I love Tommy Burns, I love everything about the man, his faith, his philosophy, his passion.  It’s something we miss now, more than ever.  When Tommy passed, I was 10,000 miles away yet felt it as intensely as any man, woman or child in Glasgow.  I stood in a toilet cubicle and wept when I read of his death, because I’d only found out about it when I got into work first thing in the morning.

So you can imagine my abject horror in the fallout after Celtic lost to Sion last night.  The result of the game and our elimination from the Europa League was hard enough to take, but what I witnessed on the various internet forums I peruse shocked me to my core.

There, amidst what can only be described as chaos, were dozens of posters arguing with each other, some even going so far as to call each other out for a ‘square go’, but even worse, amidst all this in-fighting a new thread of argument had begun.  Tommy Burns’ name was being dragged through the mud.  It began with someone mentioning that Tommy’s team would have had more heart than Neil Lennon’s current incumbents and ended in Tommy being denounced by the very support he devoted his life to.  Posters declaring Tommy’s team was “Scheidt”, that his team was gubbed on a regular basis flew thick and fast.  I scrolled on in horror.  I hadn’t the time to post a response to the sullying of our patron saint, and I don’t know what I would have written, I was too shocked, too angry, to string sentences together.

Earlier in the week I had tried to address the changing face of the Celtic support on one particular internet forum.  As a collective we are a privileged bunch.  We have a club with a rich history, we have had heroes, in the truest sense of the word, be associated with the team, the management and the support.  We stand for something in the world.  When I was younger, it was drilled into me that you never booed a Celtic player.  You never ripped off other Celtic fans; if they needed a ticket for a game, you sold it to them for face value.  You always listened to the older Celtic fans as they had been there and seen it all.  Over the past ten years(perhaps since Martin O’Neill took over the club and put us back where we belong) we have changed from privileged supporters to a bunch of spoiled brats.

Did you ever have the kid at your school who was a wee bit better off and had better trainers than everyone else, had flashier clothes, and when we were using ballpoint’s he had a Parker fountain pen?  Remember how he used to behave on the football pitch if things weren’t going his way?  He’d kick up a fuss, stomp off and take his official Adidas World Cup bladder home with him.  That’s what we’ve become. 

The systematic abuse of some Celtic players by sections of our support is sickening.  Every single week the same players, regardless of how they perform on the day, are singled out for cruelty from the online forums.  I won’t name the players as everyone reading this will know who they are and if you are guilty of doing so, hang your head in shame.  Your taunting of Celtic players is hunnish in the extreme.  It goes against the very ethos of the club you proclaim to support.  Remember when we used to laugh at them for turning on their players?  Remember we used to sing “we can see you sneaking out” as they deserted the sinking ship Ibrox as their team were succumbing to their latest European opponents?

“But I pay my money to watch this, I deserve to have my say.”

Sure, you pay your cash, but when you go to watch a film do you spend the entire time in the cinema shouting at the screen if you don’t like the movie?  Do you go online and write about the actors day after day, week after week?  Do you watch the people involved in the making of the film, waiting for them to make a mistake you can pounce on?

If you don’t like the product on the pitch, DON’T PAY YOUR MONEY TO GO WATCH IT.

Go do something else instead and let some real supporters who appreciate the efforts of the team watch it in your place.

For those online who mentioned Tommy Burns in a negative light, not to mention those who were on the verge of abusing his memory -You are no Celtic supporters. You are no brothers of mine.  Supporting Celtic is a privilege, not a right.  Tommy Burns signed the Three Amigos, Tommy lost one game in a season and still came second to a team that we now know were bought illegally with millions of pounds that the offending club did not have.  Tommy was the first manager to bring a former world cup winning player to Scotland.  Tommy made the modern Celtic what it is today, a phoenix club, one that stands not only for its supporters but for an ethnic minority.  A club that we are proud of.

I understand that a lot of things are said in the heat of the moment, a lot of posters and supporters were letting off steam after we lost to a team that we should beat every day of the week.  I get that, but some things can’t be spouted and then be expected to be forgiven because you were in a bad mood. 

I tried to raise these points online earlier in the week on one forum and was called a condescending pr!ck, by a moderator on said forum no less, for my trouble.  That’s the attitude and mood of the current support.  When I tried to explain that we as a support should stand for something better than the rest of the teams in Scotland all I got was “These ex-pats and their misty eyed romanticism, that’s what’s wrong with the support these days.” Now I’m not a bury-my-head-in-the-sand type.  I know the club has problems, our signing policy over the past four seasons has been nigh on shambolic, our performances this past week have been unsatisfactory.  I also understand that we have high expectations as a support, that’s all fine, but I cannot stand to read or hear of Celtic players being abused.

You may ask what right I have to make such statements against fellow supporters.  We as a support police our own, we always have done.  To me this is my duty to let people know if they are out of line.

I was accused this week of acting as a myth maker for the romantic notion of a saintly Celtic support because I don’t live in Scotland.  It was inferred that I wasn’t a true fan because I’m not able to go to Celtic Park week in week out and shout abuse at the team I love.  I was told that ‘real’ supporters dislike us ex-pats because we paint a whiter than white portrait of what it means to follow our club.  This ex-pat only left Scotland in 2005.  I’ve been there, I was part of a supporters bus, I was at the games before Tommy Burns was manager, I was there during and after his tenure, I stood in the stands when Martin O’Neill’s troops were tearing Dick Advocaat’s multi-million pound squad new bumholes.

My ‘misty-eyed romantic’ view of Celtic is as valid as anyone who currently has a season book.  I pay my Channel67 subscription so I can watch the games live, I get up at 4am to watch the dismal European results, I never abuse Celtic players and I will never, ever abuse the memory of Tommy Burns. 

Tell me, are you still a better fan than me?