In The Battle Between Celtic’s “File Clerks” And Ibrox’s “Convicts” There Will Be Only One Winner.

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In the magnificent 1962 movie Fail Safe, a military strategist, played brilliantly by Walter Mattheu, ponders nuclear war at a party. His cold-blooded assessments provoke horror in those around him.

Finally, one asks him who would survive.

His answer is half-humour and half serious.

“Convicts and file clerks,” he tells the room of shocked listeners. “The worst convicts, in the deepest layers of solitary confinement and clerks in fire proof rooms surrounded by the best insulator there is; paper.”

His musings then turn to the inevitable battle for what’s left of the planet and the question as to who will win the final war. “The convicts will know violence,” he says. “But the file clerks will understand strategy.”

He never does give an answer to that ultimate question, instead leaving them with a beautiful intellectual puzzle.

I was thinking about that today in the context of another piece which you may read later, but I realised that this musing belongs in this article instead, this pre-game piece, this moment of calm before the storm.

Because two separate philosophies have always been evident at their club and ours but it has never been more pronounced than it is right now. If theirs is the “brute force” team of bulk and battle, ours is the team of intelligence and sophistication. They may know how to batter the opposition, but we know how to unlock a defence by craft and guile.

When these two teams take the field today that will be evident right from the word go. They will seek to bulldozer their way through us. We will seek to contain them and thread our way through. They may – in the parlance of Mattheu’s character – know violence but we know strategy and I’m fairly certain that he knew strategy would likely come out on top.

We are, more than ever, watching two sides here who are miles apart in outlook, in quality, in management styles, in the boardroom and amongst the support. Don’t get me wrong, these clubs were always going to be on divergent paths, but I have never seen this this acute, this obvious, this polar opposite in every way.

Even in the dugout, where most managers of the modern era are very similar in tone and outlook and expression we have men who could not be further apart temperamentally. Ange is forensic, intelligent, humorous and focussed. The Mooch is sarcastic, bitter, angry and forever looking to score points against others.

The captains might as well come from different planets as well.

When Callum talks he does so with respect for the other clubs and he never thinks more than one game ahead. When Tavernier talks it’s all about how they expect to beat everyone and how their only focus is really on Celtic anyway.

He never gives credit to the opposition; everything is about how the world hasn’t seen the best of them yet … there is no hint that he understands that other teams have agency here too and that this one might just be a better one than they are.

I wrote earlier in the week about the fans; it doesn’t need pointing out that we are entirely different from theirs, and whilst I believe that a much bigger, deeper article about this cultural divergence is needed, and I’ll get to it, I think it’s obvious that this is a clash of more than just two opposing football teams.

And the thing is, we are just better in every department.

We have every right to be confident without being arrogant.

We have every right to expect a good day today.

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  • Ewen M Cameron says:

    Matthau, not Mattheu

  • Johnny Green says:

    They are threatening to come at us right from the start, from the kick of they want to be in our faces, but for that to work we would need to sit back and allow it, and of course we will not. We are quicker than them, how are they going to get in our faceS if they are chasing our backs, we are a well oiled machine, we work as a collective unit and their effortS will not phase us. One goal from us, hopefully an early one, is all it will take for their willpower to falter and eventually collapse. We have no fears and we never stop.


  • Bhoy4life says:

    I have been fortunate enough to build up a wee balance on my betting account over the last few weeks, every penny of it is going on Sevco getting a penalty today, most of it on the first goal being a Sevco pen.
    The lge is over without that helping hand..and they will get it, be in no doubt.

  • Dora says:

    Have to say-I’m very grateful to sevco, bar a dodgy, Covid year…it’s like free funny lunny when forming a Q to collect…AGAiN!!
    All in on a Celtic win but I’m so undecided today-
    2-0, 3-1 or or perhaps that familiar 5 as in over 4.5

    Anyways We’ll celebrate when we thump that sevco bunch of tramps..

    • Finbar muldoon says:

      TWENTY years morelos and boyd v Celts. 3 goals. 18 months Kyogo. Same output. HH

  • Johnny Green says:

    What the fk is O’Rily thinking about giving away a free kick on the edge of the box, I wouldn’t have even picked him in the team, but let’s see what happens.

  • Henriksgoldenboot says:

    James, something for you to ponder. Who was who today. After watching that game today I’d say we were the convict’s because we got out of jail today. That could easily and probably should have been a draw today but the klan could even have a case for winning it today. We were well below par today. We played like a bunch who were just released from prison and had played together for the first time in years.

    I have to say Ange got it terribly wrong today, and we for the second or third game in a row against them, didn’t look like we are head and shoulders above them as you like to make the point that we are. Although we should be. TBH I thought they, and it grinds my bones to say this, played the better football today. Apart from our two moments of magic to get Kyogo on the scoresheet.

    Ange shouldn’t have started Maeda or Mooy. We were much more balanced when Iwata came on and I think the boy is ready to be a stick on. We still need a true leader at the back. There is no real stature there. CCV is a quality player but he isn’t an out and out leader. Starfelt had a decent game but again did loose his men now and again and is also not dominant and commanding enough. I also felt he could have given away a penalty midway through the first half when he had a push in the back of Cantwell I think it was, very very soft but seen them given. Again we got out of jail. Taylor again is exposed in these games. He is a tryer and a plodder but is at him limit and if Bernabei is not better then we need shot of one of them and bring in better quality and keep one as backup.

    So many loose passes today, I lost count.

    Having said that, winning these games when we don’t perform at our best is how champions are made. And perversely it’s almost more enjoyable! We’ll need to be a level or two above when it comes to the semi as we were in the final previously. My cynical side screams out also in these games and it says are we toying with them, making them feel as if they have a chance and trying to “sell” the fixture for TV? Because as you know as much as modern life is these days,it’s all for show and nothing is what it seems! Happy Easter to you all and God bless you brothers and sisters!

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