Posted on Monday, 12th July 2010 by Stat Doctor
Hail Hail! My name is Matt and I will be covering for the Lord of the Wing for the rest of the week. Many of you probably didn’t read my old Celtic blog at theoffside.com and even more of you don’t know me from my administrative duties at the Na Dead Raibead North American Celtic Forum. Since none of you know me, let me introduce myself a bit better. I am 23 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio. I have followed Celtic since Seville, however, it seems I am unique to Celtic followers in that I discovered this club we all love so well on my own. As I mentioned, I first really heard about Celtic from Seville. That match was unique for the United States at that time as it was, you know, actually covered on TV, a rare feature in the United States in those days for European football. I had always enjoyed “soccer” (for clarification, I’ve heard that when Soccer first came to the states, they took the term “soccer from the UK as football was a term for Rugby, but that’s another topic for another day), but never really had a “team”. I had some Irish heritage in my past, so when I saw Celtic play in the UEFA Cup final in Seville that day, I thought “Oh, cool, they have a four leaf clover crest and are green.” While that thought might seem incredibly cringe-worthy right now, let me just say that 1) I was 16 years old at the time and cringe-worthy statements are 16 year old’s specialty and 2) that thought sadly accounts for roughly 50% of the kit sales that Celtic get in North America. However, something stuck that day for me. Rather than bust out the hoops once a year on St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to learn about the club. Seeing Henrik’s goal, the legions of Celtic fans in Seville singing, the tragic defeat, combined with Porto flopping about like a fish out of water that day, made me want more. It was to the internet, where I read about Brother Walfrid, the Lisbon Lions, Jock Stein, Jinky Johnstone, and the illustrious and rich history Celtic had and I knew that I’d be a Bhoy for life. With the internet getting faster and more available, I was able to not only check scores every weekend, but actually watch Celtic matches online, sometimes *ahem* not exactly “legally”. Like meeting the “one” in your love life, I knew Celtic and I would never part. When Nick Hornby talked about being the “Arsenal Guy” to friends and acquaintances, I am the “Celtic Guy” to my friends and acquaintances.
Normally, I do not like pratting on about myself like that. I am not that cocky, god damn it. However, my Celtic story was somewhat necessary as an introduction to the big topic in the Celtic world today. It seems that Joe Ledley has finally signed on the dotted line after leaving and coming to Glasgow at least 16 times. We also seemed to have added a Mexican fullback to fill the incredibly gigantic shoes of Celtic legend Lee Naylor. Good luck amigo. However, I think, without debate, the big topic in the Timernet today is the seemingly near departure of Artur Boruc for Celtic Park. This is even more important to me, as Artur was my first Celtic hero. As I mentioned, I don’t have the history with Celtic that most do, so while I respect the Johnstone’s, the McStay’s, the Auld’s, etc, I never saw them play. Artur was a contemporary Celtic legend available to me. He hated the Huns. He saved penalties against Man U. He took penalties in cup semi-finals and put the ball in the upper 90. He ran over to the Celtic end in Ibrox and grabbed a champions flag to run past Barry Ferguson with. The guy was a world class keeper and a world class Hun skelper. How could I not love him? I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of my musical heroes and even some other athletic heroes, but when I was in Toyota Park just outside of Chicago, Illinois to watch Celtic take on the Chicago Fire, I was reduced to a grinning 12 year old boy when Artur gave the thumbs up over to me after I yelled his name when he was warming up. I am fairly certain that I am not alone in thanking Artur Boruc, the Holy Goalie, for his years of service to Celtic. While Artur wasn’t able to go out as champion, he was able to regain some of the form he lost the year before. Despite this, legions of Celtic fans will forever remember him. One of the best keepers in Celtic’s history and definitely one of the most popular players in recent history for Celtic, talented, bold, and not afraid to nose up the blue side, I will always remember my first Celtic hero, Artur Boruc.