After the longest close season in history, or maybe it just felt like that, Celtic are playing football matches this week. We have been in the midst of a phoney war all summer. After Rangers died, there has been a desperation to allow a Newco as many favours as possible and it almost killed the game were it not for the supporter uprising that has, so far, ensured integrity has remained intact in Scotland. The shameful pressure put on SFL clubs in the last week has backfired on the authorities who are stopping at nothing to ensure that the Newco is shoehorned into SFL1.
I despair. We all do.
Still, Celtic are back and off to Germany this week. Gordon Strachan once said that "Celtic are the only club in the world who can be in crisis before the season starts" and lot of that comes down to the madness that surrounds pre season friendlies. The results don't matter. Honestly, they don't. I used to go to all pre season friendlies because I used to think they did but found myself more and more saying "What on earth am I doing here?" You go because you've not been for a couple of months and the bug hits you again but the reality is almost always different.
A friend, sometimes I call him an associate given his nonsensical rantings most of the time, once got caught in the pre season trap. He watched his team, Hibs, play a Raith in a friendly in 1990. Then his mother Carole,. a Hearts supporter, asked him to go with her to a Hearts friendly, also at Starks Park. Come the League Cup draw, you've guessed it, Hibs were drawn away to Raith Rovers at Starks Park.
I don't think Peter Hetherston was ever at Starks Park that much.
Thing is, I will be on Tuesday. At Starks Park that is. One irate Raith fan, or something that sounds similar to that, took umbrage at that. Last week someone said I couldn't care less about diddy teams, now, ach, you can't win. The reason I am going, and probably to every game Raith ever play now just to piss yer man off, is to show support with Raith Rovers, Turnbull Hutton and the noble way they have stood up to the bullying.
There is a lot of new support going on in Scotland, not least, a group of Aberdeen supporters sponsoring a Raith player this season. Also, when all the Celtic deviants are in Amsterdam, I'll be at the Firhill torunament. I see it as principled thing to do and it has nothing at all to do with the fact that I can't afford Amsterdam...
More importantly though, football is back, the phoney war is almost over and pretty soon we will all go back to moaning about our teams and players again, what football is all about really.
For now though, it's the friendlies and for the first time in a long time, they all seem appealing.