For Celtic this season isn’t ten-uous. It’s already ten-se. And the pressure is about to increase ten-fold.
When One in Ten comes on the radio, does Scott Brown sing along or scream?
As this season of seasons begins to bubble, and as we fast approach the first Old Firm game, what must it be like in the heads of Scott Brown and his Celtic team?
Gordon Strachan offers some insight and it’s intriguing. Broony, he says, has “got this thing: every tackle, every header and every instruction seems to be with ten in a row in mind. It’s consuming Scott.” Then Strachan adds: “It’s consuming people so much that they will be acting very strangely over the next six months, on and off the pitch.”
I’m wondering what ten, the number, is doing already to the Celtic players. Do they get excited when it appears suddenly on a hoarding while driving to Lennoxtown or does it make them brake and swerve - and have they already changed their route to training?
Do they sing along when Ken Bruce plays UB40’s 1981 hit One in Ten or do they scream? When someone, in conversation completely unconnected with football and the great quest, remarks, “And then what did I do? Put my big size 10s in it”, has this person just gone and done exactly that once again?
It’s quite an image, Broony crashing into every challenge and chanting “Ten! Ten! Ten!” to himself, and if anyone in Hoops is going to embrace the pressure rather than shrivel under it, he’s the man. But what of others? Do they leap behind the sofa when news bulletins show government ministers arriving at the PM’s gaffe for another Covid summit? Or are these references getting a bit tenuous now? (Geddit?).
Strachan says the players, if they get to ten, could then do what they please - “Change their wife, anything … ” Ah but they will be familiar, I’m sure, with the Ten Commandments and the one which goes: “Dinnae get any ideas about bunking off with your neighbour’s missus.” Ten has never been recorded on the Richter Scale but surely there’s a first time for everything. Tarot card No 10 shows the Wheel of Fortune. Reversed, though, it means bad luck. Oh dear. The intensity for Celtic is only going to increase. Tenfold. To the power of ten.
For those feeling tense (geddit?), another song to avoid would be Ten Guitars, which unfortunately has some Glasgow heritage. Neil Reid, the city’s child star from the 1970s, sang it and Billy Connolly in his early days got so fed up with it being requested in the folk clubs that he penned a send-up, Nine and a Half Guitars.
It goes like this: “I have a band of men and all they do is play for me/They come from miles around to hear them play a melody.” An anthem for The Huddle? Well, nine and a half titles are no use to them.
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