Yesterday, on Christmas Day, Brendan Rodgers took time out from his family to visit a hospice, dropping off a big cheque for £26,000 from himself and from the playing squad at Celtic. This is a typically warm, genuine gesture from this man … one of many. Brendan gets it.
He gets what it means to be an ambassador for Celtic.
Brendan is a class act. A decent man, a good human being, one who places a high premium on compassion and understanding. This has shown through time and again since he arrived at our club and it came across in his press conference before the Xmas holiday, when he spoke about Efe Ambrose with warmth and decency that was so pronounced that it made me feel a little ashamed of some of what I’ve written about the player.
Brendan reminded the hacks of something we’re all guilty of forgetting sometimes; that footballers are people, they aren’t abstractions. Some of what has been written and said about Efe has been abysmal, and I know that because I wrote some of it. At this time of year I find it helps to be reminded of the ways in which we’ve screwed up in the last 12 months. It helps you try to be a better person in the year ahead.
He was angry with the reporters, and I would guess some of the rest of us. And you know what? I for one will hold my hands up and say it’s well deserved.
“’Efe is obviously not playing and he knows where he stands in terms of the team. I want to look after Efe in particular as much as I can. This is a guy who when I arrived I saw the newspapers absolutely killing him. This is a good man. He has mistakes like us all but this guy has been slaughtered and made fun of. I want to protect and help him. No, he isn’t playing for me, but he’s a human being and if I can help him get to England then fine. If something does come in then he and I will sit down and see what is best for Efe.”
I read that sort of thing and I am grateful that our club has such a man at the helm, a moral man, a good man. A man who thinks about other people and what’s going on with them, instead of being focussed on The Self. We’re lucky to have this guy.
In the meantime, across the city, we were treated to the grotesque spectacle of one of their directors mouthing the words of racial, religious and cultural “supremacy” with a WATP message for the Sevco fans on their official club channel. This clip must have been viewed 10,000 times by Celtic fans since it aired last week, but it’s worth watching. There’s a mind-set in that clip that gets more rancid every single time you watch it.
2017 is going to be a banner year for those who preach such sentiments. 2016 has been a beauty for them; the Little Englanders, the Britain First crowd, the hard-core of the right with whom Ibrox has always felt like home and held an attraction.
Some people find WATP to be little more than a slogan. I’ve never been one of them. It’s an expression of attitude, outlook, stemming from a genuinely held belief that they are better than everyone else, that they are special somehow, and separate from the rest of us. The Celtic ethos has always been about community. Theirs is about a narrow identity that doesn’t embrace cultural differences or changes. I find it sinister and dangerous.
The public faces a football club chooses to wear are important. We chose Davie Hay as one of our global ambassadors, a calm, honourable man who brings gravitas to a vital role. They chose John Brown, the very epitome of a snarling bigot. Our directors have had a lot of criticism these past few weeks for their silence on Resolution 12, but there must be Sevco fans who wish their own board would shut up and stop making such idiots of themselves.
It’s almost 2017. Their club thinks next year is 1691.
This is why they are dying on their arse.
Our club, on the other hand, is thriving because of men like Brendan Rodgers.
It’s good to be a Tim.