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As much as it pains me to say it (and as much as I regret calling it a few posts ago), Cameron Harper made the right call for his future by heading stateside to play for Gerhard Struber at the MLS powerhouse New York Red Bulls.

Cue up the Sinatra: He wants to be a part of it — New York, New York.

If he can make it there, he’ll make it anywhere . . . .

Cameron Harper heads stateside to play for New York Red Bulls as well as the U.S. U-20s.

There are few things I would have liked more than to see Harper, a California bhoy of Scottish heritage thanks to his Glaswegian parents, excel and thrive — as he would have, to be sure — in the Green and White. As an aside, his departure speaks volumes to a system at Celtic that needs addressing, where talent in the Reserves is ready but not utilized; seemingly the only option for talented players like Harper, and other Reserves like Armstrong Oko-Flex and Karamoko Dembele, is to play elsewhere.

But that is another discussion for another time. Today, on this side of the Atlantic, we have a homecoming, and this is Harper’s moment. The future looks bright for the 19-year-old who can set the MLS Eastern Conference alight at NYRB, while being stateside to participate in the U-20s for the U.S. National Team, and beyond.

And who’s to say that another tour of duty in Europe — hopefully at Celtic — is not in the cards for Harper in the future? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, Cameron, bear in mind that unfortunately there are no In-n-Out Burgers in New York — the one that’s furthest east in the U.S. is in Frisco, Texas, which is local when the Red Bulls play FC Dallas — but there are a bunch out here in the West when the Red Bulls come out to play San Jose. And the #1 with cheese, animal-style, is my treat.

Now, that’s more like it

Well, that’s better: There are few things better than a 4-0 drubbing of Kilmarnock to lift the spirits and put a spring in your step on the way to Saturday’s match at Celtic Park against Motherhell . . . sorry, Motherwell.

Of particular note in Tuesday’s game — outshining Scott Brown’s remarkable header, as well as both Odsonne Edouard and Albian Ajeti finally finding their groove — was the play of transfer acquisition Jonjoe Kenny and Celtic Reserves promotee Stephen Welsh. Kenny, an unknown factor going into the game, showed great potential for the full 90, while Welsh continues to improve as he gains playing time with the first team.

Welsh even acquired a unique nickname, courtesy of The Celtic Star’s Sandman, who rates players on a game-by-game basis, and whose ratings should be part of your post-game experience whether on The Celtic Noise forum or from The Star.

Rather than bemoan the fact that the Celts should have been playing like this months ago, as some are, I will take this victory and move on to Saturday. Hopefully they can do the same to Motherwell at Celtic Park.

But wait, there’s more . . .

While Kenny was the only move to Celtic FC over the transfer window, with a couple of key players leaving and woefully mentioned in previous posts, the Celtic FC Women’s team was active in the transfer window, losing three players but gaining four others.

Stanford’s Mariah Lee joins the Ghirls in Green.

Of special note to us in California is the Ghirls in Green’s acquisition of former Stanford University forward Mariah Lee. Lee, formerly of the Seattle-based OL Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League (and a club, formerly called Seattle Reign, which is now under the umbrella of Olympique Lyonnaise . . . pun completely intended), made her own mark for the Stanford Cardinal, and was a teammate during her college days of current U.S. Women’s Team phenom Catarina Macario.

Fun fact: Lee is a concert violinist.

Green joins Jacynta Galabadaarchchi, Izzy Atkinson, and Anna Filbey on the Celtic Women’s team. Australian Galabadaarchchi joins Celtic from Napoli, Ireland’s Atkinson joins Celtic from Shelbourne in Dublin, and Wales’ Filbey comes to Celtic via Tottenham Hotspur.

Welcome to the Hoops, Ghirls!

Au revoir, Olivier Ntcham

Monday morning, you sure look fine . . . mostly. After walking off the hangover (football, not alcohol) of Saturday’s defeat — how’s that for mixing metaphors? — I wake up Monday morning to find that one of my favorite Celts, Olivier Ntcham, is heading home to France, on a loan-to-buy deal to Marseilles.

My guess is that the “to-buy” aspect of this deal will enter into the equation soon enough.

Naturally, this could be for the best for both Ntcham and Celtic. On a club that is laughably overstocked with massive talent at his position — with David Turnbull and Ismaila Soro signaling the future for the Celtic at midfield — Ntcham had found playing time difficult to come by. At Marseilles, he may get the playing time he deserves and lacked, through really no fault of his own, at Celtic.

Rome, conquered: Olivier Ntcham scored the winner late in injury time against Lazio in November 2019, marking Celtic’s first-ever win in Italy.

Armchair gaffers and PlayStation pundits liked to double-team Ntcham, calling him disinterested or lazy. I never saw that in him. True, anyone could be frustrated at the lack of playing time given. But when he was on the pitch, he gave his all. Those more astute observers will recognize that Ntcham had an innate ability to win the ball back, and when you watch highlights of Odsonne Edouard from seasons past, Ntcham is usually involved in the goals somehow.

Which raises an underlying, and significantly grave, concern: If Ntcham is off, back to France, will Edouard be far behind once the summer rolls around?

Despite all that, even if you discount the fact that he is inextricably linked to Celtic history with his goal against Lazio, he scored some significant goals for the Bhoys in Green.

Exhibit A: Glasgow Derby, September 2018. 1-0 Celtic victory. To say nothing of who got the assist on Jonny Hayes’ goal against Glasgow’s other club in a Glasgow Derby the following year. Yep, watch the entire play leading up to the goal: It’s Ntcham’s pass that Hayes takes to score. Then there was that rocket against Partick Thistle in the Scottish League Cup quarterfinals in September 2019 — one of two Ntcham goals that game, the first which came from about a mile away. There are many more examples of his contributions to the club, but that would be labouring the point.

In total, Ntcham scored 23 goals in 137 games for Celtic. Not legendary stats, to be sure, but most of his contributions were away from the ball moreso than on it. Again, despite being awash in wealth in the midfield position, Celtic is at a loss for his departure.

So, merci beaucoup, Olivier Ntcham for your play and the memories at Celtic. Good luck in Marseilles.

Michael Duffy: 1953-2021

[NOTE: This post was published by The Celtic Star on Friday, and can be found here. Niall J, my colleague at The Celtic Star, has already written an outstanding remembrance of Michael Duffy on The Celtic Star. While many others have given their remembrances on the pages of The Celtic Noise forum and elsewhere, few of us know the intricacies of Michael’s life outside his love of Celtic. Gleaning information from his obituary, I wanted to highlight the man behind the Father Jack avatar, ironically, on The Celtic Noise.]

Michael Duffy entered the world just in time for Celtic to beat Hibernian in the Coronation Cup at Hampden Park, his birth preceding that auspicious event in Celtic lore by just four days, on 20 May 1953. He was born in the Possil district of Glasgow, and he and his family lived there, until he and his family moved to Haghill.

From Haghill, Michael’s childhood included living in an area where he could look down on Celtic Park, which fostered his lifelong love for the Bhoys in Green. His childhood coincided with the great Celtic sides built by Jock Stein, and a few days after his 13th birthday, Celtic brought home the European Cup.

Like other working-class boys in the area, Michael attended Whitehill Secondary School in Dennistoun and, as was common at the time, took an apprenticeship at 15. His painting and decorating career is highlighted literally by his painting of the Forth Bridge. To supplement his income, Michael worked at Virgin Records and nurtured his love of music, which led him to teach himself how to play the guitar, which would come in handy later when he lived in London and Ireland.

Michael’s school career took a detour, as he left school for an apprenticeship because his family needed a breadwinner – as was common at that time – but he returned to college later to complete his Highers, and he was successful in them all.

Michael’s life took him to London and Ireland, where he plied his painting-and-decorating trade while playing gigs at local pubs. At one point, he was given permission by a music school to use the facilities to teach guitar, and the Head Master of this school in Ireland was so impressed that he gave Michael an opportunity to teach there. Michael declined, since he was self-taught and hadn’t learned to read music.

A hallmark of Michael’s life is that he always used his keen intellect in the service of fair play, and he was always a fighter against bigotry and hatred. While he was kind and helpful, almost to a fault, most who knew him personally attest that he also was swift to let those who had overstepped their bounds know it.

This was evident later in Michael’s life as, in failing health, he was housebound but found a home as one of the more active members of The Celtic Noise forum. Always helpful and encouraging to new members while policing, with others, the forum for trolls, Michael had a reputation of being the “night manager” for the forum, since he was on at all hours. His reputation blossomed to being considered by most of the regulars there as “the father of The Celtic Noise.”

Michael’s family – from his immediate family and relatives, to his worldwide family of fellow Celtic fans – feel the pain of his passing and the emptiness therein. However, we who knew him at whatever level are proud to have known him, and we are comforted in knowing that Michael spent his life as a caring and decent person who helped others whenever he could. To paraphrase a popular Celtic song:

“Farwell my darlin’ Michael, for the best of friends must part / No more we’ll stand beside you on the slopes of Celtic Park.”

To our Celtic comrade Michael Duffy (1953-2021): Presente!

Requiescat in pace.

Oh My (Woeful) Days!

Originally, I had planned another topic today, but then I got the news with my coffee this morning that Jeremie Frimpong is now off to Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, a league where he doesn’t have to deal with hammerthrowing nobodies like Hibernian’s Alex Gogic and Kilmarnock’s Alan Power.

Jeremie Frimpong may have fewer days like this in the Bundesliga playing for Bayer Leverkusen.

And while an £11.5 million payday is nothing to sniff at — much of that maybe ending up with Man City — Frimpong’s departure is yet another sad note to a woeful season for the Bhoys. However, while I will miss Frimpong’s positive attitude and speed down the line, it permits me to wrap this into the intended topic of today, which is how youth is not being served at Celtic.

Every transfer window, the clubs and fans alike go window shopping for high-pricetag players when, for all intents and purposes, most — if not all — of the solutions to our needs are ready and able to go from the Reserves. The Colts are stacked with talent that can serve the first team well — Conor Hazard is already Exhibit A here, and Stephen Welsh has already made his mark on the first team and should play more going forward — and why we don’t utilize them is a mystery.

It’s more than a mystery, though. It’s a tragedy.

And herein lies what I was going to write about before the 20-year-old Frimpong’s departure proved the point I had planned to make. Yesterday, the ’67 Hail Hail podcast nailed it on their broadcast dealing with why Celtic youth may be on the road and not returning home.

So let’s take a look at some of those Reserves that should be up on the first team and who sadly may not be because they’ll be off playing somewhere else.

Karamoko Dembele

Should he stay? Yes. Will he? Probably not.

One of the more frustrating aspects of this is that Karamoko Dembele can make an impact for Celtic given the chance. The thing is, he hasn’t been given that chance. Those handful of times he has played for the Hoops, he has shone. Now it looks like after his contract is up around summertime, reports have him off to France, either to Lille or Nantes. Now that Frimpong is gone, Dembele would be a great addition to replace the departing Dutchman’s speed on the wing, but it looks like we may not get a chance to see that.

Cameron Harper: A New York Red Bull next season?

Cameron Harper

Should he stay? Yes. Will he? Hopefully, but maybe not.

As a Californian, this one is personal for me. Cameron Harper’s artesian depth of talent, forged in the Southern California football hotbed of Costa Mesa’s Pateadores Soccer Club and refined and sharpened in the Celtic Reserves, is custom-made for Celtic success. While some thought he had a lackluster game against Hibernian a few weeks ago — I didn’t, since he was playing out of position — Harper has all the tools to be a success on the pitch for whichever club he plays for. That, of course, should be Celtic. But interestingly, rumors say the New York Red Bulls of the MLS also think so, and these same rumors have him returning stateside. This would be a two-edged sword for me: The upside is that I would get to see him play in person when the Red Bulls come West, but the downside is that he’d lose the chance to excel as a Celt, showing Glasgow and the world that Americans can play with the best.

Armstrong Okoflex

Should he stay? Yes. Will he? Hopefully.

Like Harper, Armstrong Okoflex has an abundance of talent that has not gone unnoticed elsewhere. Why he wasn’t put on a loan like Jonathan Afolabi — who we’ll get to in a minute — is a head-scratcher, because with regular playing time, Okoflex can be a high-quality player for Celtic. But we may never know because he has already caught the eye, according to reports, of two Serie A clubs in Italy, Torino and Bologna. Understandably, if Okoflex can get regular playing time elsewhere, he’d be foolish not to take it. But it would be detrimental to Celtic to invest all the coaching and training for Okoflex, and the players mentioned above, and not get a quality player in the Hoops for it.

Jonathan Afolabi has made an impact for Dundee FC while on loan to the club from Celtic. Hopefully he can bring that back when rejoining the Hoops.

Jonathan Afolabi

Should he stay? Yes. Will he? Probably.

I always thought that Jonathan Afolabi was a good signing for Celtic, and I thought it was a good idea to get him playing time on loan elsewhere to hone his skills. He has done exactly that on loans first to Dunfermline Athetic early in 2020 and to Dundee FC more recently. Hopefully when he returns to the mother club he will be the quality player we all thought he’d be. For the moment, there is no one actively on the radar pursuing his services, so that’s a good sign he’ll probably stay in the Hoops once he returns.

The moral of the story . . .

It’s pretty clear that Celtic have an overabundance of talent in the Reserves. Why they aren’t being utilized better is a concern, but it’s something that can be corrected going forward. If this season is officially a dumpster-fire throwaway — and I don’t think it is, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it is — then perhaps it’s time to give the Colts a run on the first team to get them the playing time they need to flourish.

Meanwhile, it’s Hamilton tomorrow at Paradise.

I read the news today, oh boy

This morning started out early, as it always does on a Saturday, game day or not: Coffee and pre-dawn writing before catching up with the rest of the world as the sun rises here on the Pacific coast. Then there’s deciding what to watch when neither Celtic nor FC St. Pauli are playing on this rare Saturday. Would it be AC Milan-Atalanta? Cheltenham Town-Man City? Or maybe even St. Johnstone-Hibs in the Betfred Cup semifinal?

Then I got an e-mail around 9 from my good friend in Vancouver who goes by the name of Dilligaf on The Celtic Noise forum. Dill told me that our Celtic Noise compatriot Michael Duffy had passed away, according to an e-mail Dill had received from Michael’s sister.

Michael was a regular on The Celtic Noise, a very friendly fatherly figure in his late 60s (I think) with a rock-and-roll past, whose depth of Celtic knowledge was only surpassed by his unequivocal and unrivaled love for the Bhoys in Green. He essentially ran the “night shift” on The Noise — for those of us in North America, most of our visiting hours were our afternoons and evenings when most of Glasgow slept. But not Michael. While he was always ready for a discussion, his real bailiwick was the music threads, where he marshalled some of the best music on the site.

How much he was loved by everyone, and will be missed, is captured here on this thread on The Celtic Noise.

A few weeks ago, Michael did a wonderful thing. Having struck up a trans-Atlantic friendship with Dilligaf (who himself is a Greenock kid by birth), Michael sent a child’s Celtic kit to Dill’s granddaughter as a Christmas gift. It was number 7 — the hallowed Celtic number belonging to the legendary Henrik Larsson — with the granddaughter’s name on the back where Larsson’s would have appeared.

Our own interaction revolved around Celtic, of course, music, and his interest in American politics and history. Often our discussions in the latter involved me “translating” CNN and Fox News, which he watched regularly, into rational bits and bobs, and convincing him (successfully, I hope) that the U.S. was not a nation of wall-to-wall, red-capped bigots. While my heart aches to see him go, it does make me smile a bit knowing that he lived long enough to see the exit of the former president and the inauguration of a new, more sensible one.

While no one was more supportive when you were right, Michael was also quick to correct or “adjust” you when you weren’t. To be honest, I’ve been on that side of him only once, when he defused an argument I was having with someone on The Noise with a post of “Let the People Sing” from YouTube and a stern personal warning to me on the side.

He was right. I stood corrected. Play continued.

Also, while I am gathering more information to write a proper obituary for one so deserving, I would again strongly urge you to visit this thread on The Celtic Noise to see what effect Michael has had on those of us who have been touched by his wisdom, his wit, and his musical tastes online. I would urge you to comment below if you knew him, online or in person. He will definitely be missed.

Michael Duffy, you’ll never walk alone. Requiescat in pace, comrade.

My captain, Scott Brown

Answer: None of the above.

One of the many things that’s great about being a Celtic fan is the club’s history. Sure, all clubs have a history, but there are few that are as resonant and vibrant as Celtic’s, which makes it a great club to follow. When questions like the one above are posted on Twitter, for the most part the thread is an interesting collection of responses which can be informative.

My answer for this one is Scott Brown, a captain and a player who will easily join the pantheon of Celtic greats once he retires. Laugh if you want, but I’ve only been following Celtic for the last three years and I don’t have the . . . let’s say, “experience” . . . that some of other fans might have had growing up with the club.

That’s something I’ll try to live down. While I am envious of those who have been lifelong Celtic fans, I don’t have the luxury of time-travel to start earlier. You would think that would not matter — that my desire and passion for the club would be enough of a defining factor in being a supporter — but you would be surprised how those who are new to the club are pigeonholed.

It comes mostly in on-line disagreements, whether in social media or in some fan forums, where a debate will be reduced to, “I’ve been a fan since the dawn of time and you haven’t.”

Human nature? Perhaps. But if you think that you’re a better fan because you’ve been one for longer, that’s not the slam dunk you think it is. To be honest, I don’t care if Brother Walfrid personally handed you lifetime season tickets at the outset of the club and you’ve been to every match since 1888. You’re no better, or no worse, a fan than the person who fell in love with Celtic yesterday. Longevity doesn’t make you a good fan — more informed, perhaps — but your commitment to the club is the important metric here.

“Faithful through and through” aren’t just four words, they are a foundation of a commitment to Celtic, regardless of whether you’re a lifetime fan or a johnny-come-lately.

Random thoughts, cheap shots, and bon mots: Sunday morning edition

So I’m up early on a Sunday morning to watch another Scottish Premiership game — Aberdeen, of course, because Celtic’s now-precarious road to 10-in-a-row now runs through the help of our friends (and enemies) — and with a week of interesting Celtic news behind us, it’s about time to process some of that.

Like . . .

Time to get Damien Duff back to where he belongs — on the sidelines for Celtic.

Get back to where you once belonged

Now that the Damien Duff era is over in Dublin, after stepping down as an assistant coach for the Republic of Ireland team last week, there can only be one destination for him now.

A return to his place on the bench at Celtic.

This really is a no-brainer. Move Gavin Strachan to another position in the club and let Duff take his place back on the sidelines. Clearly his coaching abilities are part and parcel of Celtic’s success in recent seasons, and it could be one of the necessary steps to rescue what up until now has been a supbar season.

[And apologies to anyone who gets a Beatles earworm for that headline . . .]

Jonathan Afolabi, a Celtic loanee playing for Dundee FC, received racist abuse after a match against Bonnyrigg Rose.

Give racism the red card

It’s sad that I even have to waste pixels writing that headline, but apparently some haven’t read the memo. Celtic loanee Jonathan Afolabi was the target of racial abuse in the aftermath of Dundee FC’s 3-2 victory over Bonnyrigg Rose in their Scottish Cup Second Round match, where Afolabi scored a late equalizer for The Dee before they went on to victory in overtime.

My Celtic Star colleage Lubo98 outlines the story clearly in this post on the Star. In addition, Dundee FC produced a strong statement opposing the treatment of Afolabi, and points to another incident after Dundee played Hearts after a previous match.

This shouldn’t have to be mentioned, yet it bears repeating: There’s no place for racism in football. Full stop.

Signs of the times

One of the more interesting aspects of the social media cesspool known as Twitter is that it can be used for good; and if not for good, at least for educational purposes. Witness one Celtic fan on Twitter who goes by the handle LouMun 67, who is deaf and has taken the time to post short videos on Twitter of different sign-language signs for words and phrases that would be helpful to Celtic fans.

For example, COYBIG. Or Celtic. Or even Glasgow’s other club (which I would have thought was this, at least in American Sign Language, but OK).

Give a follow to this young Celtic fan, and thank you, LouMun 67, for posting the signs. We need to know more. Keep up the great work!

Dear Celtic TV . . .

Long-time readers of this blog — hi, Mom! — know that I often sing the praises of Celtic TV, many times in tw0-part harmony with overdubs. For all its quirks (Exhibit A: Tom Boyd — and I mean that as a compliment), Celtic TV provides a great service to Celtic fans worldwide. Because I really enjoy the game coverage and the commentary, I don’t mind ponying up around $30 a month to support their broadcasts and, in turn, Celtic itself.

But for some of us in the States, their payment system — WorldPay — is problematic, in the least, and impossible at best. It’s compounded by the fact that any autopay is, from time to time, “stopped at the border” in my case. Checking with my bank, it’s not them, and the process to “fix” this is to start a new Celtic TV account. You might say, “Well, Lar, why don’t you just bite the bullet and pay the annual fee?” A good question, and the answer is simple: It’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of my limited budget for a one-shot payment in that amount.

So three Celtic TV accounts later, it appears that I have reached the end of the line, because all attempts at WorldPay have failed. The alternative is a subscription to ESPN+, which provides a plethora of matches (as well as other sports) for around $6 a month. Despite the price — and I know ESPN can do this cheaply because of their broad subscription base coupled by whatever deal they make with broadcasters (SkySports: You get what you pay for . . . sheesh!) — I would still prefer going with Celtic TV, if for no other reason than to support the club.

So, Celtic TV, I would gladly come back if PayPal were an option, or any other system that would make monthly payments easier. If it’s an issue of PayPal’s cost, I’d gladly pay an increase in the monthly fee factored in to compensate for your trouble in using this U.S.-friendly service.

Your call, folks. Oh, and you need to put Kelly Clark back on the commentary team . . . .

One more thing

Two actually: A special mention should go out to The Celtic Star article by the editor’s cousin regarding two heroic figures — both of them heroic to me as well — Brother Walfrid and Paul Robeson. Many Celtic fans know by heart the story of the former, but the article outlines some interesting facts about the latter. It’s worth a read.

Then, of course, it’s Hibs tomorrow, and a must win for us, as they all are from here on in. While I will make one last vainglorious attempt to get back on Celtic TV — and by the way, going up to Millbrae to watch the game with the San Francisco CSC cannot return to its regularly scheduled meeting soon enough — I have to say clearly and emphatically, Mon the Hoops.

Bringing Celtic legends to life

If you’re a Celtic fan on Twitter, you may know the artistic work of a Glasgow Celtic fan known as @Highland__Paddy. One of the more remarkable efforts he’s involved with is colourising historic photos of legendary Celtic figures like Brother Walfrid, Johnny Madden, “Sunny” Jim Young, and others.

I had a chance to catch up with the artist to ask a few questions on behalf of ’67 in the Heat of Felton.

Q: Thank you for taking the time for this brief interview. First, just a little bit about you and this project: How long have you been an artist, and what inspired or encouraged you to colourise the photos you’ve posted on Twitter?

A: No problem Larry. I’m just an ordinary Celtic fan , like most I’ve lived the highs and lows that our club has put us through.

An artist is a bit of a stretch. I just enjoy seeing these men, who were just names in books when I was growing up, coming to life a bit more in the images. It kind of joins the dots up to their career, lives, and the impact they had on Celtic.

Brother Walfrid in colour: @Highland__Paddy brought the Celtic founder to the 21st century in this colourised photo.

Q: Without giving away any secrets, what is the process – and how long does it take – to change an historic monochromatic photo into one in living colour?

A: One thing I can tell you is that you only see the successful transformations! A lot of them are hit and miss, sometimes the images are best left in black and white, but enhanced the best that I can.

The simplest way to explain the process is quite boring if I’m honest – filters, apps, Photoshop, and a bit of time and effort.

I always try to pick a subject that people can relate to, be it a player, former manager, or in some cases a historical moment in our Club’s history.

Q: You also posted a film clip from Lisbon in 1967 on Monday – was that already in colour, or is turning film (well, video) clips into colour on your artistic radar as well?

A: That was a clip I stumbled upon, for some reason there weren’t that many views of the original. So it only felt natural to hopefully push it out to a wider audience that hadn’t saw it it. Ultimately it was the greatest day in Celtic’s history and some of the footage hadn’t been seen. Colourising videos might be above my station but I wouldn’t rule it out.

Q: Along with the Celtic greats, you also have posted several photos of tall buildings in New York with events and construction workers on them. Other than the Celtic legends you have colourised, what other photographic subjects interest you and, for those non-Celtic photos of a historical slant, do you plan on colourising them?

A: The fear of heights pictures always triggers an interest in people. It shows how brave these workers were at the time. You can only admire them, but it also sparks the acknowledgment that you couldn’t have done it yourself. That’s why I love those images, an instant admiration.

I’ve just finished reading a book by John Joe McGinley called “The Irish Wise Guys” about Irish/American gangsters and their part in crime. There are a few interesting characters in there that I’m looking to work on.

Q: How long have you been a Celtic fan and how do you think the Bhoys will fare for the rest of the season?

A: I’ve been a Celtic fan all my life, same as everyone is I suppose. I was fortunate enough to watch Celtic under Jock Stein right up to present day. It’s a way of life. I’m sure people reading this will feel the same.

My head tells me the season is gone, after the Sparta Prague game at home. I could see the writing on the wall, but my heart tells me not to give up knowing the history of our club.

Q: One more thing: Is your artistic work available for purchase, and if so how would someone go about buying them?

A: I’ve never thought of making money from what I do. To me it’s a hobby and a distraction from all that’s going on in the world at the moment. If people get the same joy from these pictures as I do, that’s good enough for me.

News flash: We’re still in it

I hate to disagree with Chris Sutton or John Hartson or just about anyone else who thinks we’re done for this year, but I don’t think Celtic are out of the hunt for 10 in a row just yet.

Sure, the odds are becoming longer with every performance like today’s — we’ll get back to that in a minute — but as long as there is a mathematical chance for Celtic to catch and pass Glasgow’s other club, then we are technically still in it.

Of course, we can’t beat ourselves like we did today. Let’s be clear: Glasgow’s other club, only 9 years old next month and constantly teetering on the edge of financial ruin, did not win today’s game so much as Celtic lost it. Bad enough that the score ended up the way it did, but how it happened is the real tragedy, namely an own-goal.

Regardless, a gaffe or two aside, Celtic played a great game today, keeping their opponent on the back foot for most of the game. It bodes well for the rest of the season since the club is firing on all cylinders and all we need is to get some of those shots to hit the back of the net.

To be sure, we are going to need help — a lot of it — from the rest of the teams in the Premiership going forward. Also, there will be a lot of scoreboard watching involved from here on in, which leaves us in the unenviable position of putting undeserved faith in league backmarkers such as Motherwell and Ross County to help bail us out.

But as baseball great Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” The lead is there for the first-place team to squander as we head to the second half of the season.

Keep the faith.