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Celtic and Villarreal show the world a better way – Camaraderie not Enmity

 

Villarreal Celtic's friends

Last night, in Parallel Universe 483, the 2011 Europa League Final was played to a conclusion between Villarreal and Glasgow Celtic, with the favourites, the classy Spanish side, emerging victors by 3 goals in 1 in a highly entertaining game full of positive attacking football from both teams. In the end class told, with Villarreal’s world class forward pairing of Rossi and Nilmar proving far superior to the Celtic firepower of Hooper and Samaras. The skilful Borja Valero and Cazorla, the other two members of Villarreal ‘s Cuatro Fantastico of Hollywood fame, laid on far more chances than did Celtic’s midfield, and by the middle of the second half Rossi with two well taken goals and Nilmar with a classic solo effort had put Villarreal into a commanding lead that was never going to be surrendered. Kris Common’s late effort put a more competitive gloss on the final score without threatening the inevitability of the outcome. Celtic fans were left to speculate on what might have happened if Samaras had converted a stonewall opportunity when Villarreal were caught cold in the 4th minute.

Capdevila Izaguirre's equal

The one area of the game where Celtic competed on equal terms throughout was in defensive midfield where the combative Celtic duo of Kayal and Scott Brown proved a match for Villarreal’s more vaunted pair of dual Spanish internationalists Marcos Senna and Bruno. And Izaguirre with yet  another  fine display showed himself to belong in the same league as Villarreal’s Tommy Gemmell clone Joan Capdevila, world cup medal and all.

The last time Celtic played in this Final, in 2003,  they had felt aggrieved at the outcome, feeling that they had been denied a deserved victory by the over physicality of Jose Mourinho’s Porto. Barcelona sympathisers may take a little satisfaction from remembering that negatively attempting to kick more skilled opponents out of their stride is not a new Mourinho ploy, but one that has been present throughout his career as a manager. However on this occasion, in Dublin’s fine new stadium, there was no such sense of aggravation. With their well known generosity of spirit and sense of fair play, Celtic fans were able to acknowledge that justice was done, class told and the better team won, fairly and on merit. (continue reading…)

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Copa Libertadores 1st Knockout Round – the Slaughter of the complacent Brazilians

 

Complacent Holders Inter PA lose to Penarol

Wednesday 4th May 2011 will enter Brazilian football history as one of the nation’s blackest nights ever. All 4 of their representatives in the Copa Libertadores in action that night lost, 3 from situations that had seemed eminently winnable after the first leg ties. Never before in the history of premier Club Cup competition, either in South America or Europe, has a country lost 4 representatives in the one night.

The most prominent casualty, the greatest shock, was the defeat of the competition favourites Cruzeiro in their own stadium. Cruzeiro had done the hard part, in the first leg, going to Colombia and beating previous holders Once Caldas 2-1 in their own stadium. For the return leg in Belo Horizonte they were without their 3 star forwards, Wallyson, Thiago Ribeiro and Brandao recently repatriated from Marseille in the wake of a sex scandal. Imagine Manchester United without Rooney, Hernandez and Berbatov. Or Barcelona without Messi, Villa and Pedro. Or Real Madrid without Adebayor, Benzema and Higuian. Oh woops, Mourinho chose to be without those three for his home game against Barcelona, and lost.

(continue reading…)

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Copa Libertadores comes to life, at last

Cruzeiro kickstart the Copa Libertadores

This week the eyes of the eyes not just of Europe but the whole world have been focused on the dramatic confrontation in the European Champions League between the two Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. Meanwhile back in South America, their equivalent tournament, the Copa Libertadores has much more quietly begun to waken up after a deadly quiet first 3 months.

Over the last three days all 8 of the First Knockout Round first leg ties have been played and by this time next week all the Quarter-Finalists will be known. The relative weakness of the South American club champions was exposed last December in the World Club Cup competition, when for the first time ever, the Copa Libertadores champions did not feature in the Final. Inter PA were eliminated at the semi-final stage by the African champions Mazembe, in  a result that sent shock waves of fear, alarm shame and recrimination reverberating throughout the South American continent. There will considerable extra pressure on the 2011 Copa Libertadores Champions to redeem the reputation of their continent with victory in this year’s World Club Cup. Yet not a bookie in the world is likely to have the European representatives, now almost certain to be either Barcelona or Manchester United, as anything other than massive odds on favourites to provide another European triumph. (continue reading…)

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Normal service is resumed as the Yellow Submarine heads to dry dock

 

Yellow Submarine almost home and dry

GGW apologises to all its readers for the break in service the last few months while the Chief Editor, Sandy Jamieson has been obsessively finalising his work on his book “Yellow Submarine   the miracle of Villarreal CF and a voyage in search of integrity, community and friendship in football”.  The decision of Ringwood Publishing to defer publication of the book in order to ensure it covers the whole of season 2010-11 has been strongly vindicated by the astonishing success of Villarreal in the knock out rounds of the Europa League. In successive rounds, they have eliminated the second placed teams in Serie A and the Bundesliga, and the league leaders in Holland. Hopefully over the next 10 days they will eliminate Porto the champions of Portugal before meeting and beating the second best team in Portugal, Benfica, in the final in Dublin on the 18th May. The 18th May just happens to be the day of Saint Pasqual, Vila-real’s patron saint. So maybe it is written in the holy stars.

But even if they are eliminated by Porto, this season’s achievements still add a Europa League semi-final to the list of Champions League semi-final and quarter final and UEFA Cup semi-final and quarter final places already achieved by this amazing little club in the last 7 years.

In addition season 2010-11 should also see Villarreal qualify once more for the Champions League for season 2011-12.

So the last two chapters of the book are not yet written and hopefully will not be  finallycompleted  until the 19th May with both the Europa League and the Champions League qualification in the bag. In that case the cover will be altered to show both Fernando Roig and Santi Cazorla holding up Villarreal’s first ever trophy.

“Yellow Submarine” is essential reading for all football fans who believe that integrity, community and friendship can and should matter even at the highest levels in modern football.

It is exceptional value, offering Three Books for the Price of One

Book One       The Miracle of Villarreal CF

The explanation of how a wee club from a small town of 50,000 inhabitants became a major force not just in Spain but in Europe, including becoming Semi-Finalists in the Champions League, the UEFA Cup and the Europa League, and Runners Up in La Liga. The amazing success of Villarreal offers supporters of clubs both large and small throughout Europe a model of how they too might live the dream, without having to rely on Russian or American billionaires or Arab dynasties.

Book Two  Rival for 90 minutes, Friends for Always

The heart-warming story that explains how an invasion of Vila-real by 10,000 Celtic supporters in 2004 created a set of circumstances that has led to a lasting friendship between supporters of Villarreal and Celtic that is unique in world football and which still offers a model of camaraderie and togetherness that shows how football can be a force for good.

Book Three The Inside Account of a three year voyage on the Yellow Submarine as they set sail in search of further glory in the Champions League, Europa League and La Liga, encountering teams like Manchester United and Arsenal, Celtic, Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Porto on the way

Target Audiences

Explanations of the Miracle    “Yellow Submarine” will be of considerable interest to all lovers of football who have struggled to understand how a small club from a town of under 50,000 inhabitants has established itself as one of the most successful clubs in Europe. In the past 8 seasons Villarreal have been semi finalists and quarter finalists in the Champions League; semi-finalists and quarter-finalists in the UEFA Cup; and semi finalists in the Europa League, while establishing themselves as one of the Big Six clubs in Spain.

It is also a story of amazing community involvement in a football club, with the number of season tickets holders representing over 40% of the population, a figure unprecedented in world football. Villarreal have by far the highest percentage of female season ticket holders, some 30%, of any major club. The Villarreal youth section has 7,000 members. In the Villarreal crowds, adult males are a minority.

 

Friends for Ever. A book to make Celtic fans proud

“Yellow Submarine”

will also appeal to all those interested in the power of decency, integrity and friendship to make a positive difference in a complex world through football.

Celtic supporters everywhere can rightly take pride in the story told in Book 2 as to how their example of camaraderie and good behaviour in 2004 inspired the formation of the Villarreal Celtic Submari which has proved to be an extraordinary example of the way in which decent people can help others through football and friendship.

The remarkable friendship between Celtic Supporters and Villarreal supporters has continued to grow, and inspire, many years on.

Book 2 also explores why the subsequent visit of Glasgow Rangers to Villarreal did not result in a similar outburst of mutual friendship. Book 2 provides a unique and never previously published explanation of the cultural and other differences between Celtic and Rangers supporters that explains their radically different behaviours abroad. It offers an enhanced understanding of some of the elements of the sectarian sourness that so scars Scottish football and suggests radical solutions drawing on the Villarreal model.

GGW is confident all Celtic supporters will find the Yellow Submarine a heart warming read that will reinforce their pride in Celtic while offering lessons about how their club can become as successful in Europe as their friends from Villarreal

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Pre-Ordering a copy of the Yellow Submarine

“Yellow Submarine” will have a cover price of £14.99, a remarkable price for a collection of three books in one.

However Ringwood Publishing is making a prepublication offer to reserve signed copies of the book to be delivered in advance of official publication for the exceptional price of £12.

A link will soon be provided to allow copies of Yellow Submarine to be ordered directly from the GGW site but for now

PrePublication copies of “Yellow Submarine can be ordered in two ways

1) from the Ringwood website, www.ringwoodpublishing.com by credit card

2) by letter and cheque  to Ringwood Publishing, PO Box 16298, Glasgow G13 9DD

Normal service will resume next with a Letter from South America bringing up to date news of the progress of the Copa Libertadores

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Fluminense finally recover from their broken heart with title win in Brazilian Championship

Fluminense supporters celebrate the Brazilian Championsahip win

On Sunday there was great joy in the posher half of Rio de Janeiro as traditional giant club Fluminense finally sealed the Brazilian Championship after a season long tussle with Corinthians from Sao Paulo. Fluminense beat already relegated Guarani at home in the last game of the championship. A heart broken Corinthians, with Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos on board, could only draw their last game and were even pipped on the line for second place by Cruzeiro. Gremio took 4th place to qualify for the preliminary round of the 2011 Copa Libertadores, in which holders Internacional PA and Brazil Cup winners Santos will complete a very strong Brazilian representation. 

Much of the credit for the Fluminense success must go to Coach Muricy Ramalho. Earlier this summer, when Dunga resigned after Brazil’s disappointing performance in the World Cup, Muricy was the preferred choice, of both the public and the Brazilian FA, to replace him. Muricy had steered Sao Paulo to three successive Brazilian titles in 2006 to 2008 and almost clinched  a fourth successive title with Palmeiras in 2009 until a dramatic collapse in the last few games cost them what had seemed a certain title. He left Palmeiras to join Fluminense and after the first half of the season had transformed a team that had struggled for the past two seasons into one involved in what seemed  a two horse race with Corinthians. Muricy committed what most Brazilians regarded as an act of high treason and turned his back on his country’s call to insist on honouring his contract with Fluminense, who had no intention of releasing him. Mano Meneses showed more patriotic spirit and took the national job, But Muricy must be grateful his gamble came off, with his fourth national title in 5 years. 

Deco. Back home but still a winner

Fluminense are not that impressive a team, without many real stars, but they do play an organised, disciplined form of football. They used the summer break to reinforce their team by repatriating two World Cup stars from Chelsea, right back Belletti and the famous Deco, Brazilian born but a naturalised Portuguese citizen who had starred with Porto and Barcelona as well as Chelsea. Belletti who won a World Cup winners medal in 2002 before joining Villarreal, then Barcelona then Chelsea, struggled to re-establish himself back in Rio and in truth did not contribute much to the league triumph. Deco had more of a positive impact becoming the team’s main playmaker. However their star player is Dario Conca, an Argentinean offensive midfielder who scores most of their goals, and assists with  most of the rest. Up front they had Fred, another internationalist repatriated from Europe, returned old warhorse Washington and ex Flamengo striker Emerson. They are one of the poorer teams to have won the Brazilian League in recent years, probably only marginally better than last year’s champions, their eternal rivals Flamengo, who spent most of this season struggling against relegation.  (continue reading…)

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And then there was one. First there were three, then there were two, now there is only one. But Villarreal may prove to be the best of the rest

Messi strikes and then there were two

The past few weeks in Spain have seen an important series of games which brought a welcome degree of clarity to the true nature of the power hierarchy in La Liga.
At the start of the sequence there were three teams dominating the scene, the eternal Big Two Real Madrid and Barcelona, and upstarts Villarreal, who were only two points of Barcelona and three behind leaders Real.

After the 11th round of games, Villarreal lost to Barcelona in the Nou Camp and then there were two. It has become  a recent Spanish custom akin to the old game of  letters to the Times announcing the first cuckoo sighting of spring, to watch for the first headline of the season bemoaning that the Spanish League has become like the Scottish one. And sure enough the day after Barcelona beat Villarreal there it was plastered over the back page of Marca “Ha vuelto de nuevo la Liga escocesa”  and “Welcome once more to the league of two” 

Put briefly the argument runs that the Spanish League has become as uncompetitive as  the Scottish one, and as in that one, there will only ever be two possible winners, the same two every season, the Big Two. In 2009- 2010 in Spain the gap between the second of the Big Two and the third team, over 38 games, was a massive 25 points with the 4th team a further 9 points behind.  In 2009- 2010 in Scotland the gap between the second of the Big Two and the third team, over 38 games, was an massive 18 points with the 4th team a further 9 points behind. So if anything the Scottish League was slightly more competitive.

To be compared with the Scottish League is a massive blow to Spanish pride, since for years they have boasted that their league, La Liga, is the finest in the world. Never mind that Villarreal who finished 7th in La Liga are far superior to both Rangers and Celtic, as they have proved several times in the last few seasons, and that Atletico Madrid in 9th place, won the Europa League and would be strong favourites to win the Scottish League, as would Valencia or Sevilla. There can be no doubt that the standard of the Spanish League is almost immeasurably better than the Scottish League, that the strength in depth is much superior. The sad reality has become that the Spanish League is no more competitive.

Barcelona gave Villarreal a football lesson. They proved themselves to be a class above the Yellow Submarine. But they had to be at their very best to do it. It was an enthralling game, of the best quality, certainly by far the best game of the season probably one of the finest of the last decade. Barcelona started at full pace and top quality and it took Villarreal 20 minutes to recover from the shock that they could not get into a rhythm and that they were being outclassed. Villa scored a well-deserved first goal in the 20th minute, evading a crude lunge from old Valencia colleague Marchena. However despite going behind Villarreal did not stop trying to take Barcelona on at their own game, fast possession football and gradually they came back into the game. Great skill from Nilmar rounded off  a good Villarreal move with an equaliser after 27 minutes and emboldened Villarreal had as much of the play as Barcelona for the rest of the half. The second half started with both sides still committed to playing fast positive attacking football. Barcelona were the team who scored, twice, through Messi at his very finest. Barcelona deserved to win. They gave as fine an exhibition of football over 90 minutes as many spectators have ever seen. But Villarreal proved true to themselves, proved they are a superb team and that on a different day with different luck might have got a rather undeserved draw, even against Barcelona at their best.

It is no disgrace to lose to a Barcelona team playing the best football in the world. By showing they could live on the same park, with that quality of football and still be in the game, Villarreal demonstrated that they are back to being one of the top teams in Europe, capable of playing football of excellent quality.

(continue reading…)

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Apologies and Survey Request

Sandy Jamieson Working hard on the "Yellow Submarine", not on holiday

GreenGreenWorld would like to apologise to all its regular visitors and faithful readers for the recent 6 week holiday it has recently taken. This was necessary to allow Sandy Jamieson to concentrate 100% on finishing off writing, then begin editing, his book on Villarreal CF  “YELLOW SUBMARINE  – the miracle of Villarreal CF and  a voyage in search of integrity, community and friendship in football. ” The book is now virtually completed and will be published by Ringwood Publishing  in Glasgow sometime in early 2011.

From today, normal service is being resumed with GreenGreenWorld.

A great number of the comments GGW has received during its absence have indicated that many of our  readers would prefer shorter articles on a more regular basis, to longer but less frequent ones. So from now on, articles will appear more regularly with  more short  ones interspersed with the occasional longer more reflective analysis.

Greengreenworld would also ask all its readers who have not yet filled in the Green Survey to do so. It only takes a few minutes and helps GGW know and understand better the main interest and concerns of its readers

At the end of the year GGW will present a full analysis of the information gleaned in 2010 so please, if you have not already done so, please complete the survey form

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Villarreal fall short at the very top, and show less in reserve

Villarreal blow chance to go top of La Liga

Last night Villarreal blew a great chance to go to the top of La Liga for the first time in their admittedly brief history in La Liga. They had previously , as they say in Spain, gone to sleep top of the league, most recently in some of the early rounds of the 2008-2009 season, but they had never remained top after all the games of a round had been completed.  Any victory last night, over Hercules in Alicante would have seen them clear leaders after all the game in round 7 were complete.

But they failed to take the opportunity and can only have themselves to blame. Hercules are a stuffy side, with two or three good players, but they are not a top class team. But Villarreal failed to dispose of them in the way they should have if they had played to anything like their true form. It was obvious from the start that the crisp passing game that characterises this Villarreal team was not functioning well. Attempted pass after pass that on the training ground or on a better day would have found its way to its intended destination drifted off course, fell short or overshot by a narrow but decisive margin. All the key passers in the team, Senna, Cazorla, Valero, Nilmar, Rossi seemed affected. I don’t know whether it was nerves, or sagging under the burden of responsibility for a historic milestone, but the result was poor football, by normal Villarreal standards. Over the first half, overall possession, usually a killing factoring in Villarreal’s favour actually showed up as 53-47% to Hercules, not a smooth passing team. Their greater possession was due to the number of times Villarreal gave away possession to them with poor passes. It might have been different, they might have relaxed and settled to their normal game, if Nilmar had scored, but after a typical piece of outstanding skill he skinned the centre back, surged forward and cracked an amazing shot, right against the crossbar. Football is definitely a game of fractions, a millimetre here or there can be crucial. Within minutes, Hercules were ahead. At a free kick, stupidly conceded, the Villarreal defensive line naively all came out together leaving no less than 3 Hercules players onside and alone. Valdez the Paraguayan signed in the summer from Dortmund scored easily, leaving even the excellent Diego Lopez with no chance.

Capdevila. Even better than Tommy Gemmell

Fate and the first good move of the night gave Villarreal a chance to equalise before Hercules could settle to their lead. A classically ‘Villarreal’ ball from Cazorla out wide to Angel allowed the full back to cross low into the box where the furthest forward Villarreal player, World Cup hero Capdevila, was able to hook it home. GGW has several times commented on the similarity of Capdevila to old Celtic idol Tommy Gemmell and it is definitely there, but Capdevila is a far better player.

Inspired by this Villarreal began playing some better football. Once more,  the ‘if only’ column had an entry from Rossi when a rocket shot hit the post after good combination play put the wee Italian through. Crucial millimetres again the difference.

Then more defensive deficiency and disaster. Musacchio drifted of his man Trezeguet and although Angel got back to cover, his tackle was comical and the cool Frenchman scored his fourth league goal of the season with ease. It is amazing that such a gifted and prolific goal scorer received no offer from the Premier League or other big clubs and ended up at lowly Hercules.

(continue reading…)

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Villarreal’s Fantastic Four surf the crest – Next stop – the Top?

Villarreal Celtic fans' favourite Spanish team are 2nd in La Liga

All Spain loves American movies, especially popular blockbusters, and it has not taken long for the Spanish media to christen Villarreal’s offensive foursome of Nilmar, Rossi, Cazorla and Valero as the “Cuatro Fantasticos” or Fantastic Four, in an allusion to the superheroes of that name. 

After a poor start when an over-cautious formation cost them a defeat in their first game, Villarreal have rattled off 5 successive league victories on the trot to start the 2 week international break in 2nd place in La Liga, above both Real Madrid and Barcelona. The football Villarreal have played at times, particularly in two scintillating home victories against Espanol and Racing Santander, has been the kind of excellent fast passing, pressing possession football pioneered by Pellegrini over the past few years. Last season, after 6 rounds of La Liga Villarreal had been in second bottom place. This season after 6 rounds they are in second top place. This article will examine some of the reasons behind this dramatic change.

Last year under Pellegrini’s replacement Ernesto Valverde, Villarreal’s stuttering performances in the opening weeks of the season had them actually in very last place in the league after 7 rounds. The patience of President Fernando Roig with Valverde’s total failure to sort things out was finally exhausted at the end of January 2010 and he was sacked to be replaced by the coach Juan Carlos Garrido who had taken the Villarreal B side to an unprecedented 4th place in the Segunda Division. Gallardo stopped the slide, re-established control of the dressing room, and restored a pattern of play similar to the classic Villarreal style developed under first Paquito then Manual Pellegrini.

(continue reading…)

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Neymar “Boy Power” sours Santos success story

In an astonishing display of kowtowing to Boy Power, the Santos Directors have destroyed the cornerstone of the framework that transformed their club earlier this year into the most attack-minded club in world football by sacking manager Dorival Junior rather than discipline superstar ‘Wonderkid’  Neymar.

Last Wednesday 15th September, Santos were 3-1 up against Atletico Goianos with 6 minutes to play when Neymar won a penalty when a typically mazy run into the penalty area was ended by a late tackle. Neymar has been the main penalty taker this season but has recently missed  a few, at least one by trying to be too smart in deceiving the goalkeeper. Young  Neymar assumed he would take this penalty but the manager Dorival sent a message via the captain that Marcel not Neymar was to take the kick. Neymar argued vigorously with his captain then ran off to the touchline and subjected a bemused Dorival to a prolonged outburst of vile verbal abuse. He continued his childish sulk by refusing to pass to his teammates for the remainder of the game, at the end of which he stormed off still in a giant huff. (The whole incident can be seen on You Tube by googling ‘Neymar tantrum’)

After the game, Dorival made it clear that this kind of behaviour was totally unacceptable and that Neymar would require to be severely disciplined. He said  “I have never in all my career seen such a problem with discipline. This is very serious and cannot be allowed to go unpunished”.  At first it seemed that the club directors agreed and it was announced that Neymar, already a multimillionaire at 18 years of age, would be fined an undisclosed sum and suspended for an indeterminate period. There was also talk of referring the young millionaire to a psychologist, given that this outburst was just the latest in a series of indisciplined outbursts  both on and off the pitch.

Neymar duly missed the next Santos game, against Guarani. In the meantime, after being publicly criticised by his appalled father, Neymar issued an apology. He claimed he was embarrassed by his outburst. He stressed that the behaviour in question was not the real Neymar, who is  a happy person who always has a smile on his face. He asked for forgiveness from his manager and his team-mates. (continue reading…)

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  • GreenGreenWorld

    GreenGreenWorld is a football blog produced by SISIF, (the Sherbrooke Institute for the Study of International Football). The SISIF Director, Sandy Jamieson, has been an active student of world football for over 40 years and has an extensive network of information, knowledge and contacts in Europe, South America and the rest of the football world. Although SISIF is based in Glasgow, Sandy currently spends most time at his home in Spain where he is finishing a book about Villarreal, “The Yellow Submarine”. He is a writer/consultant and his previously published novels “Own Goal” and “The Great Escape?” are available from Ringwood Publishing or Amazon. Mainstream published his previous book on Scottish football.
  • Celtic Submari

    The positive story of how an invasion of a small Spanish town, Vila-real by 10,000 Celtic supporters lead to the development of a New Model of football relationships based on respect and affection, not hatred and bitterness.

    A model which offers important lessons for modern day Scotland.

    Click here for fuller details and ordering information.

  • Yellow Submarine

    Yellow Submarine: the Miracle of Villarreal CF

    The amazing story of how a wee club from a small town of 50,000 population established themselves as the 4th best team in Spain and the 12th best in Europe.

    It demonstrates proof that integrity and community can still produce success, irrespective of size, and offers a morally superior alternative to reliance on American and Russian Billionaires or Arab dynasties.

    Click here for fuller details and ordering information.

  • Own Goal

    Hate Margaret Thatcher?

    Loath your old Headmaster?

    Read about the Celtic Supporter who took a fatal revenge on both.

    Like novels about Scottish Politics, Football and Society? Then OWN GOAL is the book for you. Click here for fuller details and ordering information.

  • The Great Escape?

     

    Like reading novels about football?

    Then try "The Great Escape?"

    Click here for fuller details and ordering information.

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