All the arguments over protests, sacking Lennon and sacking the board have been quite depressing. It’s been well covered on The Celtic Star and by the mainstream media. I have strong opinions on it, but ultimately my opinion doesn’t make any difference and I’m tired of falling out with fans over it. With that in mind, this is my final take on proceedings.
On the one hand, you have fans complaining about the protest last Sunday, suggesting that a protest should be done peacefully. On the other, many of these same people were up in arms over the two banners and statements by the Green Brigade in the last week. So it seems peaceful protest isn’t acceptable either. So is it a case that any fans protesting due to caring about Celtic’s values and wanting a manager to be replaced for the good of the club is “not a real fan?”
We have fans being labelled as “entitled” and “spoiled” for wanting to see a change made during Celtic’s worst defensive run since 1960 and worst European run of all time. This is because Celtic have won nine leagues in a row and are on the brink of a quadruple treble. However, it’s not a case of people sulking that we’re losing. It’s a case of not accepting a lack of action to try and complete history during this season. If Celtic were performing well but ultimately lost the league to a Rangers side performing above themselves then there’d be disappointment but not protests. It really isn’t this black and white idea that fans are sulking at not winning!
It’s the horrendous performances since the start of the season, the manager throwing the players under the bus against Ferencvaros and telling us many wanted to leave, then those players downing tools. It’s the fact we have exited three competitions in limp fashion and seem unwilling to make a change in the coaching staff and management after two wins in 11 games. It’s not so much about failing to win the ten, as the inaction and acceptance of losing it… and let’s be honest, the treble treble (hopefully soon to be a quadruple) is an incredible achievement to go that many games unbeaten, but the ten should be a formality. We’ve had one title challenge in the last nine years – we were 1/20 to win the league for the majority of these nine championships, with Motherwell and Aberdeen as our only competition for several seasons, followed by a new Rangers in a shambolic mess. This is our second challenge since the first half of last season and the capitulation is extraordinary.
There is a lot of talk about being “faithful through and through”. Supposedly those wanting a change are not living up to this mantra. I beg to differ. Being faithful through and through doesn’t mean sitting back and doing nothing. It’s about not giving. Anyone who wants change is not giving up, they’re literally protesting to try and get the change made to save this season before it’s too late. They continue to support the club. If others feel that this regime can turn things around then they too are faithful through and through and have a right to hold their opinion. This is the problem, neither side can accept that others have different opinions.
One thing that isn’t faithful through and through is those who don’t think Lennon will turn this around, but just sit back as they think it’s unfaithful to say anything. That’s being faithful to Neil Lennon and to defeat, not faithful to Celtic Football Club and to the belief that this title can still be won.
The other classic line I’ve seen banded about is “the Celtic family”. This is a marketing slogan with little basis in reality. For sure, Celtic fans have a lot in common and a unity in beliefs beyond football. Fans have a similar heritage in many cases and there’s a connection not seen at other clubs. However, anyone who goes to games will be well aware that there are plenty of fights between fans and there always has been. Away games and European away ties in particular have been the scene of many a drunken fight. I am led to believe that gangs fought in the Celtic End at the old Celtic Park too. This Celtic family notion is a romanticised idea. In reality, we have millions of fans from all over the world and thousands of fans from rough schemes across the UK & Ireland. You’d have to be deluded to think we don’t have a fair share of idiots and nasty people supporting us, as well as the overwhelming majority of good people. Can you really believe that all 60,000 people at Celtic Park are friendly, Celtic family members? This whole ideal is trying to keep up a notion that doesn’t exist.
To those who take different views, respect one another. Stop labelling each other. And to those who claim that the Green Brigade aren’t real fans because a banner against the board goes against the faithful through and through/Celtic family values, I ask: what about the other values of the club? What about tories running Celtic, betraying our charitable roots, treating the community our club was founded to serve with contempt and making it impossible for them to get refunds, which they are entitled to? (all the while a CEO takes £3.5m per year out of the club). What about the tradition of playing “the Celtic way”, what about the board despising the Irish politics and songs which are part of our history and have been publicly prevalent since the day we were formed?
It seems many don’t actually care about our values and traditions. Instead, there is more concern about how we look in the media and in the eyes of other clubs. Who really cares about that nonsense?
Faithful through and through means not giving up, not standing by and watching history slip away because the board refuse to sack a manager who is out of his depth. The Green Brigade are trying to bring about change, which could save the league in this historic season and which will then benefit the club moving forward (in their eyes). Disagree by all means, but don’t denounce them and hide behind a faithful through and through or Celtic family slogan. Equally, if people back Lennon or don’t think a new board would better represent us then allow them to think that. Don’t denounce them. Here’s another slogan – “Open to all”, not just those who think the same way as you.
Regardless of management, players, board members – there are 25 league games to go. Our form is horrendous and our defensive performance is worse. However, I’ll not be conceding anything yet. 75 league points are up for grabs, three derby games remain and Celtic need to go for it.
I think the majority know the changes that should be made, but they haven’t been made yet and probably won’t until things are too late anyway. It’s up to the players to show some personal pride. Not one opposition player would get in our team. It’s time they earn their wages. This should lead to victory in most cases. Lennon is here to stay for now so let’s hope he delivers and we can turn this around.