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The Celtic Fans Reaction To The Tynecastle Defeat Was Critical In Getting Us Here.

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There is a mistaken view of the Celtic support that they do their best work, their most critical work, inside the stadiums themselves. This hasn’t been true for a very long time.

The Celtic Family is a vast diaspora spread across the world; at most, 60,000 of us who are lucky enough to live in a geographic area which allows it, or who can afford the cost of travelling on a regular basis, get to see the team in the flesh once a fortnight.

That’s not this Family at its finest.

The ways in which this Family gives its support to the club are as varied as the fan-base itself. But its our social media following which has grown ever more vocal and influential.

I’m not ruling out what the 60,000 do at home, or what the thousands who go to away games do … but in the day-to-day life of Celtic those of us who are active every day, whether as writers or readers or engaged followers on Twitter, Instagram or the other channels, have a massive impact too.

Celtic fan opinion takes many forms, but it’s online where you can see it all the time, unfolding even in real-time, with fans reacting to every event and piece of news. And there was one moment since the New Year where everything could have really come wildly off the rails, and if it had then I would suggest we’d not be sitting top of the table right now.

The reaction to the Hearts game at Tynecastle was absolutely crucial in keeping morale high and the sense of momentum going. Because that was a bad, bad result, one that could have really knocked the whole club for six and given the manager a really difficult path to walk. That the Ibrox club had lost to Motherwell the day before actually made that a harder blow to take in some ways … although the sense that it hadn’t done any real harm was also very real.

But had our supporters reacted to that badly, had anger erupted against the boss, against the players, against the board, against the club itself, I think things would look pretty ugly right now. All the ingredients for a meltdown were in place.

Not only was it the latest bad result of the campaign, but it was a massive reversal when we’d had the chance to go back top. The media evidently hoped that would be the reaction. They were sharpening their pencils for it.

Yet the reaction of the fans was brilliant, and we were aided in that by having a very clear culprit; the VAR official, John Beaton.

Not that Don Robertson, the ref, was getting off the hook nor that he deserved to; it was that we knew full damned well that what had happened that day was a complete scandal. The other thing that kept us focussed was that the manager himself said so.

We missed a penalty that day at 0-0, so nobody was kidding anybody on that there weren’t some self-inflicted wounds. But we were all able to look at them objectively and calmly, understanding that when your side is deprived of a key player from a terrible red card decision and then concedes a penalty at a vital moment in the match that it is very hard to turn it around.

Hard. Not impossible.

But the phrase I kept on hearing after that one was “extenuating circumstances” and I wholly agreed with that view. It was impossible to hold it against the team and the manager when we could smell something fishy about the officiating that day. That the boss came out and aggressively put our case showed that those inside Celtic thought the same.

Even so, the nerves might have been allowed to creep in.

There might even have been a re-evaluation of the game itself in the days to follow, had the SFA not then committed yet another act of war against our club by deciding to discipline Rodgers in the way they did. Not so much the decision itself, which a lot of us had kind of expected, but the timing of the case, so obviously and deliberately to coincide with us going to Ibrox.

The club’s response to that – Rodgers unapologetic stance, and our decision to bring in a top sports lawyer to represent us – shook the SFA up and further raised morale amongst the fans.

And whilst I thought some people’s reactions to the ban being imposed were short-sighted in that they didn’t quite grasp what it was that Celtic had managed to achieve, I think the club’s position was vindicated when Rodgers masterminded our taking a point at Ibrox, a game where the SFA had every intention of making him watch from the stand.

It is hard to believe, but of course the SFA’s dire response to this whole affair continued into their decisions to make Robertson the ref for Livingston and to put Beaton in the middle of the game at Ibrox itself. This was the SFA trying to throw its weight around, but they’d already lost the battle that mattered and Celtic had a straightforward path ahead.

Through all of it, the Celtic fans been absolutely incredible. The reaction to the Hearts game was not to shrug it off as unimportant and inconsequential – we all knew that was certainly important that there might be huge consequences – but to recognise the role that the officials had played and to put it to one side and move on to the next game on the list.

That’s one of the reasons we’re here, with it all in our hands and the road mapped out for us. Because nobody panicked, nobody over-reacted … and we got behind the team when the team needed that the most. Brilliant.

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  • Pan says:

    The interesting thing is that the lawyer who represented us stated very clearly that he will be very pleased to represent Celtic again when the occasion arises. The SFA will have to tread very carefully now.

    We are no longer playing nice and lying over to have our belly rubbed,

  • Nick66 says:

    Dundee v Sevco kicked off 10 minutes ago. I believe that Sevco will not be allowed to lose. Anyway I’m a Dundonian tonight. Let’s hope the Tav bottle has a glass ceiling.

  • SFATHENADIROFCHIFTINESS says:

    There’s still time for the SFA & their Ludge Bruvvers to get their revenge.
    Just wait till the refereeing and VARmen appointments are published for the final games.
    The hun players might be having doubts but the SEVCO Hierarchy will be pushing the SFA all the way till the end of the Season.

  • Melvin Udall says:

    James, if anything that game at Tynecastle actually bonded the support and made us realise we were up against it from all angles.

    I think it was a watershed moment for most of us who were maybe doubting Brendan’s and/or the players and we’ve kicked on since.

    Listening to this lot against Dundee atm and they are rank rotten. Should have had at least 4 yellow cards as well, but none given. Also 2 hand ball decisions in their favour. If those hand balls were Dundee players, we know fine well what the outcome would be. Another goal for Tavpen.

    When you’re bringing Dessers off the bench to win you a game, you’re in trouble. ???

    Still 0-0 on 72 minutes. ??

  • Fat mike says:

    And off the back of it, sevco went to Dundee and despite trying their hardest, didn’t get a penalty to bail them out. Progress is slow but its coming HH

  • JimBhoy says:

    Well folks treble for me, Celtic draw at Ibrox, next 3-0 corect score and 0-0 Dundee/rangers, not like me. the latter 25/1. Bookie bashing,

    I thought the Dundee pitch would play a part but it’s more as I wrote in an earlier blog, the Glib Clemente cannot inspire his squad. They will drop more points and will be easily defeated at Parkhead, they have nothing in midfield. Long ball merchants the sign that there is little confidence in a team.

    The rangers blogs are back to their usual form of pitchforks and torches for the manager. They haven’t had a decent one since Van Bronckhurst but when he started to tell the truths and deviate from the accepted Klan talk he was soon out the door and lost the brown brogues.

    Loving it. Celtic make mine a double.

  • Roonsa says:

    The commentary from the fan blogs after that Hearts shitshow was, on reflection, excellent. I didn’t agree with it at the time but nobody gives a toot what I think. I thought Celtic were masters of their own downfall.

    But, of course, I was missing the point. Celtic might have provided the opportunity to be kicked whilst down but it was an opportunity gleefully accepted by the MIB. And exploited to the max.

    That you and your mates called it out and spread the good word in such an articulate manner cannot be underestimated. I am not blowing smoke here. This is absolutely the case. The days of Celtic fans being belittled as paranoid and delusional are long gone.

    This is, in no small part, down to the shift away from the MSM to fans having places like this to have issues raised and dissected. It’s better than a forum which is just a free for all. A focal view point that gives is the opprtuntiy to respond and react as we see fit is the best way to shape opinions. It also helps avoid chamber syndrome.

    I have seen you call out fellow Celtic fans on here for their views. This is vital. It all goes back the point you were making. If we, as a collective, stay strong and avoid jumping the shark (something that other lot do on a consistent basis) then good things will happen. And they have. Yes. Credit the support. But why are things the way they are? I am talking about the massively different mindsets that can be attributed to both sets of fans. It’s not genetic!

  • Johnny Green says:

    How in God’s name did that mediocre lot manage to get a draw with the Champions, oh aye, extenuating circumstances.

    Keep the faith and we will be true to thee till death.

    Here we go for 10-in-a-row….. I honestly never doubted it.

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