We were hurting earlier this year. Sentiment among the support, the players and the backroom staff was at floor level. It felt like it was just you and me left. Not for the first time, that was enough. A year after 50,000 bought season tickets and did not get to see Celtic, they did so again, even though the world is not ready for many to mingle in just yet (Martin42 included).
Celtic is not our choice, it is us, as indistinguishable from who we are as our own image in the mirror. Without that pull to support our club, especially when in need, it would have floundered many decades ago. In the 1950s, Celtic was close to being eclipsed by Hibs, who had the players and recent trophies Celtic did not, with crowds on a par. The years before 1965 were humbling for a generation some of whom still come to enjoy success like they once never dreamed.
The 1990s were no better. Made to feel like foreigners in our own land, we looked to Celtic to provide a firm strain of identity. We hung in there, at times by the skin of our teeth. Then the new millennium brought glories not seen since Jock Stein’s great era.
We are a club born to raise funds for the needy. That has been difficult over the last two years, with events precarious to plan and collections needing footfall that was often missing. It is all the more remarkable that your Foundation broke new records this year, raising more money through it’s Christmas Appeal than ever. What I see in the discrete and anonymous actions of Celtic fans is humbling.
People who would run a mile from drawing attention to their acts. Many who clearly have little to give, giving anyway. Others throwing £20 in a bucket and telling their pals to do the same. If you ever want to feel humble, spend some quality time with Celtic fans.
Why do they do this? As I said above, it is indistinguishable from who they are. They are Celtic and this is what Celtic means. It is an honour to stand among you.
Take care and have a very Happy Christmas.