In a regular column, Ronan Kearney will chronicle the emotional rollercoaster of following his beloved Celtic. The first entry sees him moving on from a break-up as he replaces an old flame with someone new and exciting.
So I am in a new relationship. Ronny and I parted amicably in the end, both agreeing that we could never give each other what we really needed. He couldn’t understand why I was so demanding and I could never grasp why he promised so much, why it sounded so good but ultimately left me as deflated as an American football after a weekend at Tom Brady’s house.
He took me to far flung places. Warsaw, Malmo and Molde. Like one bad date after another, I reflected and wondered whether it would ever get better. At his best he gave me a thriller against Inter Milan, he gave me the Roar at Pittodrie. At his worst he crushed me against Maribor, hurt me against Aberdeen in February before finally breaking my heart at Hampden with the cup semi-final defeat to Rangers.
One final fling ended with a smile on the last day of the season and we parted ways happily and by mutual consent. I thought I would never love again.
Until Brendan. Saint Brendan. Brodge. Brendan Rodgers. I liked what I saw, style and substance. He wooed me with the right words, just like his predecessor. But unlike Ronny, he looked like he was going to back those words up, to actually walk the walk. After promising myself I wouldn’t let myself fall into this same trap only weeks earlier, I buckled.
Our first adventure was in sunny Gibraltar on a balmy July evening. It was exotic, this first date. It was also an unmitigating disaster.
There’s a scene in Goodfellas where Henry asks Karen to hide his gun. She says she knew then that she should get out but she couldn’t. That’s how I felt about Celtic at times. Jock Brown. John Barnes. Tony Mowbray. Lincoln Red Imps. Embarrassing. You avoid talking to people, avoid eye contact, avoid any contact at all.
My first date with Brendan left me with that feeling. But I saw sense. I was on an actual first date where I poked the girl in the eye. Things can only get better! I knew this.
Red Imps dispatched, Astana and Beer Sheva sent packing and all of a sudden, whisper it, but Brendan could be the one. He had one more test to pass though before I annointed him as the new love of my life.
You know when you see an old flame and you’re with your new love? It’s not enough that you’ve moved on and are doing well. They need to be stuck in a rut, with no light at the end of the tunnel. They need to have a finished Phillipe Senderos playing centre half. They need to have a mouthpiece in Joey Barton playing centre midfield.
Brendan not only arrived in style for his final test, but brought company in the form of a French wrecking ball man-child called Dembele, a reinvigorated, snarling, menacing Scott Brown and a smooth talking, silky skilled Scott Sinclair. And Kolo Toure.
Stop the lights. I’m in love.
I’m a fool, I know I am. But how can I resist when Celtic show how to stop an all-conquering Man City team? When Celtic win the league cup without conceding a goal? How can I resist when I have a hero in the form of a left back 12 years younger than me?
Ronny gave me Boyata. Under Brendan I can see just how good Erik Sviatchenko is because I don’t have to watch him cleaning yet another Efe-shaped mess.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. Brendan Rodgers has made being a Celtic fan great again. I love him for that.