Celtic held their AGM this week on time and with no board room discourse in sight, unlike city neighbours Rangers whose AGM was delayed by court action brought by former Director Paul Murray and his allies in their fight against the current Ibrox regime.
While Rangers are fending off an element of their own support, led by a two-man group calling themselves the Sons of Struth – allied with several fan bloggers who jump factions as often as Bill Struth polished his brown brogues – despite all this strife at their door, the Ibrox board still had time to spit the dummy after Celtic chief Peter Lawwell made a joke at their expense. A joke which cut deep to the heart of everyone related to Rangers with a persecution complex and without a sense of humour.
The one-liner by chief executive Peter Lawwell was one that even the great Billy Connolly would be proud of. When asked about the Scottish mainstream media’s reporting of Rangers as a club founded in 1872 – rather than a new club following liquidation last summer – Lawwell replied: “Rory Bremner can pretend to be Tony Blair.”
Despite Lawwell later stating that the comment was ‘just to inject a wee bit of humour into proceedings’, Rangers took exception to the off the cuff remark and promptly issued a statement that was akin to a crying wee laddie who was laughed at by another laddie in the playground, which stated they were going to complain to the ‘relevant football authorities’.
The statement read: “The club are disappointed with the comments attributed to Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell earlier today. Rangers Football Club, now in its 141st year, has a proud history which has been recognised by the football authorities and was noted in a recent SPL Commission determination. The club will now take this matter up with the relevant football authorities.”
Ever since Rangers went into administration in February 2012, we have seen umpteen media reports and even officials allied with Rangers claim that with the CVA being rejected was the death knell to Rangers Football Club. Charles Green stated it, Walter Smith wished the ‘new club’ well, even the Scottish mainstream media called such an event the death of Rangers Football Club.
Jump ahead to the present day and into the second year of the re-birth of Rangers Football Club – the Ibrox side have claimed they are the same club, that there was no break in tradition or history and that anyone who does so is not only anti-Rangers but also factually incorrect as the football bodies all say it is the same club.
But why are Rangers so bothered about such a comment from Lawwell? A joke to lighten the mood at the club’s AGM. Rangers have just given the Celtic fans, the bloggers and others the ammunition and inspiration to continue their crusade against the club’s claims with their ‘spitting of the dummy and crying to their mammy approach’.
There was no discussion in the papers about Jeanette Findlay of The Celtic Trust firing a broadside at the Celtic board for failing to pass the living wage resolution – despite no Scottish club doing it nor many big businesses either doing it. The media jumped on Lawwell’s one liner with as much glee as a kid in a sweet shop. With dwindling sales across the board in Scottish mainstream media, a nice little barney between Celtic and Rangers [or the club impersonating Rangers if you take Lawwell’s comments to heart]sells papers and how they lapped it up like good little pups.
Such controversy also helps the current regime in a bid to lessen the continued vengeance and hatred levelled at them by their own supporters for a few moments at least.
At the end of the day, who really cares if Rangers history continued or if there was a break in it. Scottish football still has a Rangers Football Club – whether some folk like it or not. Although recent regimes are doing their best to push it towards the abyss again with outrageous spending on players and directors wages. No wonder so many self-appointed Rangers fans spokespeople are chasing a club blazer.
A joke is a joke and in the world of football laughing at your rivals [or former rivals whatever way you want to look at it]is just part and parcel of the game no matter what country you are from – if you can’t take the banter or jokes mocking you then you really need to give it up and certainly don’t try to dish it out.
It seems that the Ibrox side and elements of their loyal supporters are more worried about a joke as it doesn’t kowtow to the party line that the Scottish mainstream media seem to be taking nowadays – despite past articles which read as though bugles were playing the last post along Edmiston Road with the Union Jack being lowered to half mast in remembrance of a once great club now following the likes of Clydebank, Airdrie, Third Lanark and Gretna.
On another note what is this fascination Celtic fans have with the English side Celtic Nation – a Carlisle-based Northern League Division One side?
Is it because they play in the Hoops? If that is the case do these same fans travel to watch Yeovil, Sporting Lisbon or Buckie Thistle? They all play in the hoops so it can’t be that.
Is it because they are Celtic in disguise in the English league? Well they may be bankrolled by a Celtic supporting tycoon in the guise of Frank Lynch and they may have recently appointed former Celtic Willie McStay as their manager, but nothing about this club is in relation to Celtic Football Club.
Has it everything to do with Lynch’s comments in an interview with the Daily Record’s Hugh Keevins, when he said: “There are 92 clubs in England but none of them caters specifically for the Scottish and Irish communities in their midst.”
In 2005, when trio Stephen Skinner, Geoff Andrews and Mike Linden, co-founded the club were they doing it specifically for the Scottish and Irish communities in Carlisle? Or was it merely to create a club to play the beautiful game? In fact when they created the club it wasn’t called Celtic Nation but Gillford Park – certainly nothing Scottish or Irish about that identity is it? Only when Lynch came on board did it take on a perceived identity that looks to mirror that of their namesake north of the border.
There were even claims that Celtic Nation aka Gillford Park was a trojan horse for Celtic to enter the English league system in later years.
One thing is clear Celtic Nation are certainly cashing in on their new found ‘Scottish and Irish’ identity as coach loads of [one could say]gullible Celtic fans travel down the M74 to cheer on this football club that changes its spots depending on its rich financial backer.
What identity will Celtic Nation take next if Frank Lynch gets bored of the amateur English game pulling his money out and replaced by a rich Russian oligarch? Will it be renamed Red Star Vladivostok?
If these Celtic fans want to support a lower league side that plays in the Hoops and has Scottish and Irish identity why not support St.Anthony’s – a non-league football club based in Glasgow.
The Ants have a much stronger link to Celtic Football Club rather than an English based club renamed to suit a rich tycoon to welcome in a suitcase full of cash. The Ants have seen around 60 of their players play for Celtic over the years.
Heard of Bobby Evans? He was an Ants player before signing for Celtic and became the first Celtic captain to lift the League Cup in 1956 and helped defend it a year later against Rangers in the ‘Hampden in the sun’ final. He made 535 appearances for Celtic and scored 10 goals in 16 years with the club. He was also capped 48 times for Scotland, including all three games at the 1958 World Cup.
While everyone has the right to support whatever football team they want – this journey to Carlisle in some form of Celtic Hajj has nothing to do with the Celtic side based in Glasgow that these supporters celebrate being Celtic fans for. And Celtic Nation has nothing to do with Scotland nor Ireland other than in name and bought identity only.
Rory Bremner may be able to impersonate Tony Blair, but that doesn’t mean he is Tony Blair. Likewise Celtic Nation may be able to impersonate being a club with a Scottish and Irish identity, but they will never be Celtic Football Club – no matter how many people they hire who have links to Celtic and no matter how many Celtic fans they bring down to fill their terracing.