A tale of two masks

While I wait for my Celtic FC mask to come from the Celtic FC Store – the latest news is that they’re releasing them into the wild on 28 July and hopefully it will arrive on these shores a week later – I bought another green-and-white mask from an artist on RedBubble a few months ago that I wear nearly on a daily basis, with daily washings of course. With a face that is perfect for a mask, it looks like this:

Protecting a face only a mother could love against Covid-19 while wearing the Hoops . . . .

I also have a FC St. Pauli mask sent from Hamburg that I wear almost daily (same cleaning regimen) as well. It looks like this:

. . . and warding off the virus with a skull-and-crossbones, courtesy of FC St. Pauli.

In this new era of mandatory facialwear, it is common to see people wearing masks of their favourite sports teams; here it would be baseball or American football or basketball. In my current jobs as a freelance writer and as a part-time supermarket bookkeeper, I get a hefty dose of interaction with the public, especially at the supermarket.

In broad terms, the computer engineers I mostly work with in writing software/hardware documentation are not the most football-fanatic people, as you might imagine, and they don’t really care what’s on my face.

But the general public that come into the store? Well, that’s another, and slightly different, story.

The supermarket I work in is in a small town in the Santa Cruz Mountains, sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Silicon Valley. Many people live here and work there and there are a few football fans in the area, mostly fans of the nearby MLS franchise, the San Jose Earthquakes.

Other than Mike, a regular customer to the store and a fan so beholden to FC Bayern Munchen that he often wears the full adidas Bayern training kit into the store (while handing out Bayern stickers to anyone who wants one), I don’t come across many people I personally know who follow football.

However, there are some who visit the store who wear their allegiances on their clothes – caps, T-shirts, etc. – and the occasional kid with his favorite team jersey; one kid, who I call Ronaldo, comes in wearing a Juventus jersey all the time.

In any case, I always strike up conversations with people I think may even remotely have an interest in football because, well, there’s not that many of us around. And even those who aren’t: One day, a woman came in to exchange a product and I noticed she had a Saltire on her wallet.

“Ah, you’re Scottish,” I said.

She nodded. I smiled underneath my mask.

“Do these green-and-white stripes mean anything to you?” I asked, pointing to my face.

She just looked at me and said, “No.”

Definitely a Rangers fan.

Then there’s the Liverpool FC fans. I’ve encountered several at the store over the past few months. I am always gracious, truthfully so, in bringing up what a good manager Jurgen Klopp is (and he is), while congratulating them on having a great season in winning the league (which they did).

When my support for Celtic comes up, they always respond – every time and without fail — with something about . . . Steven Gerrard.

Every. Damn. Time.

“Right, the manager who can’t win a trophy to save his life,” is my most common response.

Or, “Right, the guy who slipped against Chelsea and lost the title for The Reds.”

Or, mostly to myself, “Yeah, well, maybe you should walk alone. Off a cliff.”

The FC St Pauli mask does not get many responses, other than fear because of the skull-and-crossbones. However, I did have a conversation with a German woman who, seeing my FC St. Pauli mask, was surprised that anyone in the U.S. would even remotely consider supporting Die Kiezkicker. But yep, here we are – flying the antifascist flag even in small towns in America.

Nevertheless, if you’re going to cover your face – and you should – you might as well make a statement, and supporting your club (or clubs) is the best way to go.

[Blogger’s note: Thanks to a glitch that originated, I think, either with my ISP’s transfer of this site to a new server or a boneheaded move on my part adjusting my WordPress settings, two recent blog posts — here and here — regarding Celtic’s games in France did not appear on the Celtic News Now feed. Fearing that I had been unceremoniously waived by the Hoops news aggregator, I later found that it was a setting, not my writing, that was the culprit.]

Random thoughts, cheap shots, bon mots 2: The sequel

Because I still have my head buried in a tsunami of documents related to my previous post — and thank you to Auldheid for the great interview — I thought I’d take a break from my “homework” to make a few observations about the last two wins by the Hoops, and other items of perceived interest, in the world of football; like the following, for example.

SPFL referee Bobby Madden sporting “The Scarlet Letter” of SpecSavers on his sleeve.

Oh, the irony . . .

Putting aside the numerous missed calls on hand-ball fouls by Celtic opponents this season, is it any wonder some marketing genius who holds the SpecSavers advertising account sold that company’s executives on the nearly infinite value of sponsorship of SPFL referees? Each referee has what is essentially a “scarlet letter” of less-than-ideal vision on their sleeves, and in so many cases it is justified. One of a plethora of examples is the 78th minute of the Celtic-Ross County game where Scott Brown was clearly fouled, followed by James Forrest fouled less than 10 seconds afterward. Of course that joins a long list of referee malpractice this season that, fortunately, has only been a minor irritant to Celtic fans everywhere, rather than history-altering decisions. But we’re only halfway through the 2019/20 season. . . .

Here we go again

Once again, we are in the midst of another transfer window. And once again, the armchair gaffers and PlayStation pundits are bent out of shape because we haven’t signed half of FC Barcelona — the good half, hopefully — and in not doing so, we just threw away 9 in a row. Just today, on the digital cesspool known as Twitter and other online social media, Neil Lennon is being unnecessarily raked over the coals for suggesting the Celtic may be done for this window. The fact of the matter is, frankly, that if we are done for January, it’s still not a bad window, and with the success of the previous window carrying over, we are in great shape for the rest of the season, especially those who are injured — Hatem El Hamed, Mohammed Elyounoussi, Jeremie Frimpong for starters — get back onto the pitch. Also, not given enough credit has been Moritz Bauer’s efforts in filling in for the injured Frimpong against Ross County; Bauer himself is another new addition from the previous window.

Even if Ismaila Soro is the last piece of the puzzle in January, we are looking great for the rest of the season. Some people really need to get a grip.

Cameron Harper scored the final goal for Celtic as the Hoops cruised past Huddersfield Town 3-1

The California Kid strikes again

The Celtic Reserves team hit the road to visit Huddersfield Town on Tuesday, and came away with a 3-1 victory in the friendly. Karamoko Dembele, Kieran McGrath and Cameron Harper scored in the game. We all know that Karamoko has already made the grade, but those watching the reserves have strong praise for Harper as well. We in the Golden State have high hopes for the Southern Californian to go on and wear the hoops for the first team in the near future.

Buy this guy a beer

Funny how The Rangers wanker — sorry, winger — and all-around world-class douchenozzle Ryan Kent can’t bring himself to gun down Hearts fans like he did at Parkhead last month. But this JamTarts fan has the right idea. If anyone in Edinburgh who knows this guy can buy him a beer for me, I’d be grateful. Oh, and the Hearts 2-1 victory over The Rangers? Fantastic.

Now if you’ll excuse me, FC St. Pauli is playing today and it’s gametime. See you tomorrow at the St. Johnstone game. Mon the hoops!

‘Created by Immigrants’ meets ‘Refugees Welcome’

Celtic FC was started in 1887 when Brother Walfrid, a Marist brother, used football as a fundraising tool to help the Irish immigrants in Glasgow. Today, football is still used by some as a tool for good in Glasgow by United Glasgow FC.

While we wait for football to start again for Celtic — and the clock is ticking toward 3 p.m. Saturday in Glasgow when the Bhoys take on Livingston, and hopefully get some revenge — it might be a good idea to take a look during the break at some of the positive aspects football brings to the wider world.

The Celtic Star published an article last week about United Glasgow FC, a club founded in 2011 on the same principles as Celtic 132 years ago. While the landscape around immigration has changed between the formation of Celtic and the founding of UGFC, Celtic supporters and the Green Brigade have not forgotten the club’s roots during a recent appeal a few weeks ago which secured £15,466, according to The Celtic Star article, for two refugee-related charities: The Baobab Experience in Rome and Scottish Action for Refugees.

Creating opportunities, tackling exclusion

United Glasgow FC takes pride in creating opportunities while tackling exclusion, according to its website. In eight years, the club has grown to three competitive teams, and four community drop-in sessions each week, that help support more than 200 players, regardless of religions, ethnicities, socio-economic positions, sexual orientations, and immigration statuses. The video below explains the purposes and direction of the club.

A United Glasgow: A video about UGFC.

“The message being portrayed has clearly resonated as they are growing in popularity,” according to The Celtic Star article. “They have a website and nearly 9000 people follow them on Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram they even have their own T-Shirts and other merchandise to help raise funds. Fundraising functions have already attracted hundreds of supporters.

“As such United Glasgow very much rely on volunteers and players from Glasgow and across the rest of the country and of course money is always a problem.”

As it is everywhere, of course, though if you are inclined to donate to this all-volunteer organization, you can do so here.

On a somewhat related note, FC St. Pauli has produced a video about their efforts in Italy around the same issue. Entitled “Kick the Borders,” it outlines efforts to assist immigrants in Sicily. Primarily in German and Italian, you really don’t need to be fluent in either language to see the impact that football has made on the lives of people coming to a new land.

Now, Bhoys in Green, let’s grab a victory on Saturday at Paradise (and, of course, the Boys in Brown on Friday have FC Erzgebirge away, and FC St. Pauli can use a win as well).

Moritz Bauer’s Two Assists

Moritz Bauer, right, was not finished on Sunday merely feeding Odsonne Edouard a pass for Eddy to score early in the 2nd half — Bauer also assisted in the Man of the Match interview by translating for Edouard as well. (Screenshot via Celtic TV)

Celtic took to Paradise on a beautiful Sunday yesterday afternoon and, after an inauspicious start that saw (among other things) James Forrest display a unique talent for hitting goalposts during a barrage of shots by Celtic which were near misses in the first half, the Bhoys in Green came away with a 3-1 win over Kilmarnock.

A game report is here. A better analysis, given on The Celtic Noise by the celebrated Sandman is here (warning: strong language). You’re welcome to go ahead and read them. I’ll wait.

Odsonne Edouard, who everyone wants to be, had two of the goals, and Ryan Christie put in the third for Celtic. But the top highlight of the game for me was the pass from Moritz Bauer to Edouard for the 2nd goal. On that particular play, the ball movement — 14 passes starting from deep in the Celtic half to Moritz finding a running Edouard and feeding him perfectly before Eddy popped the ball past Branescu, keeping goal for Killie — was simply phenomenal.

That was Moritz’s first assist of the day.

The second came when Eddy was giving Man of the Match honors, and Bauer translated a question to French for Eddy, translating back to the interviewer Eddy’s response. This kind of talent on and off the field makes Bauer a great find for the club.

Nevertheless, it’s on to the next game, a Betfred Cup match against Patrick Thistle on Wednesday. Oh, and a few more things of note . . .

Give the Scottish Sun a red card: Got to hand it to Scottish Sun Sports for lowering the journalistic discourse of Scottish news — I am told that is not really possible, but I digress — by this idiotic tweet regarding Fergus McCann’s appearance at halftime at Paradise yesterday. Had someone actually checked the history books — or even took a quick look at Wikipedia — they would have known that Celtic had already won nine in a row once before, between 1965 and 1974. But that would require, oh I don’t know, fact-checking, which I seem to recall is a staple of journalism everywhere. Except maybe at the Sun in Scotland.

Speaking of Patrick Thistle: According to our friends at The Celtic Star, former Ranger Ian McCall will be named as Partick Thistle manager today, which is unfortunate timing for him, as Patrick Thistle’s next game is the Betfred Cup match on Wednesday against, well, us. Apparently, McCall opined recently on the air that both Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe are better strikers than Odsonne Edouard. As I wait for the laughter to die down, I’d like to remind Mr. McCall that this kind of talk usually ends up on the bulletin board of the opposing team and serves only as inspiration for Celtic to run up the score, as I hope they will, on Wednesday.

Lost in translation: Meanwhile in Hamburg, FC St. Pauli “praised” their Japanese winger Ryo Miyachi on social media with the line, “Ryo, Du Rakete!” Which, as you might assume, translates into English as “Ryo, you rocket!” The reason that the club is praising Miyachi is that this Boy in Brown has been deemed the fastest player in Bundesliga 2, which is no small feat. However, as I understand it, being called a rocket in Glasgow is not the most flattering of terms. But as the car ads say, your mileage may vary.

Busy day in the blogging week this week, another one tomorrow and a game on Wednesday, followed by a scheduled Thursday post. And the beat goes on. Hail Hail everyone.

[68 degrees. Wildfire threat level today in rural Santa Cruz County: Low.]

Random thoughts, cheap shots, bon mots

After Saturday’s win at Hamilton — the pitch where one end is painted with fans sitting behind advertising (and, as I understand it, behind that facade is a practice ground) — I thought it would be good to take a moment to just reflect on a few observations at the outset of this season, which incidentally appears to be starting well.

Like . . .

We’ll win the Europa League, according to Christopher Jullien: You’ve got to love the big guy, even when he’s not goofing off with teammate Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo. He’s settled in to a defense that has been stellar in the past few games, and now he makes what can arguably be described as a huge boast.

Can the Bhoys bring home the Europa hardware? “We will take it game by game and see what it is but if you were to go into our locker room now and ask each of them what their goal was they would tell you it is to bring that trophy home – and I’m just following them,” Jullien has been quoted as saying in the mainstream press.

Whether he is serious or if it’s just a ploy to get his teammates psyched up for the game against French Cup holders Stade Rennes on Thursday, it’s good to see a confident mindset as the default mode for the club.

Odsonne Edouard scores yet again.

I Wanna, I Wanna, I Wanna Be Ladbrokes Premiership Player of the Month for August: A tip of the chapeau to Odsonne Edouard and congratulations to the Celtic forward for winning the Labrokes Premiership Player of the Month for his play last month. On top of an outstanding display as a sub for France’s U21 team scoring four goals during the international break, Eddy has been phenomenal for the Hoops in the start of the 2019/20 season.

Edouard’s press conference, posted on YouTube and it helps immensely if you speak French (despite the presence of a translator, who does an excellent job), Eddy says at around the 9:30 mark that he’s happy to be a Celt and he doesn’t foresee going anywhere, contrary to rumors that have been floating around. Which is good, because we’d like to have you around as long as possible, Eddy!

Lights, Camera, Action: Remember photo day at school? Well, the bhoys went through that exercise recently and had their annual team photoshoot. Of course, as shown here, getting the lads all on the same page and not photobombing each other was no small feat. Watch to the end to see a typical Broony move (and I mean that in the best possible way).

Jozo out, Wizard in: Unfortunately, one of my favorite Celts — and expert Kenny Miller launcher — Jozo Simunovic goes in for arthroscopic surgery on his knee, and it looks like he’s out for about two months. But while he’s healing up, on Saturday we saw the return of the Wizard of Oz, Tom Rogic. While Rogic wasn’t a factor in the game on Saturday, it’s great to see him taking to the pitch and I hope we will see more of him. As for Jozo, get well soon, big guy!

‘Hamburg is Brown and White’ as FC St. Pauli wins the Hamburg Derby 2-0 over Hamburger SV.

Meanwhile, in Hamburg: Yesterday, in the Hamburg Derby at the Millerntor between home club FC St. Pauli and Hamburger SV, the Boys in Brown played a phenomenal game and came away with a 2-0 win. Judging by some of the tweets by Celtic fans I follow, the derby there rivals the one in Glasgow. The Diamond — Dimitrios Diamantakos — scored one for the Boys in Brown and an own goal sealed it. Sankt Pauli looked very sharp yesterday, and hopefully they can carry this momentum forward to upcoming games.

Going out on a limb: There seems to be some trepidation about the game on Thursday against Stade Rennes, especially with some on one of my favorite online hangouts, Celtic Noise. Well, I have absolutely nothing to base this on other than faith in the club, but I think we come away from France with a 2-1 win before returning to Paradise to meet the squirrels of Kilmarnock on Saturday.

[69 degrees. Wildfire threat level today in rural Santa Cruz County: Moderate]