Celtic, Scottish Cup, Scottish Football

The Hangover From Heaven

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Good Afternoon.

The Clumpany did not enjoy Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final.

It was quite a novel experience to discover that an ethereal entity could feel so sick. I was nervous all morning and then absolutely nauseous throughout the match.

As they did for large parts of the recent league game, Aberdeen worked unbelievably hard, and pressed Celtic (who were undoubtedly not at their best) as no other Scottish team has all season. And on another day Aberdeen might have taken their chances and won the game. [Mind you they also might easily have gone down to ten men during the first half! 😉]

But that didn’t happen, I am delighted to say. Celtic battled and turned the screw as Aberdeen tired, and they somehow found a winning goal in injury time.

It was tough on Aberdeen. I have many Dons on my timeline who are great folk, who give their team fantastic support and who want the same reforms in the governance of our game as large numbers of Celtic fans. It was hard for me not to feel some sympathy for them as their side went down at the death like that.

Some sympathy.

Because as the state of my ethereal stomach attested, I would have been absolutely mortified if Aberdeen had won. Having gone through the league unbeaten, won the League Cup and arrived at the threshold of an Invincible Treble – a feat never likely to be repeated – it would have been demoralising to see it snatched away. Brendan Rodgers and his team have performed brilliantly this season, and they totally deserved their place in history.

Anyone who suggests that winning trophies must be meaningless to Celtic fans given the club’s resources and track record can quite frankly take a running jump. Saturday was absolutely excruciating, and the joy of prevailing was exquisite, just as it was after the League Cup Final and after Celtic clinched the title against Hearts.

Mind you, the agony was nothing compared to the experience of the monumental hangover endured by The Clumpany on Sunday.  I can only assume that my 15th Buckie and Bleach on Saturday night was a ‘bad pint’.

He was sneered at, but Derek McInnes was probably correct in his pre-match comments/ ‘mind games’. There could have been a lingering sense of anticlimax about a great season had Celtic lost the Scottish Cup final. And personally I think the last thing they deserved was an anticlimax.

Celtic have been relentless this season. Relentless even when the flair for which they have been applauded was absent and they simply had to grind out results from somewhere.

For me, one of the best indicators of their unrelenting efforts this season is their December results: eight league games, eight wins, plus a Champions League draw at Manchester City.

Simply magnificent.

Others will write detailed analyses of this historic season and the contribution of various players (for me the rejuvenated Scott Brown was the standout across the season, but I am happy to hear the arguments for others). The work of Brendan Rodgers and his backroom staff who have performed a near-miracle with (mainly) Ronny Deila’s team will also receive forensic coverage.

However, I simply wanted to say well done and thank you to all concerned, including the Celtic board who made the Rodgers appointment happen, and the fans who were magnificent every step of the way, and who heeded the manager’s call for patience at the start of the season.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the 2016-17 campaign was a worthy tribute to the Lisbon Lions, the 50th anniversary of whose European Cup triumph was recently celebrated in such fantastic style.

The Lisbon Lions: How To Live Forever

I will mention the defeats to Lincoln Red Imps and Barcelona in Europe because they ARE part of the story of the season – and uncomfortable parts too. Ultimately however, the thing to take away from them is that they were not THE story of the season. They happened and they were bad moments. But they didn’t define Celtic’s campaign. The Hoops made the Champions League group stages for the first time in three years (which most of us would have defined as a huge success before the start of the season) and got three creditable draws, including a 3-3 draw against Manchester City on one of THOSE epic nights at Celtic Park. Not only did Celtic pick up a point that evening, they also showed a host of Premier League teams how to play against the previously-imperious Pep Guardiola’s side, whose season was never quite the same again.

This season was one of progress for Celtic. Lots and lots of progress, which amazingly included winning an unbeaten Treble.

An. Unbeaten. Treble.

What can they possibly do for an encore?

Well, Rodgers’ every utterance speaks about development and building for the future so it seems highly unlikely that Celtic will rest on their laurels. Champions League football with group stage wins and a longer European campaign would be amazing, but let us be in no doubt about quite how difficult that will be to achieve.

For now however, let’s take a moment to pause and salute the undefeated domestic treble-winning Champions of Scotland, who did it playing the Celtic way.

We may never see the like again.

But I hope we do, and I am sure that Brendan and everyone at the club will give it their very best shot.

#KeepOnClumping

Celtic, Scottish Football

The Lisbon Lions: How To Live Forever

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Good Evening.

It is a happy coincidence that the 800th Clumpany blog coincides with the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Celtic Football Club winning the European Cup in 1967.

Despite The Clumpany pouring out a torrent of surreal and occasionally pointed comments over the course of many thousands of words, I happily confess that I am utterly devoid of witty comments to make about the greatest football team ever to emerge from these islands.

‘Why bother saying anything at all then?’, you may ask. After all, that day in 1967 has been written about, discussed and dissected in a million different ways over the past half-century.

It is a fair question and my answer is simply that I wanted to say how utterly brilliant the anniversary celebrations have been.

For me, the Lions have multiple ‘personas’. All of them are praise-worthy and all of them have been applauded in the most fantastic way in recent days

The Lions as an exceptional football team have been saluted – not least through tributes from some of the greatest names in the game. However, the most striking tributes have come from the fans – in the 67th minute tribute during games this season, and through that jaw-dropping tifo prior to the final league game of the season against Hearts.

The Lions as individual human beings have been hailed in numerous interviews, profile pieces and documentaries. And yes we have been reminded of the passing of time with new photographs and footage of proud but ageing men which have been both uplifting and occasionally heartbreaking. An uncomfortable reminder that heroes can fade even if their heroism never will.

Then there has been the Lions as something akin to ‘rock stars’.  The event at the Hydro was without question big, spectacular and ‘loud’ enough to commemorate the magnitude of their achievement in Lisbon and their status as unquestioned giants in the world’s most popular sport.

And finally, the Lions as legends who accomplished deeds so fantastic that they could almost be mythical were it not for the TV footage and the physical evidence of that Big Cup which they brought home. The almost infinite variety of tales that we have seen in recent days of folk making the trek to the Estádio Nacional has reminded me of long-ago pilgrimages when people felt moved to travel long distances and make sacrifices to get as close as they could to something truly profound and to pay homage.

Of course, I am not suggesting that the Lions are religious figures. However, it feels as though the anniversary celebrations have been an expression of a sort of ‘faith’ for many, and they have certainly led to a great number of charitable acts and fundraising to help those less fortunate.

There is undoubtedly something about the scale and nature of the Lions’ achievement which speaks to people in a way that little else could – especially in the world of sport. If you want proof, you only have to look at the way a lot of people in the street, on the bus, in the pub and indeed on social media were happy and absolutely bursting with pride yesterday as they stopped to reflect on the glorious deeds of 25 May 1967.

The Lisbon Lions are not just a great football team. They are the heroes of a sport and a cause.

They also come across as throughly decent and humble human beings, who always have time and an encouraging word for other people. It is arguably this decency and humility – which most of us try (and often fail) to attain – which is the most remarkable thing of all about them.

Put simply, keeping your feet on the ground and remaining an example to others when countless people constantly shout about your achievements is a truly incredible thing to do. Especially over a period of many decades.

The 50th anniversary celebrations of the 2-1 victory over Inter Milan have been perfectly executed and all those involved in organising them should be applauded for their enormous efforts.

For obvious reasons I suspect there will never again be commemorations on the scale of those seen recently. However, it really doesn’t matter. Every single facet of who the Lions are and what they achieved has been marked in magnificent fashion and I have no doubt that wherever they go and whatever they do in the coming years, they will be left in no doubt about how much they are treasured.

And many years from now, when we are all gone, their achievements will still be remembered and spoken about with reverence.

This means that the Lisbon Lions will live forever.

Which is the very least that they deserve.

Thank you for reading.

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Celtic, Media, Satire, Scottish Football

The Break Up Of The Celtic Squad 

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Good Evening.

The Clumpany brings you dramatic news courtesy of a completely fictitious article which won’t be appearing in a Scottish newspaper. Probably…

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Celtic Squad Facing Dramatic Transfer Swoop

Piss-take Sport understands that the successful Celtic squad looks set to be ravaged this summer by intergalactic raiders.

Having seen off interest from the English Premier League, and having indicated that they are not a selling club, the Scottish Champions are about to discover that resistance is futile as aliens from the planet Jumpshark make a dramatic move.

A source close to the Jumpsharkian high command said “Does this costume and voice modifier seem convincing? Let’s do this quickly as the PR company could only afford to hire them for half an hour. Oh is that thing recording? Sh*t! Let’s get on with it!

“Yes it’s true, the Sharkjumpians have been monitoring the progress of Celtic under Brendan Rodgers since the return of Rangers* to the top flight scared Dermot Desmond into action. 

They think that Celtic have some quality players who are certain to get bored of playing at Celtic Park. They believe they could do a job in the Sharkjumpian Super League playing against real-life Subbuteo players bred in laboratories on one of the planet’s many moons.”

The departure of most of the Celtic squad would be a massive blow to the Parkhead side as well as giving a tremendous boost to Rangers’* title hopes next season. What’s more, it is understood that the aliens are unlikely to take no for an answer should Peter Lawwell try and stand in their way.

The Sharkjumpian Super League is booming and those in charge will stop at nothing to get all the best Celtic players” said our source. “Their preferred method will be to line up a pretend friendly for Celtic against the ‘Area 51 All Stars’ in Nevada, and then kidknap them when they get off the bus.

However, in the extremely unlikely event of Celtic not falling for this cunning ruse, the Sharkjumpians will simply teleport all the players to their ship while they sleep. There really is no hiding place for them.”

The sudden intergalactic disappearance of the best Celtic players will be a huge disappointment to the Parkhead faithful, but our alien contact believes it will be good news for Rangers* fans.

“With a weakened Celtic side and Pedro Caixinha’s big plans backed by Dave King, this is sure to be the season when Rangers* return to their rightful place at the top of Scottish football. If I were a Rangers* fan and not a [*cough*] anonymous source from a distant world, I would certainly be snapping up an Ibrox season book now by calling the number at the bottom of this page.

I definitely wouldn’t wait until after the Sharkjumpians have abducted the best Celtic players. My advice is to buy early and buy often.”

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#KeepOnClumping

NB Remember folks, it’s just a bit of fun…

Celtic, Media, Satire, Scottish Football

9-In-A-Row 20 Years On: Billy McStaunch Tells Us What Happened Next


Good Evening.

Sadly no newspaper will be printing this as part of a series of pull-out supplements… 😉

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9-In-A-Row 20 Years On: Billy McStaunch Tells Us What Happened Next

May 9, 1998 is a day that Rangers fan Billy McStaunch will never forget.

For it was on that day that the previously unstoppable Rangers tanks were turned back by the luckiest military manoeuvre since ‘Colonel’ Parker got Elvis to sign on the dotted line.

Somehow the impossible happened and Celtic fluked a league title with a 2-0 win over St Johnstone. Flukey flukey flukey Celtic.

Ten-in-a-row parties were cancelled, your author allegedly cried himself to sleep every night for several years, and nothing was ever the same again. Except that it WAS because Rangers are still the world’s most successful club and are going for 55 again next year. 

One eyewitness to that awful May day has given us an exclusive insight to what that lucky, doesn’t-really-count Celtic title meant to him.

Billy McStaunch followed the Light Blues everywhere during the nine-in-a-row years and can vividly remember the impact of Celtic thwarting their bid to go out on their own with the Ten.

“Bastards”, said Billy. “Bastard f*cking bastardy bastards.”

“Cheating State-Aided, traitorous stinking bastards. That was our title. Our ten-in-a-row. Absolute f*cking c*nts”.

Billy still feels the impact of his beloved Gers missing out on what would have been their greatest domestic achievement.

“C*nts, all of them.”

“Wim Jansen – managerial c*nt.”

“Henrik Larsson – overrated c*nt.”

“Harald f*cking Brattbakk – just a c*nt.”

“Peter Liewwell – he scored that day didn’t he? Absolute c*nt.”

“Fergus bastarding McCann. What a c*nt. Who did he think he was? David Murray had bought that success for Rangers and McCann came along and stole it. The c*nt.”

Billy and his friends have formed an informal support group to deal with the continuing grief they feel following that disappointing day.

“Aye. We drink a case of Buckie and kick the living sh*t out of an anvil with a Celtic scarf  wrapped round it. A bastarding Celtic scarf. We then spend the rest of the week in A&E before doing it all over again the following weekend. We haven’t been to a game since 1998.”

Asked whether nine-in-a-row wasn’t worth celebrating despite it only drawing Rangers level with Celtic’s record, Billy was unequivocal in his response.

“F*ck off! No one is equal to the mighty Gers! Our Nine is way better than Celtic’s. Theirs was just a bit better than Eight. Ours was almost a Ten. And it would have BEEN a Ten had it not been for those lucky Hooped bastards in 1998.”

“C*nts all of them. Now, when is David Murray going to buy us two European Cups?”

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#KeepOnClumping

NB Remember folks, it’s just a bit of fun…

Celtic, Satire, Scottish Football, Sevco, SPFL

How Sevco Can Dominate Scottish Football


Good Evening.

As you might expect, The Clumpany greatly enjoyed yesterday’s 5-1 demolition of the artist pretending to be Rangers.

The Big Lie that Sevco are one and the same as Rangers is one of the great piss-takes of our time, and it is utterly wonderful to see the one thing that even the most wibble-minded liquidation-deniers can’t bluster away. Repeated defeats by Celtic, interspersed with systematic pumpings can only lead the hardcore of creditor-mockers to conclude that they really aren’t watching Rangers.

It is a thing of beauty.

Almost as beautiful, in fact, as Celtic’s performance under the leadership of Brendan Rodgers and The Immense Scott Brown!

I must also say a quick word about Leigh Griffiths, who really knuckled down to silence his critics after signing for Celtic, and played a huge part in delivering the 2015-16 title before finding himself often-sidelined this year. And yet despite this disappointment, Griffiths has stayed sufficiently focused to be able to deliver the kind of mangnificent goalscoring display we saw on Saturday, when given the chance.

Leigh Griffiths is a classy performer.

And then there was his celebration, which made you wonder whether he is a one-man Celtic screensaver machine…


Ooft!

However, all of the above is by way of introduction to the main point of this piece.

Ever the altruist, The Clumpany thought it should make a big effort to rally the Sevconian faithful in their hour of darkness. As such, I decided to seek some informed opinion on how their beloved ‘club’ can turn things around, overcome Celtic and [*cough*] ‘return’ to the top of Scottish football.

Here is what my specially-convened and highly-appropriate expert panel had to say in response to the question “what can Sevco/ Rangers* do to become the top club* in Scottish football?”.

Noted TV personality Sooty the glove puppet had nothing to say.

Rod Hull’s former partner, Emu had nothing to say.

The late Harpo Marx somehow made himself available for interview, but had nothing to say. 

The late Marcel Marceau also miraculously agreed to an interview, but had nothing to say. 

The late Buster Keaton also took some unlikely time out to impart a few home truths, but had nothing to say.

Marina from classic TV show Stingray had nothing to say.

Raymond Teller took time out from his magic shows with Penn Jillette to offer a comment, but had absolutely nothing to say.

Maggie Simpson may be no stranger to dummies, but sadly she had nothing to say either.

Finally, Godot didn’t arrive in time for the interview but we believe he would have had nothing to say.

I must admit that despite my best efforts it isn’t looking good for my plan to generate some well-founded optimism regarding Sevco’s future prospects. 

But hang on a minute! Whose is this shrill upbeat cry of hope that I hear?

Ah look!


It’s ‘Flipper’, the legendary TV dolphin!


What’s that Flipper? You want to offer your views on Sevco?


You think you know what’s wrong, Flipper?


You think they are totally f*cked, Flipper?


A prisoner of their appropriated history, misplaced superiority complex and addiction to waiting for a Sugar Daddy, Flipper?


You think they aren’t helped by a mainstream media which would rather keep saying ‘Old Firm’ at random intervals than ask anyone at Ibrox a few searching questions on the record, Flipper?


Yes I did hear you say ‘f*cked’, Flipper…

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You can’t say that The Clumpany didn’t try…

#KeepOnClumping

Celtic, Media, Satire, Scottish Cup, Sevco

Pedro’s Water Torture

Picture via @AlisonGConroy

Good Evening.

Well done to Celtic on making it to the Scottish Cup Final, where they will face Aberdeen. I can’t wait. It promises to be a great occasion between the two best sides in Scotland.

Commiserations to Sevco who were distinctly second best in all departments today. Apart from Joe Garner, who remarkably managed to be third best in everything he did in a two horse race.

Despite crashing out, Sevco are still confident of a home tie in the next round and have offered the SFA the use of their microwave if it is needed. 😉

Willie Collum managed not to be completely horrific in every decision he made, which presumably now makes him Scotland’s top referee. Nevertheless, his failure to send Andy Halliday off for this early ‘challenge’ is utterly inexplicable:

Andy Halliday sends Patrick Roberts into next week

Perhaps Collum and his fellow match officials were simply struck dumb by the sight of a player using an actual scythe to bring down an opponent? Whatever the case, the decision still stinks many hours later. 

People complain about fussy refereeing preventing football from being a contact support, but Collum’s failure to award a red card here is an absolute joke. If that ‘tackle’ had appeared in an episode of Casualty, the BBC would probably have been inundated with complaints about showing gratuitous violence.

The Clumpany was most disappointed, however, with Scotland’s Player of the YearJoey Barton who managed to have an even quieter game than he did during the 5-1 mauling earlier this season. What’s going on Joey? You won’t get an enhanced contract from the proceeds of Barrie McKay’s £6m move to RB Leipzig if you don’t buck up your ideas soon!

Barton’s display was once again a complete contest to that of Scott Brown, who was absolutely immense. Brown’s masterclass was a particular shame given how a number of pundits have been howling with outrage at Celtic ‘playing the system’ to allow him to play by appealing his red card against Ross County….

However, the main point I wanted to dwell upon today was the above-pictured curious display from Paperwork Pedro at his post-match press conference. 

In his Sky interview, Pedro was pretty magnanimous about Celtic’s victory, reflecting the genuinely warm words he seemed to exchange with Brendan Rodgers on the pitch after the game. Fair play to him for that. But what was going on at the press conference? Alison Conroy tells us the following 


What possible insight into Sevco’s display could be offered by those liquid-filled glasses?

Over to you Pedro… 😉

“This glass is filled with the tears of my friends in the press who really didn’t want Scott to play. He had a great game. Which gives me no pleasure as I am clearly not an admirer of Celtic Football Club. As the PR man told me.”

“Next to that glass we have a sample of the piss you have all been taking this week by discussing the ‘Old Firm’. Is it not enough that I have the best squad in Scotland to entertain the fans? Why do you need to upset the face-painter and remind other people of painful unpaid bills? I am going to get into trouble for saying that aren’t I? What was that thing I said at my first press conference about ‘history’? Please print that instead.”

“The third glass is where I keep my pet shark. A Celtic fan I know who is [*cough*] also called Pedro Caixinha suggested that I should call the shark ‘Liquidation’. So I did. I like to put on waterskis and jump over him. I have recently broken my waterskis but understand that one of you might be able to lend me some. Is there anyone from the Afternoon Shark-Jump newspaper here? I think that is what my favourite blogger calls it.”

“The fourth glass is from the Chairman’s personal collection. It is called Chateau de War Chest, and is apparently the world’s first completely colourless and odourless red wine.”

“And finally, the fifth glass is what I have called ‘Joe Garner’s Sparkling Water’. You may think that it looks like tepid, lukewarm, still water which has algae growing in it, and which flatters to deceive. In response I would say ‘Well done! Now you know why I have named it after Joe Garner’.”

#KeepOnClumping

Celtic, Media, Scottish Cup, Scottish Football, Sevco

A Complete Lack Of Imagination


Good Evening.

Imagine the scene.

You’ve got a Scottish newspaper or radio/ TV show to fill with football-related items. 

You look at the weekend’s fixtures and note that as well as there being a substantial league programme, there are also two Scottish Cup semi-finals taking place, featuring the holders and the three top sides in the Premiership. 

Celtic are chasing a Treble, Aberdeen are looking to win their first Scottish Cup in a long time to cement their resurgence of recent years, Sevco are seeking their first ever major trophy, and Hibs are (were!) looking to repeat their remarkable triumph of 2016.

What’s more, all of the sides have sizeable followings and managers with a point to prove. So, in short, the semi-final line-up is very tasty. With plenty of angles to cover and stories to tell.

The Glasgow Derby is undoubtedly the more attention-grabbing of the two ties, bringing together as it does the two biggest-supported sides in Scotland and containing intriguing sub-plots around Brendan Rodgers, Pedro Caixinha, Scott Brown, questions about the standard of refereeing, and the relative form of the two sides.

Cup semi-finals are nearly always – on paper at least – absolute crackers and something to look forward to. This particular set of semi-finals is perhaps above average in terms of the sense of anticipation that surrounds them.

So, overall, if you worked in the press you are likely to find that there is plenty to say about the games, and a willing audience who wants to hear it.

All of which begs the question of why oh why oh why do some outlets seem to think that the most appropriate way to cover the semi-finals is to overwhelmingly focus on only one of them and produce output which goes something like this:

“Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm, Old Firm”.

It won’t take you more than half a second of searching on Google to find the sort of articles to which I am referring.

I am inclined to suggest that this rampant Old Firmery is simply the product of a lack of imagination. Much of the press has ‘always’ covered Scottish football like this and they have little appetite for turning off the autopilot. Why produce interesting takes on the semi-finals when there is some familiar old crap that you can simply dust down?

The alternative is to suspect that some truly spectacular liquidation-denial is occurring. A systematic attempt to pretend that something we all saw didn’t actually occur. The problem with that, of course, is that it insults our intelligence and mocks 276 stiffed creditors (including every taxpayer in the U.K.) in a manner which suggests that Scottish football is some sort of moral vacuum which is to be cherished!

But surely no one working at a mainstream media outlet would have the nerve to do such a thing, would they?

Whatever the truth, the liberal deployment of Old Firmery is piss-taking of the highest order, which deserves our utter contempt.

#KeepOnClumping