Its 5am, dark, and the heating hasn’t come on yet. Even the birds aren’t up yet. The view through the window is hardly inspiring.
One of the joys of travelling to the game from a distance is being able to enjoy these bracing early morning starts, and watching the sun rise over the hills, bringing all the hope and expectation of a new day, filled with promise and expectation.
Or I could just go back to bed and ignore the phone, which has been bleeping with the usual “are you up yet ?” messages.
And we wonder why its impossible to fill a mini bus these days.
The diary will be mercifully short today, but will be updated with regular comments throughout the day, which is a testament to the characters I will be travelling with, as it means as they get drunker, I will be spared their conversation.
Thats right, the big fat miserable one who sits down the front. How do I get this reputation ?
The idea is to head into Carlisle for breakfast, and then the Gallowgate by noon at the latest. all travelling have promised to make the game, and not be dragged into a pub and kept there.
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men.
Celtic will be without James Forrest, Beram Kayal and Joe Ledley today, which leaves the way clear for the likes of Boerrigter, Pukki and Bitton to make a name for themselves.
Forrest has been sidelined with a mystery virus, and manager Neil Lennon is worried. Well, we are when its our own, and the boss has been fretting;
James faces at least a week to 10 days out, so it is a race for the Barcelona game. ‘He was at home and felt really bad with a virus and ended up in hospital from Saturday to Wednesday, which was very concerning.
‘He was floored by it, but he is out now and feeling a bit better. He is back home with his mum and dad in Prestwick and has a bit more energy about him.
‘They think it was a deep-lined respiratory virus, but they are waiting on a few more tests coming back so nothing has been confirmed yet. We don’t know where it came from. We need to wait and see what it was.
‘It’s a shame because nothing seems to be simple with James. He missed a lot of games last season and also has an inflamed nerve (sciatica).
Another player Lennon spoke of was Anthony Stokes, who has stepped up to the plate this season so far inthe absence of Gary Hooper, who has gone on to fame and fortune in the EPL with Norwich. If the definition of fame and fortune is obscurity , that is. Lennon said ;
I had him in the office a couple of times. It’s fair to say he was walking on very thin ice. It wasn’t about tarnishing the club, he was hurting himself. It was nothing to do with stuff last year, the stuff in Dublin, it was just his indiscipline around the training ground and the team. He’s tidied that up now and become a really good professional.”
“I don’t know what made the penny drop for him. Maybe the injury and missing out on the whole Champions League campaign last year, sitting in the stand and watching the boys play in wins against Barcelona and Spartak Moscow and realising what he has at Celtic. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until you’re not there. I’ve never spoken to him about it but I certainly think the natural thing would be to sit down and think ‘I want to be a part of this’, and now he is.”
“I had question marks over his temperament in big games but his athleticism and fitness has improved and certainly his football, His movement as a striker was always good and he had adaptable feet, but he was curtailing his own progress with indiscretions and ill-discipline. Since he’s come back from injury he’s knuckled down and is doing his talent justice now.
“He did a lot of upper body work when he was out but he is a naturally strong boy. In the strength tests that the boys do at the start of the season he’s top of the list, the weightlifting and that sort of stuff. He doesn’t look it, when you strip him off he’s just a naturally strong boy. There were things he was doing in the game on Wednesday, he was challenging for balls in the air whereas before he was a little bit wishy-washy. I think with the fact Gary’s [Hooper] gone he’s looking to be the No.1 here and he’s enjoying that challenge.
“I’m really liking what I’m seeing in him at the moment. He’s always had goals in him and he will score goals at Champions League level if we can get the right service to him. As a lone striker you sometimes have to create your own opportunities but the one he had in the first half in Milan he’s latched on to a mistake and I fancied him to score, but he just sclaffed the shot a little bit. And if his free-kick had been an inch or two lower, instead of hitting the bar, we’d all be raving about him.”
Two players, and its not difficult to see which one is his favourite.
We cut a podcast last night, hey, look at me with the groovy talk, and one of the points that came up re Stokes is that he isn’t perhaps allowed to trust hisn own instincts, and is being asked to play in a certain way. Fear of being dropped again may be curtailing his natural striker instincts, and as a result, we are being denied the true talents of a natural goalscorer, which was, after all, how he made his name.
Right, time to go.
That sign seems a long way off at the moment. not as far as this one, though.
I’ll just nip upstairs and kiss the wife goodbye. Its better than taking her with me.
Teemu Pukki and /ronnie Simpson were the two Celts in yesterdays quiz, and today could be the first time its not answered straight away, given the early hour.
Bobby Murdoch. I couldn’t sleep! Hail hail.
I told you, Celts are better than Rangers…..they can´t paid their bills…..
Was that quick or what, I sure hope I am right
It’s clearly not a player but the wee pick me-up you need at that time in the morning….Mad Dog 20 20
A prince of strikers,the mercurial Bobby lennox
Even if nobody else gets it I do. I am a big muppet fan being one myself.
One of the greatest midfielders that I ever had the privilege to have seen live – Bobby Murdoch
Thanks to the clues I have now have an image in my heid of you guys driving up to Glasgow in the
A-Team’s Van – Pity the fool that don’t support Celtic!!!!!
Now in stafford. Something not right. Satnav may be broke
Sandbach. Roundabouts should be more clearly signposted
Burton services. Bin bag full of empties
Do your mates know this is what you call them? And in public too. Tut, tut!
By the way, I’m right behind you. Stalker!
bobby murdoch when we had half backs all round defended well attacked well ,would be worth 40 million + in todays market
BTW. Did you know that the “legend” of Greyfrairs Bobby is utter keech? It was just a wee stray dug that hung around the graveyard – just a canine tramp really. It’s not true that his owner was buried there.
As for the late great Fat Boab lookalike Murdoch. I had the privelege of being one of 136,505 – still a record! – at Hampden for the Leeds Utd European Cup semi-final when Bobby scored the clincher. “Terrific player. – Believe it or not Lenny himself reminded me of his playing style, though Bobby was a class above and occasionally passed the ball forward.
Like me, obviously a fan of QI. You learn a lot of keech on there.
Just reading ur blog, so that means u must be somewhere near Motherwell, totally agree with lennys comments aboot stokes, he has grown up alot in the last 12 months and i think the champions league campaign last season opened his eyes to what he could potentially be as a top Celtic striker, you hav the ability so use it stokesy, dont end up regretting it like Hooper will be v shortly. Enjoy ur day bhoys, hail hail, GLASGOWS GREEN N WHITE+
Even Ralph is not daft enough or that bad a driver not to use the bypass. After all he wants to get to the game in good health.
And so to the hoops bar…
You don’t have use circular routes!
I’m going to do a Lenny and watch the game – well in audio 🙂
Been enjoying the podcast while doing the dishes, soap suds everywhere without a cup to wash. I get the feeling Lenny is catching the McCoist disease – talking sh**e! Ralph, you mentioned he spent too much of the match on Wednesday watching the game rather than managing. He seems to be heading that way with his media comments now too. He was much better when he was under attack, more forthright and honest. But, then you get good use out of him for the diary and that is worth while.
I was going to wish you a safe and pleasant journey but if you are not p***ed in the Gallagate then you’ve crashed and that is not impossible given the accurate descriptions of your driving in recent diaries. If you could flit to the east side of the Pennines, not to be confused with the Celtic spine that moved to England at the start of the season, you could stay overnight at oor hoose. Ear plugs are free at the door. Anyway, I’d be writing comments on the diary.
The quiz shows real signs of flagging. Did you come up with it in the last ten minutes on Wednesday. No, it seems more like a drousy driver’s attempt at staying awake on a boring journey. I take it your solution is to make life even more boring for everybody else. By the way, that description of the van on the podcast makes me wonder if B.A. is ok with flying now. I hope you appreciate my “independent” thoughts.
Have a brill day!
An afternoon that sums up Celtic and explains why my life is shortened by about 20 years!!!!! – I should just be 85.