All good things…

I didn’t see last nights match. I was stuck in work until around the final whistle.

The text commentary from friends was all I needed. It didn’t tell the full story of course, but I knew I was in the right place.

The second half of the season is difficult for Celtic right now. Not just this season, but last season as well.

With no serious domestic challenge to dent Neil Lennon’s title chances, the league is almost certainly in the hands of Celtic before Christmas. This isn’t a good thing for Scottish football, its a bad thing and deprives fans as well as players of any motivation.

Now we all know that the game in Scotland has been dominated by Celtic and their former rivals for decades. The only thing that has changed recently is that Celtic are doing it on their own now.

What I had hoped to see in these last two seasons was a couple of teams putting in a serious challenge against Celtic. Given that there is only one club to break so to speak, I felt there was an opportunity to pressure Scotland’s top club.

That hasn’t happened and whilst the league is never decided until it is mathematically impossible, Celtic will be champions once again. Celtic haven’t even been that great this season and yet they achieved some decent landmarks.

I’m not taking away anything from Aberdeen beating Celtic last night. They may have only had ten men to beat but I’ve seen many a team struggle with a one man advantage.

If clubs such as Aberdeen would show more consistency against the rest of the league then there might just be something  worth shouting about. I sense every time a Scottish club gets a Celtic scalp its like throwing stones at the leg of a giant.

A victory, yes, but a small one at that and it makes little difference. Let’s see more of a challenge next season because this league is in dire straights.

SPFL might be the new branding but its the same old garbage. The only thing that keeps me going every season is the Champions League.

For many Celtic fans I’m pretty sure it is the same. Yes, you still have to win your league to be assured of a chance of qualifying but without Europe there is no challenge for Celtic.

The only challenge was of course our old rivals. If their Phoenix club every manage to mount a similar challenge, it is a long way off.

That’s not to say that I would be happy to see it go back to a two horse race. I’d prefer to see a more rounded challenge.

With all the issues that have gone on in Scottish football in the last few years I felt this was a good opportunity for real reform. That hasn’t happened and thoughts of Henry McLeish’s involvement, the referee saga, Lennon’s death threats and oldco going down are all but a distant memory.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

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Excelling in the face of adversity

Nobody would blame Neil Lennon for leaving Celtic. As a player and as a coach no other human being in Scottish Football has had to endure what he has.

Neil has had his own personal battles in life to contend with as it is. So when you consider what others have thrown at him, he has defended himself with the kind dignity that most can only dream of.

The media and the critics have never been short of pointing the finger at Neil either. “He brings it on himself”, they cry!

Moronic bleating like that go hand in hand with “I blame the schools” or “it’s just a bit of banter”. The fact is that an element exists in Scotland that it so steeped in hatred they cannot see the line they continually cross.

It isn’t just fans though, its journalists, fellow ‘professionals’ and broadcasters. When that is what Neil is up against, who exactly is on his side other than the Celtic community?

When you consider what Neil has gone through since joining Celtic, it is a miracle he is still here. Abused from the stands, in the street, with his family and lets not forget the bomb and death threats.

So what exactly is his crime? Northern Irish International footballer? Catholic? Played, captained now managing Celtic?

Wow! Do we really live in a world where this gets under people’s skin?

I wonder if independence really an option for such a backward country. I’m ashamed to be a Scotsman sometimes and living in England only makes it harder to defend.

Some people have been driven out of Celtic for less than Neil has faced. Yet I hope his career with Celtic continues for many years.

Still, everyone has a tolerance level. I’m sure Neil’s has been breached many a time as well.

The torrent of hatred directed at him is a cancer not only in Scottish football, but Scottish society. His presence in Scotland or at Celtic Football Club should not be an issue but it is.

Until sectors of Scottish society change, Neil Lennon will continue to make an example of them. He will continue to excel in the face of adversity and we have his corner.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie