Monday, July 23, 2007

Oh Bhoy!

Joe and I went to Glasgow for the weekend. There were the usual family visits to slot into the days, but we were also sightseers!

Having his roots in Parkhead in Glasgow, my husband is a Celtic man and we joined a guided tour of the football ground taking in the behind the scenes rooms and corridors. The Board room was quite impressive with a wall long trophy cabinet. The guide talked her way through the various cup and shields. She just oozed a love of Celtic from every pore. It was almost like listening to a mother talk about her child’s achievements and showing you the handprint pictures on the fridge door – it was that kind of love!

We then progressed up the stairs to the Press Room to watch a short DVD presentation of the history of the club. Neil Lennon was narrating. The golden years of Jock Stein and the 1967 team were praised and the years of not much silverware in the cabinet were glossed over. Again the pride in being a part of Celtic came across strongly.

Next we went outside to sit in the dugout alongside the pitch. We were not allowed to step onto the grass. It was mowed to perfection! Don’t tell anyone, but I sat in Rod Stewart’s seat! He and Billy Connelly have seats for life. Joe was telling me that for a long time, Billy Connelly, or Rod Stewart, one of the two, kept his love of the Celtic quiet and fooled the world into thinking they were a Partick Thistle man(?). Football supporters are fiercely tribal – but none more so than the Old Firm. To have admitted to being a Celtic man would have involved a drop in music or concert sales. Of course, once you are secure, then you can come out of the closet.

I also sat in the “naughty bhoy’s” seat. When the manager is getting a bit too involved in the match and the referee thinks he is misbehaving, he gets sent off out of the dugout. There is a seat just below Billy’s seat where he had to sit and watch the remainder of the game. Joe was telling me that on one of the matches when the manager got sent to the chair, he chose to stay there although the referee said he could come back, because he got a better view of the game from the naughty seat!

We didn’t see any of the players – they were away playing friendlies in other parts of the country. Apparently on the tour it is not unknown to bump into them, even though the places where they hang out, like the changing room, are off limits.

That gets me to Shaun Malony. It was a throw away comment that the guide made that caught my spirit. The difference between a good football player and a great football player is not always about natural abilities and skills. Apparently after the usual training sessions that all the players attended, Shaun Malony would always stay on for two or three hours afterwards practicing. The Japanese striker whose name I can’t spell, Nakamura, or Makamura – he also stayed on for hours afterwards practicing shots. I think it is those extra hours that makes the difference between being good and being great.

What makes you want to stay on for another two or three hours after an already gruelling practice session? I suppose that when a manager has a wide range of players to choose from, you want to be his choice! You don’t want to sit on the reserve bench, or watch the game from stands. You want to give yourself every advantage possible when it comes to fitness and skill – so you stay behind and practise! To want to play that much…you stay on and practise.

As a Christian I am challenged by that. I could just do what is required of me – even then, that is a challenge if you think of those words in Micah 6:8 – or I could be the best that I could be. It is what I do with those extra hours! To want God’s glory demonstrated in everything that you do – that much! “How much do I want that?” I should be asking myself, before I switch of the TV, or mark the page of the book I am reading – and go into the prayer closet, or the Bible, or to the house of a struggling friend and practice!

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