Neil Lennon graduated with honours as Celtic manager at Rugby Park last Saturday, when his exciting young squad shook off its recent lethargy to romp to its first SPL title under his stewardship. As he himself said, he can now walk shoulder-to-shoulder with earlier managerial icons, rather than in their giant shadows.
On the night of the historic day he was officially appointed Celtic manager, 9th June 2010, the proud Lurgan Bhoy took himself quietly away from the draining negotiations that had dragged on into darkness. He wanted some time to himself to get some fresh air and reflect on the enormity of what had just happened to him – and where better to do that than in the silent solitude of the vast, empty bowl of his spiritual football home, Celtic Park?
Alone in that theatre of dreams, that towering monument to Walfrid … the founding fathers of his club … and generations of others like himself, Lennon was struck and moved by the stillness and the awesome atmosphere, as shafts of moonlight angled across the stands, starkly illuminating the space and the stage that had showcased Celtic legends for 118 glorious years at that time. It truly was, “Moonlight Over Paradise”; and in Lenny’s own words, the haunting vision, “… took his breath away – he’d never seen the old place look that way.”
Suspended in time, that magical moment seemed to him, somehow, to stir the ghosts of history in Celtic Park.
Clearly taking inspiration from that strangely emotional and rather eerie experience, Neil has since led his beloved Celtic to victory in the 2011 Scottish Cup and to an astonishing comeback to claim a first league championship as Celtic manager, despite horrendous off-field pressures that would have daunted lesser men.
Reading contemporary press reports of the then new Celtic manager’s moving account of the above episode prompted the following monologue/song (our hundredth post), reproduced here in acoustic demo form to honour, early doors, a Celtic manager who has come of age – and to celebrate a truly astounding 2011/12 SPL triumph.
Watch out for the full-blown studio version in the near future.
THERE’S ONLY ONE NEIL LENNON!