Former Celtic boss talks about dealing with journalists who secretly supported rivals

By John McGinley

May 10, 2021

If you haven’t listened yet, former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill’s interview with Graham Spiers on his Press Box podcast is well worth it.

As we discussed over the weekend, he went into a number of topics including meeting Jock Stein back in the 1970s and being scouted by Celtic before he signed for Nottingham Forest.

The Celtic icon wasn’t afraid to venture into more thorny topics either and when Spiers brought up his relationship with the Scottish media, O’Neill didn’t hold back.

In fact, he likened his press conferences to medieval jousts and ridiculed the members of the media who pretended they didn’t support Rangers.

Speaking to Press Box, O’Neill stated: “I felt that they weren’t so much interviews as jousts. I felt as if I was some medieval baron who has climbed up on to the horse and got the lance out. Can I get this lance out quickly enough to at least parry the blows, if not knock someone down?

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“It did use to make me laugh when I said to some of the journalists they were really Rangers fans and they’d claim they supported Third Lanark or something like that. The now-defunct Third Lanark. I thought how often have you seen them play?

“From my own particular background, you knew you were going to get a little bit of this, sorry not a little bit, a lot of it. I look back on it and I generally look back with fond memories. I had many a skirmish with you as well [to Graham Spiers].”

In fairness to Spiers, like him or not, he is one of the journalists who doesn’t hide from saying he grew up a Rangers fan.

In honesty, I’m not sure what the big deal is. If any of you follow American sports, you’ll know that journalists flagging up who they follow is very common. It’s not really a big deal. It’s certainly preferable to the “aw actually I support a provincial team” charade you get from some.

Former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill / (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Thankfully the situation seems to be changing in Scotland too with many journalists and media figures not afraid to say who they support, such as at The Athletic. In honesty, it probably makes for better content if everyone knows where they stand.

Amusing to hear O’Neill call them out for it from his time though.

In other news, Celtic must take motivation from trashy, embittered and out of order Rangers.