I am sitting here mid-evening, I’ve been working non-stop from before sunrise this morning and my day is not nearly done yet – I have lots and lots still to do. I have very little time in which to write this article so trust me, this is important. This is very important.
You know sometimes we see or hear something & instantly we are filled with profound emotion and a newfound sense of priority.
I have just had one such experience.
Moreover, I feel utterly compelled to share it.
I was seizing upon an unforeseen opportunity to switch off from the workload which has of late, engulfed me.
True to recent form, with only a few minutes to spare, I activated the Twitter application on my phone – currently, if anything is going to make me smile and provide me with a bite-sized portion of fun, then it’s fair to say a quick search of Celtic minded users is a damn fine place to start.
I stumbled upon something intriguing. Humbling!
At that moment I felt that I’d received a life-lesson.
The story wasn’t new to me; I had long since understood the facts of the situation. I just wasn’t prepared for the poignancy of the short feature I’d soon discover.
I honestly had never expected when I opened the app, that I’d be moving my priorities around to accommodate the creation of an article here on www.celtsarehere.com – though here I am.
Without further ado, here’s the subject matter that so moved me; a shoe polish advert!
Not just any shoe polish advert, mind you – the advertisement was a ‘John Clark, of Celtic, inspired shoe polish advert’.
The tweet and the incredible video can be viewed below
It was another John, ‘John Lennon’, who wrote the following line:
“A working class hero is something to be; If you want to be a hero well just follow me”, it might as well, however, have left the mouth of Mr John Clark himself.
It still rings true today, a man who speaks for the working class and who can strike a meaningful bond with the very fabric of society will be revered in the most genuine of all forms.
‘Humility’ isn’t something in those circles. It’s everything!
Leading by example; now that’s what great leaders do!
Nowadays, our game has been driven far from its working-class roots – capitalism and its never greater flood of money has altered the paradigm that once existed between clubs and players, players and fans.
Therefore, it’s never been more critical to have a few remarkable examples around at a football club – once that disconnect is complete, it will be absolute. There will be no going back.
Too many players are far too eager to feel the trappings of wealth and are filled with an artificial sense of self-importance.
Usually, long before any meaningful achievements have been realised, the pampered players of today are treated like superstars. Unfortunately, many are ill-equipped for the journey ahead – many have their heads turned by the big-bucks, the bright-lights and the lure of seemingly better things.
‘Chasing rainbows’, springs to mind. Many have left their respective clubs brimming with confidence and certain that the grass is truly greener on the other side – most who leave Celtic, however, live to either regret it, or, are too blind as to note exactly what they could’ve had, just who they could’ve been.
Celtic is a great place to be fans favourite. To be an iconic Celt, that must be quite a privilege indeed.
People recognise ability very quickly, but it takes far longer and much, much more than pure footballing ability to win over the hearts and minds of a clubs’ support and to be assured an eternal status of greatness at any club.
Few can achieve such greatness and be bestowed with legendary status.
It has to be that way; legends can’t be regular and ten-a-penny players – it infuriates me to hear of legends when the truth is that they’re made of little real substance. I digress.
We are, however, extremely privileged that during our illustrious history, we had the pleasure of an entire team of legends – a team of Lions.
In the 60’s Celtic rebuilt itself under Jock Stein and a team of local lads assured itself of footballing immortality.
Each one of those heroes is afforded a god like status both at our club and far beyond.
To a man, they all treasure the bond they enjoy with the club and their rapport with its fans – they are themselves fans. They played for the love of the game, the love of the club and the pride of its people – to them bank balances were almost inconsequential.
They well and truly broke the mould when the Lisbon Lions were created.
Celtic fans were genuinely blessed during their era – though fans of the club who were not alive during the 60’s can and always will look to the greatest Celtic side ever assembled and with enormous pride and greater still ‘affection’. We can all share in everything that they achieved in our clubs’ name.
To call them ‘legends’ is a massive understatement – words themselves are truly insufficient to accurately convey the status of those men in the minds of the clubs’ followers.
In that video, to see one of Celtic’s most coveted and iconic figures humbly and dutifully assisting the vastly paid players of the modern era. Cleaning, tidying and organising their club attire – making sure they all have a little less to contemplate on match-day and moreover being enthused at his continued role at the club he loves – it’s emotional, it’s inspiring – it’s quite frankly shocking!
The production itself was absolutely magnificent – hat tip to the creative and production teams involved.
Back to Mr Clark.
His humility and devotion of a scarce kind. Bear in mind, this is a club legend as a player. A man who played a full and substantial role in a European Cup winning team – the first British, in fact the first non-Latin team to win the competition. A winning squad, wholly comprised of Scottish players all heralding from within an incredibly narrow region of Scotland – to all intents and purposes they were probably the greatest regional football team to ever lace up boots.
Once you understand their affection for Celtic, you get a grasp of just how remarkable, even for that era, that particular group of players were. How impressive they were and are as human beings.
We now live in a world accustomed to many more luxuries than the Lions’ would necessarily have ever known – that is not to say, a better or happier world.
We live through an age when loyalty is but a commodity readily for sale to the next bidder. Back then, the guys who made up Scotland’s greatest ever football team, they’d have run through brick walls for the club. They had pride and principles, commodities that had no price tag.
John Clark does not ask what the club can do for him, but yet still, what he can do for the club.
After all these years, one of the very few men who could feel rightly entitled to a special status and treatment, at the expense of Celtic Football Club, still feels that he owes the club a debt of gratitude – it’s almost tear inducing stuff.
That John feels enormous and genuine pride in working as kit-man at the football club, and that his role is not more front and centre should in no way be conflated to draw any image of his lack of statesmanship, far from it. Some great leaders do, of course, position themselves, almost egotistically at the vanguard of a movement. Others are less easily spotted – they choose to quietly and diligently nurture, direct and support those in the trenches around them – promoting strength and cohesion.
Some people lead merely by example, not by position.
Mr John Clark has been exemplary in his services to Celtic, his legacy of leadership and loyalty is a testament to the extreme class of the man. The man is a most worthy ambassador for the club and its values.
For John and his fellow peers, my gratitude grows ever deeper, my affection knows no bounds.
Thanks for everything you have done in the name of Celtic.
Thank you also for the lessons in life – you are an inspiration to me and a shining example to every player who walks through the doors at Celtic Park.
God bless you, Mr Clark.