Thursday, 8 August 2019

Farewell then Kieran Tierney

So farewell then Kieran Tierney, the Bhoy who could have been King.

I'm going to clear up a few misconceptions anyone might draw before I start. I wish him well in his future career. He is a professional footballer and perfectly entitled to maximise his earnings over the 15 years or so he can expect to have at the top. He's perfectly entitled to want to test himself in a more difficult league. I'm glad Celtic will get a big fee for him. He lived his boyhood dream and now he wants to move on. All of that is absolutely fine.

But this is not about Kieran Tierney, it's about us. I've been told by so many people that we should be happy for him, that he's one of us. A big Celtic man. I've even heard that he leaves us as a Celtic great.

I'm not buying that. We can look back at Celtic's history and see some real Celtic men. Players who could have left the club for more money, but stayed at Celtic because of their emotional attachment to Celtic.

Most famous of them all must be Jimmy McGrory, whom Celtic desperately tried to sell to, ironically, Arsenal. He actually had to be tricked into even talking to them, being asked by Willie Maley to accompany him on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1928. This was a pretext for the pair to be met on the platform at Euston Station in London by Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman and chairman Samuel Hill Wood MP.

At this "chance" meeting, Maley suggested they go to a restaurant for dinner and halfway through, he and the Arsenal chairman made excuses and left, leaving McGrory with Chapman, who told him a deal had been agreed with Celtic and asked what he wanted to sign for Arsenal. McGrory asked him for £2,000 (an astronomical sum then, that he knew Arsenal would never agree to) and told him he was perfectly happy at Celtic.

When the other two returned, they were aghast to find out there was no deal and the Celtic pair continued their journey to Lourdes. On their return, they were met off the boat train by Chapman again, who this time offered Celtic £10,000 (a record transfer fee at the time) and a black cheque for McGrory. He again refused to sign.

John Cairney in his biography of McGrory, Heroes are Forever, writes:

They shook hands. At that, Willie Maley returned to the table, smiling, thinking a deal had been struck, but Chapman was quick to disabuse him.

'Mr Maley, if we offered this lad the Crown Jewels and next year's output of the Royal Mint, we'd still not get him. I think the deal's off.'

Maley looked at McGrory keenly. 'So you're staying? he said.


'Well if you're determined...'

'I am.'

'Well, that's it.'

Maley then turned to Chapman and offered his hand. 'I'm sorry Mr Chapman...' he began.

Chapman cut him off with a wave of his hand. 'And so am I, Mr Maley. Believe me, I am.'

They shook hands, then, turning to McGrory, the Arsenal manager patted him on the shoulder saying, 'Good luck to you, James,' and briskly left the room.

What Mr Chapman could never have understood, and perhaps even Mr Maley underestimated, was that Jimmy McGrory was as much a Celtic supporter as player. He had green genes from the start.

That's what a Celtic man looks like. A Celtic man looks like Jimmy McGrory. He looks like Billy McNeill, or Jimmy Johnstone, or  Danny McGrain, or Paul McStay. Men who could have graced any team in the world at their peak but stayed at Celtic out of their love for Celtic.

Some people tell me it's different today. That the wages on offer in the EPL are so astronomical that no one could possibly turn them down. I don't agree. Kieran Tierney will reportedly treble his wages by signing for Arsenal, but would he be in the poor house if he stayed at Celtic? I doubt it very much. In fact, if he stayed at Celtic his entire career, he would be able to retire and never have to work again. That's how well-paid Celtic's top players are. But think about that again. Treble his wages.

Tommy Gemmell left Celtic in 1971. He didn't want to leave, he'd have happily spent his entire career at Celtic, but he'd fallen out of favour with Jock Stein and their relationship had broken down irreparably. When Stein accepted an offer from Nottingham Forest, Gemmell felt he had no option but to speak to them and if personal terms could be agreed, to go. In his autobiography Lion Heart, written with Graham McColl, he wrote:

It was certainly a backward step football-wise because Nottingham Forest were not one of the elite sides in the First Division of the English Football League. On the other hand, it was a huge leap forward financially. Overnight, I trebled my guaranteed weekly pay. At Forest, I received appearance money, League position money and pointage bonus money, and I got another bonus because I was an international footballer. With all those additions to my basic wage, I ended up with around £180 a week, whereas when I left Celtic the basic wage was £60.

Comparing then and now, it's clear any of the Lisbon Lions could have easily trebled their wages, just like Kieran Tierney will, by leaving Celtic. Gemmell was not even leaving for one of England's top sides. Billy McNeill or Jimmy Johnstone could have gone to a far bigger club than Nottingham Forest and earned far more money. The difference between then and now is that in the 1970's no footballer could retire at the end of their career and never have to work again, so there would have been even more incentive for players then to maximise their earnings while they could.

Kieran Tierney could one day have been spoken of in the same breath as Danny McGrain. He would have been guaranteed the captaincy when Scott Brown (a real Celtic man) retires and could have gone on to make a record number of appearances and win a record number of trophies with Celtic. Legendary status was his for the taking. But he has chosen to go play for Arsenal. Unlike Jimmy McGrory, he has decided that Tierney of Arsenal does sound as good as Tierney of Celtic.

We've lost better players than Kieran Tierney and survived. We will survive this. We all know Celtic's place in the football pecking order in the current financial circumstances. In recent years we've said goodbye to Victor Wanyama, Joe Ledley, Gary Hooper, Fraser Forster, Virgil van Dijk, Stuart Armstrong. All to the EPL, all for far higher wages and we've wished them all well as they left, as I do Kieran Tierney.

But we thought there was a difference between Kieran Tierney and those others. We thought that unlike them, Celtic was in his DNA and we thought that meant something. He kissed the badge. He left hospital to be at Hampden for the Scottish Cup presentation in 2017. He chanted into a megaphone in front of the Green Brigade and took selfies of himself celebrating in front of them He sat amongst the fans at Ibrox. Some of us let that fool us into thinking he was just like Jimmy McGrory, Billy McNeill, Jimmy Johnstone, Danny McGrain, Paul McStay, Scott Brown and maybe James Forrest.

But he's not. As we wish him well, let's not pretend that he is this big Celtic man, that he's one of us. He's no different to Wanyama, Forster, Ledley, Hooper, van Dijk, Armstrong. I don't doubt for a second he grew up a Celtic fan, but the depth of his love for Celtic was not great enough to stop him doing what all the other mercenaries have done this past decade, and go spend the peak of his career in the EPL chasing money rather than trophies. Even Celtic going for nine and then hopefully ten in a row was not enough to keep him at Celtic for even as little as two more years to achieve that magical milestone, which is surely all that matters to every Celtic fan for the next two years? Whatever love he feels for Celtic made no difference to him when Arsenal came calling. Saying he is a big Celtic man renders the phrase meaningless, because he acted no differently to all those other players who had no emotional connection to Celtic. Big Celtic men don't leave at the age of 22, especially with a place in history to be won, for the flash of an EPL skirt.

When we look back on Celtic's history, where should Kieran Tierney stand? Certainly not with McGrory, McNeill, Johnstone, McGrain, McStay and Brown. If we are looking for parallels in Celtic history with Kieran Tierney, they're not hard to find.

Nicholas, McClair, Johnston (pre-traitor years, overall, he's in a special circle of Hell all of his own), Collins, Maloney. The guys who burned brightly at Celtic for a few, hugely promising years, then as their peaks approached, took off for pastures greener and wage packets bigger.

So farewell then Kieran Tierney. I thank you for your service to the club and wish you every success in the future. But Celtic fans - don't try to tell me Kieran Tierney is one of our own. He's one of Arsenal's now.


  1. Think your comments are a little bit over the top mte

    1. I'm a huge Teirney fan but the guy does have lot good points,but on the other hand what's to say the greedy Celtic board didn't pressureise Teirney to make the move??

    2. KT has wanted away since Rogers left, board happy to sell if fee met, was told this by an ex agent 3 months ago, I said your talking mince. everything he told me has came to pass. It's mutual all round.

    3. Mr O'Connell is spot on. I too wish KT all the best..Hope he enjoys English football and trophyless seasons, but we move on and urge every Celtic fan to fully support all those current players (Boli et al)who are committed to the club and the challenges that lie ahead. COYBIG Hail hail

  2. Changed days from that era, KT deserves his move and the financial windfall he will receive and i dont think in Celtic supporters who who thought this through would grudge him it, what he has got out of the club he has given back with his tranfer fee. I also understand the support that is angry at him leaving because they see him as a celtic man and its hard to understand why he would leave, he has the opportunity to set himself up financially for life and he's being smart and looking to the future, people might say its not all about money but when its put in front of you its hard to say no, this quote is not on a par with KT, but if you were in a job you loved and somebody offered you treble the money doing the same job in another place would you take if it meant giving you family and kids if you have them a better life, as i said not on a par with KT'S wages at the moment he could still give them a decent life just now but everybody who wants to better themselves in my opinion would take the chance.

    1. All good points m8, nothing wrong with leaving especially as we get massive fee but, and this isn't directed at your post, please my fellow fans stop this hero worship and faux legend crap. KT is s good player who is now away, end of.

  3. Totally agree, I wish him well at Arsenal, but I'm over it already, he's a decent player and we've got a great fee but sadly like the writer of the piece KT will never be able to sit in the pantheon of Celtic greats as he's left before he could even get near that table. I wish u well young man but your not my interest anymore only Celtic players are HH.

  4. Spot on,Daniel.
    Absolutely echoes my thoughts 100%.
    You're one of the few to say it forcefully,without berating Kieran.
    Great lad,but just like the rest of the rainbow chasers before him.

    P.s, i hope we get Arsenal in a Euro competition now.

  5. Replies
    1. Good Riddance. .. feck off u can't even spell u ignoramus

  6. Celtic ACCEPTED a fantastic fee for a fantastic guy..He'll not be forgotten.. ..A TRUE CELTIC MAN!!!

  7. Beautifully summed up.
    I think there will be a huge amount of Celtic supporters thinking exactly the same way.
    I wonder how much he will get for selling his megaphone.
    He certainly won't need it where he's headed.
    Still,he could always keep it and convert it into a hearing horn,he's gonna need something of that ilk to hear the "Gooners"
    There's more atmosphere on the Moon than there is at the Emirates.
    I won't miss him as l find l lose all respect for these "Gods with feet of clay"once they show their true colours.HH

  8. Got to agree with Daniel, the boys 22 not 32 ,he earns a million a year at the team he's supported all his life , 10 in a row is so close you can almost touch it !

  9. Hard one to quantify! I wish him well and hope he has not left to early. He is still learning his craft and I believe he should have stayed at Celtic for the 10 in a row. Then would have been the better time to move on. What happens if he finds it much more difficult to perform at English premiership level? On the bench or part of a rotational system wouldn't suit him. Best of luck young to him and I hope he plays well down there.👍👍👍

  10. For someone who was Celtic daft I don't get it..a sudden shocking change of heart 22 he had loads of time..this will tear Celtic apart...the team will be phoning their agents.
    But that's it..grab the dollars..loyalty no longer plays a part.

  11. I also wish him well, I hope he doesn't lose any of his medals because he will never collect another one where he's going.
    Guys like us talk about great Celtic players of the past McNeils Etc, KT wont be spoken about like them in positive way in years to come, 2 more years was all it would have taken to be a Celtic hero then a mega buck move and legend status forever.
    However £s speak louder then medals.
    We will still have 10IAR soon and I bet he will regret this day for the rest of his playing days if not longer.

  12. So much nonsense in this passive aggressive article against Kieran
    He is unquestionably a Celtic fan, no one can doubt this, he has given everything in his time with us and has been a significant part of our success in the last few seasons, he deserves to be remembered for his contribution as are all the other players who have contributed
    He goes with best wishes and wish him every success in the future and as far as I am concerned, he is welcome back anytime
    Is he a legend, no he is no where near the names in the article, we have many legends, but equally we have many who have played their small part and all have made some contribution, to this great club, it's success and our identity.
    We move on and will continue to be more than just successful, there are legends of past and there will legends in the future
    We are extremely lucky to be witness to such success and the making of so much history hh

    1. There's no aggression directed towards Kieran Tierney here, passive or otherwise. I hope he goes on to have a brilliant career.

      My article is not directed at Kieran Tierney, but at his hero-worshipping fans getting all maudlin about what a big Celtic man he is. Celtic men don't hop on a plane to London to sign for another club while we're playing a Champions League qualifier.

      His love for Celtic proved to be of as much relevance when Arsenal came calling as the love for Celtic held by Forster, Hooper, Wanyama, van Dijk, Armstrong, Dembele etc - ie, it meant nothing.

      But like you, he goes with my best wishes.

  13. Real Celtic men Stay at Celtic....

    1. Don't talk crap! Big Jock left ,Jinky left,big Billy Left. Gemmel left,! Dalglish left!!C not real man? Behave yer self

  14. 176 games for us doesn’t make him a true Celtic man - was passing through til the predators of the EPL came calling

    1. Pish! FIFTEEN years of his 22 were at Celtic

  15. If he left after 10IAR at 24 he would have had thousands at the airport wishing him good luck. He left far too early for a real Celtic man.

    1. No he wouldn't! He would still have had clueless arseholes calling him a rat

  16. Why does this article have a picture of Joe Ledley? I thought it was about KT...

  17. RidicUlous! Get into the real world! All the best to KT!

  18. Oh dear! So a 22 year old DIEHARD Celtic fan who has spent FIFTEEN years of his young life at the club is NOT a "real Celtic man" like Scott Brown(Hibs fan) who hasn't been there as long? My god what kind of heroin are you actually on? Tales of Willie Maley,McGrory and others have got absolutely feck all relevance in this day and age! and the club's clubs utter bollocks that they tried all they could to keep him is,in my opinion UTTER garbage! At NO POINT did they come out and say he is NOT for sale. You need to have a word with yourself mate! Mon The Hoops,and Mon KT. A TRUE Celtic man wherever he plays HH

    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a measured and reasonable comment.

      I never said he's not a diehard Celtic fan, but he's not diehard enough to turn down Arsenal when they came calling and that's a fact. I don't care who Scott Brown used to support, or who he supports, he has shown his commitment to Celtic by spending almost his whole career with us when he could have moved on.

      Not sure why you think McGrory has no relevance to today? Like Tierney, he could have earned at least treble his wages by signing for Arsenal, but turned it down because Celtic was the only club he wanted to play for. The two situations are exactly the same. McGrory's love of Celtic turned out to be deeper than Tierney's.

      Good luck to Kieran Tierney at Arsenal, I wish him every success. But however much he supports Celtic, it wasn't enough to keep him at Celtic. He's an Arsenal man now.

  19. Thanks for all the comments guys, I appreciate the feedback.