Up until recently I didn’t know of the existence of somebody called Paul McBride. His media performances in the last month however have greatly raised his profile and in the process helped Celtic’s cause immeasurably.
He is by all accounts a formidable lawyer, somebody who graduated with a law degree at the tender age of nineteen. His rise through the legal profession was equally meteoric and took silk (became a barrister) at the incredibly young age of thirty-five. I am informed that this is a prodigious feat which testifies to his razor sharp intellect and huge personal drive.
Lawyers, accountants and politicians would probably feature in any survey on most disliked professions. And yet this unlikely fab three have somehow managed to articulate, and more importantly, challenge the basic dishonesty which lies at the very core of Scottish football.
Many years ago when in London, I took the opportunity to visit the Old Bailey and observe a major trial in the public gallery. The case became gradually irrelevant to me as I realized that I was more fixated on the modus operandi of the prosecution team.
The Q.C. was a very well spoken man, some might even say posh. His questioning of witnesses was masterful. Depending upon whom he was addressing, he cajoled, coaxed, bullied and flattered always choosing his words with great care, and waiting for the opponent to make a slip.
Such people deal with the great and the scum of society and have a great insight into all strands of society. From the rapist to the child murderer, and from the corrupt local politician to the granny selling crack cocaine from home, they have seen it all. For example, Mr McBride I gather will be representing Rangers target David Goodwillie against rape charges in the coming months.
Taking on a few thick incompetent officials from the SFA is therefore a piece of cake. Moreover, Mr McBride sounds very much like a man on a mission. Like lambs to the slaughter, on comes the SFA time and time again. And time and time again, they receive a bloody nose, pushed back and humiliated with their pitiful limitations painfully exposed for all to see. The latest farce involves the SFA unable to accurately interpret the meaning and consequences of its own laws, rules and regulations!
The great thing is that when you actually hear McBride speak it gives you a great sense of reassurance as he is clearly speaking from the heart, and not just from a professional point of view. Why would he not after all? He like Reid and Lawwell are part of that post war generation who were determined not to be subjected to the same humiliations their forebears.
For as long as I can remember Celtic have always been at odds with the SFA. Even during the glory years of Jock Stein, Celtic triumphed despite the odds. Believe me when I say that Dougie McDonald and Hugh Dallas were relatively neutral when compared to the likes of Bobby Davidson who took cheating Celtic to a whole new level in the sixties and seventies.
Listening to McBride on radio is very enlightening as it is clear that he has the measure of the Scottish media. In short, they fear him. Recently I listened to a debate chaired by Jim Traynor which featured among others McBride and Chick Young. The atmosphere was very different from the usual guff, with the normally ebullient Traynor showing none of his trademark arrogance, disdain and general contempt for Celtic. There was a subdued, almost fearful atmosphere the likes of which I used to experience as a child whilst waiting in the dentist’s waiting room.
Before any of the guests opened their mouths, it was clear they were mentally crossing all their t’s and dotting all there i’s, desperate not to walk into some legal minefield. The result was that instead of having the usual anti-Celtic diatribe we had fortunately some sort of genuine debate with McBride in his forensic manner gently, but persistently ramming home the inconsistencies of decisions made against Celtic.
McBride’s appearance on that particular programme also had the effect of enraging Rangers, with a furious Ally McCoist summoning the Scottish Press the following day to respond to some of the little seeds that McBride had planted. Ally and Rangers unwittingly had walked straight into a trap, (an elaborate windup if the truth be told) and took the bait, hook, line and sinker.
It is clear to me that the Celtic Board has sanctioned McBride’s appearances through the various media in the last month. They know they are playing for high stakes, but know they cannot duck the issue.
Either the SFA will restructure its outdated and corrupt practices or Celtic will do it for them. In short, what is at stake is Celtic finally getting a fair deal in Scotland. This problem will never be resolved until the system itself is radically overhauled. Removing the likes of Farry, Dallas and Peat are minor victories if the truth be told, of far greater and more lasting worth is a fundamental review of a body which allows systemic abuse, sectarian practices and corruption.
Celtic supporters need to see the big picture and realize what is at stake. If we are to remain in the small goldfish bowl that is Scottish football, we need to ensure that our voice is heard and listened to.
Those who fret about Reid’s political past, Lawwell’s bonuses and McBride’s membership of the Tory party are missing the point.
They are the first Celtic Board who are actively defending the club’s interests to the hilt, they deserve our support.