Over the last two nights I have had the pleasure of meeting a few of the people who regularly visit this site.
I took part in Question and Answer events at two Celtic supporters clubs in the West of Scotland.
The other panelist on the first night was veteran broadcaster Archie McPherson.
He answered the questions on football with precision and aplomb.
I still regard his biography of Jock Stein not just to be the best one on the big man, but the benchmark for anyone wanting to write such a book about any sporting personality.
As we sat in the car on our way to Irvine I was able to more or less quote word for word a lovely passage of prose that Archie had written about that day in May in Lisbon 1967.
I made it quite clear to the veteran broadcaster that I was a fan of his work.
The crowd at Irvine on the first of the two events were friendly and engaged, some of them were connected to me via the site and social media others had just heard of this internet thingy.
They were all in agreement that the Mainstream Media (MSM) had failed lamentably on “Rangersgate” and weren’t fit for purpose.
This type of journalism is, by its nature, an isolating experience.
I was writing about a soccer situation while being in another country.
I can walk out of the house and if I don’t want to I don’t have to have a single conversation about Celtic, Rangers or Employee Benefit Trusts with my Donegal neighbours.
It is simultaneously affirming and disconcerting to be approached by a person who had a mild complaint that I had recently went two days without posting and that he “needed” to read something on this site every day!
No pressure then…
The second night was more like home turf for me.
A Catholic social club in Coatbridge where my mother‘s side used to go for their Saturday night when we were all much younger.
This is the second time within a month that I was back in Scotland’s “little Ireland” where I had attended secondary school.
Someone in the authorities thought that it would be a really really bad idea to build a Catholic secondary school in Baillieston so we were shuttled every day to Coatbridge.
My first Celtic supporting experience as an “independent” teenager was on the bus that left from Phil Cole’s pub.
Like I said, when we were all a lot younger.
Joining Archie and myself on the panel was a genuine character and easily the star of the show, ex-Celtic goalkeeper John Fallon.
As quick witted as he used to be getting off his line he is the living breathing archive of a huge amount of vignettes from the Jock Stein era.
I was hearing these for the first time, but I know that I wouldn’t be complaining of I had heard them again and again.
There appears to be something about the male brain that enables you to remember nicknames, but not the proper one on the birth certificate.
At the end of the night an organiser of the event thanked me for making the journey from Ireland and for all the craic.
I looked at his face registered it for a millisecond and 40 years had vanished.
“You went to St. Ambrose didn’t you?”
“And your name is ‘Gnome’ isn’t it?”
Never forget a face or a nickname.
I still have no idea what his real name is, but he’s a lovely fella.
His folks are from Kerrykeel and he proudly defined himself as a “Donegal man” a meet up next time he is in the county is a stick on.
These two nights confirmed to me why the MSM are becoming increasingly irrelevant in Planet Fitba.
The audience at both venues were in complete agreement that they could not rely on the old media for the truth.
Archie said that Celtic supporters would miss the rivalry if Rangers went out of business.
I didn’t disagree with the emotional intelligence that framed that proposition.
However I stated that for the common good and the general wellbeing of the nation that Scotland would be the healthier if Rangers were eradicated.
This is the first time I have taken part in this type of event.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
They want me back for more and I’ll be happy to oblige.
That said the bag is packed and I’m thinking of the Derryveaghs.