Fear & Loathing At Hampden: Walk The Walk You Better Talk The Talk.

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They say if you live long enough, you get to see everything. An awfully big statement as I know for sure that there are things I’ll never seen if I live to be 100.

But I know this, because I have seen this. If you live long enough you’ll get to see the same mistakes, made over and over and over again in those in the world around you. What I’m saying is,, the longer you live the more you see in repeats.

When The Mooch took over at Ibrox I called him that because of who he reminded me; I had no idea that his entire club would end up going down the same rabbit hole in the week leading towards this game. They talked the talk. Could they walk the walk?

I had my doubts. In part because they are just not that good. In part because we are that good and getting better. The elements that blend together and make success were all there for us to win. If we turned up in the right frame of mind I knew we would, and from first minute until last we simply looked like a a better team and one with the right motivation.

In the years I’ve been doing this, and other things besides, people have occasionally asked me why I never stuck with politics. Did I not fancy elected office somewhere? The truth is, I was not suited to it even if I’d wanted to do it. Too many elements of my personality don’t fit with what the modern political party wants, and there was something else; I’d never pass vetting.

I was too crazy in my 20’s and even my 30’s and I’m not daft enough to think that some stories wouldn’t end up doing the rounds until they were in the papers. But there are some people who are so self-centred and self-oriented that none of that stops them. They believe they can survive anything, brass neck their way out of anything, lie about anything.

There’s a magnificent example from American politics, which I love and study relentlessly. It’s from George Bush Senior’s Presidential campaign, which he comfortably won against Michael Dukakis.

During the primary season, there was a brief frisson around Teddy Kennedy who hoped he could turn it into a comeback campaign after the early Democrat favourite, Gary Hart, dropped out. The idea that Kennedy could replace Hart on the ticket, when his indiscretion was relatively minor compared to Chappaquiddick was risible. Still, Kennedy and his people seemed to believe it.

The centrepiece of their campaign was to ignore the rest of the Democratic pack and focus on Bush, the presumptive Republican nominee who had been Vice President and director of the CIA. The Kennedy campaign was particularly taken with the idea that as head of the intelligence agency that Bush must know all the dark secrets of Contra, which he probably did.

They called their campaign “Where Was George?”

The Republicans, whose leadership was being schooled by a guy called Karl Rove and where the campaign was being run by an even bigger bastard, a guy called Lee Atwater, didn’t even entertain the question directly. Instead they got every campaign worker not on the official party pay-roll to start wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Dry, Sober And Home With His Wife.”

With Kennedy’s lamentable personal conduct suddenly the story, that was the end of his campaign, and an object lesson for everyone; as Malcolm Tucker once put it, if you’re going to sling stuff at other people “you better home your knickers are clean.”

So suddenly, this evening, the “successes” of the Ibrox club are suddenly under the microscope and the record is being looked at properly on their forums … and it was not Celtic who put it there, it was the Ibrox club itself and the long line of its players and sympathisers but mostly its manager, who wanted to talk about it before this game kicked off.

It didn’t stand up to scrutiny then. It stands up even less to it now. What was it you were saying again? “Two trophies in the last four?” Mate, you are not going to pass vetting.

My friend Matthew Marr and I were talking about this some months ago, when we only had a League Cup and were still to win the title. When the treble looked like it might be on I asked him when even the Ibrox fans might have to accept that this was a generation of Celtic dominance in which we might dominate them for ever more years to come.

He spoke about how he’d view it from merely a statistical point of view. He said that four trebles in a row, followed by one bad year, followed by two trophies out of the next three and then two out of the next three and you would have to see that year as a blip. Which is all any of us ever really believed that it was. We are Scotland’s last standing superpower.

Make no mistake about it. That’s all there is. Ibrox can pretend that a few modest successes – and a league title in that season was a bolt from the blue, a Leicester style one, or a Blackburn – means something major is going on … but ask St Johnstone about that, after their two domestic cups in the same season. Nobody there was kidding themselves about suddenly being the biggest club in the land. They knew what the truth was.

With the title in our grasp that’s almost certainly four from the last five trophies and one still to play for this season. Win that, and what does it tell you about the balance of power? Stick a pound coin on one end of the scales and a gold bar on the other. That’s what.

Scrutinise that record. It’s fun to do. But let’s not ignore that the Ibrox club has spent the last week at least demanding that we look at theirs. But if you are gonna talk the talk you better be sure that you can walk the walk and we know that we can do the latter and one of the reasons we know that is that we never bother with doing the former. Talk is cheap.

So this is a magnificent night for our club, but not one that we didn’t all expect and see coming, not one that changes our view that much because we were pretty sure of where we stood and what our side was and is. The best side in this country by far. By a country mile.

But over there, brothers and sisters this is their Long Dark Night Of The Soul.

Let the celebrations, and the mayhem, commence.

I’m writing this from the pub, so I’m going to go now and celebrate our wonderful day. Please, enjoy yours and stay safe. And believe that we earned this because we did. A lot of hardship and endurance got us to where we are today. It has all been worth it.

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  • Brian Cavanagh says:

    Great stuff James – it was closer than we would have liked – but Celtic showed their class from beginning to end. The opposition let themselves down, and the thinking element of their fans by the refusal to have Celtic’s name of their jersey – now it may be a tedious convention to some, but it is petty in the extreme, and shows a leadership and club insecure in themselves. Their manager reminds me of the rogue pilot in catch me if you can -without the sense of humour – a con man exploiting the weakness of others for his own ego

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