Takeaways from the weekend

Forgive me for going off-script and weighing in on Celtic while we’re still outside the parameters of the regular SPFL season — a self-imposed rule I have set on myself and this blog. However, this weekend warrants a few comments and points which could be marginalized, or even forgotten, by the time we pick up the regular season again on Sunday.

Like . . .

The pregame tifo to honor Bertie Auld was fantastic, but it still paled in comparison to the display at the 67th minute of the match. The Green Brigade pulled out all the stops on this one.

Damn, can we tifo!

Recently I was explaining tifo to a friend who follows sports marginally, and if anything only sports in the U.S. He couldn’t understand why fans would make so much of an effort, and I just threw up my hands and changed the subject.

Anyway, despite the fact I am not a big fan of pyro, the pregame and 67th minute tributes to Bertie Auld on Saturday were both phenomenal. The Green Brigade gets high marks for bringing high quality to the stands, each and every time, regardless of whether it gets the club in trouble or not. It was phenomenal, and regretfully I could not find a still from the 2nd half demonstration by the Green Brigade.

You’ll have to settle for videos gleaned from social media, like this one here.

Of course, Sunday’s Wile E. Coyote tifo — whatever the Ibrox crew was doing on at Hampden the day after, which seemed to be purchased at ACME– paled in comparison. As it always does, and as they always do.

A yellow for Furuhashi

An incident in the St. Johnston game which caused some ripples was when that paragon of class officiating Nick Walsh — yeah, that’s the epitome of sarcasm right there, as Walsh should be nowhere near a grade-school match, let alone a Cup semifinal — gave Kyogo Furuhashi a yellow card. But the fact of the matters is that it was completely warranted.

Kyogo Furuhashi against the backdrop of the Green Brigade’s demonstration at the 67th minute of Saturday’s game.

Furuhashi was floored by some mouthbreathing, hammerthrowing nobody on St. Johnstone — playing their Livingstonian 10-0-0 formation all game — and Kyogo got up and was clearly justified in pushing him. A small tete-a-tete which amounted to nothing, except to Walsh, who made it a serious offense thanks to the fact that it was a Celt involved.

Daijobu desu, Furuhashi-san — That’s OK, Kyogo. It’s good to see that Kyogo has probably had his fill of the rogue’s gallery of talentless thugs that populate the SPFL and is now standing up for himself.

Welcome back, Jamesy

Oh, man. Have I been waiting for this, and it’s a plot line straight out of Hollywood. Who better to honor a legend like Bertie Auld than a potential legend-in-waiting like James Forrest?

James Forrest gets chased by Celtic captain Callum McGregor after Forrest scored on Saturday against St. Johnstone.

Forrest scored in the 74th minute from a cross that pinballed off St. Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark and others, and slotted home the 1-0 winner on Saturday. If there was ever a fitting “welcome back” after recovery from a long injury, it was this for Jamesy.

Love seeing that kind of play from a homegrown hero like Forrest.

One more thing

My friend Matt Corr’s latest book — “Harry Hood: Twice as Good” — has officially been released into the wild, and it’s an ideal holiday gift for that Celtic fan on your list. You can pick up the book at the Celtic Star Bookstore, and you can marvel at how great Harry looked in the San Antonio Thunder jersey late in his career . . . not to mention all the tales of glory from his Celtic days as well.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. We travel to Bayer Lederhosen — sorry, Leverkusen — this week before taking up the regular season tasks against Aberdeen on Sunday. Mon the Hoops!

Putting Harry Hood on the shelf

Those who know me, to any degree, know that I hate to repeat myself. Let me emphasize this loudly for those in the back who may have missed it: I hate to be redundant.

So there.

In bookstores soon, but don’t let that stop you from pre-ordering an autographed copy here. . .

But even after writing about Harry Hood’s American tour of duty with the San Antonio Thunder in an earlier blog post, this post bears repeating because Matt Corr — Celtic historian and author, master of Celtic European travelogues, and Celtic Star colleague extraordinaire, among other accomplishments — has written a definitive and official biography of the man they said was “twice as good,” and hence part of the title.

Corr’s previous efforts with Celtic Star Books have been outstanding. “Invincible” outlines in great detail the first of the Quadruple Treble seasons where Celtic went unbeaten (and, in a truth-in-advertising moment, I’ve also written about it here). And I have to admit to being remiss in not mentioning earlier how great his other book with Celtic Star Books is — that being “Walfrid and the Bould Boys” that he wrote with David Potter and Liam Kelly — in which the trio plumbs the depths of Celtic’s infancy to outline the foundation of the club we support today.

With the holidays right around the corner, I have to confess that getting an Ange Postecoglou black sweater/jumper is on the top of my list for Santa, but second definitely would be Corr’s book.

But for those of you who may want to forego the Ange sweater/jumper — because, unlike me, you may not share the Aussie gaffer’s physique — you can pre-order the book from The Celtic Star Bookstore already at this link. Bear in mind that pre-orders come with an autographed copy of the book once it’s delivered to you.

As an aside, in this upcoming holiday season, what could possibly be better than Elf on a Shelf?

Wait for it . . . Hood on the Wood.


Thank you, ladies and gentlemen! I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress . . .

Mon the Hoops!

Harry Hood: Bringing the Thunder

Celtic star Harry Hood took a break between his final playing days at Celtic and his return to Scotland to play for Motherwell by doing a short stint for the San Antonio Thunder of the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 1976.

The wave of Europe’s and South America’s best players coming to America in the mid-1970s to play in the North American Soccer League was supposed to be just that: a wave. The idea was to integrate top-name players — albeit players who may have been past their prime — with the local up-and-coming football talent to mesh into a product with which American sports fans could identify.

The wave, fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective, turned into a tsunami, and the new American soccer fans were deluged with a crop of highly talented, if not slightly “high-mileage,” football stars, mostly from Europe and primarily from the British Isles.

Like Jimmy Johnstone, who enjoyed a short stay with the San Jose Earthquakes around this same time, another Celtic star that found a home — albeit a temporary one — in the United States was Harry Hood.

Hood played a season for NASL’s San Antonio Thunder in Texas in 1976. The Thunder that year was stocked with players from England and Scotland: Captain Bobby Moore brought his experience from leading England in the previous decade while joining countryman Bob McNab on the squad, and Hood joined fellow Scots Bobby Clark, Tommy Callaghan, Neil Martin, and Jim Forrest to make up the team playing at Alamo Stadium that season.

As an aside, Johnstone might also have been one of Hood’s teammates in San Antonio, as the Thunder was bidding for his services. However, Jinky ended up in San Jose that year in a minor contract squabble between the two clubs.

Hood made an impressive start that season, contributing to the team’s four-game unbeaten streak. He scored twice against the rival Los Angeles Aztecs in a game on July 3, 1976. However, San Antonio foundered during the rest of the season and finally finished out of a playoff spot in the Southern Division of the Pacific Conference.

But it was not for lack of trying: Hood’s score line for the season was 10 goals in 20 games in the sweltering Texas summer. As the NASL awarded players two points for a goal and one point for an assist, Hood finished that season in 19th place overall in NASL scoring. It is worth noting that he finished ahead of fellow “import” Geoff Hurst.

One season in the U.S. was enough for Hood, who returned to Scotland for the following season to play for Motherwell and Queen of the South, before embarking on a short managing stint and a career as a succesful businessman.

And while his on-field exploits at Alamo Stadium came nowhere near rivaling what transpired when he wore the hoops — there were no hat tricks against rivals like the Aztecs — Harry Hood did manage to bring the Thunder to San Antonio, even if it was just for one season.