Schadenfreude is defined as a pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. The Scottish Champions, The Invincibles, were playing in Munich last night and were outplayed by an outstanding Bayern Munich team. The German champions have won the Champions League twice, most recently in May, 2013. They have won its predecessor, The European Champion Clubs’ Cup, on three occasions. They have also won the UEFA cup, and the FIFA junket Club World Cup and UEFA beano, Supercup. Celtic by contrast have won one European Club Champion Clubs’ Cup.
As the first northern European team to do so it was a truly memorable feat. Celtic had arrived. Pick up any Champions League Final programme – I have one from Wembley, 2011 (I could not afford the £250 being asked to attend the Barcelona v Manchester United final) and you will find Celtic’s achievement being acknowledged and accompanied with a photograph of Billy McNeil lifting the cup.
Having watched limousine after limousine arrive at Wembley, decanting the movers and shakers from Sony and other sponsors, I was left with the feeling that football had moved on. It was no longer the pastime of the masses, who had rushed after a Saturday morning shift at the yard or factory floor to down a few pies and pints prior to the kick-off. There were no champagne flutes and prawn sandwiches in those days.
Football has moved on. One thing that has not changed is Schadenfreude. As I sat down to watch the game in a spit and sawdust boozer on the wrong side of the tracks I was astonished to find that I was the only one cheering Wayne Rooney’s goal. The Arsenal/Spurs supporters, in a rare display of football ecumenism, were besides themselves with joy as Manchester United were soundly beaten. Messi was unplayable.
However they were not ‘crushed’ as per Tom ‘Move On‘ English’s report of the game on the BBC website. English is fast becoming my most despised journalist. He is not Chris Jack who does not know any better. English is a twice-published author on his main passion, rugby union. English’s use of ‘crushed’ was clickbait for the Govan hordes, most of whom could not spell schadenfreude but could easily smell it from the feral hatred of the lager-soaked knuckle-draggers in their midst. The Oktoberfest tents packed up on October 4th. However in Govania the oompah band was playing a passable cover of The Sash last night. Rangers Lite is such a poor facsimile of the club that is being liquidated, the cheating EBT-fuelled juggernaut that was Rangers, that the only pleasure left is celebrating Celtic reverses. When one thinks of Lite I envisage a social misfit who cannot attract a prom date, is not allowed entry as he’s too drunk and in a fit of pique pisses in the ornamental pool adjacent to the dance hall. Tom English is holding his cock and shaking it dry.
More fool me for reading anything from Radio Hunland. For a more balanced and professional analysis I reverted to Paul Brennan and the excellent Celtic Quick News (Celtic News – Not Lazy Journalism). Paul noted that Brendan Rodgers was brutally honest when reflecting on the game:
“I was disappointed with the goals conceded and I was disappointed with our build-up play in the first-half. Tactically, we knew what we needed to do. We had to cope with that bit of pressure. But we conceded three poor goals. The movement and rotation and how they overload is difficult to deal with. Once they get that first goal, they get the confidence. We pressed as well as we could, but I just felt in the goals we could have been better in those moments. However, we still had good moments in the game. In the second-half, we were much better. Of course, we want to be competitive at this level, but you also have to measure the level and the quality we’re playing against. There was still a lot for us in the game, in particular after the interval, in how we built the game from behind. My players gave absolutely everything.”
Celtic could not cope with Bayern’s aerial prowess. Better teams than Celtic will suffer reverses to this slick team which marries strength and rapier-like movement. Kingsley Coman on the left flank of a 4-2-3-1 formation outshone Robben on the right despite being twelve years his junior (21 and 33 respectively). Coman has represented France at every level from Under 16s to making his first team debut in November 2015, aged 19. Gamboa was no match for him. Lustig, who was drafted into central defence with Boyata, was exposed by Muller and Lewandowski. Brown looked as if he had returned from injury too quickly, as did the ineffective Armstrong.
However this game should be put into perspective. Bayern’s squad is so rich in talent that James Rodriguez, their £45m marquee signing, could not get a first team start. Anderlecht lost 0-4 to PSG at home. Ceteris Paribus, Celtic will be playing in the Europa league next year, which is a sign of progress. Celtic fans should keep their faith in Rodgers. His team’s time will come.
As part of improving my Celtic IQ ( according to those who refer to me as the Bheast Blogger I don’t have to) I have been listening to the excellent CQN podcasts, A Celtic State of Mind. I particularly enjoyed the piece on The Quality Street Gang. Celtic supporters sing a song with a verse: ‘If you know your history‘ which resonated with me as I was clearly lacking. As Lou Macari spoke about the debt he owed to the Lisbon Lions and his humble beginnings when training on a Tuesday and Thursday evenings when he could not call himself a Celtic player, my thoughts turned to The World Club Championship matches of 1967. There are those who concur with my view that the Thrilla in Manila was the greatest heavyweight bout of all time. As Ali and Frazier went toe-to-toe at 10 a.m. on Sunday 1st October no-one knew that this would be a fight to the death. It has been described as ‘sanctioned manslaughter.’ I defy anyone to watch this bout and not have unstinting admiration for my boxing hero, Joe Frazier. It was a brutal encounter that would ultimately lead to an arrogant man being humbled by a degenerative disease and an honest man dying before his time.
The description ‘sanctioned manslaughter‘ could be applied to Celtic’s encounters with Racing Club. The third and decisive game of The World Club Championship was played on November 4, 1967, three days after the away leg in Buenos Aires. It was played in Montevideo, Uruguay, which is a four and a half hour ferry and coach trip from the Argentine capital. The so-called neutral territory resulted in a contingent of Racing’s 30,000 fans congregating outside Celtic’s hotel to keep them awake all night prior to the game.
Racing prevailed in a game that resulted in six players being sent off as Celtic fought back against the Butchers of Buenos Aires. Celtic had lobbied for a referee who would protect their players after Johnstone had suffered some of the worst assaults ever seen in the previous two games. Johnstone did not see the final whistle. Journalist Francis Thébaud (Mirroir de Football) wrote:
“Johnstone, in the middle of the pitch slid the ball to Wallace and got free to receive the return. Martín without bothering about the ball, threw himself at Johnstone’s waist. Both fell and Johnstone struggled and Martín rolled on the ground as if he had been the victim of a blow. Without hesitating, Peréz [the incompetent referee]. sent Johnstone off! Thus he who had been the constant target of all the aggression since the beginning of the match became the victim of a man whose aim was to protect the footballer against the fakers and the foulers. For my part, I have never seen such a staggering decision.”
This game should never have been played. Racing players were intent on maiming the Celtic players. Chairman Bob Kelly was against the team playing and was minded for heading straight home after the second leg. Manager Jock Stein was of the opinion that Celtic could and would win, though not necessarily in Montevideo three days later. Desmond White asserted that:
“We couldn’t stop without the replay as we had spent so much money on this trip so far.”
Celtic demanded guarantees for their security and a change of referee; in retrospect, even these conditions were too little. (Source associated press).
As Racing began a lap of honour, the Uruguayan supporters in the stadium threw everything they could lay their hands on to convey their anathema that the butchers had prevailed. The Racing players had to huddle in the centre circle out of reach of the missiles.
Billy McNeil, showing grace under the fire of some of the worst excesses ever seen on a football pitch, humbly shook hands with a Racing player and exchanged his shirt.
Celtic supporters this morning should not get too bogged down by the Bayern defeat. There have been darker days. There is a League Cup Semi-Final to look forward to on Saturday. I hope that Billy McNeil, who gave so much for Celtic, has a good day.