Leigh Griffiths tied a scarf around the post at Linfield last Friday night. This wasn’t the act of someone keen to cement community relations. If we’re being unkind we could accuse him of indulging in a wee bit of GIRFUY.
After the abuse he took, I will not hold that against him.
He was targeted all through the match.
The people who did it, they deserve a little bit of stick.
I understand exactly why UEFA took a dim view of it, and I understand why they’ve put him in the dock. Context is everything. Perhaps Belfast, at the fag end of the pantomime season, wasn’t the time or place for such an act. I understand too why Brendan expressed mild displeasure tinged with regret. Leigh has probably got himself a ban for it, unless Celtic’s legal team can muster up some fast talking and smooth it over.
But whilst we’re on the subject of context, let’s try to remember that Leigh has done this at other grounds. It’s a tradition of his. And he did it in front of his own supporters; he wasn’t standing waving it in the faces of the baying mob. Their reaction was typical of their type; foaming at the mouth fury. Leigh can’t be held responsible because grown men, actual adults, have no self-control. That’s their problem. It isn’t his.
The reaction to this incident – which anywhere else would have passed off as nothing worthy of comment at all – has been hysterical in quarters other than the Linfield stands. A lot of Sevco fans have been mouthing off about it; hey, lecture us when your own idiot players aren’t getting sent off in closed door friendly matches. If you’re going to point fingers and poke your noses in where they don‘t belong make sure your own knickers are clean.
This isn’t the first time Leigh has been subject to media scrutiny.
Towards the end of last season he was involved in a wee incident with Brendan, which the media was all ready to make a big thing of before the manager smoothed it over with a classy piece of on-field public relations. Brendan’s irritation today wasn’t directed at Leigh, no matter what the media might write; it was frustration at the situation itself, which leaves him without a key player for the next round.
But Celtic have not accepted the decision, which should tell you all you need to know.
The tabloids love Griffiths, because he’s a young guy who sometimes does daft stuff. But that’s really all they can pin on him, despite trying hard. A stupid song in a pub notwithstanding, this isn’t Derek Riordan we’re talking about here. A few kids to different lassies … so what? Has he abandoned any of them? Has he bollocks. He’s a good dad, and not the first to get himself into a situation where he doesn’t want to play husband to the mother of his kids.
It galls some of the hacks that there’s nothing else to find, as it galls them that he’s not agitated for a move out of Celtic in spite of being on the bench for a lot of the last campaign. (He also started a lot of games in it, and scored a lot of goals.)
One eejit headline – from The Record; where else? – suggests that Stein would have kicked him out of Celtic Park. I read no further than that and don’t intend to. It’s the Hotline again, of course, the proving ground for those who are bona fide morons but want to reach for the stars and get their Village Idiot pins.
Hey, they don’t come with an actual village you know.
Stein had to deal with a few characters in his time as Celtic boss. And he handled it.
He handled it, in fact, the same way Brendan will. By keeping a tight leash on but not too tight.
This isn’t a manager who sets his players codes of conduct and tells them what colour boots they can wear.
He doesn’t have to. The quiet word works better.
I find this all highly amusing from the media which excused the excesses (and continues to) of people like Gascoigne. He only mocked played a flute, sent off a ref, enjoyed the occasional shot in the bar prior to kick-off and, oh yeah, kicked the living shit out of his woman once in a while.
Maybe Griffiths will be forgiven when he scores the goal that secures nine in a row.
But then, he’ll do it for a different club, in different colours.