Hope. Real and imagined.

Tonight the crowd at Celtic Park will once more hear the anthem of the UEFA Champions League.

For the avoidance of doubt, this is probably the only stadium in Glasgow that is likely to hear such iconic music within its environs for a very long time.

Barcelona plays the beautiful game well, beautifully.

I was blessed as a nine-year-old to see Celtic similarly entrance Planet Football with such agile guile around the opposition penalty box.

Scotland produced eleven lads who lifted the European Cup, although very few of them were considered fit to wear the dark blue of Scotland on a regular basis.

That’s always puzzled me…

The Catalans tonight are overwhelming favourites and rightly so.

Although Lionel Messi is regarded as the jewel in the crown of that wonderful ensemble, there is a player I wish was still playing for Barca tonight.

Xavier “Xavi” Hernández Creus was for me the epitome of Joga Bonito.

As a deep-lying playmaker, his type of prescient passing is what makes me love this game.

An intelligent man on and off the field his observations about the two clubs who will play tonight at Celtic Park is worth repeating here:

“Celtic, like Barcelona, are more than a football club. Our clubs are a symbol of a culture and community that has not always been made welcome in their respective countries.”

It is difficult to think of a stenographer writing such words.

They could do so only in a valedictory piece that was destined for the spike.

Here I am in charge of my words.

I am not under orders or likely to be at that Level.

I’m good about that.

Moreover, I am not “horribly conflicted” about what I write.

I was recently informed by an excellent source that the folk on the 6th floor at Hampden have finally realised that their assessment of the new regime at Sevco has not been Fit & Proper.

If this is true, then they cannot say that they were not warned about their error in 2015.

As the home crowd watches the team in Hoops against arguably the greatest club side in the world tonight, The People will have their faces pressed up against the window.

They follow the Espanyol of Glasgow, a minor club forever shivering in the shadow of their globally recognised neighbour.

Within this analogy, all of the Catalan press would be spinning furiously that the club who plays at Estadi Cornellà-El Prat was the equal of Barca.

Of course, such a proposition is risible.

There is a five-year plan in place in Celtic now.

The provenance of that strategy emerged in the months after the Pyrrhic celebrations at Hampden on April 17th this year.

In the space of an afternoon, Heated Driveway Productions off the table and Mr Desmond realised that he would have to become hands on.

So the Sevco High Command have successfully managed to enrage TWO billionaires during their reign of error.


Brendan Rodgers is in full control of all football matters at Celtic.

The same could not be said of his likeable but sadly overwhelmed predecessor.

Celtic are on a financial footing that is beyond anything that Sevco can achieve.

However, the stenographers are under orders to state that “the gap isn’t very big”.

For the avoidance of doubt, it’s isn’t very big, it’s actually rather massive.

Sevco remains of interest to this journalist because they represent a massive failure of sporting governance.

However, the Sevco sitcom is also a manifestation of the complete capitulation of sports journalism in Scotland to the influence of PR lobbying.

It is the latter that really engages my attention and my energy.

Meanwhile, the stenographers would rather look the other way to what is happening at Celtic Park as it doesn’t fit with their preferred ‘Old Firm’ narrative.

Under Rodgers, the biggest club in Scotland is on a journey.

Not the fake expedition that Charles of Normandy conned The People into taking.

In fairness, he did have a helping hand from Mr Salary on that one.

On the field of play, Sevco are an irrelevance to the club hosting Barcelona tonight.

Celtic stand alone, but their fans know that they will never journey unaccompanied and that gives them hope in their hearts.

That is an eternal essential of the human condition.

However, hope can only temporarily reside across the city because of media manufactured delusions.

What will happen tonight at Celtic Park is real.

The atmosphere at Parkhead on a European night is now globally recognised as being a unique sporting experience.

Only The People believe that there is the possibility of a comparable reality at Edmiston Drive.

In fairness, the stenographers have played a blinder in obediently bolstering the denial among Sevco’s clientele.

The truth is that Rangers died and that Celtic have no rivals in Glasgow.

However, The People do not like that reality, and the stenographers are under orders to tell them that it isn’t so.

Comforting Lies

There is a skill set at play, but it doesn’t equate to journalism.

Now, dear reader, my club is playing Barcelona in the Champions League tonight.

Enjoy the spectacle.


51 thoughts on “Hope. Real and imagined.

  1. Jamie

    Celtic fans are certainly unique.

    I suspect no other set of fans could be so in love with themselves as to produce such a romantic and misty eyed piece discussing a journey which started with a defeat in Gibraltar and ended with being confirmed bottom of their group and out of Europe with a game to play.

    1. michaelcraven1

      ‘A romantic and misty eyed piece discussing a journey.’ Is that introspective in disguise.?

      A journey from the bottom tier to,at present 3rd place,The jambos will beat you into third place, and St.Johnstone will hopefully challenge you all the way for that 4th spot.Better still,sevco don’t make the split,if the sfa grow a pair your team might not even make it to the end of season.

      Lang may yir delusions continue,observe Celtic FC as we legally thrive,going from strength to strength.And ‘That Gap’ turns into something resembling the Grand Canyon.

      Garbage circling a waste disposal abyss.

      Good luck at your AGM tomorrow,you and your fellow lemmings having the wool pulled over you eyes;again x3.It will hopefully be televised,essential hysteria abounds,top fun for all.

      Their back on-site Phil.

      Thanks Phil,par excellence,gracias molto.

      1. There is NO Old Firm

        Michael, Michael, Michael!!!!

        “The gap will resemble something like the Grand Canyon”
        Why should it SHRINK???


    2. hahaha

      And £30m in the bank, plus, every day is nicely topped off by some hysterical stories surrounding some joke 4 and half yr old club stumbling around begging for handouts whilst pretending in their misty eyed view that all is going well in Hell.
      We’ve probably spent more in travelling around Europe this season than Sevco will earn!
      Funny doesn’t come anywhere near covering it!
      Then we have to bear in mind Remembrance Day….14th February 2012!
      As Don Mclean almost says “The Day the Rangers DIED”.

  2. Cortes

    I suspect (hope, really) that Mr Rodgers has had a couple of long conversations with the mustachioed billionaire re the level of investment needed to step up to the challenge of playing in Europe. Too many soft lads just now. Perhaps Chris McCart has a few real hard diamonds to emerge but the way the Celtic players were muscled off the ball tonight says to me that the environment that they inhabit is far too cushy.

  3. tarboltontim

    Another interesting and entertaining post, Phil.
    The true nature of Celtic is reflected in the entertainment presented for the Barca directors at lunchtime today when a choir of East End kids sang the Barca hymn. Excellent stuff. The balding guy at the piano, one Gerry Carr, deserves a mention for all the work he does for music in schools around the East End. The kids were terrific.

  4. Peter

    Phil; like you, I am fascinated by the capitulation of the sports media in Scotland. It is a huge story that most journos would normally have wet dreams about encountering in their careers. The situation over past few years is akin to when Woodward and Bernstein started investigating Watergate. A veritable treasure trove of story angles, key players and shady deals that could be broken. But yet, it is untouchable to them – regardless of whether it is due to fear or favour.

    In a way, though, I look at what has happened so far as a microcosm of a bigger story. That bigger story is how the media as whole has become subverted by the media moguls, aiding and abetting their friends in the establishment and government. There is no longer any true reporting or investigative journalism going on. The government and the media are simply working together to make sure that only the information that is allowed to be voices gets fed out to the masses.

    The greatest examples of this is manipulation of the media can be seen in the way that the Indyref and Brexit were handled. The population were drip fed a daily diet of “news” and storylines that the media wanted covered, with any stories that were positive or factual being ignored, distorted or ridiculed. It goes on still, each and every day for both topics!

    But anyway, enough of this depressing discourse. We can talk about this stuff another day. We have a tremendous game to play tonight and win, draw or lose I will be cheering on the Bhoys.

    Your article here was a great lead in to the game, so thanks for that. YNWA & COYBIG!

    1. Bhoysin67

      Peter, here in North America we were treated to the same manipulation by the media. During the Presidential campaign we were treated to a daily disparagement of Dpnald Trump. Thankfully the American people held their noses and voted in the lesser of two evils.

      1. Roger Wilco

        Did any US mainstream media tell you about ‘Spirit Cooking’, Trump’s close business ties and friendship with the Clintons and how the entire affair was staged?

  5. John

    Hi Phil Thanks for all your time and trouble ,as you are the definitive source as to what actually is happening. The proof is in the pudding. I met up last night with a Barca friend that I made while staying in London , it is great for us that our respective clubs have formed such an affinity with each other , he reckons it was bound to happen given our respective pasts. He has followed his team all over Europe for the past forty years ,and states that nowhere he has been has he seen two so different clubs occupy the same city, as in Glasgow. I will meet him after the game tonight , all the best . Partick Tiger with respect , and I mean that, the mans a word smith ,let him do his work, keep your dictionary handy ,expand your horizons . cheers .

  6. Johnny Green

    Phil, great stuff as always, but I have got to disagree with the Partick Tiger regarding the use of “big’ words. By that I think he means not commonly used words, and I like those ones, especially if I don’t know the meaning as I can then make it a point to add them to my vocabulary, Besides that, the fancy words will put the Klan off reading your pieces as their education does not stretch that far.

    More power to your elbow Phil.

    1. There is NO Old Firm


      “Fancy words will put the Klan off reading?”
      Do you mean like….Dead, (IL), Tax, Loans, 5-1, Six wins in Thirteen league games?

  7. Rob O'Keeffe

    Philip,you wonder why so many great Celtic players didn’t get many caps for Scotland.Simple.You only had to look at the packed Mount florida end in those days,listen to the torrents of abuse heaped on Celtic players,to know which club they supported.This drove many Celtic fans away from Scotland games,even to this day.Thankfully,these people no longer form a large section of the Scottish support.

    1. eldiplomato

      Rob, with the odd anti social exception, I would say they no longer represent any of the Scotland support nowadays. It took them decades to fathom that supporting the national team was in direct contrast to the unionist/royalist/loyalist culture surrounding there own club. They see the Scotland support as anti establishment and anti royal. There attitudes and prejudices thankfully are no longer accepted at Scotland games.

    2. Crosshaven

      I think I am right in saying that the Scotland team in bygone days was not chosen by the team manager but rather selected by a blazer committee that had leanings towards the blue team in Govan.
      The bias towards the Govan team remains today as evident by the manoeuvres of the SFA in 2012.
      SCOTLAND the greatest little backward country in the world.

  8. fraser

    Bbc Scotland on Monday evening wouldn’t say the score of the recent rugby match , Scotland v Argentina. It was 19 16

  9. The Beekeeper

    Great piece about the Bhoys and Barca and the beautiful game and the minnows of Scottish football and their delusions, and no rambling about the wonder of homosexual practices, no anti religion rants and no typical boring left wing dialoge about imperialist, capitalist blah blah blah, piffle.

    Well done Phil stick to what you do best, its what you will be remembered for.

    Hail Hail and God bless Celtic and God bless Barcelona

    1. sligojoe


      Can you direct me in Phil’s archive to articles where he has discussed “the wonder of homosexual practices”

      I would be genuinely interested in reading it.

      1. Ed Bigley

        The Beekeeper never stops with the ‘homosexual practices’ stuff, Joe.

        He seems to revel in describing the detail too, though he feigns disgust while doing it.

        Now it’s no business of mine what folks’ sexual proclivities are, so I can’t comment either way, but I don’t think it’s healthy to live in the dark about it.

        Phil’s article was around the time of Ireland’s gay marriage bill being passed, and was a fine celebration of yet another unshackling of certain individual freedoms.

        But the BK couldn’t help but blow his own reactionary trumpet all over that too and he seems to seaize every opportunity to wax forth on it since.

  10. Pat Nevins' Barnet

    Enjoy it we shall!!

    I was in my main stand outpost for the last two games v Barca and the sensations of those two evenings will be just the same again tonight. On both those occasions, I watched the worlds best club play against the worlds best team! Same again tonight . The results I do of course remember but are not what I remember most from the two evenings… What I remember most was the walk to Celtic park chatting to Barca fans (real ones) on the way … And chatting to others after the game.
    Both of us knowing (without actually having to say it) that that night there were two great European clubs in Glasgow.. And that tomorrow it would be back to just one!

    The Sevco controlled Scottish media will ensure that there are some feel good stories over the next few days to boost the ‘blue morale’ (pre-AGM) and to deflect from OUR participation in world footballs most prestigious club tournament AND a national cup final in the space of a few days. Pathetic – yes ! But not unexpected and not out of character as we all know .

    Many a window to be licked this evening ! May they look on and dream!


  11. theclumpany

    Call me cynical, but you might be on to something when you highlight the Sevco-tastic activities of the mainstream media.

    I mean [if I may…] fancy Mike Ashley getting a front-page bashing from the Daily Record a few days ahead of the RIFC AGM?

    And what about Dave King being the subject of hyperbole as only the Evening Shark-Jump can manage?


    I suppose it is JUST possible that the MSM is ‘calling it as its sees it’…

  12. michaelcraven1

    That was absolutely the ideal prematch boost,if it were needed,to get CP rocking to the rafters.

    You have too many wee crackers,no Crimbo reference,in there to repeat.Safe to say,I was smiling and actually ‘lol’ing my head off most of the way through it.Xavi is pure class,wasted in the league he plays,but,I can fully understand why he chose that path.€&$££££€€€$$$s and an easy slide into retirement from football.Sportspersons careers are on a timer.

    LOL ….I really dislike that expression,but,if you can’t beat them ….eh?

    Here’s to you Phil,for keeping up the good fight.It must be ALL that Fighting Irish in ye.

    I,not for a second,doubted your sources,sometimes things happen in mysterious ways,eh?
    Let’s hope we take something from this evenings match,3 points hopefully.The rest is a bonus.

    Hail! Hail!

    NUJ rule breaching from Scottish ‘Journos’.Are they still allowed to carry the ‘union’ card?
    Because,I think it says ‘Journalist’ on there.

  13. Move on, nothing to see here

    Always a pleasure to read your insight and congratulations on the recent award, very well deserved!! Your bang on the money regarding Sevco and the Laptop Loyal. Their sins continue ever day until the day of reckoning where they will be shown to be the thieves, bullies, corrrupt criminals and lickspittle they actually are, if indeed that day will ever come.
    Accept that the sharp suited man was very much involved in RD operations, thankfully. Agreed that BR, on his ticket, is the man who makes the decisions on the football recruitment side now, and rightly so. I dont think PL has been sidelined and lost any face though Phil. I’m a fan. I think he’s a good operator, very well regarded at every level of the PLC and shareholder register. You dont get the heavyweights involved in CFC PLC without a CEO who is capable, professional and on the ball. Keep up the great work

  14. partick tiger

    Phil, I must say that you are a breath of fresh air to most Celtic supporters, how you get your information is genius and the SFA and Sevco must dread your next post, as much as I and everyone else looks forward to it. You would have thought an old guy like me 73, who went to St Gerald’s would have learned most words in the dictionary, although some of your posts leave me hunting the dictionary fae under the stairs, today’s post is easy to understand and not in need of an interpreter.So please try and refrain from using words that only stenographers understand make posts a little easier to decipher and therefore more enjoyable. You’re a hero as you are doing what every Celtic supporter has wanted to do for years, respect Phil.

      1. Partick tiger

        Hi There’s, Yes in southcroft st,sadly now demolished where some famous pupils studied,Billy Connolly. Harry Haddock. Joe mc Bride. Jim craig past chairman of Celtic Brian Quinn.

  15. Snawbaw

    Hi Phil, you state that the crowd tonight will once again hear the anthem of the Champions League. You’ll be lucky, I was at the last 2 games and couldn’t hear it for the sound of the crowd…… I miss it as it gives me goosebumps HH


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