Jock Stein made many memorable utterances; but perhaps the most telling of all was when, reflecting years later on what he and his players had achieved, he opined that things may not have gone so well for him and Celtic had the 1965 Scottish Cup Final gone the other way.
Was he right?
Mercifully, we will never know; but one thing is certain – the difference between the achievement of legendary status and relegation to a mere footnote in history is minuscule, like the proverbial thin line between genius and madness. Fleeting opportunity can be snatched away in a heartbeat, leaving you scratching around for comfort among the cold crumbs from the table of someone else’s feast.
Key moments abound in history – moments that changed the course of individuals, nations, continents and ultimately, mankind. Adam bit the apple (allegedly, after Eve) … Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon … George Bush – well, we all know what he and Teflon Tony did.
While no football match, however important, falls into that sort of category, some have had and will have ramifications for millions across the world, including, Dear Reader, you and me. One such was the epic, aforementioned, 1965 final against Dunfermline Athletic; and tomorrow’s can be cast in much the same light.
It will be Neil Lennon’s first crack at silverware as Celtic manager, just as that against the Pars was Stein’s, going-on 46 years ago; and it could conceivably be the catalyst for a similar era of domination for Lenny and his exciting young team.
On the other hand … but no, let’s not even go there!
Neil Lennon has suffered intolerably at the hands of bigots and bullies ever since he threw his cap into the ring with Celtic. We all know why. If ever anyone deserved payback in the form of a bit of success, it is surely him.
On the night of the day Lenny was officially appointed Celtic manager, he took himself off for a quiet moment out in the vast bowl of Celtic Park, where he was struck by the moonlight streaming into the darkened, empty stadium. He had never seen the old place look that way before and for a brief moment, the eerie light seemed to stir the ghost of Celtic history.
Lenny’s place in that history is secure.
Whether he, his staff and his players take the first steps on the road to collective legend tomorrow will be, first and foremost, down to themselves; but their task will be all the lighter with the wholehearted backing of those to whom Lenny, as promised, has brought back the thunder:
So, let’s all get behind our brave leader –
let him know that, “In Lennon We Trust”.
He’s a man among men,
with a vision of when
we sit proud at the front
of the bus.
O/ O/ O/
Hail! Hail! Mon the Hoops!!!