightening player. Would not liked to have played against his like. Imposes himself on the game and never shrinks. Outstanding, and I mean absolutely outstanding, performances appear to be forgotten by momentary lapses of concentration and similar moments of madness. Let’s face it, he’s no Baresi in elegance, but then again Baresi was no Big Dan in sheer imposition.



    Mulgrew, Wilson (of the centre-half stylee), Rogne and Lustig are a rotating backbone dynasty of 10 years and more. What’s not to like? Seriously, anyone?



    Forrest, McCourt, Samaras, McGinn, aka, the guys on the wing – fantastic. The movement and deft touches are a joy to watch; the mistakes are not. Releasing the ball at the optimum moment is key. As is having the outlet for such a release…



    …to young Master Ki, the man with the 30-yard trigger, the 5-yard short pass and the 50-yard diagonal pass. The man who could have the Golden Gun? What, he already does? Cool.



    And the rest? God grief, the rest? The future truly is bright.


    The future is: no goalkeeper required for the Bhoys in Green and White.



    Ach, ok. In Forster I trust. We do have a deal with the pretend Jocks don’t we? £2m?

  22. Jools hoot was brill last night,look forward to it every year..try spending 3 new years with Vmhan,Bernie winter would be good…


    Only joking V,miss them wee hoots we had together..

  23. I was there in April 66′, my memory tells me that we scored a goal, Murdoch or


    Gemmell from 30 / 35 yards which was given offside. Think we were down at the time



    Recollect it was misty / foggy etc.



    Great times

  24. ClashCity



    Happy New year Sir. Sorry I do not have a spare for tomorrow. My lad may have a spare concession for under 18 but that is no use I suppose.



    Black sunday at NFL looming as Denver currently rely on San diego to hold out vs Oakland as they are failing themselves.

  25. martin42 says:


    1 January, 2012 at 22:46



    Crud. Had a quiet night in last night. Have passed on illness to wife, who was abed ill, and so it was just me and my 12yo daughter up. Watched the lamented Still Game (‘mon lads, get together and do some more) and the essential OAE, saw in the bells, kissed Alex, the asleep wife and baby Madison (who is not a baby but nigh on 3) New Year, kept awake by Fireworks then watched two or three episodes of Grimm in bed.



    Completely. Forgot. About. Jools Holland.



    First time in bloomin’ years. Majorly unhappy. On iPlayer?




  26. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    dirtymac says:


    1 January, 2012 at 22:51


    Is it just me?



    Be assured,mate.


    It isn`t.

  27. pmarsh22 says:


    1 January, 2012 at 22:57



    I often wonder about how you guys can remember all this. I recall my first ‘tic game in 87 as only being a 2-1 defeat to Falkirk and very little else, other than a ‘Paul McStay shot on goal’ and even then only ‘cos it was in the Sunday Post and I remember telling my mum ‘I saw that’ before vainly looking for my handsome fizzog in the crowd.

  28. I can’t remember my first game, serious booze has been consumed since 89 and I can remember certain games in the 90s but my first game nope nothing, I feel like I’ve cheated myself :O)



    Its all kicking off at the darts, get in there

  29. setting free the bears:



    Cheers for the heads up, I live just up the road so will swing by and ask anyone. If not there’s always the stagecoach buses, they’re quite handy. Hopefully we can knock a few past Dunfermline tomorrow and keep the lead at the top, the currents will be guaranteed a 3 points and a boost to the goal difference when their old pal McCall pops into town. Wonder what the foul count will be that game?

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