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NTV 233 available from March 21st 2015. League Cup Final review, Stan Collymore, match reports, the earwig, Jock Stein appointment 50th anniversary feature, reviews of The Big Clubs and Pirates Punks and Politics and another tale from the Crypt.

www.ntvcelticfanzine.com

 

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The Big Clubs – a film by Joachim Kreck

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Originally, this film, made in 1974, was an occasional showing whenever Celtic Films visited supporters clubs for fund raisers. It was then released as a VHS video in the 90s by Connoiseur Video. A flick through the catalogue of Connoisseur Video would reveal a treasure trove of cult cinema classics by the likes of Wim Wenders, Jean Cocteau and prize-winning Estonian animator and political cartoonist Priit Pam; so It was something of a surprise when the above title arrived at NTV Mansions for review many years ago.

Now available to watch on Youtube, it’s a fascinating window into the past and well worth 45 minutes of your time whether you’ve never seen it before or vaguely remember it from the aforementioned Celtic Film night.

The film was made by a German documentary producer and sets out to explore the Celtic-Rangers phenomenon against a backdrop of pre-Mr Happy / Garden Festival Glasgow, at the time, undergoing what was euphemistically described by town-planners as a “facelift” (altogether now, it’ll be nice when it’s finished).

Read a full review and watch the film here.

 

The first Celtic fanzine

The Shamrock

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Not The View is proud to say that we are among the venerable old fanzines on the Scottish football scene. However, some twenty-odd years and over two hundred issues old as we may be, we ourselves were predated by some 26 years when it comes to Celtic fan publications.

“The Shamrock” was a supporters’ publication aimed directly at the real grassroots Celtic fans, and although it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when it first appeared, its heyday seems to have been between 1961 and 1963. A5 size and consisting of 8-12 pages of typed text which looks as if it might have reproduced by means of Gestetner skins, it was a hard-hitting piece of samizdat that proved to be remarkably ahead of its time. The period from the mid-sixties until the departure of Jock Stein might have silenced many of the club’s critics, but when the Big man departed the scene many of the issues highlighted by this early fanzine reappeared to haunt a board no longer able to paper over the perennial cracks.

It was published by the Shamrock Celtic Supporters Club in Edinburgh totally unofficially and was sold outside the stadium on the approaches to Celtic Park. The lack of official sanction will come as little surprise to anyone who manages to get hold of a few copies; the magazine took a virulently anti-board stance and was almost rabid in its condemnation of perceived injustices suffered by Celtic at the hands of the SFA and Scottish referees. Needless to say, it was equally uncompromising when it came to matters relating to Rangers.

The magazine reflected the frustration felt by the fans at a time when Celtic had failed to lift a trophy since thrashing Rangers in the 7:1 League Cup final of 1957. One particular source of irritation at the time was the famous ‘Youth Policy’ – get a player for nothing, bring him into the first team then sell him for as much as you could get – felt at the time to be doomed to failure.

Though they did give credit where it was due, much of the criticism they directed at the players and the board was highly personal in nature (big Yogi and Bob Kelly were two favourite targets). however, it seems that the views they were expressing on these issues were indeed widely held among the fans at the time, particularly among the habitués of the Jungle. Quite possibly ‘The Shamrock’ may have been one of the understated reasons why the board were so keen to launch Pravda in 1965 as their official organ.

There were more than a few passing resemblances between this scurrilous rag of the early Sixties and NTV, its equally scurrilous counterpart of the late eighties. While NTV bemoaned the lack of investment in a playing squad which had won the double during Celtic’s centenary season, The Shamrock had been preoccupied with precisely the same issue in 1963. Following a cup tie against Eyemouth, which had been won by 3:0, its contributors were far from happy about the way things were going on the pitch: “This form will not take the team to the final. Murdoch and Divers were missed, but it’s a bad job if they don’t have reserves to take their places.”

As in the 80s, this kind of criticism was given short shrift by the Celtic directors: “It is plain to see how this great club has come down. You get statements like, ‘If you are not happy stay away’” (September 1963).

Like NTV, space for readers’ letters was prominent in each issue. In the days before the internet, phone-ins and hotlines this gave fans perhaps their only channel to air what they considered to be their legitimate grievances, often with the wit of the terracing so noticeably lacking in po-faced and worthy official publications. One supporter, a Mr. J. Langan of Glasgow, wrote: “I agree with Jim Lappin regarding the present Celtic team. It must be galling for a man who can go back to the great Celtic teams of the past … to compare them with the men who are wearing the colours today. There’s only one thing in his favour; he’ll not be kept long in purgatory after all he has suffered at Parkhead.”

The dilapidated state of Celtic Park and its environs was another subject which vexed both The Shamrock in 1963 and Not The View a quarter of a century later. Parkhead in 1988 might have been a working Victorian museum and a monument to a bygone way of boardroom authoritarianism, but at least we had the luxury of a concrete terracing to stand on. Contributors to The Shamrock were still standing on banking made up of compacted shale faced off with disused railway sleepers. Inclement weather must have produced conditions reminiscent of the front lines at the Battle of Ypres: “Is it not time that Celtic did something about their terracing and get it concreted the same as a lot of clubs, some of them with a lot less money than us? The terracing in the Jungle is especially bad, so hurry up and get cracking … The outside and inside of Celtic Park should be improved as in parts you are up to your ankles in mud on a wet day… If this is Paradise then we could do with a touch of the other place to warm it up a bit.” (1963)

Needless to say, Scottish referees were as popular with The Shamrock’s editorial staff as they were in the 80s. Laughing in the face of libel laws, the magazine dropped subtle hints within its pages that perhaps the Men in Black were sometimes apt to show a certain bias towards Rangers (“The Rangers gave their players a large bonus this week. Did I hear someone say what about the referees?” – 1963) while the statistically-minded were busy compiling evidence for a compelling argument that referees seemed more inclined to award spot kicks when the player tumbling to the ground was wearing a blue jersey: “Rangers have been awarded ten penalty kicks this season and have had none awarded against them. There is no need to comment on this as it speaks for itself.”

The Shamrock advocated something more than passive acceptance of what they regarded as a continuing reluctance on the part of the football authorities to give the Celts a fair crack of the whip: “It is about time Celtic brought matters to a head with the SFA regarding the bad decisions given against them and never mind trying to be gentlemen. Willie Maley would never have stood for it, but then he was a real manager.”

This was typical of the type of scathing criticism this forerunner of the fanzines reserved for the board, then under the chairmanship of Sir Robert Kelly. Articles and letters condemning the youth policy and the club’s unwillingness to spend money on players appeared regularly while the magazine also championed the cause of a certain Baillie James Reilly, a noted critic of the directors in his day, who wanted to usurp power within Parkhead and actively encouraged fans to join the fledgling Celtic Supporters Association, which at that time was perceived as a potential pressure group for upholding the interests of ordinary supporters.

Ideas mooted in the magazine for taking away some of the influence of the board ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous (one writer actually suggested that Celtic should have elected members from supporters clubs present at team selection meetings) but some idea of the general tone can be gleaned from this editorial from October 1963 which was entitled “So Have The Mighty Fallen”:

“The decline of Celtic has reached such a stage that it cannot be tolerated any longer. The supporters must organise and the lead must be given by influential business and professional men, although every supporter has his part to play and if they could get the backing of old Celtic players in support of Jimmy Delaney’s outspoken criticism then they would certainly be making headway. They have been given a lead by Mr. Reilly.

“They could call a mass meeting on Glasgow Green on a Sunday and deliver an ultimatum to the Celtic board to get a real team on the park or get out.

“Otherwise they could boycott the games and that would certainly make an impression. After all, the supporters are the only part of the club that cannot be done without. They can replace players, trainers and even Mr. Kelly, but the support cannot be replaced, so I say to them;
Why should YOU complain
Who lead the club
Who finance the club
At what the club may do?
Why should YOU complain
Who are the club
THE CLUB MUST FOLLOW YOU!”

The extraordinary thing was that The Shamrock’s agenda was to prove almost Nostradamus-like in its foresight. I only hope the fans who produced it were around to welcome the Bunnet to their beloved Parkhead.

MANFRED LURKER

For more on the Shamrock visit the Celtic Collectors Club website http://www.celticcollectorsclub.co.uk/shamrock.htm

Remember the Lubo 5-1 game?

If you want to refresh your memory then watch this:

The salutary tale that follows merely illustrates that even when they still existed it wasn’t always fun following the blue team in Glasgow.

Little Boy Blue

Talk about excited!

First comes Santa Claus with your presents, then you have a birthday the very next day.

Craig’s fingers tore feverishly at the wrappings as the temperature rose, the beads of perspiration on the wee baldy bit of his head reflecting the twinkling luminosity of the occasion. Like a shark in a feeding frenzy he launched himself wholeheartedly into the pile but seemed to be making no headway – almost as if he had five thumbs on each hand.

What makes these occasions worse is the audience participation thing. When you have a crowd cheering you on, encouraging you to do well, you hate to disappoint them. Craig looked at the five thumbs on his right hand. They had metamorphosed into a giant boxing glove. “Aw naw .. “ He looked at his left hand; no, not a boxing glove. It was a prosthetic hook that the character from Peter Pan would have been proud of.

The beads of perspiration were flowing just as the Buckie in his (now) empty teacup had done several seconds earlier. Mmmmm. It had hit just the right spot. He raised his left hand to wipe the sweat from his fevered brow and tore a four inch gash in his forehead that big Duncan Ferguson could not have bettered. “See me. Talk about unlucky!”

He raised his misty eyes to the audience for sympathy but saw only hazy outlines. A sympathetic suggestion saved the day. “Well, see if you can guess what the presents are then Craig.”

He picked up the first package eagerly. “Is it an umbrella?”

“Nope”. A serving wench had spotted his thirsty plight and replenished his empty vessel. The tawny nectar gazed up at him seductively with a look that said ‘Hurry up and kiss me.”

“Is it a watch?” He raised his cup to kiss the gorgeous contents but forgot about the boxing glove. “Aw naw. See me, talk aboot unlucky!”

1998 had indeed been a horrendously unlucky year for our Craig, what with his beloved Rangers just narrowly failing to … (This part had been blanked from his mind, a cunning psychological ploy which many traumatised victims adopt during times of extreme stress). Concentrate, concentrate. Whit wiz ah daein’? Aye, that’s right … “Is it a watch?”

“Naw, don’t be daft, it’s no’ a watch. Guess again.”

The mist began to clear from Craig’s eyes as the sniffles subsided and the package took on a more regular shape. It’s rectangular outline was now a dead giveaway. Confidence was growing. “I know, it’s a video!”

“Hooraaaay!”

Craig looked down at his grotesque appendages and discovered to his delight that his nose-pickers had been restored to their former glory. He thrust his fi ngers hungrily at the package and destroyed the wrapping instantly. A haunted, piercing scream from the depths of his soul was matched by his terrible, troubled face. His uncontrollable sobbing blew apart the thin veneer of normality which had masked his tortured soul for the last seven months.

“What is it son?”

A friendly face gazed into his gutted countenance as the 5-1 video was gently removed from his trembling hands.

“I suppose you lot think this is funny.”

“Aye!”

TAYTO

The Zen of Nakamura

Great to see Shunsuke Nakamura back at Celtic Park for the St. Mirren game and what a host of fantastic memories it brought back.

A Gordon Strachan midfield stalwart for four seasons, Naka was the scorer of some of the most thrilling goals we’ve see at Paradise in recent times and the man who gave the Parkhead DJ the chance to dust off his Vapors single (it could have been worse had he been a fan of that cringingly naff ‘Aneka’ – real name Bella McGlumpher or some such – record)

This was the transfer that we were all assured by the likes of the Rectumsport staff was not going to happen. Following the Artmedia nightmare it became very clear that Celtic wouldn’t be taking any part in the 2005-06 Champions League, therefore the logic of the Darylls dictated that without the lure of European football the man from Japan wouldn’t be interested in coming to Scotland in order to go mano y mano with Ross Tokely and the rest of Hammer Throwers Inc.

With clubs like Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid sniffing about we were led to believe that the aforementioned DJ might be spinning ‘Jilted John’ for us over the tannoy. Yet, without indulging in too much of a crude national stereotype, the Japanese are nothing if not honourable, not to mention inscrutable. Promises had been made, and so it was that Naka came to Glasgow and made his Celtic debut against Dundee United on August 5th 2005.

First impressions were favourable, to say the least. His first touch was immaculate, he could find a team mate with a pass virtually every time he got the ball, he was able to keep possession and he played with his head up – and not up his arse either. By the standards of 90% of the SPL this put him on a par with Zico. Unlucky not to score on more than one occasion, his manager was quick to praise his Man of the Match performance. Naka himself, speaking inscrutably through his interpreter, declared himself to be reasonably happy with his contribution to Celtic’s afternoon, pledging to work on his cardiovascular regime in order to catch up with his team mates, some of whom were just finishing their second slice of pizza and wondering what he was on about.

Deployed mainly wide on the right of midfield by Gordon Strachan, despite having a left foot that stood favourable comparison with Lubo, Naka went on to become a regular starter and one was one of Celtic’s main creative threats throughout a season that he finished by picking up a Championship medal to go with the League Cup badge won the previous month.

The following season Naka became the first Japanese player to play in the Champions League when he turned out against Manchester United at Old Trafford. His growing reputation as a free-kick specialist was cemented that night when he scored a Naka cracker to bring us level at 2:2. It might have been enough to earn us a creditable away point had Giggs not conned the ref with an outrageous dying swan routine to win the home side a penalty.

Revenge was sweet in the return at Celtic Park, though. Once again Naka flighted home an amazing strike past van der Sar which seems to get further out each time you watch it. This time the Holy Goalie saved the mandatory United penalty and we qualified from the group stage for the first time.

Apparently, apart from endlessly practising inscrutable free-kicks at training in a manner best described as inscrutable, Nakamura also practised Qigong to help his concentration and delivery at dead balls, a set of breathing and movement exercises often taught in association with Chinese martial arts. It seems that Qigong’s slow external movements help stimulate the internal organs by promoting the flow of the body’s internal energy or qi.

Certainly different from Kris Boyd’s ten pints of lager and a crate of Monster Munch training regime.

In between the games against United Naka had scored his first Celtic hat-trick in a 4-1 defeat of Dundee United at Tannadice – and not a free kick among them.

He won Goal of the Season that year as well for yet another memorable effort, this time chipping the ball over United’s Derek Stillie from somewhere near the touchline to secure a comeback point at Celtic Park.

His second league medal was secured when he won the game at Kilmarnock with yet another brilliant free-kick. The emotion he showed as he ran into the crowd swinging his jersey hinted that the mask of inscrutability might be in danger of slipping were he to hang around CP much longer. Later the same evening he won the SPFA Player of the Year award, followed in May by the Hacks award and the Celtic Fans’ award.

A knee injury picked up in the Champs League qualifier against Spartak kept him out for the first three months of the following season, but he was back by January to play his part in the run-in, most notably with arguably his best goal in the Hoops, a vicious swerving drive that left Allan McGregor looking as if he’d just had a night out in Loch Lomond with Bazza.

In his final season in the Hoops he was definitely not the player of old, caught up in the general malaise and looking as if he had half an eye on his exit route. Before the January transfer window there was already speculation that he wanted to return to Japan in order to let his wee boy start school in his homeland and play out his final years for his first club, Yokohama. The fact that he ended up at Espanyol just proves what I was saying about him being inscrutable.

In his four seasons at Celtic he gave us some fantastic memories, some wonderful goals and provided the club with an exposure in Japan that must have been worth millions in terms of commercial spin-offs. According to David Thompson, Celtic’s former commercial director, “Celtic are now the third most popular Scottish brand in Japan, behind whisky and Sean Connery. Their popularity has even led to the creation of a word for Scot – “Scoto-rando-jin” – whereas in the past Scots were referred to as being English.”

It’s easy to see why Peter Lawwell and the bhoys in the boardroom were eager to get Naka’s successor, Koki Mizuno, signed in order to keep the profile up in the far east. 140,000 Nike Hoops tops a year wasn’t to be sniffed at. I wonder if there is still any interest in Celtic in Japan now that Naka is part of the club’s history?

Nakamura left as still something of an elusive (nay, inscrutable) character, but he did come across as someone who enjoyed his experience at Celtic, even though it didn’t always show in his persona. As his biographer Martin Greig noted, “there are clear parallels with Henrik Larsson, even if Nakamura isn’t, yet, as revered. The Swede appeared cool and aloof when he arrived, but as the public admiration grew, so Larsson’s inscrutable veneer began to peel away and his charisma shone through – and so it is with Nakamura”.

If only he’d had an extra yard of space!

IAN SCRUTABLE

ntv 231

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NTV 231 available from December 14th, featuring:

resolution 12 update

letters

dundee, salzburg, hearts, partick thistle and motherwell match reports

the book of wisdom – banal’s second letter to the sevconians

the ref’s notebook

10 men won the league book review

a very different paradise book preview

govan bugle

tales from the crypt

http://www.ntvcelticfanzine.com

Celtic and Alfredo di Stefano

The football world bestowed many richly deserved eulogies on Alfredo di Stefano following his death on July 7th 2014. Winner of five straight European Cups as he was, he might have surpassed even that had he chosen to take up the offer of a contract with Celtic when his playing days with Real were numbered. This bizarre footnote in the history of the club came in the midst of a particularly lean time of it for the fans when Celtic had instigated what was loosely termed a youth policy. Yet the so-called ‘policy’ was not always practised consistently, as Campbell and Woods relate in their seminal book, The Glory and the Dream:

“Some of the transfers were induced through panic, and nowhere was this more apparent than in a fruitless scramble after Alfredo di Stefano in August 1964. The famed striker of Real Madrid had been released from his contract by the Spanish club, and Celtic embarked on a wild goose chase to land the South American superstar. The club phoned Spain, but the player was on holiday and the calls were not returned; the club sent telegrams but these were ignored, until a belated reply rejecting the offer finally arrived at Celtic Park.

Despite the player’s manifest lack of interest and unavailability (he had recently agreed a lucrative one year contract with Espanol) the club ordered Jimmy McGrory to make a hurried, undignified trip to Spain, accompanied by John Cushley, Celtic’s reserve centre-half and a graduate in languages from Glasgow University, in a futile bid to change his mind.

It was fortunate for Celtic that di Stefano dismissed the overtures. Magnificent player that he was, di Stefano had an arrogant streak and ruled imperiously at Madrid for years. Well substantiated rumours were disconcerting; he insisted that passes be made directly to his feet and ignored others; he forced Didi, Brazil’s World Cup star, to quit Madrid because his vanity would not allow a newcomer to usurp his popularity; he accepted Puskas as a team-mate only when the Hungarian wisely gave up a chance to score in order to lay on a goal for him, a goal that gained for di Stefano the Spanish leading scorer title.

At the age of 38 the proud Argentinian would not have welcomed the rigours of a Scottish winter to play alongside the apprentices, even at the princely £30,000 that Celtic offered him for less than one season. Thoughtful supporters had to wonder about the club’s sense of direction; for years the club had advocated a long-term policy based on young teams of traditional Celtic values. Surely the frantic chase after di Stefano contradicted this.”

Celtic and di Stefano would cross paths again three years later, this time on the football pitch. Among the trophies adorning Celtic Park is the Real Madrid Golden Ball, featured in John Traynor and Douglas Russell’s illustrated book (1991) alongside the following caption:

“On 7th June 1967, fresh from the pinnacle of achievement in the European Cup Final, the Lisbon Lions entered the cauldron of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid to have their new stature tested in the fiercest of fires. Real threw everything at Celtic in an attempt to re-assert themselves in a ‘friendly’ against their immediate successors as European Champions but the flowering Parkhead maturity prevailed for a 1-0 victory, courtesy of an inspired performance by goalkeeper John Fallon, the solitary strike of Bobby Lennox and a scintillating display by Jimmy Johnstone, who received a standing ovation.

This was the icing on the Lisbon cake, at the personal invitation of the great Alfredo di Stefano, who had wanted nothing but the best for his own benefit match.

The Celtic team that night was: Fallon, Craig, Gemmell; Clark, McNeill, O’Neill; Johnstone, Murdoch, Wallace, Auld, Lennox.”

di stefano teams

Kevin McCarra concludes his brilliant book ‘One Afternoon in Lisbon’ with this description:

“Almost a fortnight after Lisbon a leg-weary and slightly fractious team took the field in the Bernabeu to play Real Madrid. Only the honour of appearing in the great di Stefano’s benefit match had tempted Celtic to accept the invitation. Real, European Cup winners of 1966, were desperate to demonstrate their superiority to the new holders.

John Fallon, who had been on the bench as goalkeeping substitute in each European match that season, was given the chance to demonstrate his worth. While Celtic struggled, he held Real at bay. As time passed Celtic’s competitive instincts began to surface once more. In the 69th minute they produced the only goal of the game. Jimmy Johnstone left half a dozen opponents in his wake and slipped the ball through to Bobby Lennox in the inside-right channel.

Bobby Lennox: ‘I ran on and hit the shot from the edge of the area. The whole stadium had gone quiet and I suddenly heard one of the other players, clear as a bell, shouting, “Goal!”’

For a brief moment the voice of industrial Scotland drifted out over a hushed continent.”

 

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