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State of the club report, year-end 2011

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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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1,206 Comments

  1. Tricoloured Ribbon..

     

     

    God Bless mate.. only yanking yer chain…

     

     

    I may have been in yer company with Owen(god rest his soul) and Michael.

     

     

    not to meantion our dinny..or Seamus

  2. dirtymac, stephbhoy

     

    ah’d say we have at least 6 u19 players who could step into the first team right away – and i’ve always said (even to Pete one time) that we should have a shed load of players and buy and sell much more than we do including a system of loaning out our youngsters in tandem with buying good young prospects who stay overseas either til their value goes up and we sell, or whom we bring in to the 1st team i thur good enuff

     

     

    MWD – i swear i saw Big Bobo out there with no helmet, shoulderguards, shinguards. bawguards, the lot ! ……when men were men

     

    (giants winnin 7-0 in 1st btw – 85k folk at the gemm)

     

     

    Tricoloured Ribbon

     

    welcome – and why did AC Milan play a week early?

     

    :)

     

     

    BT – am still laughin at yer “red white an blue” gag – haha

  3. Paddy Gallagher on

    Tricoloured Ribbon says:

     

     

    2 January, 2012 at 00:51

     

     

    Welcome to the best site mate..good luck and best wishes to ya!

  4. TR

     

    I stayed in the bogside a few years ago for a CSC night..

     

     

    we has a good night out in the St Eugenes church hall..

     

     

    I was taken for a brit soldier. it was a few stonne ago… In the pub next to bishops gate…

     

     

    I made the mistake of going for a pint whilst my old man went for a sleep…

     

    I shouldn’t have bet a horse called lancaster bomber right enough…

  5. Agent Moonbeams

     

    I have reviewed video footage from google earth and can confirm Tricolour Ribbon leaving St. Joseph’s after midnight mass 25.12.2011 @ 12.20 am (early). Will submit report to PP.

     

    TAL

  6. Paddy Gallagher on

    Tricoloured Ribbon says:

     

     

    2 January, 2012 at 02:08

     

     

    Paddy Gallagher from Bundoran Co. Donegal, a fine man , train driver Bundoran to Belfast and smuggler of the highest order. He was also an exceptional Grandfather and taught me how to be a man.

  7. Paddy Gallagher on

    Tricoloured Ribbon says:

     

     

    2 January, 2012 at 02:13

     

     

    Born and bred in the Eastend of the city big pal, also spent many a year in Bundoran as a cub…:-)

  8. Paddy Gallagher on

    blantyretim says:

     

     

    2 January, 2012 at 02:18

     

     

    Goodnight bud – best wishes to you and the family..

  9. Tricoloured Ribbon on

    Okay son, ma granda was from the shores of the Swilly,outside Ramelton.Ma Da,Paddy,born in the View in Clydebank.

  10. Paddy Gallagher on

    Okay bhoys going to have to retire now, not because I am old but I haven’t been drinking tonight and it is taking it’s toll. Thanks for the craic

     

    and the exceptional company.

  11. Paddy Gallagher on

    Teuchter ár lá says:

     

     

    2 January, 2012 at 02:20

     

     

    Paddy

     

    Did you know the Devanney’s fae Baillieston?

     

    TATeuchter ár lá says:

     

     

    2 January, 2012 at 02:20

     

     

    Nope to that one big pal, sorry :-(

  12. Tricoloured Ribbon on

    Goodnight to you all from Free Doire.It was my first night on here and I enjoyed every bit of it.

     

     

    Be professional Celtic and bring the three points home tomorrow.God Bless.

  13. Tricoloured Ribbon

     

    Good on ye for lookin’ in tonight – hope to see ye back soon. Ye never know , you may have to go through the hun question thing again with another bunch o’guys :)

     

    Hail Hail

     

    TAL

  14. Tom McLaughlin on

    The Herald

     

     

    Goian: referee calls have cost Rangers

     

     

    by Michael Grant

     

     

    Dorin Goian, the Romanian defender, has claimed Rangers’ run of poor form has coincided with referees not giving them any 50-50 decisions.

     

     

    He believes he should not have been suspended for last week’s Old Firm game, which he missed after collecting two bookings for jersey-tugging in his previous appearance against St Mirren.

     

     

    Goian will return to face Motherwell at Ibrox this afternoon, but he says other close decisions have also gone against Rangers in recent weeks.

     

     

    Goian admitted that Rangers were at fault for allowing a 15-point lead over Celtic to disintegrate into a two-point deficit, but he also pointed the finger at referees. “In the last few games we have played I have noticed that all the decisions which are half-and-half have gone against us,” he said. “That is only a comparison to the way it was at the beginning of the championship. In the last month, the half-and-half decisions have not gone our way. That’s my opinion.

     

     

    “Sure, it’s our fault we are not top of the league any more. We were first and now we are second. But this is what I have noticed in a couple of games, although it is true that our form is not as we wish.”

     

     

    Goian was denied the chance to appear in his first Parkhead Old Firm game when referee Steven McLean twice booked him for pulling an opponent’s shirt. “I don’t think I deserved the second yellow card,” said the 31-year-old. “The first booking was okay, but not the second. I didn’t think he should have given me a yellow card for what I did. I have been here in Scotland for a couple of months and I’ve seen many bad injuries but sometimes the referees don’t whistle for fouls. So to give me a second yellow card for my second foul, I don’t understand. Listen, if the referee decides it is then okay, I respect him. But I was very surprised by the second yellow card. I wasn’t the last defender or anything like that.”

     

     

    Goian was a regular as Rangers lost form during November and December but said he was confident they could put Celtic under renewed pressure.

     

     

    “It is true at this moment that, mentally, we are not very well. But I think we need to beat Motherwell and after that everything will be okay. We just have to rediscover our confidence because it’s missing at this moment.

     

     

    “Our last few results have been disappointing and we know we have not played good games. [But] Celtic won nine games in a row and we can do that.”

  15. I better slope off back to lurkland.

     

    Night night.

     

    Hope Yorkston gets well and truly first footed 12 hours or so

     

    from now.

     

    He is not a friend of the Hoops.

     

    McCall needs to start earning his money as well.

     

    No more accommodating for his old club.

     

    Night All.

  16. Hot hot hot. Heading to darling harbor to quench ma thirst

     

     

    When can we register the new striker that we and our manager have wanted for years???

  17. theweegreenman on

    Auldheid 01.03

     

     

    Thanks for that. So it looks as though the end of March could

     

    prove to be an interesting month.

     

     

    Perhaps the Mayans were referring to the end of the world for TFOD

     

    in their prophecies…….:-)

  18. theweegreenman on

    Just read on the RTC blog that Jabba is now warning all of TFODdom

     

    to question the new regime before it’s too late.

     

     

    What a hypocrite.

  19. Tricoloured Ribbon says:

     

    2 January, 2012 at 01:57

     

    BT,McG and McD the surnames? Oak Grove Bar? Dinny?

     

    …………………..

     

    Aye ye got those names right TR.

     

     

    Welcome my Doire amigo! And happy New Year.

     

     

    Vinny

     

    HH

  20. Thoughts go out to the families today on the anniversary of the Ibrox disaster, when 66 football fans lost they’re lives.

     

     

    My father was in the Celtic end that day and was many hours late home, my father was driving that day and was a tee totaller, we were worried sick. My cousin was in the rangers end that day, he never made it home, rip John Wilson and the 65 other poor souls.

     

    Vinny