Rangers won earlier today. Celtic needed to win. It’s that simple. They didn’t. Losing the midweek tie wasn’t unexpected. Out go the youngsters Stephen Welsh and Dean Murray. I’m not a great fan of Welsh. Eighteen-year-old Murray is physically the better prospect. Then again, I’m no great fan of Nir Bitton. And I’d not seen Carl Starfelt, but he makes his debut, and loses the first ball in the air, which wasn’t an auspicious start. It got worse for the big Swede. Josh Ginnelly breezed past him on the right. The ball is played into the box. And I think Bitton slide-tackled it into the path of Gary Mackay Steven. The ex-Celtic couldn’t miss. We’re a goal down in eight minutes.
Starfelt loses yet another ball in the air at the start of the second half. Almost scored an own goal. Looks to me, even this early, as yet another dud. The soft centre remains.
Yet again losing goals from nothing balls into the box, as we did in midweek and all of last season. Tony Ralston was great midweek. Here he brought us back into the match. Ralston played a one-two with Edouard. Then he weaved into the box. What a superb finish, passing the ball past Craig Gordon.
Ryan Christie has a decent start to this season. But he has been dropped to the bench to make way for Forrest. Abada (quiet game midweek) on the right. I’ve yet to be convinced by the Israeli; he doesn’t go past defenders and tends to bring the ball backward, which we don’t need. He had a goal disallowed here. But I’m guessing, another dud.
The Scottish internationalist on the right wing, Forest was better when he went back to the right wing. Here’s hoping. We all know what Forrest can do, but midweek, he didn’t do it. Yet again, he had a chance in the ninetieth minute to equalise. Craig Gordon saves. That’s something Bain and our other keepers didn’t do all of last season. Makes saves when it mattered. Gordon repeats his performance. Making another save from a Starfelt header from the resultant corner.
Edouard…sigh. But Japanese internationalist Kyogo Furuhashi, on the bench, comes on for Turnbull. The ex-Motherwell midfielder had the best of the few chances we created despite dominating play in the first half, but he seems to have lost his mojo. He carried the team last season, this season he’s been average at best.
Simple balls, over the top, continue to trouble our defence. Misplaced passes from our own players created the most chances for the First Division Champions. The commentators reminded us that Celtic have not won away from home in their last seven matches. Make that eight.
We almost lose a goal from every corner, Boyce, unmarked heading over in the first half. He’s unmarked. Souttar guiding his header in at the post, after a cross from Armand Gnanduillet, but Bain saves. Yet another six-foot-six player who bullies our defence. A few minutes remaining.
We’re looking for a win, what we get is defeat (a replay of last season). Soro makes a needless foul, outside the area. Celtic keep a high line. Smith flings it in. Souttar attacks the ball. He sends a header past Bain. It still looks to me like we need four defenders and a goalie. I’m perhaps being a bit harsh on Ralston, who has delivered. We’re trying to play like Manchester City, but without the players we need. We know what system we want to play. So do the opposition teams. Last season they didn’t have to do much to score. This season, it’s even easier. I took a lot of stick last year for saying the league was gone before Christmas. That’s not the case here—but we need to beat Dundee, and win at Ibrox. Not impossible, but improbable. Stranger things have happened. Maybe we’ll find a centre half that knows how to defend. Maybe we’ll find a goalkeeper that makes vital saves, as Craig Gordon did. Parkhead has become a dud farm.
Scott Bain in for Barkas, no surprize there, big or otherwise. There’s really no way back for the Greek keeper. We need a new defence, goalkeeper and four defenders. That’s been obvious since last season and even before that. And made more obvious with the hammering we took in the friendly match against West Ham. Edouard will be away shortly. But needs must, he plays today. Christie has been outstanding. I’d like to keep him. From midfield to front we have shown we can be better than our opposite number, but not today. The Midtjylland manager called us ‘one dimensional’—and he’s right. We play from the back and when we get it right we’re unstoppable (in theory). When we get it wrong, we’re a gift from the gaffs. Both Midtjylland’s goals come into that category.
Midtjylland are a big, physical team. Celtic have been a disaster from corners and free kicks, this season and las season. I can even fling in an extra-bonus-season. We held firm until half-time. A few palpitations with Bain dragging the ball back and playing it out, twice (I hate keeper doing that, it look good, but get it wrong and lose a goal). Welsh got booked early for a stupid, needless tackle in the Midtjylland half of the park. Once again, he was found wanting, while other pinpoint his youth. If you are good enough, you’re old enough…
Celtic started this tie better. In the first five minutes, Turnbull had a shot turned over the bar. From the corner, Edouard side-footed over the bar. He just hasn’t showed. Soro was also a major disappointment, giving the ball away, and passing backwards. On the plus side, Tony Ralston gave his all as Celtic faded as an attacking force. Abada was quiet. He was taken off to be replaced by James Forest (I’m not sure about the Israeli, but he gets the benefit of the doubt, for now). But Christie, initially, took most of the plaudits on the other side of the park.
A Turnbull corner, two minutes into the second-half, the sweetest strike by Calum McGregor opens the scoring. A few minutes later, Bain flaps and the ball runs along the goal line. Bain indecisive. He had two late saves in extra-time, when we were behind. Equally, he took on players in his box. Stupid, but we got away with it, initially. Forest, who looked lively when he came on, had two great chances. The first, after McGregor’s goal, was blocked. That looked like putting us two up, and the tie beyond the Danes.
A minute later it was 1-1. A simple punt into the box. The winger Mabil stoops to score. Unmarked, as you’d expect from the defence that is no defence. Midtjylland took the tie into extra time and went on to win the game.
The first three minutes of extra-time, the Danes, finally, take the lead. Turnbull holds his hand up for offside. We’ve seen it before and we see it again. A simple ball over the top. Squared, substitute, Onyedika fires into the roof of the net. The good news was we had almost the whole of the first-half of extra-time to come up with an equaliser and all the second half.
We created nothing. Lind, an 18-year-old substitute, for the Danes misses a sitter. Bain makes another save as the minutes tick away. Midtjylland in control. Celtic brought on three substitutes, Ajeti (that’s how desperate we got). Rogic, and Montgomery. I like Montgomery, I think he’s better than Taylor (the Scottish international has become a bit of a fall guy, but truth told, Johnny Hayes was better than him). None of them made a difference.
Pass marks to Ralston, who burst a gut, and for a problem right-back spot, filled a hole valiantly. McGregor, who scored a worldie, but tired and started giving the ball away in extra-time. Christie, who created most of our chances, with slick passes in behind. I’m tempted to include eighteen-year-old Murray, but that would charitable. Edouard can leave any time soon. Take the money and run. Do it now.
Celtic are an easy touch. We’ve already been charitable enough. Once again we got put out in the first-round of the qualifying rounds for the Champions League. Quite simple. We’re not good enough to beat a Danish team that is itself struggling to stay below average. I know where that leaves us. I’m not even sure we’ll beat Hearts at Tynecastle. And that’s not been dramatic. We can’t defend and we don’t score. We need bodies. Any bodies? Ange Postecoglou has inherited a squad that is crap. All new managers need a bit of luck. Last season anything that could go wrong did. That continues into this campaign. The new manager is under pressure, even this early in the season. That’s the nature of the beast at Celtic. He’s a smart guy. He knows this. He knows what has to be done. This isn’t just about pride. Celtic keep flinging money away. That’s a business model for negative equity. The longer the spiral goes on, the harder it become to stop the decline. Get it wrong this season and next season’s automatic Champions League spot goes to the other side of Glasgow, we’re in deep shit.
I’d a feeling whoever started today, wouldn’t play on Wednesday against the Danes. Wrong, this is probably the team that will that will start in the Champions League qualifier. Barkas in goal? Let’s just say he made two good saves early in the match. Michail Antonio was first in, five minutes on the clock, and he had a one-on-one with the Celtic dud. He missed it. Antonio is the kind of centre-forward Celtic can only dream about. He’s got the lot. Strong, quick, good in the air, holds the ball up, links play.
Celtic went 1—0 up from a decent McGregor goal from the edge of the box, he robbed Manuel Lanzini and picked his spot bending it around the keeper and into the far post. Antonio, thereafter, destroyed the fragile Celtic defence whenever he made a run in behind. He’d a bit of help from young Murray, who passed the ball to him. For his, and the Hammer’s second, a ball in behind the defence, Antonio beats Barkas at the left-hand post to give himself a double without breaking sweat. And Soro bundled into Antonio’s back to give West Ham a penalty, which veteran Mark Noble scored from to put West Ham 3—1 up. They’d already missed a few chances. The Londoners in easy street.
The Greek keeper is near faultless in the first-half! But Edouard had his usual miss from five yards from a stunning Christie cross. The Frenchman should have scored. Christie was our best player in the last game, he’s been up there today, again. McGregor doesn’t look out of place. Soro did well. But thank God we’re not playing West Ham in the qualifiers. There second team is so much better than our first.
Former Motherwell keeper, Darren Randolph, a half-time substitute, did a Barkas to bring Celtic back into the game. Liel Abada Abada got in behind the West Ham defence and flung in a cross. With only Ryan Christie in the box it should have been easy for the West Ham defence, but Christie got in front of his marker and the keeper juggled with the ball before helping it into the net, and whipping it out again, but the goal was given. Celtic, in theory, were back in the game with 35 minutes of the second half still to play.
Most of the Celtic first team players were taken off. But another West Ham counter, in behind the Celtic defence, was punished. Pablo Fornals played in Said Benrahm. He held off Murray and dummied Bain to pass the ball into the net. 4—2 and game over, with 25 minutes to go. Clock watching, because it would have been better if the game had ended here. Celtic still being outclassed, but in slow motion as the game as a competitive fixture died. I’d joked with mates that Aberdeen were sure to do worse this year because they no longer played anti-football. Celtic with a porous defence last year, look even worse this season.
Leigh Griffiths got the last 25 minutes. A section of the Celtic support booed his every touch (he didn’t have many, and I was booing at home, he shouldn’t get near a Celtic jersey). Griffiths has given us nothing to cheer about for several seasons. Redemption takes more than taking a decent free kick. But another section of the support did cheer him.
Jarrod Bowen made it five for West Ham, after mercifully, Davie Moyes had taken Antonio off. With thirteen minutes to go Bowen used the pace of a cross to dink the ball past Bain, an exquisite finish. It was just a matter of how many.
Former Celtic reserve player Armstrong Okoflex was booed when he came on (but not as much as Griffiths). Okoflex had the last laugh, scoring the sixth for West Ham. His first shot-cum-cross was blocked, but he kept his composure and bent it past Bain. Only two minutes remaining, so we kept it to six goals conceded.
Outclassed by a far superior team that isn’t, generally, considered to be one of the top clubs in England. Two years ago they were fighting relegation. They finished sixth last year, unlucky not to make the top four. Their signing policy has been faultless (unlike ours which has been flinging money at the wrong players and not signing obvious targets, who, surprise, surprise, turn out to be the real deal with other clubs, see John McGinn, Aaron Hickey et al.) and that’s why they’re better. Simple. And—they can defend—if you can’t defend in the English Premier League you’re an easy touch, like Celtic were for this friendly against the Hammers (who drew 1—1 with Dundee in a friendly, recently) and for the whole of last season. Get it sorted. The clock is ticking. We can all hear it. The game went just as expected.
Ex-Celtic keeper, Craig Gordon tells a story (perhaps apocryphal) about when he was number-1 keeper at Sunderland. He went into training, Roy Keane, the manager, took the gloves off him and went in goals. He told Gordon to shoot in at him, because he would have saved a shot Gordon had missed in the previous game. You know what I’m getting at here. £5 million signing Barkas is money wasted. He wins fanny of the night award, for Evander’s curled free kick. Roy Keane would have been pulling his hair out, and would have surely have pulled on the gloves.
Second prize goes to another diddy, Nir Bitton. Welsh, who was having no too bad a game, also gets pelters for giving away the free kick that led to the goal. A needless challenge is a stupid challenge (although he did get a touch on the ball). We watched the Hoops last year. No player in the Celtic back line was good enough for Celtic. We kept giving away goals from free kicks and corners. It was open season. Ralston was best of a poor bunch here. And I’m exonerating substitute Dean Murray. Perhaps his chance has come, when Bitton goes, as he surely must.
Some familiar faces in the Celtic team. Bitton, Christie and the big one here, Edouard. Needs must. With little room for error, Nir Bitton pokes Dreyer in the face after the Dane had got in behind the Celtic defence and went down on the box, hoping for a penalty. He was booked, as was the Israeli, who had already been booked. Red card coming up for us before half time.
It was another Israeli, Liel Abada, who gave us the opening goal. He was first to react to a shot from Christie, parried by the keeper, Lossi. Christie had already hit the post and looked back to his best. McGregor also showed for the ball, and played a real captain’s role. On the bright side, Barkas, in the first half, never had a save to make, which meant we never lost a goal. Good to see Dean Murray in the team. Pity it wasn’t earlier when Bitton was off injured for 10 minutes.
Dreyer evened up the red-card count in the second half and for the next ten minutes we looked to add to our goal tally. Then that stupid tackle. And the non-save. There was an inkling of what was to come when Barkas dropped a simple cross ball and got a foul for it. Celtic has one mediocre keeper in Scott Bain. I’m not counting Connor, one for the future, because he isn’t (when on loan at Partick Thistle they sent him back). Man of the match went to McGregor, but I thought want-away Christie edged it. He’d the most shots on goal and an assist.
With away goals not counting in aggregate terms, Celtic’s mission is simply to win in Denmark. That’s certainly do-able. I suppose the merry-go-round of keepers will continue. I’d hope Bain would come in, until we get somebody better. I’d also prefer Montgomery for Taylor. Dean Murray should keep his place. It wasn’t a total disaster. Everything that could have went wrong last season—did. The hangover continues. We’ve got to shake it off. I know we’ve got better players than the Danes. Edouard had his usual miss, but his hold-up play was OKish. I’m sure he’ll play next Wednesday. We’ve just got to show for the ball and shift it quicker. All the good things our new manager is trying to bring to the team. There are some things he can’t control and that was shown by two useless B’s. Both are fixable.
Ben Whiteman scored from the spot to give Preston a deserved win, mid-way through the second-half. That’s the worry for Celtic. This was no smash and grab. Sinclair also had another Preston penalty claim that was turned down. A great save from Barkas from a Preston counter-attack midway through the first half and a shot from Potts. There were some plus points. The Celtic skipper, Callum McGregor in the pre-season games has looked world class. Turnbull looks sharp. Montgomery looks ready to start every game, and, of the youngsters, he looks most likely to have staked his claim for a regular first-team start.
Moffat who scored a brilliant goal in a pre-season friendly and came on for Ajeti in the last game was anonymous. The partnership of Urhoghide, Welsh, looks powder-puff. We lost the majority of our goals last season from free kicks and corner, and we lost many of our one-on-one duels here. Ched Evan, for example, missed a late header to make it 1—0 Preston. And he won most balls he went for in the air, in the first-half. And this pattern continued into the second half, with substitute Izzy Brown failing to score from several chances.
Celtic’s defence make themselves vulnerable playing from the back. It’s easy to see that we are playing total football. I like the idea. But Bain’s passing out of defence caused problems at least three times. Preston players having a run in on goal. Bolingoli’s (remember him) first touch put another Celtic substitute Murray under pressure. Another half-chance for Preston.
Edouard came on for Ajeti. The Swiss international striker was poor today. He’s scored two goals in pre-season friendlies. None today. None the last match. I want Edouard to leave as soon as possible. Needs must. Against Midtylland, Edouard is the better option. That’s two games in a row we’ve not scored. The same failings as last year have emerged in starker form. The other option is to play Japanese forward Kyogo Furuhash. I’ve not seen him, but I’d play him. New signing, Liel Abada started the game on the bench, but came on for the last thirty minutes. Perhaps he should start too. McGregor has been exceptional. But the central pairing behind the strike is still up for grabs. Rogic or David Turnbull? Last season, a disastrous season, that was an easy pick. Ange Postecoglou knows the value of Rogic. We know the value of Turnbull. Then there’s Christie. Better if he, like Ajer and Edouard, leaves, sooner, rather than later. The Scottish internationalist hasn’t played under the new manager. Perhaps he’s already away. Ewan Henderson, who I rate highly, has come in and done a job. Where’s Ntcham?
The score doesn’t matter today. Better we win than lose. We know, and the Midjyland coach knows, we are going to play from the back to the midfield. Barkas has looked more assured than Bain and more likely to start. Ralston and Taylor look to be our new-look (old-look) full backs pushing up the park. Urhoghide, Welsh, in the centre pairing. Phew, this doesn’t look strong enough for me. I’m not a fan of Welsh. Urhoghide, might come good, but he looks raw. As does eighteen-year-old Murray. Too early to say if they are coal dust or unpolished diamonds. Ralston is average. Taylor not much better. Our defence, which wasn’t fit for purpose last season, remains unfit for purpose pre-season. But that’s what friendly matches are for. That may change very quickly. Here’s hoping. We’ve signed a centre-forward. Ajeti may come good—if—
Hopefully, we can protect our defence and score goals. I can’t say I’m confident. Today was just a run out. Tuesday will show who the number one picks are.
Anthony Ralston has featured on the right in many of these friendlies. Last season we had a loan player from Everton playing in that position. The best part of the deal was we could send him back. Ralston is better, but like so many of those featured, no better than back-up. I include Bain, Welsh and Taylor in that category. Although to be fair, Taylor was pretty good here. I don’t know enough about Urhoghide other than he’s a big lad (which I like) for a centre half and keen to show what he can do, which I also like. Ironically, he started his first game at right back and had to move to that position again.
We all know that we lost a goal a game from defensive fragilities last season. We also know that Ange’s teams are going to play from the back, little triangles as we work our way forward. I’d like to say like Italy or Spain. But we’ll wait and see. Scottish teams, and Rangers, in particular, quickly figured that they could push all their players into our half, and wait to pounce when we made a mistake. It’s high-risk in which we dominate possession (which is a given in the Scottish game). Ryman, for example, hitting the post after 34 minutes in a half which Celtic dominated, without having many shots on goal. And then later, with two minutes to go from a corner. Ajeti having a late shot in the first-half one of the few highlights.
The downside was a flurry of injuries. Barkas before the game started. Mikey Johnston (again) midway through the half and Keromoke Dembele towards the end of the first half. Urhoghide, who was covering for Ralston, also limped off, but after 90 minutes. Best player of the park, Callum McGregor, who lasted the fully ninety minutes.
Luke Shaw on for Soro at the beginning of the second half. (Soro may also have a calf strain). The ex-Sheffield player looks a real prospect. As does Urhoghide. But we don’t need prospects. A week away from the first qualifier in the Champions League and a stack of injuries. Let me put it this way, when we took Ajeti off, Mooney, a young winger replaced him. This was probably as close to the first-team selection for the first competitive game. Second-stringers are going to play on Saturday.
Some good football. But no punch in the final third and weak at the back. Ironically, the goalie with a pass-back nearly gave away a penalty with two minutes remaining. (I thought Connor—who doesn’t like the ball at his feet and who I don’t rate—mistimed it and it was a penalty). One of those games: should, could, but didn’t—shades of last season. Let’s hope not. Plenty of injuries to ponder. Onto Saturday’s match.
England can beat Italy and win the Euros. They’re playing at home and favourites. Even I’ll admit that. I’m not anti-English, and I don’t mind them winning the odd game. Although I was never there, I’ve telly memories of Scotland going to Wembley on the fitba specials, beating England, tartan clad hordes of Bay City Roller fans stealing the goalposts and ripping up the turf and eating it to show how hard we were. Payback for all those invasions memorised in Braveheart with Mel Gibson, an Aussie, kidding on he was Scottish, showing the English soldiers who was boss by painting his face two-tone blue and wherever colour he had left on his shitey hand. Wiggling his bare bum at them. Now, he’d just have jumped in a fountain at Trafalgar Square and hung a traffic cone from a statue of Winston Churchill’s baldy napper. But it’s not about us.
England had some fantastic players and have underachieved since their World Cup Win in 1966. Their nemesis Germany in the Euros were a shadow of the teams that used to beat England regularly in World Cup and European competition and send them home to think again. England got a bye into the semi-final. Ukraine had the kind of defensive failures that even a diddy Celtic team last season would have found unfathomable. Every corner or free kick was a goal, or near miss. Denmark should have taken England to penalties after extra-time. But Raheem Sterling fell over in the penalty box. Golden boy, Harry Kane’s penalty was saved, but he finished the rebound. Everything that can go right for England has, and now they’re one game away.
The only time I turned the sound back up was when Denmark scored. They didn’t roll over and capitulate as they were supposed to. Italy had a marathon game against Spain. It was one of the games of the tournament. I’d have preferred Spain to have won that one, because they were the best footballing team in the Euros and would have taken England apart. Rio Ferdinand’s contention that England would have beaten both of those teams is the kind of patronising shite we’re used to hearing. But he did tell a story that puts this into context. Playing against Sergio Busquets (and Xavi and Iniesta), the Barcelona player feigned recognition of the England international. ‘Ferdinand, boom, boom,’ said Busquets, emphasising his willingness to launch it, and not play the ball out from the back.
England are not so much a boom boom team in the Euros, but Pickford does launch it, and not always to his own players. But neither are Italy an open, attacking team. Playing at home, England will be expected by their adoring fans to take the game to the Italians. That will suit them. They’ll sit in and hit on the break. They’re not Ukraine, likely to fold and give England the run of the park. The Italians have better players than Denmark, but they’re not Spain. Ironically, the Italians will miss a left back that plays with his right foot. And most of their attacking flair comes from there. I’m sure Sterling will make another few dashes into the box and fall over. One of the ironies of the tournament is Sterling isn’t technically very good, certainly no match for Forlan, but he’s been one of the players of the tournament. The Italians will be ready for him. I certainly hope so. The sound will be off as I watch the final.
Celtic were two goals up at half-time. Karamoke Dembele and Albian Ajeti scoring in another low-key game at Dragon Park. We also had two shots cleared off the line. Ajeti, the better of the two, rounding the keeper and unlucky not to score at the start of the game. Callum McGregor wore the captain’s armband, and I’m sure he’ll keep it. Celtic played with four at the back. Welsh and Bitton in the middle, Ralston at right back and Taylor on the left. In games like this which Celtic invariably dominates that doesn’t matter too much. But we know other teams will recognise the keeper isn’t going to go long and play it from the back, the opposition team will step forward. In our new look Celtic, the goalkeeper in order to create space is asked to push up out of the area and receive passes from defenders. Barkas looked adept and cool enough on the ball. As I’m sure Bain will too. The problem they had was they quite simply didn’t make enough saves that mattered, as McGregor did over the other side of Glasgow. Similarly, Bitton a central midfielder playing in defence passes the ball out well. What he doesn’t do well is in the physical art of defending. More than fifty percent of the goals we lost last season were from free kicks and corners. Neither Bitton or Welsh are good enough and were found wanting. But that’s what we’ve got for now.
The second half saw two new teams emerging. Bain in goal and Montgomery dropping back to cover at left back. He’d played further forward in the first half. Mikey Johnstone came on to play in front of him. Ntcham, remember him, well, he’s back in for Soro. Turnball, who had a decent first half, also came off. Christie coming on to play further forward. No Rogic, not sure what’s happening to the Aussie. Must be injured again. Edouard up front. Celtic still dominated, but not to the same extent at the first half. Mikey Johnstone looked the most dangerous player. Maybe this will be his season (I’ve been saying that for three seasons, he’s so talented). He hit the inside of the post in 74 minutes. Osaze Urhoghide, who’s a big lad, may do a turn for us in defence. He also had a shot saved by the Charlton keeper. A few minutes later Charlton got a goal back. Connor Washington running onto a long pass to finish under the legs of Bain. Celtic saw it out. But Bain had to make a fantastic save.
Mooney came on late in the game. But Dembele looked a handful and had a great first half. We’ve went from having no wingers to having stacks of them. Edouard missed his usual sitter from six yards, a cut back from Johnston. Ajeti looks dangerous. We’re going to play from the back and it’s going to be interesting. Edouard, Christie and Ntcham can go now. Wait and see who we will bring in. Some encouraging signs but too prone to fling goals away with a makeshift defence. And we all know what happened last season.
First pre-season game and we play Sheffield Wednesday on a Wednesday. And Stephen Welsh plays in Wales, although he’s not Welsh. It’s a ninety minute game, but split into three thirty minutes segments. Over the fence of Dragon Park guys in white playing glorified rounders are oblivious that the next European Champions are playing on their turf, after they achieve one-in-a-row. Yeh, one of those games when it wouldn’t have surprised you if Johnny Depp was playing on the wing with his hat on.
Ange Postecolgou’s first call is to make Albian Ajeti captain. I’m not sure the thinking over that one. I didn’t recognise many of the players that started the first of three periods. Barkas was in goals. That’s the Celtic goalie that didn’t make a save in his first season. But it’s a new start. And Barkas was the Celtic player who got the most touches in the opening ten minutes as the ball was played backwards and backwards and backwards. He didn’t make a save here either, but we were 1—0 down as Sheffield United dominated. Barkas was not at fault. And for a change we didn’t lose a goal from a corner of free kick, as we did for most games last season. But we were still the easy touch of last season. Bannan, Palmer and a through ball to ex-Rangers’ player Josh Windass gave Wednesday the lead. And that’s the way it stayed, until the beginning of the second half.
Finally, I get to say Ajeti put the ball in the nettie. We’ve been that focussed on what’s happening with Leigh Griffiths that Ajeti has been largely overlooked. Ajeti, when he’s not falling over looking for fouls, is also a predator with a good strike rate in the Swiss league. Last season he was dreadful. This season he’s got a new start. And he’s only 24. He’s a wait- and-see player. Like Griffiths he’s a point to prove.
Red-haired winger, Owen Moffat was one of our better players in the first half. And he capped off a stand-out performance with a brilliantly taken goal. Ex-Sheffield player Liam Shaw also looked impressive, both physically and the way he used the ball in midfield as Celtic began to dominate. Soro, in the holding role, looks as if he’s going to be a regular starter.
Scott Bain came on for Barkas after 45 minutes, but wholesale changes to both teams were made. Odsonne Edouard came on and scored the third goal, near the end of the ninety minutes.
Difficult one, he’s still a Celtic player, but the quicker he goes the better, with Ajer and Christie and whoever else wants to leave. We need a whole new defence, starting with the goalie. Left back, right back and centre half. The former Heart’s player Aaron Hickey is one of a number of players touted. He played against Celtic in the Scottish Cup final and was a standout. We could have got him for a million, now its £4.5 million. Stupidity costs money, and cost us the league with a raft of sub-standard players being brought to the club. Anything that could have went wrong last season did go wrong. It’s actually quite nice to hear Rangers are so far ahead Celtic could be out of the running for the league in the first month. That’s a repeat of what was said about Rangers last year—forget it, one-in-a-row, Hallo, Hallo.
Things could be worse. Need to watch England playing with the sound down. My partner told our neighbour that I said I might hate England more than Rangers. Not even near. But c’mon the Italy. The Pope’s eleven.
I qualify for an Irish passport. My Da was born in Belfast, but lived his life in Glasgow, and fought in the second world war for Britain. When he married my mum, he moved to Clydebank. John Burrowes is telling us something we already know—many of us have much the same story.
How many? Most folk find statistic boring. My Da was born in 1923. The Irish Free State was formed in 1921, with the six counties still part of Britain. Susan McKay 2021 writes, Protestants outnumbered Catholics by a ratio of about two to one in Northern Ireland… A hundred years later almost half the population is Catholic, there are fewer Protestant than Catholic schoolchildren, and the only cohort of the population to which Protestant are in a significant majority are the over-60s. Demographics tell their own story of No Surrender being outflanked by other means.
The story of Northern Ireland is one of betrayal. The colonisation of Ireland by the English was piecemeal and ‘plantations’ were established in the North, with the richest land for Protestant immigrant settlers loyal to the Crown. Oliver Cromwell, ‘The Great Protector’s’ troops were ruthless in killing men, women and children who opposed his forces. The best Irish estates went to his followers. We all know about William of Orange, but few people acknowledge that he had the backing and blessing of the Pope at the time at the Battle of the Boyne.
This is all background stuff from sources outside Burrowes’ ‘saga of a nation and a city.’ But when we talk about Glasgow we need to speak of the Irish Holocaust.
‘The Great Famine of 1845-51 was to inflict on the Irish misery and degradation so abject that in proportionate terms it was unequalled anywhere else in the world. More than two million were wiped from the face of the land, either dying from starvation or fever, and fleeing to whatever country would accept them.’
The Great Replacement Theory sprouting from the lips of the moron’s moron Trump and his ilk has its roots in eugenics and religion. You’ll find it in the triumphalism of little Englanders who hark back to the age when Britain was a superpower with a controlling and hegemonic interest in most nations. We were the industrial workshop of the world. Britain made over ninety percent of the shipping with Glasgow at its hub. Trains were exported to these nascent and newly industrialising nations faster than we could build them or lay track. Glasgow was one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, outstripping London. The English gentleman was regarded as the apex of civilisation, worth several foreigners. At the base of the eugenic triangle were Negroes and Irishmen, regarded as workshy and of the lowest intelligence, unable to work machinery without supervision.
Burrowes quotes from Fredrick Engels the father of Communism.
‘Those Irishman who emigrate for fourpence on the deck of a steamship on which they are often packed like cattle, insinuate themselves everywhere. The worst dwellings are good enough for them; their clothing causes them little trouble as long as they are held together by a single thread; shoes they know not; their food consists of potatoes and potatoes only; whatever they earn beyond their needs they spend on drink. What does such a race want with higher wages? …Drink is the only thing which makes the Irishman’s life worth having…’
The Church of Scotland also promulgated hatred and division, regarding the Roman Catholic Irish as a pestilence an ‘Alien Race’ from which the best of Glasgow, the Flower of Scotland emigrated to avoid.
‘the great exodus of the Scottish race was going on,’ Reverend Mair declared to the General Assembly in Edinburgh.
‘Their places were taken by a people of a different race and a different faith, and Scotland was divided into two camps – Scottish and Irish.
In the great Glasgow conurbation there were now at least 450 000 Irish, almost every fourth person. In some areas, it was every third person. The figures speak for themselves. In 1881 there was some 327 000 of the Irish population in Scotland. In the year the report was compiled in 1921, there was 600 000…the Irish population had increased by 30 percent, but the Scottish population had only gone up six percent. Thousands fewer Scottish children were on the educational rolls…
The moron’s moron came out with the same crap. Burrowes points out, Reverend Mair’s made up his own facts, which sounds familiar (you can have your own opinion, but not your own facts). The fertility of the Scots and Irish were broadly similar, unlike in Northern Ireland, nowadays, for example. And representatives from the Church of Scotland, at the General Assembly in 2002, in a report labelled, ‘Secteranism,’ apologised for their distortions and lies.
Lies cost lives. Many of the passengers packed together on the deck of the overcrowded ship, Londonderry, fleeing famine on 1st December 1848, for example, thought they had escaped certain death. Many of them travelling from Sligo to Glasgow. Atlantic-gale-force winds and waves, and the engines struggled to cope. 200 passengers on the deck, including children were forced into the hold—for their own safety. Fearing flooding, hatches were closed. Screams and shouts encouraged a ship’s officer to cover the entrance and exit of the hold with tarpaulin to keep down the din and to keep it watertight. The noise stopped as the passengers suffocated. Because of the storm the ship changed course towards Londonderry. Steam and the stench of death rose out of the hold. No survivors. Cattle were better treated, because they had value.
The creation of Celtic in 1888 by Brother Wilfred in the East End of Glasgow is covered here. He modelled the new club on the success of Edinburgh’s Hibernian. Much of the ground being cleared by volunteers. Many of the players being nicked from Hibernian, who played a friendly against the newly formed club to help raise funds, which more fans attended than the Scottish Cup Final. The rivalry with Rangers was a slow burner. But it’s still burning. I still hate those bastards
In ‘Billy Boys and Tim Malloys,’ Burrowes describes the gang killing of James Dalziel (Razzle Dazzle) a runner and collector for illegal bookmaker, Pat Donnachy, and one of the best dancers in the area. The Briggait Boys from the Gallowgate invaded the Parlour Dance Hall, where Razzle Dazzle led his gang, The Parlour Boys. This was the era of No Mean City.
Billy Fullerton of the ‘Brig’ton Billy Boys’ was the kind of true blue commemorated in football chants. He worked for Tommy Gilmour, bookmaker, boxing promoter and manager, who also happened to be Catholic. Fullerton died penniless, in a single end, his funeral attended by tens of thousands, including Tommy Gilmour.
Marching season commemorating the Orange Order parading through Glasgow to remind Catholics who was in charge still goes on. It’s happening now. But whisper it, the poison has begun to seep away. Burrowes reminds of us a time when tens of thousands of Catholics and Protestants rampaged through Partick, meeting their Catholic brethren in street combat, which brought Glasgow to a standstill with rioting. A mate reminded me of the time he used to ease open his window on Kilbowie Road and fire stink bombs with a sling into the throng below. Members of flute bands now are joke figures. We no longer choke on our Cornflakes but snigger as they pass. The school system that educates Catholics and Protestants separately, however, continues. The joke is on us. No one has the political courage in secular Scotland to tackle this historical anachronism.
John Burrowes gives an idiosyncratic and entertaining look at our past. What remains are the areas of urban poverty he names such as Calton and the Gallowgate. These areas where life expectancy is around ten year’s less than richer areas such as Bearsden. Round up the usual suspects. Whatever index you choose, we lose. Catholics and Protestants having the wrong kinds of children, poor children. In some things we’re number one and remain much the same. Glasgow’s miles better. Fuck off.