So, I’m in self isolation at the moment. It’s precautionary.
For the last couple of days, I’ve had a cough and a headache. I am not running a high temperature. The cough is chesty and not dry. I have the cold. A simple thing. But you want to be sure. You want to be 100% certain that you aren’t spreading something.
Self-isolation doesn’t mean the same thing for me as it does for many others. I’m lucky. I work at home. My bedroom is my office and the place I spend much of my time. I have my movies and Netflix and Amazon and my strategy games … I’ll survive it.
I will miss my friends and the other special people in my life. I will miss seeing them. I will also miss the nice restaurants I like and the nice pubs I feel at home in. Those things are gone for a while and I will hate every second that they are.
Football will leave a deeper hole, and not just because it’s the thing that brought us all here.
It’s one of the central pillars of my life, as I am sure it is for all of you. Close season is bad enough; regular readers know how I climb the walls during it, and in recent years the winter shutdown as well. This will be longer than both. How to cope with it?
Well let’s start here; we are nine in a row champions. Oh that hasn’t been made official either by virtue of the final standings or by the cancellation of the league, but all of us know we’ll get there. We will take that bow. We will secure that accolade.
Unfortunately, until it is official there are no DVDs or anything to commemorate it.
It is hard to imagine how they’ll cover this particular period. But fortunately, we have something else; we have eight years of triumphs and victories and titles and trophies. We have plenty of stuff we can look back on to reminisce as we wait for normal service to resume.
Imagine we didn’t have this. Oh I mean, there’s a lot to be said for going back over the old VHS tapes and stuff and watching the Martin O’Neill Treble videos all over again … and even now they are a sublime viewing experience, including, as they do, the 6-2 skelping at Celtic Park and the 3-0 at Ibrox which are amongst the greatest memories I have as a fan.
But as incredible as it is to say it out loud, that was almost 20 years ago now.
There’s an entire generation of our supporters whose memories of that will be faint at best, and many who will know of it only from pictures of themselves in toddler sized Celtic strips being carried aloft by people who look as if they’ve won a free supermarket sweep at a Smirnoff factory. Their hearts beat for more recent triumphs, for memories of what they were there to see in the flesh … and eight years of solid success have given us so many, many excellent ones.
Imagine you were ten years without any of it, save for a couple of lower league titles and a cup. (And let’s face it, when you have the second biggest wage bill in the country the Challenge Cup is a very minor thing indeed, and they needed five attempts to even get that.) Imagine all you had were two cup finals – and you lost both – and a solitary win at the home of your rivals.
Good God, what would you spend your time watching? Emmerdale?
Imagine you had to self-isolate with footage so grainy it could have been shot in the 60’s? How many times can pretend still to be excited about Helicopter Sunday? I understand that they have a penchant for nostalgia over there, but come on …
I mean, doesn’t it say everything that the most excited they’ve been following their team, and the closest they’ve got to having something to celebrate, is now, during a global crisis which has shut football down completely? Imagine being reduced to that.
How tough do you think the days and the weeks and the months would be then?
It is tempting to say we are lucky, but of course that’s not even close to being true. Not one bit of this is down to luck. We built this club to be a success machine. We constructed a juggernaut of terrifying consistency and strength … we earned every bit of it.
So when we’re sitting at home over the next month or so and we’re watching the wonderful footage of our most recent successes – and yes, those which came before too – remember that you all helped to build that, that what you’re watching is something that is yours, that without you it might not even have happened. Take pride in it.
Because yes, others don’t have that.
It’s repeats of The Bill for them, all the way down the line.