Saturday, April 28, 2007

What's Eating Celtic Park?

Life with Les Battersby didn't prepare Gordon Strachan for Glasgow
You’ve won the league and you’re staring down the barrel of a double. You’d think Celtic fans would be jumping with glee at the moment.

But now someone has put a stick in the spokes of their bicycle of joy. Ex-Celtic player Charlie Nicholas has had the temerity to suggest that Neil Lennon won’t go down in the history books as a Celtic legend.

Now this is Charlie Nicholas of the often almost incoherent punditry (which explains why he doesn’t appear in Colemanballs more often – they don’t know what he’s saying) and whose own talent was largely wasted by an attitude that once saw him proclaim: "See, four, five, six pints. That to me isn’t a real drink."

So why should the Celtic fans care about Charlie Nic? Because to some any criticism is a chance to play the victim card. Witness this comment on the Scotsman website:

"Nicholas is and always has been driven by his ego. He betrayed Celtic, failed at Arsenal, came back to Celtic as a badge kisser, failed again, ended up getting a job in the media and like most ex-Celts in the media, is compelled to be anti-celtic by the bigotted authorities just to keep his job.

"Ex huns get media jobs and maintain their bias, anti-celtic, pro hun agenda, whereas ex-celts get media jobs and turn against their old team so that they keep their highly paid media jobs.

"Nicholas, Provan, Walker, et al, you are a disgrace.

"As for Lenny being a legend...I will always remember Lenny as loyal, committed and commanding. He is, and always will be a legend. As for Nicholas, he is a snivelling little git."

As The Proclaimers once sang "everybody’s a victim, we’re becoming like the USA."

Unfortunately it is these attitudes that make the Old Firm so hard to love. Because any Rangers fan would argue the exact opposite. Enemies everywhere, you see. Behind the door, under the bed, everywhere.

And as Glenn Gibbon’s reports elsewhere in the Scotsman it is this paranoid belief that anyone from the outside is involved in some kind of anti-Celtic conspiracy that leads fans to shout things like this, overheard on Sunday as Celtic WON the title:

"Strachan, you're hopeless! Even John Barnes was better than you!"

Strachan apparently, for some fans, is not Celtic minded enough. Which means he beat Celtic with Aberdeen and grew up in Edinburgh. And, if you ain’t one of us, you can never become one of us. Go and figure that one out.

The best supporters in the world? Or a massive club with a generally decent support that contains a sizeable minority that need to grow up, get a life and give the whole victimised, conspiracy theory bleating a rest?