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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The Big Clubs – a film by Joachim Kreck

rev big clubs cover

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.

 

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

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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NTV issue 221

NTV issue 221

Out on Tuesday 22nd October.

Happy Birthday Dear Celtic View

Happy birthday to the Celtic View, fathered by Jack McGinn and born on 11th August 1965, 48 years young today.

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The View began life as a four page broadsheet. On the front page of its first issue the editor described one of its aims as, “… We shall provide information and talking points that the national press cannot give because of the much greater demands on their space.” The big talking point of the first issue was the appointment of Jock Stein to take charge of the Scotland national team for the World Cup qualifying campaign. Jock had been in charge of the squad for two ties the previous May, against Poland (a 1:1 draw in Chorzow) and  Finland (a 2:1 victory in Helsinki. Initially this was to be the extent of Jock’s involvement, but the SFA asked for his term as manager to be extended as long as Scotland still had a chance of qualifying for the finals in England and the club agreed.

Chairman Bob Kelly took the opportunity through the pages of the View to let the fans know that, “The most important aspect of our new agreement is that the SFA were willing to meet all our conditions if they could get their man. We feel we have reached an ideal compromise… if there is any conflict between the club’s fixtures and those of the association Mr. Stein will remain with his club.” Jock Stein is quoted by ‘Kerrydale’ as saying: “Naturally I am pleased with the honour but I want all Celtic fans to know that my interest will always be first and foremost Celtic’s interests. It was my football ambition to return to Celtic. Everyone can rest assured that I wouldn’t do anything likely to harm Celtic.”

The pictures on the front page were of the Scottish Cup winning team of 1965 and new signing Joe McBride who expressed his delight at joining the club from Motherwell.

Another new player had a small feature on page 2. “The youngest player on the staff is sixteen year-old George Connelly who joined us from Tulliallan and hails from Dunfermline.” Compare the modern day hype of any player with the litotes of, “For a very tall lad he is a skilful manipulator of the ball.”

The rest of the page was given over to a report on the very first Scottish Football Writers’ Player of the Year ceremony, an award won by Billy McNeill, a ‘Where Are They Now?’ column focusing on ex-Celt John McAlindon, at that time working on the groundstaff at Celtic Park, a puff for the Celtic Supporters Association and a quiz for younger readers. The accompanying text to the questions and the instructions for enetering reads like a Higher Mathematics exam paper. “In order that you younger readers will show carefulness as well as knowledge of your subject we shall look for correct spelling in all of your answers… You must write your answers in the order corresponding to the questions (1, 2, 3, 4). Then give your full name, date of birth, school and class number and home address…” The six prize winners (strictly confined to those under the age of 15) would receive a guinea. The board were obviously not going to part with them without a fight.

The View’s page 3 stunner was a large picture of “some of the trophies which adorn the sideboard in the boardroom,” and fans were informed that Stevie Chalmers shot a 77 at Milltown Golf Club in Ireland while over in Ireland for the Shamrock Rovers game, “very creditable as Steve had never seen the course before.”

The very first letters to the View appeared on page 3 as well. One was signed “Hopeful” of Glasgow who was allowed to air a grievance; he wanted some of the Pools money to be used to create a tarmac road on the approach to the turnstiles, fed up as he was of having to “wade through a sea of mud” to get to them. “And if this isn’t asking too much dare I suggest some improvement to the primitive toilet facilities.” By the time “Hopeful” got his wished for pissoir he had probably changed his name to “Despairing”, like the rest of us. The other letter was congratulating the Celtic View on starting up, the first of many congratulatory messages received on behalf of either the board or the View over the years. Yes folks, the seeds of Pravda had already been well and truly sown.

The back page message from Jock Stein looks forward optimistically to the start of the new season and there endeth the text, because the rest of the page is mostly given over to the August Celtic Pools winners and how much dosh they got. Very dull, unless you want to scan through it to see which of your neighbours you could tap money from that week.

Advertisements included one from Roberts Stores in Trongate offering a junior football pack of jersey, shorts and socks for 22/6- (That’s one pound and twenty five pence for post-decimal babies) and car dealer W.F. Kivlichan was offering a year-old Mini (one careful owner) for £410 (cost you £14,000 today… Not for the same Mini obviously, for the equivalent).

On the occasion of the View’s 40th, the club published a celebratory book. Manfred Lurker reviewed it for the fanzine.

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The Best of the Celtic View: the 100 covers that made you laugh, cry and cheer; by Paul Cuddihy and Joe Sullivan; Headline Publishing; 222 pages illustrated throughout; £19.99 hardback

How could we resist a title like this? The dear old Celtic View, brainchild and celebrated organ of the legend that was Jack McGinn, 40 years old and the raison d’être of the blatt you are holding in your hand right now.

What we have here is a mainly visual chronicle of how the View has chosen to reflect the major events in the history of the club during its existence. The editors have selected significant View covers and accompanied them with some text to put them in context.

These, the cover of the book gushes, are the 100 covers of Pravda that made us “laugh, cry and cheer”.

This book charts the story of the View chronologically, starting from the 60s when Jack’s organ sprang up for the first time. In the first few years of its inception the club’s in-house newspaper, which appeared every Wednesday, was a paragon of sobriety and understatement, unrecognisable concepts to a medium almost completely sold-out to tabloid values. League title wins in the mid to late 60s were celebrated with the journalistic equivalent of a Stanley Matthews-style manly handshake and headlines like “congratulations” or “the cup final”.

The Lisbon souvenir issue is positively over the top. It even has a couple of pictures and a splash of green on the front cover.

Our other European Cup final is represented by a View cover from the day of the final, May 7th 1970, complete with distinctly upbeat messages from Bob Kelly, Jock Stein and Billy McNeill. This is one of the issues I remembered from my boyhood days. On one of the other pages the View had printed a map of where the victory procession would take place. Talk about confident of victory.

The issues from the 70s reflect a mixture of highs and lows, the most infuriating cover being one from 1971. No fewer than 100,000 people had paid to see the first team and the reserves in the space of a week. The club chose to brag about it; the fans must have been wondering where all the money was going.

During the 80s the newspaper format stayed the same, but you can tell that the Pravda style that became so infamous is beginning to seep its way into the articles. Jack McGinn is quoted in a feature on the renovation of the South Stand in the summer of ‘87. “Last year saw the transformation of the Celtic End – this year it’s the stand.” This was the kind of rhetoric that was starting to wind people up, especially fans who were standing in the ‘transformed’ Celtic End wondering what kind of parallel universe Jack and his cronies on the board were inhabiting.

The 90s was the View’s nadir. It hit the buffers on March 2nd 1994 with a front page lead about ‘Cambuslang – the dream comes true’. As Kevin Kelly stood in the middle of a toxic swamp with his arms outstretched like a manic scarecrow, even the View staff must have realised that nobody with half a brain was believing this stuff any more. Yet, even in this book there are no covers featuring the likes of Terry Cassidy, Patrick Nally, Gefinor, Stadivarious or the assorted futuristic ‘artist’s impressions’ of what Celtic Park was going to look like if we all kept faith with the Kelly and the cronies.

Jock Brown practically took over the View at one point, sniping back at his one-time mates in the media, but he doesn’t rate a mention either.

There’s definitely an air of truth and reconciliation about the club these days, so it would have been a laugh to be reminded of some of these pantomime villains that blighted us for years.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, even though I don’t remember cheering at too many of the covers (anybody who cheers when they see a Celtic View cover needs help). I did laugh in a GIRUY way at some of the 90s covers, and I may even have shed an inner silent tear when I turned a page and saw a picture of Martin Hayes grinning back at me holding aloft the Celtic scarf for his signing on photo shoot.

The early issues were more interesting than practically anything that was in the last 50 pages – lots of Henrik hagiography – and there were reminders of old View features that were a bit of a fix for a nostalgia junky like me. Who can forget the Celtic Boy feature, the terrible cartoon that used to take up about half of the front page or the Spotlight on a Fan feature? Bob McDonald’s European football round-up I can genuinely claim to have given me a lifelong interest in the game beyond these shores. Thanks Bob.

But what happened to ‘Pick A Team’ or, my own personal favourite, the £10 Star Letter, most of which started with, “Hats off to Jack McGinn and the Celtic board for…”

Nicely presented, loads of evocative pictures and even some undemanding text. Ideal for Uncle Tim’s Christmas.

MANFRED LURKER

BTW, the official birthday of NTV is 29th August 1987. If you want to read our very first issue the follow the link. Makes for an interesting contrast with the View. Wonder if “Hopeful” of Glasgow ever ended up writing letters to us.

http://www.ntvcelticfanzine.com/about%20ntv/about%20ntv%20contents.htm

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.

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