There is an undercurrent subculture that is changing the way many people see football matches. During the Euro 2012 final between Spain and Italy, 15,000 tweets per second were published about the game. Thousands of words have already been written about how Celtic fans have orchestrated the capitulation of their rivals, but from a purely footballing context, the impact of twitter is hugely relevant, even if it is a passing fad. Twitter is an evolved version of talking loudly enough in public, in the desperate hope that somebody engages in conversation. As a social networking site, twitter is reminiscent of a school playground. There are those who are the leaders, those who seek to follow, and those who position themselves as an alternative figure, away from any notion of what is mainstream. Like any school playground, constant squabbles emerge, even between groups of supposed friends.
The Celtic team is announced.
@Eeramacaroonbar: …Can understand not risking Hooper. Make or break for Miku if he gets on though.
@paullarkin74: Going to have to work hard for it today by the look of the team.
@krys1888: WTF is that team? Mulgrewshoehorened, one proper striker, Broony playing again….Okay Neil, lets see how this works.
@andymcd90: Forrest and Samaras out injured. Hopefully at least Samaras will be fit for Wednesday.
In terms of my personal relationship with Celtic, I rely on twitter. As anyone who has read anything I have written for this site will be aware of, I am not a Celtic fan. I come from Glasgow, I have a Celtic supporting family, but having grown up in Coventry, I choose to support my local club, both home and away. I attend five Celtic games a year, and they are my second love. Growing up, any interaction about Celtic was with my Mum and my Uncles. Whilst this was excellent, it wasn’t daily. Twitter revolutionised how I perceived the club and its fan base. Friendships of sorts have been made, with the fragile notion that there is an obvious thread that binds us together. One of the fascinating notions about football clubs is the diversity of the fan base. There could be political, social and class division, but a football club can unite.
The game begins and the Celtic fans start singing.
@Lauren_MCclos: Did Sky just mute the “ooh aah up the Ra” singing there?
@HannahPeyton94: glad sky are trying to cut out the ira chants. Don’t want to hear it. c*nts.
@Leeh_nostromo: @HannahPeyton94 here, here! It’s 2012, why grown adults and Scottish teens want to sing about the IRA baffles me.
@GlasgowGandW: Please sell McCourt, Paddy McCourt, I just don’t think you understand!
@muireannf: Although I think we should sell McCourt, the song is very catchy.
@HankMooodyCSC: Don’t sell him? Fucking couldn’t even give him away.
@SparrowThirteen: Of course, if #Celtic do sell McCourt and there is no riot, the Green Brigade’s legitimacy is compromised.
The last tweet was mine. When I watch Coventry City play, I do not tweet. I am at the game, I am entranced by the atmosphere around me, caught up in the complexities of the game. I talk to those around me, I scream at those in front of me. The whole idea of removing yourself from that situation in order to share thoughts with a social media vehicle seems unfathomable. Yet, when watching Celtic on the TV, the phone is checked. Why?
Watching football on TV is like watching sex on TV. It may be good to watch, but you are not actively involved. When you are in the stadium, you are part of the narrative. Sites like twitter strive to act as an alternative vaccum. The concept of watching alone is removed, replaced with the sense of belonging. I can, without paying any money, communicate with folk in Glasgow, Ireland and the US whilst the game is unfolding. This is no substitute for being there, but it replaces the isolation of watching alone. It is a 21st Century social club, with words typed rather than spoken. There is the odd juxtaposition of being more and less sociable at the same time. For example, I know Celtic fans who would now rather stay at home and tweet their way through a game than go to a pub to watch.
Thomas Rogne comes off injured.
@Markobhoy: Tam Rogne starting is a waste of a sub! Bloody hell!
@IrishRebel1981: Shock horror, Rogne is injured. Get rid of him too. #Sicknote
@begleybhoy: Rogne in injury shocker!
@chibchenko: I wonder how much of Rogne’s problems are psychological.
During a lull in the game towards the end of the first half, thoughts turned elsewhere. @pault1888 and @chibchenko entered into a debate about music, with the poetic angst of Morrissey and Elliott Smith the subject of discussion. This is an interesting element about twitter’s power. I have friends that I wouldn’t text out of the blue to discuss music, but social media allows relative strangers to debate a wide range of issues. Football, and in this instance Celtic, serves as the tool for users to formulate ideas about wider issues.
@FiKennedyCSC: Broony and Ledley impressive. Commons and Watt need to be more incisive, but can’t see us leaving Tannadice without all 3 points.
@TheHumanTorpedo: Playing some good stuff if a little pedestrian. A bit sharper in front of goal and we’d be out of sight.
49th minute. The injured Emilio is replaced by Miku.
@HannahPeyton94: aw no him
@CraigyBhoy88: Mulgrew to left back then?
@chibchenko: Get Miku tae fuck.
@Markobhoy: @chibchenko Dreadful!
@Maradoddsy: YaaassssMiku! I told yeezall 😀
@Markobhoy: Yaaaaaaaaaaasssssa!!!!!! Always said Miku was a star! 😀
@AGlasgowBoy: There we go! The goal he obviously needed! Miku, great finish.
If a world has been manufactured in which twitter is the base for socialisation, then the scoring of a goal tests this idea somewhat. In this regard, being in the stadium is, once again, a far more rewarding experience, yet also slightly more limited as to where you can go. As a twelve year old, I found myself crowd surfing down ten rows after Coventry had scored a late winner away to Blackburn. This aside, the stadium allows little more than a euphoric jump on the spot. It is the most beautiful feeling of all. Being inside a football ground as your team score is a time to lose yourself within the raw, genuine emotion. Strangers are embraced, and for what seems like an age, we lose our sense of who we are but gain an idea of what we want to become.
In terms of watching the game on TV, options are endless. I remember Chris Sutton chipping Stefan Klos in the 90th minute, and the next part I recall is being in the middle of the street, pumping my fists. Goals control emotions, as we saw with Miku gleefully leaping into the crowd. In terms of twitter, the joy of scoring must surely be diminished by the dose of reality. Excitement is difficult to convey with mere words, and whilst the rapture of others can be read, you cannot feed off the energy. Such elation is tampered with a sense of loneliness.
Kris Commons delivers another poor corner.
@JimD1967: Commons’ corners are dreadful sometimes.
@kieranking1; Commons’ corners have been rotten
@SamsHusband: This many corners would be good on Wednesday
Tony Watt makes it 2-0.
@GlasgowGandW: Tony Watt’s potential is huge.
@bobbylennox: Tony Watt! Don’t think I’ve been so impressed by a #Celtic youngster since Liam Miller burst into the team. Hope he grabs his opportunity.
Dundee United pull a goal back.
@Maradoddsy: Aw nawhaha, don’t lose it now
@Dave_McHale: Goal for Dundee United; bitey nail time for the last couple minutes!
@thecelticway: Dundee United 1-2 Celtic
The inexplicable happens. Dundee United equalise.
@CraigyBhoy88: Fuck right off
@chelleghirl: Ya fucking dick!!!!
@craibie: FUCK OFF
@RoisinDx7: What the hell Celtic?
@joellercoaster: What the absolute fuck? Jesus Christ! #celtic
@DerryPele: Come on let’s blame it all on McCourt!! #celtic
Full time. Dundee United 2-2 Celtic
@natashameikle: Cannot believe that.
@Brucehillbhoy; Threw that away Lennon, thought it was over, Brown was fucked for 30 mins take him off but nnnaaaawwwwwww I’ll take others off
@Lauren_McClos: Fucking appaling Celtic! Absolute joke!
@andymcd90: I hope the fools who were going ‘whey’after every Celtic pass at 2-0 are happy. Just one reason why that annoys me.
@TheHumanTorpedo: Can we please sell McCourt?
@Wes1888: @TheHumanTorpedo Sell? Free transfer for me, rank rotten. Baffling the adulation he gets
I am writing this two hours after the game has finished. The morning newspapers will not be available for at least another twelve hours. By then, how much relevance will they truly carry. Of course, it is wildly inaccurate to assume that every football fan uses social media as a basis for discussion. My 75 year old Great Uncle will still read tomorrow’s report in the Daily Record, but as a hugely overrated musician once warbled, the times they are a changin’. Social media allows you to gather a plethora of views, opinion and analysis in real time, and without the benefit of hindsight. It captures emotions when they are at their deepest, and portrays rage at its ugliest.
In the most recent issue of the wonderful football quarterly The Blizzard, Barney Ronan suggests that twitter will not last, and will be replaced by something even more beautifully simple and persuasive. In terms of Celtic, the social media side can either expand to create a fan led empire, or it will eat itself in a wave of saturation. Twitter has served as the catalyst for new podcasts to be created, resulting in a glut of fan led media. Of course, by only hearing a Celtic viewpoint, internal dialogue replaces hair pulling exasperation that occurs whilst listening to Super Scoreboard and its ilk.
If twitter truly is a microcosm of a school playground, then there are firmly those who seek attention and notoriety. Twitter users have had t-shirts made with slogans they have created, and the first wave of social media ‘celebrities’ is upon us. Like in many aspects of life, people want to belong to something. Celtic, as a football club can act as a means to this. I have only met three Celtic fans that I follow on twitter in reality. One of those bought me a ticket for a Europa League game involving Sligo Rovers. This level of trust was heart-warming. Celtic is a club for all, but if twitter tells us anything, it is merely to reinforce that it is a diverse fanbase that is largely bound together by the club itself. I am grateful to twitter for allowing me to chat to Celtic fans across the world, even if conversations can lead to arguments. It is an alternate reality after all.