ntv 233

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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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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

What Is This Thing Called Celtic?

If you find yourself being overwhelmed by the cynicism so prevalent in Scottish football these days then read this account of a visit to South Africa by occasional NTV contributor Estadio that appeared in the fanzine a couple of seasons ago.

 

More than a club? If you know the history? The players? The fans? The origins?

How many games, how many goals, wins, losses, draws do we need to experience to get to the heart of its meaning. Or are the seeds that were planted and flourished now gone, blown by the winds of progress across the Clyde, over the seas and oceans and no longer of relevance to the world in which we live?

It was about 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon that I drove down the main highway and took the turn-off to the town of Bloemfontein. This had been a real goal of my visit to Africa; to see this place and the people who followed a team that had not only been specifically named after our club and adopted the hoops as their own colours but had also created a supporters’ phenomenon that was recognised throughout Africa as genuinely the best, demonstrably the most enthusiastic and undoubtedly the most faithful fans in the whole of the PSL. (Premier Soccer League).

For a Celtic fan visiting Southern Africa this was surely a definitive journey just to see why, right in the heart of what had been called the ‘Orange Free State’ – now just the ‘Free State’ – this community and team had blossomed.

Bloemfontein is not a small town. It is a modern thriving multi cultural metropolis with a profile similar to most inland conurbations in Africa, and as I marvelled at the order and integration of the peoples and streets I caught sight of towering floodlights in the not too distant horizon. Suitably impressed by the skyline and the ease of finding the ground I turned the van in its direction hoping to get a few pictures and possibly meet up with a few of the fans who I was told milled around the ground most days.

There were two grounds! Vans carrying supplies, maintenance personnel and ground-staff were parked in the tar-macadamed car park. Be-suited customers collected tickets for the next games came out of the offices and made their way to their waiting BMWs and similar saloons.

Nowhere did I see anything to identify either ground as belonging to Bloemfontein Celtic, nowhere did I witness the ambience of a football community at leisure and nowhere did I feel that this was anything more than a couple of grounds in the centre of a city going about its normal commercial business.

I was disappointed.

One was The Vodacom stadium – Vodacom being the sponsor of Bloemfontein Celtic and the other was Goodyear Park.

I pulled the van up next to a Police patrol car on my passenger side and wound down the window. The archetypal beautiful black girl at the steering wheel sat alone in the car, her own passenger window wound down.

“Which one do Bloemfontein Celtic play at?“ I shouted.

She looked at me and smiled quizzically.

I repeated my shout.

She answered this time, in that sort of way that gives meaning to ‘Africa Time’.

“Oh they sometimes play over there behind that stadium, not at either of these. That’s the Rugby Union Ground and the other one there is the cricket ground. But sometimes over there” she pointed at a point that I couldn’t see.

“Why do you ask?” she went on.

I explained.

She seemed to have given up on me and went back to talking to whoever on her radio, presumably tired out with effort of giving me all the information I needed to get to the ground.

My driver door suddenly rattled and outside my window stood another copper. He was smiling; smiling didn’t always mean that the smiler was happy, but I wound down the window.

“Just follow us” he said.

By this time the woman copper had approached my passenger door.

“Bloemfontein sometimes play here but their own ground is right across town. I’ve talked to the station and we’ve been told we can escort you there.”

“Just follow us” the man repeated.

On went the blue flashing light, on screamed the siren and like a scene from an African Taggart we sped through the plush centre of town and headed somewhere! I stuck as close as I could as traffic ground to a halt at the sight and sound of the approaching law vehicle; I cut corners as they skidded through the turns and I jumped lights as they did, attached to their rear bumper by an invisible but unbreakable thread. This was a wee boy’s dream, and this was a big Bhoy’s ambition.And then the whole scene changed.

Houses and roads gave way to shacks and rutted tracks, orderly streets and pavements disappeared to be replaced by thousands upon thousands of people walking, running, lounging and passing the time of day in another black township, another forgotten and neglected community, another frontier of survival, another sink of abject poverty.

We slowed down; the town name stood bright and proud, Siwelele it proclaimed and there was the freeze-frame of everything I had heard, everything I had imagined. There was a township with nothing but their football shirts on, hoops not so much worn as tattooed, a club which they had created and given meaning, and in return a club which gave them meaning and a cause, not a distraction but the reason for their smiles and the smiles of their reason.

There was the Gallowgate; a Gallowgate full of black folk.

“No dogs, no blacks, no Irish!”

I didn’t take too many pictures. It is difficult to take snaps when your eyes are welling up and your hands are trembling. I would take some but only when I had asked and they had agreed.

We drew up outside the main entrance to the ground. It could have been any street, any entrance. It was around the back, down the lane, across the track and opposite another thousand shacks, most without water, most without electricity but most teaming with a spirit of life and hope that smiled from their window, lit up their faces and screamed at me as the weans came running out the doorways towards me. Just to say ‘Hello’.

Was this what Brother Walfrid had seen all those years ago? Was this why he had founded the institution that we all identified with. Was this just the east end of Glasgow with black faces and empty stomachs that he had set out to eradicate? Was he here in spirit and was that spirit the inspiration that had prompted Petros Molemela to have given it the name ‘Celtic’?

The two coppers jumped from their land-rover.

Delacourt, the man introduced himself.

“Ahh but you should see it on match-day” he smiled.

I had never seen a whole person smiling till then. He almost enacted a full ninety minutes in a few seconds.

“It is the greatest scene in the world. The singing, the chanting, the dancing, the cheering. It is beautiful”.

I asked the policewoman her name.

I couldn’t pronounce her answer. She knew that and immediately said “but everyone has a problem with my name so they all call me Phyllis”

“Phyllis it is” I said “Can I take your picture?”

I gave her the hat that I had been given in Australia, a hat with many badges from worldwide CSCs.

“Please keep that” I said.

Delacourt got me permission to go inside the ground.

There was no game and no one else there. But I could hear the singing, I could see the swaying. This was their Paradise.

I took loads of photos, too many and boring for here, but there was their Janefield Street, their Celtic end, their jungle.

As I returned to the car park, the children came back.

A whole family came up to me and introduced themselves. (note here spellings etc are approximate)

“I am Maledi, it means beauty, she is Tandi, that is love, Palesi, flower, Garezi, peace and Busega, importance”

I drove back to a little shack that I had sped by earlier.

This is your local greengrocers.

And the three smiles are Brenda, Lenan, and Fortunate in the middle.

Fortunate asked me to make sure I told lots of visitors to come and see them. Lots of Celtic supporters to come and see them and to come and stay with them!

The owner’s name is Michael.

I went in to thank him for allowing me to take the picture, and since he didn’t have any bananas left, I bought something that he was probably going to throw away.

Michael was on his way to a shebeen (yes that’s what they call their drinking places – and not just in Bloemfontein, in all townships – to spend the few rand I paid with. I hope you enjoyed your um*umbothi Michael! (I’ll explain that some other time).

There is poverty here beyond belief. But there is no self pity and no lack of industry. Everything is re-usable, recyclable, reinventible and most of all everything is available for everyone to make what they can of it.

As for the football itself. Well I didn’t see a game. But ask Bill McIntosh at the Johannesburg Celtic Supporters club. Ask about their trip, the welcome they were given; about being announced to the crowd, about taking pride of place in the centre circle; of how the crowd identified with Celtic from Glasgow. Ask him what memories Bloemfontein Celtic left with him.

I am sure that in other places I will talk long about my times at Siwelele and in other townships. But without doubt the sounds, sights and experiences centred on Bloemfontein Celtic will live me with forever just as the stories of the East End of Glasgow and Brother Walfrid have reverberated for so long.

Perhaps we are no longer in need of his legacy here in Glasgow. Perhaps it is only right that the seeds of his vision that saved and inspired so many in the hovels of the likes of The Calton, the Gorbals, The Garngad, Coatbridge, Croy and Cleland have been caught by that breeze and settled in a place that has a greater need. Perhaps we are now no more than a football club that will survive or fail on the pitch and in the boardrooms of the money men and perhaps we have all in our own insularity underestimated just what Andrew Kerrins started all those 122 years ago.

In years to come Bloemfontein Celtic may be more than a club, may be supported by the greatest fans in the world and may have a history that is unique. Against all odds they make take on the aristocrats of whatever competitions are put their way; they may be underestimated, condescended to and even conspired against. Maybe for a short time their star will shine brighter than all the other stars and in the shadow of those rays, the investors, asset strippers, and manipulators will move in.

And maybe then Brother Walfrid will perform his magic again and up will spring another Celtic, in another time and another place, with the same old eternal objective, the same old eternal principles.

Someone once said to me on CQN that we place too much emphasis on our history, our roots and our mythology. He also used that old aphorism that history repeats itself, the first time as farce and the second as tragedy.

But there are histories that repeat themselves as echoes of virtue; maybe we need to be even prouder and place more emphasis on those.

I know what I consider a success.

That’s a great thought.

Hail Hail

Estadio

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Watch out for regular updates on Siwilele in the subscriber editions of NTV during the coming season.

SUBSCRIPTION OFFER

For the month of August we are offering a great deal on subscriptions. Take out a full price 12 issue subscription and get a second for just £10. Two subs for £40. All you have to do is buy one for yourself and take one out for a friend. (In George of the Jungle’s case he would have to make a friend first. He was devastated to find out that imaginary friends don’t count.)

In addition to the paper copy of the mag on sale at the stadium, subscribers who provide their email address are sent a colour PDF version on the morning of the game before it goes on sale and a full fat colour PDF with lots of additional features. Most issues are over 100 pages of the most interesting content you’ll ever read this side of the dentist’s waiting room. If you find this astonishing claim as difficult to swallow as a Jabba press release then check out some recent back issues on our website http://www.ntvcelticfanzine.com for details.

If you are an existing subscriber and would like to take advantage of this offer then simply add 12 issues to your existing sub and get the second for £10.

Click on the ‘subscription offer’ link at the top of the site to use Paypal or get in touch by mail at the usual address.

COMPETITION

Still time to win an item of your choice from our NTV store (see link at top of page) visit our website and click on the competition link at the top of the home page or go here

http://www.ntvcelticfanzine.com/competitions/competition%20jul%2013%20new%20shop.htm

deadline extended until Saturday.

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Lateral Movement Is It?

Bloem Celtic fans in action.