The Battle of Montevideo: Celtic Under Siege

 

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The Battle of Montevideo: Celtic Under Siege by Brian Belton; The History Press; 159 pages illustrated throughout b/w; £12.99 paperback

If you have “Tears in Argentina” by Tom Campbell, this book would not be out of place beside it on the shelf. Unlike Campbell’s excellent account of the three games that made up the 1967 World Club Championship, Brian Belton’s book, 40 years in gestation, attempts to explain the extraordinarily alien environment the players and management found themselves in when they got to South America and discovered that they had entered a world where they must have imagined themselves, in terms of their football environemnt, “Isolated in a mad place full of boggling insanity and populated by starey-eyed lunatics, foaming with simmering aggression that sporadically and unpredictably boiled over into raw hatred and named violence.”

While this description could apply to Ibrox stadium on a Saturday afternoon, there’s no doubt that in Argentina and Uruguay at that time the Celts were, “Strangers in a strange land, they were surrounded; under siege physically, geographically, spiritually and psychologically.”

Belton accounts for the attitude of Celtic’s hosts – at first a fascination akin to ‘What do they think they are doing coming here’, the “deeply observational gaze of a foe studying an enemy trying to gain clues about how to destroy them from ‘tells’ of demeanour” – by providing us with some background to the nature of South American football, specifically as it developed in Argentina and Uruguay. The early incarnations of the World Cup, the Copa Libertadores and the shaping of football culture in Latin america are covered, as is the history of Racing Club.

No less interesting are Belton’s reflections on the various incarnations of the World Club Championship itself and what it came to represent for South American clubs offered the opportunity to act out “manifestations of the national personality of defiance, independence and solidarity” against what was perceived in many quarters to be representatives of European colonialism. The fervour and passion that South American fans have for their club sides reached fevere pitch when it came to the Copa or the World Club Championship.

As a 12-year-old living in Montevideo at the time of the game Belton is in a better position than most Celtic historians to gauge the mood in the city at the time. He describes his joy at getting his hands on tickets for the deciding match and his unexpected chance of meeting his heroes outside their hotel:

“I spent hours outside the Victoria Plaza Hotel hoping to catch a glimpse of the players’ arrival. But when they did turn up we got more time to look at them than we expected. The Scots got to the hotel to find that their rooms were not available. However, the Celtic directors… were told that an unusual number of prostitutes had recently been seen in the hotel and that there was the potential that the Celtic players would be ‘compromised’ by the call girls. According to the Uruguayan FA they did not ‘put anything past’ Argentine clubs. With the exception of Jock Stein, the Celtic officials were observant Catholics, so the manager made arrangemnts to immediately brief his players of the situation. Quite what they did with the news is anybody’s guess.”

The part played by the head injury to Ronnie Simpson in the first match in Argentina is perhaps a bit over-stated, the premise being that with Ronnie in goal – with his calming influence over his less experienced team mates – in that hostile stadium the result might have been different, but apart from that, this is a fascinating history of a remarkable football match. The accompanying photographs, many of which I hadn’t seen before and which feature the players off the field in Montevideo, enhance the narrative and to me added to the sense of atmosphere conveyed by Belton.

In his conclusion, the author argues that the fall-out from the three games played in 1967, far from being a footnote in the history of Celtic which until fairly recently was spoken of, if at all, in hushed tones, was actually “a catalyst for changing the world game.” The cynicism and gamesmanship employed by Racing Club have, albeit in a watered-down form, been adopted by almost every major club participating in big competitions (and domestic leagues) while the ‘Europeanisation’ of Latin American footballers has in turn diluted the worst excesses of South American hostility towards Europe in a football context: “This is what I think of as the meaning of what Celtic and Racing did just over four decades ago. strange as it may seem it built bridges; it was a start. as all beginnings it was something of a ‘big bang’. Unlike the intercontinental clashes that took place before, northern Europe was brought into the mix, and Britain, the place where football began – the last bastion of the old ways. Games between national sides did not have the same power; they could not wholly represent the roots of tradition that existed in places like Glasgow and Avalleneda.”

The last word goes to Jimmy McGrory, who wrote to the author in 1976 on the subject of the ill-fated South American adventure:
“I am not sure if two teams and two or three games make a World Championship or what being able to say a team are world champions is worth. For Celtic supporters, Celtic will always be the best team in the world and no trophy will prove that better or less. The idea is that if Celtic does not win, the team will win the next time. Football might be about winning, but it is more about the hope of winning. If Celtic were guaranteed to win every game there would not be much point in coming to watch games. Successful teams know that losing is not an end in itself but a lesson in how they might win. That probably is the biggest lesson to be learned from Celtic’s experience in South America in 1967. That is what I hope.”

A lesson a few of us could do well to remember the next time we are on the receiving end of a bad result.

Overall another worthy addition to the Celtic library and an NTV recommendation.

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Resolution 12 Update

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At the last AGM in 2016 Celtic chairman Ian Bankier stated: “We continue to meet with shareholders representatives on resolution 12. We understand they have received communication from UEFA on the issue and we will meet with the shareholders next week to understand that communication and how they are moving forward.”

That communication from UEFA is at the end of this article. It not only contains the reasons why UEFA did not wish to progress the matter further, one of which was UEFA considered the current club/company (TRFC/TRIFC) operating from Ibrox to be a new club under Article 12 of UEFA FFP, itself designed to protect the integrity of UEFA competitions, (a concept seemingly alien to the SFA), it also left the door open for Celtic, as a member of the SFA to raise the matter with UEFA if they so wished.

Accordingly Celtic met a shareholders’ representative in the following week to prepare for a full meeting in December 2016.

At that meeting the shareholders’ representatives, having taken the matter as far as UEFA would allow in further correspondence with them at end of September 2016, passed responsibility to pursue the issue with UEFA to Celtic along with all evidence legitimately gathered during 2016.

They also advised Celtic to wait for both the Craig Whyte trial to run its course as well as the final Supreme Court decision on the use of EBTs by Rangers FC to pay players for their employment with RFC, both due mid-2017.

Roll on the summer of 2017 and the Supreme Court ruled that Rangers had used EBTs in an irregular manner to avoid paying due tax to HMRC, a matter that the SFA wish to draw a curtain over on the basis of not raking over old coals (in spite of those coals still smoldering profusely with the reek of blatant dishonesty, which the SFA were a party to in an attempt to minimise the consequences of more than 10 years of cheating by a member club, which the SFA had indications of from 2009 following questions from HMRC.

Significantly in Resolution12 terms, it emerged in the Craig Whyte trial that Rangers had accepted liability on 21st March 2011 with no dispute for the £2.8m tax due from their use of Discount Option Scheme EBTs in 2000/2002. (The wee tax case.)

This acceptance rendered the £2.8m an overdue payable at 31st March 2011 under UEFA FFP Article 50, a status confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2013 when Greek club Giannina FC appealed against a refusal by UEFA to accept their application for a UEFA license in circumstances that very closely mirrored those in March 2011 at RFC, including Giannina’s use of private agreements, which UEFA deemed breached fair presentation of their accounts and a reason to refuse a license.

This admission at the Craig Whyte trial contrasted with the justification for granting the license quoted by Stewart Regan, SFA CEO, in a draft he sent for clearance to Andrew Dickson at RFC on 7th December 2011 in which Regan’s justification for granting was a letter from RFC Accountants Grant Thornton dated 30th March 2011.

That letter, according to Regan, said: “All the recorded payroll taxes at 31 December 2010 have, according to the accounting records of the Club since that date, been paid in full by 31 March 2011, with the exception of the continuing discussion between the Club and HM Revenue and Customs in relation to a potential liability of £2.8m associated with contributions between 1999 and 2003 into a discounted option scheme. These amounts have been provided for in full within the interim financial statements.”

Regan then added in his draft (that the SFA never published after discussions, at which both Craig Whyte and Campbell Ogilvie were present in mid December2011): “Since the potential liability was under discussion by Rangers FC and HM Revenue & Customs as at 31st March 2011, it could not be considered an overdue payable as defined by Article 50. We are satisfied that the evidence from all parties complied with Article 50 and, on that basis, a licence was awarded for season 2011-12.”

The idea that the liability was potential and under discussion was then carried to RFC Interim Accounts dated 1st April 2011 where the liability was referred to under

Exceptional item (note 1) £1,870. as
Note 1: The exceptional item reflects a provision for a potential tax liability in relation to a Discounted Option Scheme associated with player contributions between 1999 and 2003. A provision for interest of £0.9m has also been included within the interest charge.

In his covering statement Rangers Chairman Alistair Johnson said: “The exceptional item reflects a provision for a potential tax liability in relation to a Discounted Option Scheme associated with player contributions between 1999 and 2003. Discussions are continuing with HMRC to establish a resolution to the assessments raised.”

Neither the Note nor covering statement nor the Grant Thornton letter are a true representation of the circumstances at 31st March 2011.

It was confirmed in the Craig Whyte court testimony that the liability was no longer potential at 31st March, Rangers having accepted on 21st March 2011 that they owed HMRC £2.8M. Any discussions thereafter were not about disputing the liability but agreeing terms to pay a back tax liability with its genesis in 2001. There was no dispute, but this misleading message of ongoing discussions was carried forward in the subsequent monitoring submissions made by RFC under Craig Whyte, after his takeover of RFC in May 2011, on 30th June (Art 66) and 30th September 2011. (Art 67).

When it emerged at the trial that the above justification for granting a licence was questionable, the SFA had no alternative but to instigate an investigation by their Compliance Officer, whose job, it is understood, is to gather together all relevant material and decide if there is a case to answer.

That case should not just focus on the part of RFC in this saga but also that of the SFA in terms of whether they used all their powers to first establish the true status of the liability, then did they cover up the truth when it became evident an overdue payable existed in August 2011 when Sherriff Officers called at Ibrox to collect the£2.8m overdue.

At time of writing on 25th October 2017 that SFA investigation is still underway and Celtic FC are waiting for the due SFA judicial process to run its course in order to be able to respond to Resolution 12 and shareholders.

In 2013 Celtic’s official response to the Resolution, based on what they were told by the SFA at the end of 2011, was that the Resolution was unnecessary.

If no acceptable explanation that clearly demonstrates that neither RFC nor the SFA have a case to answer emerges from the Compliance Officer investigation, pre-or post the AGM on 15th November 2017, then Celtic will have to decide if

a) they are going to stand by their initial stance that the Resolution is unnecessary or

b) pass Resolution 12 and take the matter to UEFA or

c) justify not doing so to their shareholders.

The club are keeping shareholder’s representatives in the picture as matters develop.

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It should be noted with reference to the UEFA response from Andrea Traverso (see pages 8 and 9), Head of Club Licensing at UEFA to the shareholders representative’s lawyers in June 2016 that the five-year period to investigate had elapsed (due in no short measure to the SFA’s reluctance themselves to investigate in 2015) that during the Craig Whyte trial this was stated: “In explaining the law on fraud generally, Mr Prentice Advocate Depute told the jury fraud involved a “ false pretense, dishonestly made in order to bring about some definite practical result” and suggested “it is not necessary that the result should be actual gain to the offender or loss to someone”.

This is a definition that would appear to apply to statements made by RFC in March/April 2011 and thereafter and there is no statute of limitations on investigation where corruption may have occurred, so option (b) is still open although there are other lesson learning reasons why UEFA should be involved.

AULDHEID

For those interested in the details an account of Res12 lawyer’s activity with UEFA prior to and after the Traverso response can be viewed on line at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6uWzxhbIAt9c FU2UVJyVlZXY1k/view?usp=sharing

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Includes paper copy and PDF.

 

Putting on the Style… 60 years later

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Turning on the agony, putting on the style

And 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 scoring all the while …

 

Chorus
Oh Hampden in the sun,
Celtic 7 Rangers I,
That was the score when it came time up,
The Glasgow Celtic had won the cup,

I see Tully running down the line,
He slips the ball past Valentine,
It”s nodded down by ‘Teazy Weazy’
And Wilson makes it look so easy

chorus

I see Mochan beating Shearer,
The League Cup trophy’s coming nearer,
He slams in an impossible shot.
The Rangers team has had their lot

chorus

Over comes a great high ball,
McPhail is up above them all,
The ball and Billy’s head have met,
A lovely sight ‘cos it’s in the net

chorus

Young Sam Wilson has them rocked,
Unluckily his shot is blocked,
Then big McPhail with a lovely lob,
Makes it look such an easy job,

chorus

Now here is Mochan on the ball,
He runs around poor Ian McColl
Georgie Niven takes a daring dive,
But Mochan makes it number five,

chorus

Down the middle runs Billy McPhail,
With Valentine right on his tail,
With a shot along the ground,
The cup’s at Parkhead safe and sound
chorus

Here comes Fernie, cool and slick,
He ambles up to take the kick,
He hits it hard and low past Niven,
The Tims are in their Seventh Heaven,

chorus

When Celtic went 3:0 up against Rangers in the 6:2 game, Ian Croker remarked in his his commentary for Sky that, “This is the stuff that Celtic dreams are made of”. Sorry Ian, but I’m plumping for the final score of the 1957 League Cup final, an eight goal thriller, the thought of which, even 55 years later (and for someone who hadn’t even been born yet) still brings a smile and a cheery thought.

David Potter describes how, on 20th October 2001, “Celtic introduced some of the 7-1 team to the crowd before a Premier League game against Dundee United. Sadly, only four could attend. Beattie, Evans, Mochan and Tully had died, McPhail was ill, Donnelly lived in South Africa, Wilson declined the invitation and thus the remnants of that fine side were Sean Fallon, distinguished and venerable; Bobby Collins, instantly recognisable from his build; Willie Fernie, with a lot less hair and the dapper and elegant Bertie Peacock. Deservedly, Parkhead rose to them, forty years on.”

For a reminder of why, read the Herald’s match report by Cyril Horne (below) which revelled in the fact that skill will always win out over brute force. Plus ca change, as Zenedine Zidane might say.

And to begin our tribute to the 7: 1 team, some reminiscences of a Celtic fan who watched the game from the Rangers end at Hampden which appeared in “Oh Hampden In The Sun”, an excellent book about the game by Peter Burns and Pat Woods (Mainstream Publishing, 1997).

Gerry Heaney watched the match from the Rangers end that day, and recalls the scene:

As the game progressed the atmosphere of antipathy and hostility increased. The singing and chanting was loud and bigoted. The leader of the choir in our area was a big fella who was decked out in a hand knitted sweater complete with the knitted figure of King Billy on the front. The Sash was belted out time and again, as was ‘No Surrender’. I can remember a few verses of these songs to this day! At one point we mouthed the words quietly to kid on we were on their side!

My memories of the game are quite sketchy (perhaps because we were scared), but I do recall several things. McPhail and Wilson were a dynamic duo. They played off each other so well. This is borne out by their goals and assists stats in 1957-58, and Sammy did not produce so well when Billy retired in ‘58.

Willie Fernie was a wizard of the dribble. His body swerve was classical and left defenders swinging at the air. Like Jinky, he at times overdid it and tried to take on too many.

The skill of Celtic – passing, dribbling, heading, shooting – was far superior to the Gers and proved that discipline in defence, plus creativity and directness in attack, is superior to power and force. The score could easily have been 12-1 or 13-1.

I remember the Celtic end erupting after every goal, but there wasn’t anything like the amount of green and white colours being waved as there are today. I don’t think scarves, hats and banners were so much in vogue in those days. You saw very few people wearing these, except at games, and even then it was a minority who did so, mainly kids. The cheering was as spontaneous and enthusiastic as I remember in later years, but there was not the singing of team songs or songs for individual players like there is now.

There was a lot of cheering at the Rangers end when Rangers scored but it wasn’t sustained. There was a lot of drinking around us and that maybe led to their optimism for a comeback, which didn’t transpire, of course.

My final memory of the 7-1 game is the bottle throwing and mass exodus of the Forces of Darkness. Hundreds of fans threw their bottles down from the top and the middle of the terraces towards the field, but they landed mainly on their own fans – youngsters for the most part. I saw many people jumping on to the track bordering the field to escape the rain of glass missiles from above.

Most of the terracing was clear of fans after goal number five went in. At that point John and I ‘came out of the closet’ and cheered loudly as the Celts scored two more goals.

At the end of the game we stayed with the rest of the Celtic fans, waving our scarves happily and cheering till we were hoarse.

What an experience! What a team! Those heroes are legends in my mind and I hope my sons will live to see a Celtic side of that quality.

The long walk back to Ruthergren that day was like the end of a pilgrimage – we waved our scarves proudly at every passing bus and car and chanted the magic number: ‘SEVEN, SEVEN, SEVEN, SEVEN … ‘

The euphoria continued over to school on Monday. We reviewed every goal in much detail and I was a bit of a celebrity because of my account of my foray into the Rangers end. I may have embellished the account somewhat, but it added to the excitement that we all felt on that day.

I also remember going to mass on the Sunday after the game and seeing Sean Fallon there (he was in our parish – St. Columbkille’s). Years later when I saw him he looked his normal size and build about 5’8”, 180 Ibs. But on that day after the 7-1 game he seemed like GI Joe the super hero. To us he had attained legendary status as a result of that game, as did the rest of the squad. The goalie that day was Beattie, and a few years later he was involved in the bribery scandal in England. I resisted criticising him then because he had been part of that band of stalwarts in ‘57.

 

Celtic’s seven goal Triumph in League Cup Final
From Our Football Correspondent: Cyril Horne

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SKILL AND DISCIPLINE PREVAIL

Eleven football players of Celtic Football Club did more in 90 minutes at Hampden Park on Saturday for the good of football than officialdom, in whose hands the destiny of the game lies, has done in years and years. For with a display of such grandeur as has rarely graced the great vast ground they proved conclusively the value of concentration on discipline and on the arts and crafts of the game to the exclusion of the so-called power-play which has indeed been a disfiguring weakness in the sport but which has frequently been accredited through the awarding of international honours to the “strong men”.

BRILLIANT FERNIE

 

So devastating an effect had Fernie, the forward turned winghalf, on Rangers, who before the rout of Saturday were still considered as difficult opposition as could be found the length and breadth of the football land, that the Scottish international selectors must surely now be considering whether they should destroy forthwith the impression that certain players are indispensible for future internationals and build their sides round this wonderful footballer who achieves his purpose without the merest suggestion of relying on physique and who suffers the rude, unfair attempts of opponents to stop him without a thought of retaliation.

Though Rangers Football Club may not immediately be in the mood to agree, they cannot surel y in the near furure but decide to change their policy on tbe field. I am not one who is going to charge their players of Saturday with the ultimate responsibility for the club’s humiliation, badly as most of them performed. The culprits are those who have, encouraged by results at the expense of method, not discouraged the he-man type of game that has become typical of the side in recent years. I have seen Celtic teams in years gone by no better disciplined and no better equipped for their task from the point of view of skill than the present Rangers, but the Celtic management have long since realised that constructive football will in the end receive the greater reward.

OTHER MCPHAIL

Not since their brilliant Coronation Cup days at Hampden have Celtic played football of such quality. One recalls that in the 1953 triumph a slightly corpulent John McPhail played havoc with Arsenal, Manchester United
and Hibernian through masterly control and passing of the ball; now the younger, slimmer Billy McPhail has joined Fernie, Tully and company in the bewildering of Rangers by the same methods.

Valentine, not long ago a commanding figure on this same ground, was a forlorn bewitched centre-half on Saturday, repeatedly beaten in the air and on the ground in a variety of ways, and the disintegration of Rangers’ defence undoubtedly stemmed from McPhail’s mastery. But it did not begin with Valentine’s plight.

Celtic introduced Mochan to outside left and that player seized his opportunity as if it were his last. His pace and penetrative dribbling and apparently new-found zest for the game had Shearer in a dreadful dither almost from the first kick of the ball. So Shearer decided to test Machan’s physical strength and straightaway was decisively beaten in that respect too. Thereafter McColl was so busily engaged as an extra right-back that great gaps appeared on that side of the field.

In the first 20 minutes Celtic might have scored at least four goals and indeed were inordinately unlucky not to score at least two when Collins and then Tully hit the wood around Niven. Rangers’ first scoring effort was Murray’s in the 20th minute, but it was blocked by the shrewd intervention of Evans, throughout a centre-half of absolute competence.

Three minutes later McPhail headed down to Wilson and the inside-left, without waiting for the ball to touch the ground, bulged the net from 12 yards. Before Mochan scored Celtic’s second goal the frantic leap from Niven and again the crossbar stopped another 30 yard free-kick driven with such power by Collins as a stranger would not associate with one of his stature.

FIERCE SHOT

Mochan’s goal in the final minute of the half ended fittingly superb play by McPhail, who after engaging in a heading movement with Wilson, lofted the ball over Shearer to the galloping outsideleft. Shearer went full length in a desperate attempt to tackle and McColl was also stretched on the ground. Machan cut in and from the near touchline hurtled his shot into the far corner of the net.

Rangers began the second half with the wind in their favour and with the sun now in the eyes of the Celtic defenders but, alarmingly for their followers, with Murray, a knee bandaged at outside-left, Simpson at centre-forward and Scott and Hubbard forming the right wing. Murray, be it noted, had injured himself in trying to tackle Evans from behind and been penalised for his pains.

Soon Fernie was travelling half the length of the field again and running his opponents into the ground, and it was a demoralised defence that lost the third goal, headed by McPhail when Collins crossed. Five minutes later Simpson, with an exhilarating dive and header, scored from McColl’s cross; it was noticable that this was the first chance permitted by Evans who minutes earlier had been injured. Of that injury more will follow.

NAME TAKEN

Baird soon afterwards had his name taken by the referee who apparently detected an infringement committed against Wilson not obvious from the press box, and in the final 23 minutes McPhail (now toying with Valentine), Mochan, McPhail again amd Fernie from a penalty kick completed the humiliation. During that period Niven, Shearer and Valentine were so panic-stricken that any one of them might have joined the list of Celtic goalscorers.

The advantage of the tall goalkeeper over the short was never more clear than in this match. Beattie, whose chief worry was the harrassing tactics of opponents – I cannot recall a Celtic player making contact with Niven – gave his fellow defenders confidence with perfect handling and timing of his interceptions. Donnelly continues to make a reputation as the most promising back in Scotland and Fallon again reduced the ill-supported Scott to a hapless young man, prominent after the first ten minutes only for unsuccessful attempts to provoke his stronger wiser opponent.

Never have I seen Rangers so outclassed in halfback play; Fernie, Evans and Peacock were, each in his own distinguyished way, tremendous players in everything but brawn and bulk.

 

TULLY’S FEAT

No one Celt, however, but did not contribute handsomely to the team’s glorious dlty. The effect of the now restrained, but clever as ever Tully, should not be minimised. Perhaps only Fernie of all footballers in Scotland could have emulated Tully’s first-half feat of ball manipulation which enabled him to ouitwit Baird, Davis, Valentine and Cal dow. Then as his team-mated poised themselves for the chip back from the goal line, Tully struck like lightning and the ball cannoned off the very edge of the near post, passed between Niven and the goal-line and out of play beyond the post. The goal of a century had been within half an inch of achievement.

I have mentioned the injury to Evans. It occurred when the score was 1-0 and Baird was leading up to his caution. Baird had been admonished earlier for his treatment of Fernie, but when he brought down Evans after the centre-half had dribbled round him, the wqhole Celtic team ceased playing. Astonishingly Mr Mowat waved the game on – one wonders of he become obsessed with the advantage rule and in a moment of aberration had given the advantage to the offender and Beattie had to make the save of the day as Murray promptly accepted the gift of a scoring chance.

That was Mr Mowat’s one mistake and he can be pardoned that, in view of his excellent refereeing. Without a referee with his power of control we would almost certainly not have seen Celtic’s superb football.

 

Celtic: Beattie, Donnelly, Fallon, Fernie, Evans, Peacock, Tully, Collins, McPhail, Wilson, Machan.

Rangers: Niven, Shearer, C”ldow, McColl, Valentine, Davis, Scott, Simpson, Murray, Baird, Hubbard,

Referee: Mr, J-kMowatt, Burnside,

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NTV 252

On sale from September 16th.

252 cover for twitter

Includes paper copy and PDF.

 

Jabba’s Dream Job…

comic story 1
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comic story 3

Jabba ‘James’ Traynor

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‘A long time ago in a galaxy, far, far away…’

Well that’s quite enough lines from the George Lucas Space Opera but the line nevertheless serves as an appropriate introduction to one of the more bizarre, grotesque and ludicrous inmates of the crypt.

At time of writing this piece Jabba Traynor had not been – officially – employed by The Rangers or the company with a similar name which went into liquidation in the summer of 2012 but you’d never have guessed it.

Though perhaps not the most shamelessly biased apologist for the worst Ibrox had to offer – a title held previously by Willie Allison and then, probably, by David Leggat – he had been the most persistently high profile and, superficially, articulate. Rumour had it that Ol’ Jabbs is set to become Head of Public Relations (or some similarly pompous title) at Sevco. Neither Traynor nor I believe all that much of what we read on internet websites and blogs and I have to say that this story really strikes me as being too convenient to be true but if it is it will be the final step in a long journey to his spiritual home for Jabba.

One that began a long time ago in a North Lanarkshire, far, far, away.

Born in 1953 in the Lanarkshire town of Airdrie Traynor was a keen and, one assumes, thinner version of his later self. He was lithe enough to be offered schoolboy forms to sign for his local club but instead Jabba chose to enter the fourth estate and had become a sports journalist by his early twenties.

By the late eighties he had become the chief football writer on what was then known as the Glasgow Herald. That newspaper had had a few decent writers in its recent past such as Ian Archer and Jim Reynolds and initially Traynor seemed a worthy enough columnist and pundit. Perhaps a bit too purple in the prose and, as I discovered when he phoned me up in response to a letter I had written to his paper in which very mild criticism of one of his columns appeared, somewhat thin skinned, but far from totally objectionable.

The early nineties was a dark time for Celtic as well as being, by all accounts legitimately, a successful one for Rangers. Traynor wrote several articles which were critical of Celtic’s failing board – not dissimilar in feel to contemporaneous articles in NTV in fact – and he backed the winning horse by supporting Fergus McCann and the rebels as they sought to take over Celtic.

Although few would have felt that Jabbs – by 1994 already significantly portlier than in his playing days – was much of a Celtic sympathiser he seemed a million miles away from the slavish sycophancy towards Rangers adopted by his peers such as Chick Young, Ken Gallacher and the aforementioned Leggat. And then, because they paid him better, he joined the Daily ‘Getworse’ Express – at that time still a big seller though very much a low quality title which had seen much better days. For Traynor the once idealistic reporter the rot and cliches set in.

And he was getting fatter.

Traynor’s articles for the Getsworse were much more slackly written than in his Herald Days and it was clear that he yearned not to be the new Hugh McIlvanney but the next Alex Cameron and so inevitably after less than a year he joined Scotland’s then most widely read – and the world’s crappiest – daily newspaper the Daily Record or, as it has also been known, the Rectum and, more pertinently, the Daily Ranger.

Celtic won their first league title in a decade in Jabbs’ first season on his new paper but there was little that was congratulatory towards the club in Traynor’s pieces.

When Celtic played dreadfully in Zagreb in the second leg of a Champions’ League qualifier his assessment of the game seemed unusually personal in its criticism.

And then came a trip to the Channel Islands and an article which appeared in the Record on Thursday 19 November 1998 – two days before a Celtic versus Rangers match curiously enough*.

The piece is one long toadying apologia masquerading as an interview with the then Rangers chairman and main shareholder David Murray. The article itself can still be found in its servile entirety on the Internet but is remembered best for two words- ’succulent’ and ’lamb’.

A new career as the unofficial chief propagandist for Murray and Rangers- coupled with frequently vituperatively anti- Celtic articles such as one which appeared a couple of days after the infamous match of May 1999 refereed by Hugh Dallas – had begun.

And he was getting fatter.

I have to admit that over the fourteen years that have elapsed since the Succulent Lamb tribfest I have tried to avoid Traynor. As Radio Shortbread was marginally and arguably preferable to Radio Clyde in this period I tended to hear him pontificate on the phone-in show Your Call rather than read his prose in the Rectum but with the rise of Facebook and the regular regurgitation of parts of his by now dismal hack prose on various Celtic sympathising websites he became difficult to avoid.

Whatever the issue – whether it be the slavish adherence to Murray or the tolerance of the Famine Song as mere banter – he always seemed to be wrong.

When Rangers went first into Administration and then Liquidation Traynor was still steadfastly refusing to acknowledge that their downfall had had much to do with the stewardship of the club by David Murray whilst simultaneously propagating the myth that it was all that Craig Whyte’s fault, even though initially Jabba had been as welcoming to the one-time Billionaire as any fully paid up member of the Laptop Loyal could have been.

When in November of this year it was announced that the First Tax Tier Tribunal had deemed that though the Employee Benefit Scheme had been an aggressive attempt at tax avoidance it was not strictly speaking illegal this ‘glowing’ endorsement of Rangers in the first decade of this century was seen by Traynor as vindication of Murray and his club.

One wondered what, beyond some fine comestibles, Murray gave Traynor all those years ago.

On Monday the third of December 2012 Traynor’s last article appeared in the Record. The first half – an affectionate time looking back on his career in journalism – is pretty saccharine but for the second he dips his pen in vitriol and lambasts those ‘bilious types [that] have been allowed to emerge from the shadows and spew invective that sadly became regarded as fact’.

I’m not such an unqualified fan of the Internet Bampots myself but they revealed more of what was relevant about the conduct and morality of Rangers and David Murray since 1998 that Jabba Traynor was.

As a sign off piece overall it was the most self aggrandising, flatulently, pompous drivel since Dave Lee Travis resigned ‘on-air’ from Radio 1 in 1993.

What Jabba – now heftier than his cinematic namesake – does now he has hung up his laptop is mere speculation. That he is a worthy admission to the Crypt is not in question though.

Git.

 

JIM PAYNE

* Celtic won this match 5-1

STOP PRESS : The internet bampots strike again- Jabba became the new Director of Communications at The Rangers.

12 Arsehole Men

A rerun of a classic courtroom drama from 2012…

12 arsehole men page 1

12 arsehole men page 2