Last week, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain sent me a rather amusing press piece by the long forgotten Gary Keown.
He’s apparently working at The Scottish Daily Mail On Sunday, which is one of those media titles that, to paraphrase Kevin Bridges, just gets more embarrassing with every word.
I hadn’t remembered he even existed.
After reading him, I am reminded that not a single one of us is missing much.
His attack on the Celtic fan media was as brazenly dishonest as it was badly written and stupid.
He decided to focus on two questions, the one which came first and my own.
I’ve covered the one which came first.
Ange needed to know what he’s up against.
If he has read any of the coverage of that event he will know that he’s dealing with poisonous, spiteful and bitter people. That, alone, should give him pause for thought and let him understand a thing or two.
Keown claims that Ange was baffled and bemused by the question I asked about the SFA and the need for reform. Curiously enough, an Ibrox fan site said the same.
Bad enough that you nick your copy, but you really have to watch who you’re nicking it from.
I find the point bizarre, because the question wasn’t even directed at him but to Dominic McKay, whose job does actually involve dealing with the governing body and he understood what I was trying to say and why it was important.
Keown seems to think stuff like financial fair play and reforms of fit and proper person tests aren’t relevant, or are some kind of joke.
Well, I recently wrote about how organised crime gangs are trying to worm them way into the national sport; this may even be the reason for the fire-bombing of Peter Lawwell’s house.
I guess Keown either doesn’t know that or doesn’t care.
Aside from anything else, the reforms I asked about are necessary to keep these kind of people at bay.
So too is proper scrutiny of how clubs are financed.
A mainstream journalist, writing on the game here, should take those things more seriously and it is precisely the kind of question which McKay needed to be asked. I am not finished with that line of questioning just yet.
The “professional” media in this country is fundamentally gutless and dreadful at its job.
It also has a short memory, and apparently forgets that Google exists. Keown has his own issues with the SFA as even as a cursory look back over his “output” reveals in just five minutes.
I long ago ceased to care whether he and his cronies were biased, hopeless or hopelessly compromised. There is no consistency to their arguments.
They decry conspiracy theories on one hand and push them with all they’ve got on the other.
He didn’t like me referring to the SFA as “anarchic” but he has described it in similar language himself, as lacking leadership, one hand not knowing what the other is doing, as chaotic and teetering on the brink of a total collapse in public trust.
Still, if he found the use of it strange then he’s half right.
I actually meant to say “archaic” but I was talking too fast.
But the SFA has been, and is, both and so to me it’s chickenshit on top of everything else, an obsession with small stuff when there are bigger issues to discuss.
Keown is small fry. That title he writes for has only a handful of readers left.
New media is the future.
We’ll be here long after he and his rag have been mothballed for good.
If I took him seriously I’d give him a full piece.
This is what he gets instead.
A Kit-Kat and coffee break intro to an article about someone else a week after the fact.
I really don’t think he deserves anything else and he’s lucky to get this much of my time and attention.
Hugh Keevins is lucky to get any attention.
But his article today practically begs for a response and my good friend Paddy Sinat already took a swing at him this morning for it, and his assertion that if Ange loses at Ibrox any fan press conference will essentially be a bloodbath.
What a ridiculous, and scandalous, thing for this eejit to write.
I remember reading his condescending and patronising guff after Kenny Dalglish made he and his colleagues do their press conferences in Celtic pubs. You’d think he’d been asked to cover them from a warzone; it was all references to shady characters with tattooed knuckles giving them the evil eye.
How many journalists were “harassed” at those pressers?
The answer is none.
They weren’t the main attraction, as bruising to their egos as that undoubtedly is to read.
The locals were more focussed on the Celtic icon being questioned.
Keevins also knows, but has gone out of his way never to acknowledge the fact, that Dalglish only dragged them to those locations because they had blatantly lied about his comments in a Celtic Park presser and he wanted the public at large to hear him speak so they couldn’t get away with doing it again.
The media still twists the words of Celtic manager and players, even though the press conferences are filmed and shared widely on social media.
They’ve changed only in increments, and the idea that they aren’t special, that they don’t have a monopoly on this stuff, clearly offends them.
Keevins still having a Scottish media gig has long been an embarrassment anyway; he had, after all, written his own career obituary with a farewell article which harkened back to Dalglish’s day and how he was barred from the Celtic Club during that press conference tour.
I mean think of it; decades covering the game in Scotland, and that was the story he chose to re-tell. It really doesn’t say much for his output, does it?
Part of Keevins’ self-pitying rant today was about how the Ibrox club is considering charging journalists to get into games; this might be the first little act of nastiness from them with which I’ve ever agreed, and I do, wholeheartedly. The hacks and their papers should have to pay to get into matches, just like the rest of us, and I’ve long thought so.
If they choose not to, and want to file their copy from the car-park, so be it.
But his contention that our fan media reps couldn’t be trusted to behave ourselves when faced with the manager after a defeat is a despicable claim and one that every single person in Celtic social media will resent.
For all the allegations levelled at us about Neil Lennon facing poisonous personal abuse, I can count on my one hand the times I thought stuff I read on Celtic sites actually crossed that line.
When you think of the many thousands of articles which were written during the spell in which he was at the helm and we were at our worst, that’s not a bad ratio.
Every person at Celtic will be subjected to scrutiny in this coming year and yes, some of the questions they are going to get will make them decidedly uncomfortable. That’s as it should be.
If a Celtic manager feels comfortable facing the fan media during a slump then something has gone wrong somewhere.
Dominic McKay should never feel comfortable under questioning from us; that’s a dereliction of duty on our part if he does.
Consider too that Celtic began its current engagement with fan media following one of the worst seasons in living memory.
The club knows who we all are, none of us was chosen at random, all of us have gone through their version of “vetting”.
We criticise when it’s due.
For the rest of the time we fight its corner against eejits like Keevins and others.
As it happens, there was a conference call between the fan media and the bloggers some months ago in which one of our guys explicitly asked about a code of conduct for fan media events.
Understand, the club itself didn’t need to consider the question, because the fan reps already had. We know what’s permissible and what isn’t. Criticism is fine. It’s expected. Personal abuse won’t be.
None of us needed to hear it, but it still needed to be said and it was.
Keevins, echoing some of the crap Keown wrote, claims that the media will do a more professional job of holding the club to account because they understand the job, as if we don’t.
These hacks have meekly sat there when told by clubs and associations that certain questions were off limits.
They’ve cowered when managers have turned the tables on them.
For all their alleged professionalism, I seem to remember a specific defeat involving a club from Ibrox at which they all sat in bemused silence and didn’t even ask a single question.
Do I need to reference the times when their work has crossed the line between “journalism” and outright sycophancy?
Do they need me to dredge up the way they tiptoed around Murray? Around Lawwell?
About the cringeworthy Gerrard introduction where one of their number described the press event as like a wedding waiting for the stunning bride to appear?
Their industry is part of the reason one Ibrox club died and why a decades long scandal involving them went essentially unpunished.
It’s the industry that called Craig Whyte a billionaire and which cheer-led Charles Green although he warned that his “big Yorkshire hands” were made for shovelling money.
They are the people who gave a free pass to Dave King.
They are the people who like to parrot his claim that he succeeded in wrestling ten in a row away from us when he wasn’t even in the building when it was done, after he fled Ibrox the year before, with the City of London regulators on him, after we’d completed nine in a row and were a trophy away from the Quadruple Treble.
I could go on and on, but you get the point.
Being lectured by these people is like being lectured by Hannibal the Cannibal on good psychiatric practices and patient care. You can take them seriously only when you don’t know their history.
It has been decades since Keevins could call himself a journalist and keep a straight face.
It has been longer since he actually was one.
His comments on our fan media are not only absolutely wrong, but they reek of self-entitlement and bitterness that we’ve come far enough that we’re now, essentially, camped on the ground they think of us as their own turf.
That’s what bothers them most.
They don’t care about Celtic, of course, so what is it that has motivated this dire, almost furious, coverage since the fans got to ask their questions a couple of weeks ago?
You don’t need to be a genius to work it out; they hate that we’ve become a credible force.
They dread what happens when fan media is at every press event, because that threatens the cosy little bubble in which they live and breathe.
I understand that and I even sympathise a little with those of them honest enough to admit that what they really fear is what it means for their own profession and the status it once had.
But this what their own lack of professional standards has wrought.
If they had been on the job, I wouldn’t need to do mine.
Like many others, my being here is a product of events.
Had the media been up to it in 2012, there might have been no need for people like me in the first place.
Their industry is dying, and it’s not our fault but their own.
Let’s fact it, when a national newspaper brings a wizened relic like Keevins out of mothballs and gives him a column ten years after even he knew the gig was up, that title, and that industry, deserves everything it gets.