One of the reasons why international week is such a pain is that a lot of Celtic fans have nobody to root for.
Those born in England, Wales and Ireland might view this differently, but many of those born in Scotland, and who once had an allegiance to the side that plays at Hampden, have been pushed slowly but surely in the opposite direction.
Celtic fans have fallen out of love with the Scottish National Team.
In that, we’ve become a little like the Ibrox fan base.
But you know what? I don’t care what their reasons are for turning their back on the land of their birth. I know why we’ve done it.
Our club has been messed about by the governing bodies in every which way.
Part of that is our own damned fault. We’ve either been unwilling to lead or we just haven’t been able to. We’ve either not bothered to try for reform – more on that later – or we’ve simply been unable to swing people over to our side.
The reform agenda is an open goal. If we can’t put the ball in there some people at our club really shouldn’t be in their posts.
The point where the relationship broke came with the appointment of Alex McLeish; I’m not even going to pretend that it wasn’t that which ended the relationship for me. I used to love the national team; I even co-edited the Tartan Army publication with a good friend of mine.
He’s also a Celtic fan and still follows Scotland, but he understands my disillusionment.
A couple of weeks back, I wrote an article about the Scottish Government and their crazy attempt to pander to Ibrox, an audience they will never be able to successfully appeal to. Their club is profoundly unionist and the bulk of its support loathe the SNP.
Curiously, it was this spreading dislike which severed the link between their fans and the Scottish National team.
The campaign for independence, the Saltire itself, the administration in Edinburgh … this all became entwined for them with the team at Hampden and they decisively moved away from it. You can see the evidence of that all over their forums.
Most took to embracing England; all that embrace of unionism and those “No Surrender to the IRA” chants must have helped a lot in that regard.
I understand that there must have been some concern about that at Hampden, and especially after Gordon Strachan got the job and started to build his Scotland team around our squad. Well, why should he not have? We had the best players in the country.
But when he left the SFA took the incredible decision to go the other way and chase the favour of the Ibrox support without giving a damn what happened to standards. As incredible as it still seems to me, they approached Walter Smith first, a guy who hadn’t been in the game since 2010 and who actually walked out on Scotland to go back to Ibrox.
McLeish was actually their second choice, but if you’re prepared to go for Smith in the first place it shouldn’t come as a great shock that Plan B was a reeking disgrace.
It showed utter contempt for all of Scottish football.
Either would have been an appalling appointment in every way, and that it was so clearly a sop to Ibrox after the appointment of a “Celtic minded” manager showed two things; the SFA’s completely lop-sided priorities and the lack of any management personality who could both appeal to the Ibrox clique and unite the game behind him.
We should all be grateful, I suppose, that they didn’t just go for McCoist.
It’s a shame, too, because I feel dreadful for Steve Clarke, who didn’t ask for this and doesn’t deserve it. Indeed, I thought he was the only candidate for the job when Strachan left and had the SFA done what was crying out to be done at that time we all might be in a different place now.
Clarke would have been the right man for the job, but the Ibrox fan-base had already developed a problem with him and so had their club.
That’s why the SFA didn’t go with him, the right man at the right time but he had upset the wrong Peepul. That’s the basis on which our governing body makes decisions, and it is why I don’t trust them at all and why few Celtic supporters do.
I don’t see how it changes. This Association is one of the worst in all of football. They long ago lost their credibility, but in going for McLeish they abandoned any remained shred of their moral standing as well, if any was left of it after 2012 and the scandals it produced.
Tomorrow night, when they take on Serbia, it will be the most important match the national team has played in decades.
I will not be hoping they lose it, but nor will I be vigorously roaring them on.
The truth is, I don’t care one way or the other … except in that if they make the Euros a lot of our players will take part and thus go without a much needed break.
Selfish? Yes, but that’s what they’ve conditioned us to be.
That’s what they have forced us to.
The SFA is a joke. For too late the joke was on us.
If they want to win us back, they are going to have to change.
More on that before midnight, believe me.