I attended the last two home matches and watched the St. Johnstone game on television, and while we may have 100% in terms of results, the overall performances have not been entirely convincing.


I thought that the first half against the Hibs was as good as they have played since Henrik left when I have been present, but the second half was slightly disappointing. The St. Mirren game was one of those nail-biting occasions when they just never really got going. Some credit must go to our opponents who were very well organised, but we were less than inspiring from start to finish.

First born suggested to me that if we scored then the Buddies’ containment plan would be shot, and we could then finish them off. I agreed with her, but in truth after we took the lead they looked more likely to score than Celtic.

Tuesday was a good effort. More of the same in the next few weeks and I’m sure we will have cause for celebration at the season’s end.

But to the real meat of this week’s news. The complete dismissal of the case against McCoist beggars belief if you have any faith in justice. How the committee could conceive that he was entirely innocent of events that night is beyond comprehension. Are we the only people on the planet who have seen the T.V. footage and the photographs of his attempt to get at the Celtic dugout during the incident with Diouf before half time. Is it really an unreasonable expectation to hope that those who judged the case would be capable of seeing that Neil’s reaction at the end was a response to something that McCoist said? Given their decision it would appear so.

That the two players were effectively given a get out of jail free card was staggering. It should not have mattered what the referee’s report said about whether or not he was in fear for his life. What they did was seen on television all around the globe and to allow them to escape with meaningless fines was risible.

It was suggested in the statement which emanated from Mordor afterwards that they were harshly treated and no one in that community could even understand why they were even charged! They also stated that their defence of McCoist was based on video evidence. I don’t know what match they showed, but it can’t have been the cup-tie because the evidence against him was quite compelling, but it seemed even stranger that video was somehow used to support the jolly japester’s appeal and yet was not considered when passing judgement on the two players.

It reminds one of Manchester where despite the whole world seeing them at work, no sanctions were taken against the club, because the incidents did not take place inside the ground. In any other context, the fact that all the world watched would surely be good enough evidence for conviction.

Paul McBride’s intervention and the SFA’s subsequent reaction has thrown the whole episode into a much starker light than they could possibly have expected. Not only folk in the bigoted little world of Scottish Football are recognising that something is in need of fixing – more power to his arm.

As an aside, I was perusing David Hay’s most recent memoir this morning and he recalled the Tony Shepherd incident and his remarks that we should up-stakes and play somewhere else. He indicates that while the board were in full agreement with him, they decided against making further protest and life went on as before.

It would appear that those days are past, and while McBride may not be in the employ of Celtic F.C. on a day to day basis, they have found a mouthpiece which is well capable of challenging the status quo without drawing direct censure on the club itself.

As is to be expected, the media used Neil’s first press conference in what seems like months to try to provoke a reaction to Monday’s events. I thought he played a blinder, but it seems that his observations about Craig Brown did not go down well with that octogenarian hypocrite. In a typical mealy mouthed, Uriah Heepish, interview Brown proclaimed his high moral standards when it comes to commenting on referees and officials of other clubs – a dignified silence being his modus operandi. (What is with these Huns and dignity?)

As a matter of record – we will give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest that at his age his memory may not be all that it was – he in fact said only last month:

“I know Neil Lennon well, we have worked together in the past and he is a very intelligent man. But sometimes I dislike the way he behaves. Brilliant managers like Walter Smith and Alex Ferguson do not bounce around on the touchline. It doesn’t mean they are any less enthusiastic. There is simply no need.”

Ignoring the transparent nonsense in what he says about Wattie and Sir Alex, it is quite clear that he is well capable of passing comment on other managers.

Until his musing about how the Brown/Boyle case would be handled given his own experience, I have only ever heard Neil Lennon say positive things about Craig Brown, in fact I would defy anyone to find an example of him saying anything remotely critical about any of his peers, including Stuart Houston. When he was questioned about his relationship with the Dundee Utd. manager he was positive and upbeat and tried to dismiss the alleged spat with a bit of humour.

I find it quite astonishing that he has been so vilified in the press. When he was a player his treatment by the fans of other clubs was outrageous, and the press were simply jumping on a bandwagon, but since he became manager his dealings with the media and his public statements have sometimes been guarded, but have always been courteous and thoughtful. When he entered into a personal purdah in recent weeks the press corps were moaning and griping about not getting access to the manager and having to deal with Johann. Is it any wonder, given the interrogation he has to undergo, that he might restrict their access to him.

I spoke this morning to a Motherwell fan – no really – he has no time for the Dark Side, but his father – also a Steelman – has worked on SFA committees for many years as a consequence of his involvement in schools football, and despite the fact that other family members are Tims, he cannot see that the governing body is in any way prejudiced against our club.

I suspect that while he himself may not be inclined in that way, he is offering a Nelsonesque response to the realities of life in Scottish Football.

To conclude, I noticed a report in one of the papers that Celtic Director Eric Riley had excused himself from the committee which sat in judgement on the McCoist case on the grounds, that given the background, he could not be seen to be impartial and in fairness to Swally should not take his place on the tribunal.

Big mistake – perhaps had he stayed and abstained from the voting process, he might have at least have ensured that the deliberations were fair and just, and free from the obvious good ol’ boyism which arrived at the eventual decisions.

In Willie Wonka’s world of pure imagination things might well defy explanation, but at least the Oompah Loompahs – though orange – were the good guys. Come to think of it, it’s not that different from the world of Scottish Football after all.