The Clumpany would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. I suspect that 2016 is unlikely to rank highly in many folks’ list of ‘best years ever’, so let us hope for better things for the world in 2017.
From a footballing perspective, New Years’ Eve brought to a close a truly remarkable first half of the season for Celtic. Champions League football, a League Cup, and a domestic league campaign of nineteen wins and one draw represents a phenomenal achievement by the club. As does their 19 point lead with a game in hand.
And while everyone will naturally salute Brendan Rodgers (who has had a transformative effect on the club from the moment his appointment was announced) and the players, we should also show our appreciation to the backroom staff, board and fans who have all made a huge contribution to the success of the past few months.
Football is a team game on and off the pitch and Celtic have been getting it right in both contexts so far. Let’s see what the second half of the season brings, but as we head into the winter break it seems reasonable to draw breath and reflect on a job well done to date. And remain on the board’s case about Resolution 12…
Naturally, I enjoyed today’s victory against Sevco. The manner of the win was very satisfying, and I would be telling a lie if I didn’t admit to savouring the Sevco cheerleaders in the media being made to squirm. Folk whose daily turd-polishing output wouldn’t know the truth if it dressed up as Lord Hodge and screamed in their faces “liquidation means death you jokers!”.
We have now reached the point where a significant proportion of the MSM’s Sevco output seems to consist of blatantly rewritten history and bullsh*t narratives about a rosy future. Facts, analysis and realism are strangers to pieces which are so fantastical that they are almost certainly written using dodo blood on dried unicorn skin.
Day after day, these imposters tell you that something which you saw occur didn’t actually happen. And then they get uppity when you challenge them! If it wasn’t so outrageous it would be pitiful.
I am sure the imminent January transfer window will see yet more Sevco tall tales wheeled out on a daily basis. And I am certain that the likes of you and me will be standing ready to laugh out loud at the patently obvious spin.
But before we launch into 2017, allow me to dwell on my two favourite football ‘moments’ of 2016. One of which I really didn’t enjoy at all.
The uncomfortable one was Celtic’s Champions League playoff round second leg against Hapoel Beer Sheva on 23 August. Having won the first leg at home 5-2 (a fantastic result which subsequently looked even better as Hapoel racked up some great results in the Europa League), Celtic lost the second leg 2-0 after a pretty abject and nerve-wracking display.
Celtic went through to the Group stages 5-4 on aggregate but the game was absolute torture. I am sure The Clumpany wasn’t the only one who felt sick as the minutes ticked by. With Celtic having been away from the Champions League for two seasons, and with so much potential excitement, money and prestige at stake, the game carried huge significance right at the start of the Rodgers era.
And Celtic made it!
The subsequent ride in the Group stage got off to a very bumpy start against Barcelona, but then continued in exciting and creditable fashion. The 3-3 draw against Manchester City will certainly live long in the memory.
But it only happened because Celtic made it through that agonising fixture against Hapoel, which I hated and strangely almost loved at the same time.
Would I go through it again? Hell yes!
My second ‘moment’ of the year is the Scottish Cup final, when Hibs dramatically beat Sevco 3-2 with THAT late David Gray winner. Yes I enjoyed seeing Sevco come a cropper, yes I loved seeing the colossal sense of entitlement displayed by some brought crashing down, yes I was appalled by some of the scenes after the game ended, and yes I would rather have seen Celtic lift the Cup.
But do you know something? David Gray’s goal, ending both a 114 year wait and the longest running joke in world football was absolutely magnificent.
David Gray: OOFT!
It was so fantastic that it prompted one of my most witty and incisive Tweets ever:
It was a moment of pure magic and you would have to have possessed a heart of stone not to be pleased for Hibs and their fans, whose post-match ‘Sunshine On Leith’ was utterly spellbinding:
Sunshine On Leith: Cup Final
Genuine football magic and a piece of history right here in Scotland. It was – and remains – something to treasure.
On a personal note, I would like to thank you all for your support during the year. Aside from all the hugely enjoyable interactions on Twitter, I am grateful for the 2.75 million blog hits and over one million visitors in 2016, as well as for the votes that got me to the final of the Football Blogging Awards for a second successive year.
Aside from the occasional need for a break, I enjoy writing my output and hope to continue it in the New Year.
This year’s Top 5 most popular blogs have been:
Dembele: My Champions League Wantaway Hell
Bad News For Rangers*?
Sevco v Hamilton: What REALLY Happened…
The Death Certificate
A Phone Call From Lionel Messi
The World Cup Of ‘Liquidation Lies’, which took place over the course of a week in February also proved very popular, and culminated in a glittering award ceremony attended by a very special guest.
Finally, please allow me to mention my two favourite MSM pieces this year. Both of which I discussed in ‘withering’ fashion.
Firstly, Gary Ralston of the Daily Record ‘losing his relationship with Rangers*’. I guffaw at this one every time I think about it!
A Vigil for The Daily Record
And secondly, Chris Jack of the Evening Shark-Jump suggesting that Scottish clubs don’t deserve a Champions League invite:
Let’s Not Bother With The Champions League
What was he thinking?!
Hope you all have a great evening and a Happy New Year.