Date: 27th May 2019 at 7:30pm
Written by:

There’s a lot to cover from the last few days, of course, and I will get to all of it due course. For once I’m going to take the advice of those who say I should let my emotions die down a little before I commit to writing words on a page.

This piece doesn’t count. I have already had a weekend to think on it, and the clue to the topic should lie in its title. But before I begin with that I want to get a couple of things straight, but only because they are important to this subject matter.

I may have concerns about the managerial appointment, but having and expressing concern are not the same as not backing the manager. Of course I will back the manager, and I chafe at the idea that I wasn’t going to. Where have I ever written any such thing?

Not only will I back the manager, but I would have backed the manager whoever it was who ended up in the manager’s chair. I know some were already gearing up to scream “treason” at the club if Lennon didn’t get it, no matter who the gig was given to.

As regular readers will be well aware, it was not Lennon I feared most, it was Moyes.

But even Moyes would have had my support if he’d gotten the job.

Lennon not only has my support, but from the moment he signs the contract I’ll defend him to the hilt as I would any other person at the club. Oh, I’ll criticise him as I would any other manager, and I expect I’ll have to – those who don’t like that, tough – but I’ll also be the first out swinging on his behalf against anyone who crosses the line.

As I have done, for Lennon the Man, many, many, many times before.

(And if people want to just take the negative stuff I’ve written and ignore all the rest, it tells you everything you want to know. There are a ton of articles on this site and on others, which I have written, in full throated defence of Neil Lennon, going back years and I am proud of every single one and wouldn’t change a word.)

The debate over who the manager should be is over, as is perfectly obvious. There are other debates which need to be had, and they will be, but this one ends like any other debate I’ve ever had, and in politics I had a bunch of them. At the end of it, when the argument is won and lost, you go for a beer, you shake hands with your opponent and you make the best of it.

I may have concerns with the way the appointment was announced, but I remain what I have always been; a loyal and dedicated and passionate part of this Family, and no-one can change that no matter what invective they fling at me.

You cannot have seen my output on this site and doubt that, not unless you’re consumed by your own emotions and unable to see straight.

These are matters I’ll cover in another piece, at another time; there’s a lot more to be said on that but I’ll get it to in due course.

Today’s business is of a different sort.

I’m going to stand up for Neil Lennon here, and I’m damned proud to do so.

I am proud that this site has fought alongside other Celtic blogs throughout the years.

It does not matter whether I have good personal relationships with their proprietors or not – and mostly I do. I believe that all the members of the online community must be supported and those within it given support whenever they need it to make sure that the debate is as healthy as it can be.

That is true for every site except one, the one who’s proprietor calls himself Johnjames.

For a long time I have refused to offer him any support or encouragement at all.

I refuse to do so because he has posted stuff on that site which is homophobic.

He has posted stuff on that site which is libellous.

At least once – the notorious Richard Gough lawyers letter – he fell so far below standards of decency that it took my breath away.

He has posted stuff on that site which dredges the gutter like the worst of the Ibrox forums.

As those who read articles from across Celtic cyberspace will be aware, he posted a piece last week claiming “inside information” from Celtic Park as to who the manager would be. He claimed that Lennon was told that the job would not be his, and he even posted the date on which that news was imparted to Lennon himself.

He then said Moyes would get it.

And all of it was nonsense.

Now under normal circumstances I have no problem with blogs which write nonsense.

This blog has written an incalculable amount of it over the years.

Sometimes I’ve written it thinking I had good information, sometimes I’ve been stating an opinion which has turned out to be wrong, at times I have written nonsense because nonsense was what was on my mind.

There are many in our support who think my output over the entire weekend has been nonsense, and they are, of course, fully entitled to hold that view and I would argue the toss with anyone who would seek to deny them that expression.

(I have, of course, blocked a number of people this weekend who made their criticism personal, because who has time for that in their lives? I also accept that when I’m angry I do fly off the handle a bit and say things I shouldn’t; some of my stuff this weekend attests to that in full.)

But when the news broke about Lennon being offered the job at the weekend, Johnjames did something that this blog has never, ever done and will never, ever do. It removed the article on Lennon from the main page, as if trying to erase his own embarrassment.

When it became clear that this was a strategy with no prospect of success he offered to quit blogging.

He repeated that offer in a long post this morning.

In my view, that’s an offer too good to refuse, if only he’d meant it.

This is a guy who calls his own readers “freeloaders” if they don’t give him money “to keep belly from backbone.”

Who publishes stuff behind a password because he thinks only those who do pay for the privilege should get the benefits of his wisdom.

You might accuse him of “demanding money with embarrassment.”

It is probably just as well he cowers behind a pseudonym, unlike those of us – like Phil, who he has waged a non-stop campaign of invective against, for years now, and I – who do this under our own names and take all the flak that comes with that.

And whereas people I know have suffered the full effects of sectarianism in this city and beyond, and harrassment of a sort you simply would not believe, this individual trades on nonsense about being on the run and in fear of his life because he writes nasty things about a football club.

And over and over and over and over and over again he has attacked this site and others, relentlessly, accusing us of being purveyors of “fake news” and plagiarism.

I am proud that, until this weekend and today, I had never seen one Celtic site attack another.

I would have been quite satisfied, and would have made no more about this, just to see him hoist on his own petard by those on social media who are frankly tired of his relentlessly personal attacks on them and others. (Not one of those people, by the way, has ever responded to any of it, and I give all of them enormous credit for it.)

I once tried to reason with him – in a long post for On Fields Of Green – urging him to stop with his personal attacks and help make the blogosphere a place where the sites could work together and promote real debate and for a while he did.

Then something happened – and I know what it was – and he was back to his old ways and worse than ever.

I’ve pulled him up for this stuff in private correspondence.

I never wanted to give him the publicity of an article, but he knows exactly how I feel about his lamentable behaviour, and the nature of some of what he writes.

But what he wrote today, in defence of his Lennon piece, was so far beyond the pale that I’ve been forced to finally respond.

In defence of his piece he leveled an allegation of a personal nature against Neil Lennon, the sort that belongs on the pro-Ibrox forums where anything goes.

I have read few more disgusting things that this, an allegation that is libellous and deserving of contempt … and needless to say, without an iota of truth.

Whatever concerns I’ve expressed about Lennon the Manager in no way change how I feel about Lennon the Man, and I would have been shocked and sickened, and I would have responded angrily, against what this guy published today even if this weekend’s announcement had not happened.

But Lennon is now the manager of Celtic, and I find myself in the position – but not at all an uncomfortable one – where I am writing in his defence, in that role, for the first time.

Believe me when I say this; I am glad to do it.

One of the reasons I have my doubts about the wisdom of the appointment is that Neil Lennon will be exposed to this kind of stuff all over again, the kind of stuff that he must have hoped he had left far behind him. This will not go away. But as this weekend proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, many, many, many people in our support will go to the bat for him even when they only percieve him to be under personal attack; those who wish to come at Lennon in that way would do well to consider that.

I have screen-grabbed the section of the article in question; I am not publishing it here because of the nature of it. You should feel free to go over and check it out for yourself though. If you decide not to bother, well I cannot blame you at all. If he decides to remove it – as he should – he should apologise, or we should presume he did it only to avoid being called out on it.

If he does not apologise, I will consider whether or not to tweet the screengrab and people can make up their own minds.

Too much of the debate over Lennon the Manager became ludicrously personal. I defend everything I wrote on the grounds that it was fair comment and did not stray into the area of a personal attack; all of it was about Neil’s ability to take us forward as a club.

I would write every single bit of it again.

The difference between an opinion on the manager and a personal attack on the man has never been more clear than what is on Johnjames site this evening. If you cannot tell the difference, then I don’t know what to tell you.

It is deplorable. It is despicable. It is disgusting.

Johnjames represents the absolute worst of the blogosphere; anonymous sniping, libellous statements, ludicrous claims backed up by not one iota of fact.

Today he has posted a piece of deplorable gossip, innuendo of a highly personal nature, to deflect from the simple truth here, that he blew it and blew it big time.

And that attack, more even than the other personal stuff he’s published over the years, more than the fake news and misinformation, more than the attacks on other blogs, should make those who “support” his site consider that long and hard.

Resignation accepted.