Earlier in the week, I talked about the Celtic fans of my generation who saw some truly horrific things as they grew up watching the team. I realise now that the best way to present those things is to do it in its full context, and it just so happens that one of our writers, Paul Cassiday, did this some time ago when he presented a series of articles called The Dark Days.
The series chronicled the events from 1990 until 2000.
There was a title win in there, and a couple of cups; it was not unlike the Sevco years except in one crucial respect, and this has to be noted and remembered; we won five trebles during their Dark Days and their Dark Days aren’t even finished yet.
Still the memory of those years, from 1990 to 2000 were amongst the worst I ever experienced as a Celtic fan. As with their Dark Days we stopped a ten in a row, but one of the reasons I knew I would survive that is that no sooner had we stopped them but they appointed Advocaat and went on another run which suggested they might dominate for even more years.
Then, in 2001, we appointed Martin O’Neill and everything changed.
But the decade following Joe Miller’s winning goal at Hampden to give us a Scottish Cup, no-one knowing it would be seven years before we won another trophy, are the worst I ever experienced as a Celtic supporter. The present generation which has known nothing but success … I envy you in a sense but in another way not so much.
Because to truly get it, to truly understand what these days mean to some of us, you have to know where we’ve been; it was Richard Nixon, oddly enough, who said it best; “Only if you have been in the deepest valley can you know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”
Well, we’re on that mountain right now.
Over the course of the next couple of days, this blog will be taking a guided tour of a valley so deep that few us saw things changing in our lifetimes … and yet here we are. In many ways then, it is the story of our climb out of Hell.
I think this is an important story.
I think it’s important because its only when you recall where we were that you can truly appreciate where it is that we are.
I think it’s important because this will give a proper perspective on how all-encompassing and even miraculous what Fergus McCann did at this club was, and he left before the period covered in these articles comes to an end … but what he did is what endures.
What he did is the reason for all that has come after. He was our last great true visionary, the last person at boardroom level who introduced truly transformational change, the last person who instigated and oversaw a genuine revolution.
So in some ways, this is his story too, the story of the man who came in midway through the decade and before it was over dragged Celtic into the light, and he put us on the path from the valley floor to the mountaintop.
It was a hard slog … but that makes the triumph all the greater.
I’ll post Part One at 5.30pm and another part at 7.30pm.