TCNGC17

The words that you’re reading are a victim of circumstance. Do you ever stop to consider the chain of events that led you to be doing precisely what you’re doing right now, in this instant? The present is the end result of a chain of coincidences, so vast and so varied in their nature, that the best that you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride: except this story is not a comfortable one. This story only exists because the ride is anything but pleasant.

This is the LCFN take on TCNGC17.

  • TCN is The Celtic Network
  • this instance of GC doesn’t have an HQ after it. This one is for Good Causes only.
  • 17 is next year.

This is the third time that my mate Wullie has asked me to pen something on LCFN and each time it has been both an honour and a pleasure. Y’see I was born wearing a different colour of fitba shirt fae Wullie, but once you take that aff, what you find inside is pretty much made fae the same mould, except that Wullie’s less scaredycat than me when it comes to ruffling a few feathers in high places. Wullie is a good, good guy.

I could roll this story back ten years but I didnae know the big man back then. Our paths didnae cross until about the time some amazingly charitable things were happening in Glasgow. In the east end, after Stephen Knox, a punter on Celtic Quick News, posted a thread about his wee boy who was fighting neuroblastoma, a bunch of guys got together and kickstarted Team Oscar Forever. In one short hour before a home match against Dundee, hardly a game to fill the stadium, the green bucket brigade collected £32,000: in total, that whole campaign notched up nearly a quarter of a million pounds. The story of wee Oscar was what ultimately led to me starting LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma.

All I knew of Wullie back at the start was that he had a website called TCN. When I say he had a website, what he really had was an umbrella site for loads of other websites. Y’see Wullie has always been a bloke who does things for other folk, for little or no return. TCN, his brainchild, comes and goes, it morphs from one good idea to another, and it possesses that happy knack, as all the great ideas have, of giving something back to the people.

When our paths crossed, late in 2011 going into 2012, it was because OldCo Rangers, Celtic’s nemesis from across the city, were in the process of going bust. It was a collapse modelled on unearned, undeserved and unwarranted entitlement, so the difference in cultures between the two clubs couldn’t have been more pronounced. Coming from a background of supporting first West Bromwich Albion as a kid, then Inverness Caley Thistle in Scotland, I’m very much accustomed to looking down before I dare look up. Heartbreak and safety first lie at the very heart of my football experience, and aligning with a guy like Wullie kind of came like second nature. He’s the socialist brother that I never had: expect the worst but accept crumbs off the table not knowing when next you’ll see their like.

Looking back, I wish I’d had the balls to do what Wullie did back in 2012, and stop going to games in protest at the way the SFA and the SPFL attempted to gerrymander their reborn club onto the football landscape. I lasted six months then fell off the wagon and went back, always feeling that nagging sense of guilt for having done so. I stopped again in 2015, and now the only thing that ties me to football is charity.

Just over a year after we met, and three months or so after I’d set off in pursuit of that 25K mile adventure, Wullie asked me to write a story about LCFN (or just LCN as it was termed in those days) for TCN. It subsequently got lifted and republished on Celtic Quick News, the heartbeat of all things Celtic. That first story, which led directly to this blog a few weeks later, spawned this comment from a random observer:

Wow! I simply cannot get the hairs on the back of my neck to sit down. Wow! again. What an objective; what a compliment to Celtic fans. I love football. I love Celtic. But more and more I love the way the fans reach out to people and touch their lives. That is more of a treble year on year than any trophies. To conquer an opponent on the field is always an achievement and a glorious feeling. To capture an opponent’s heart is Godsent”.

That comment, left by a guy I knew simply by his web handle, Old Father Time, opened my eyes to the very soul of Celtic Football Club. If I didn’t know it before, I sure as hell knew it then: Celtic was a football club formed in the east end of Glasgow in 1888 for the material benefit of Irish immigrants living in the city. By material benefit, I mean simply putting food on the table.

Our paths crossed again in the spring of 2015 when Wullie let it be known that he was planning on promoting a charity CD to benefit a number of good causes:

  • The Invisibles
  • The Kano Foundation
  • Sean’s Trust
  • The Good Child Foundation
  • LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma

Just to be included on that list was an honour. People just don’t do those things in normal life: they don’t reach out to people of another footballing culture, put an arm around them and accept them as one of their own: except if you are Glasgow Celtic. Their ethos is one of no barriers, everyone is welcome here, and I suspect therein lies the key. It’s not the team you support that unlocks the door: it’s what you do, and the way you go about doing it that makes the difference.

For the record, my son Finn’s band were on that CD: they were just a bunch of fifth years at school, laying down a track between (and sometimes during) lessons. The only non-Celtic minded song on the album, it got TCN recognised in Adelaide where one of my LCFN supporting mates had a weekly radio show. Many times he opened and closed his show with that song. It was magical.

So now, three years (and 167 stories) down the road from that first LCFN blog, and two years down the road from the Spirit of Walfrid CD, Wullie is back, this time with a venture that I’ll simply call TCN Good Causes 17.

Hell, if this country ever needed good causes, then that time is now. Wullie reckons it’ll take a generation to put society back on its feet: he may be right. But we have to start somewhere and I’m right beside the big man.

What Wullie has done is given the TCN site a lick of green n white paint and whack it back up there in an attempt to put money in places where it can really make a difference:

  • The Invisibles, a wholly voluntary group of people, with no registered base as such, who support the homeless by the generosity of the people of Glasgow and the frontline homeless groups across the city.
  • The Celtic Graves who do what it says on the tin: they exist as a voluntary group to research, remember and honour those that have played for their club over their 128 year history.
  • The Road To Lisbon is Mouldy’s gig to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Celtic becoming the first British club to lift the European Cup. He and his 25 or so of his Celtic cycling mates are planning on riding from Celtic Park to Lisbon in May. The Road To Lisbon is supporting The Celtic Foundation, Children in Crossfire, and Solving Kids Cancer.
  • The Kano Foundation’s mission is to treat youngsters, regardless of background and circumstance, to a day out at Celtic Park. Since its inception in season 2010/11, it has lifted over 5,000 over the turnstiles. It’s named after Martin Kane, an Aussie based Glaswegian who was struck down by a rare neurological condition, Devic’s Syndrome, in 2008. Martin passed away in January 2015 and the charity lives on in his name.
  • Sean’s Trust was launched in 2015 in memory of wee baby Sean Ryan who was stillborn in July of that year. Its mission is to support families bereaved by stillbirth.
  • And then there’s LCFN, still rolling out the miles in support of neuroblastoma research and family support, three years and 27,000 miles down the road from that first time that Wullie poked me in the ribs. I think he likes me cos I never give up.

TCNGC17 will, like its predecessors, be an umbrella fundraiser for all of its good causes. It will be possible to set up a monthly subscription, sure in the knowledge that your donations will be audited, and that at the end of the day they will be making a difference, no matter how big or small, to someone’s life somewhere: multiple times over.

Big Wullie remains a standard bearer for independent socialism, and LCFN is deeply honoured to once again be on the journey. We don’t do first class; we don’t even do standard class. We just do help someone to get there class.

That is the ethos of TCNGC17.