There's plenty of rhyme and reason to Snoop Dogg's interest in Celtic

Sat, Nov 24, 2012, 00:00

SOCCER ANGLES:The rapper would be welcome at Celtic as there’s already a connection, writes MICHAEL WALKER

A man called Calvin Broadus jr spoke on the subject of Celtic this week. You may know him as Snoop, or as Snoop Doggy Dog, or SnoopDogg or, in his latest incarnation, as Snoop Lion. Some Celtic fans altered that to Snoop ‘Lisbon’ Lion in recognition of this week’s trip to Benfica. Or, you may never have heard of him at all, at all.

If you fall into the latter category, Snoop is a 41-year-old American rapper who has sold millions upon millions of records, CDs, downloads and whatever for two decades. In black America, Snoop is as famous as Mike Tyson and rather more shrewd with cash.

Snoop is also into sport, so when he mused aloud about the possibility of him buying a slice of Celtic, it caused a stir. It might be about as likely to happen as Ally McCoist buying a green v-neck for Christmas, but Snoop declared his new Glasgow fascination following Celtic’s defeat of Barcelona in the Champions League.

Snoop said that he will speak to “my man David” – Beckham – about it again. Apparently the two have already talked Celtic.

It gave Neil Lennon something to smile about in Lisbon on Monday, the thought of Snoop hosting a post-match party in a Parkhead executive box. Lennon understands enough about Snoop to know you wouldn’t introduce him to your auntie. It would be a struggle to call rap culture’s attitude to women two-dimensional.

But if the famous rapper is intrigued now by Celtic, wait until he hears of the existing black, musical and American connection to the club. Maybe he is aware of it already because Snoop is bound to know more about Gil Scott-Heron than he does about Charlie Mulgrew.

Gil Scott-Heron was known, by some, as the Godfather of Rap. His father, Gil Heron, played for Celtic. Without Gil Heron there would have been no Gil Scott-Heron and without him there would have been no Snoop, Dog or Lion.

Black arrow

Gil Heron was known as the Black Arrow when he joined Celtic from Detroit in 1951. He is said to have made quite an impact. He certainly did via his son, who is not complimented by that rap term or by the description ‘musician’. Gil Scott-Heron was a bit more than that. A good bit more.

Tragically, at the far-too-young age of 62, Gil Scott-Heron died last year. There were times in his life when he wrestled with drugs but he never did with words and thankfully this January his memoir/ autobiography came out. The Last Holiday was published by a Scottish firm and merits a strong mention in those end-of-year booklists.

There is not a lot about Gil Heron and Celtic in the book but that is sort of the point – the book contains more about Martin Luther King and Stevie Wonder.

Scott-Heron did not see much of his father after he left for Celtic. The son was in Tennessee with the Scott side of his family. But the son understood just what his father meant when he came to tour Europe, and to Scotland in particular.

Scott-Heron tells a story in the book about a tour – possibly in 1976; he’s vague on dates – when the Scottish promoter needed him to do some interviews to sell tickets.

“You just need to be there for Glasgow at Five,” Scott-Heron was informed. “The promoter had told me the combination of elements on this show would be a Scottish orgasm: there would be talk about soccer, nostalgia about soccer, and living evidence that they had never allowed their racism to interfere with soccer. It was just like they’d been telling all the other Europeans: ‘You can carry that racism thing too far, you know.’”

Glasgow sectarianism

An acute man, by “too far” Gil Scott-Heron meant it might interfere with Glaswegian sectarianism. He saw through the tribalism in a flash and took his seat in the television studio wearing a Celtic scarf.

And a Rangers hat.

“I pretended not to notice the director and cameraman collapsing with laughter.”

Doubtless Gil Scott-Heron would have been as impressed by the noise at Celtic-Barcelona as Snoop, Rod Stewart and Elton John were.

Even Barcelona’s players talked about it.

And a few of them have heard it before in Glasgow. Much was rightly made of the decibel level at Parkhead for the Barcelona game, and as all said, there are not many grounds in the world where that volume and intensity can be experienced.

Yet Andres Iniesta has heard the equivalent down the road. Iniesta was a scorer in the Spain team that went 2-0 up against Scotland at Hampden Park two Octobers ago. Scotland came back to 2-2 and when people talk about a stadium shaking, Hampden literally shook. For a few seconds it was actually alarming.

And there is another Glasgow ground where the noise deafens. It seems longer than eight months ago but to be at Ibrox for what turned out to be its last Old Firm derby for a while was to have the eardrums assaulted by a version – sung by Rangers fans – of Roy Orbison’s Penny Arcade that rang in the head for days after. It was so loud that Orbison himself may have heard it . . . and he died in 1988.

Maybe this was why Snoop’s musings on Celtic provoked smiles. They know all about noise, music and football in Glasgow.

Player power It's down to them

Chelsea finished sixth in the Premier League last season. They were a place behind Newcastle United and 25 points adrift of the Manchester clubs.

It tends to be forgotten and there are two very good reasons for this: the Champions League and the FA Cup. Chelsea won both. They won both with Roberto Di Matteo as manager.

In the past few days Di Matteo has routinely been described as having “led” Chelsea to those triumphs but that is surely a trick of the memory.

Di Matteo had just arrived in the dugout when Chelsea found the wherewithal to recover from a 3-1 first-leg deficit against Napoli in the knock-out round of the Champions League in March. But Di Matteo’s influence on the second leg, when Chelsea won 4-1 in extra-time was hardly equivalent to the four Chelsea scorers that night – Didier Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic.

Every week we hear managers say “it’s all about the players” and Chelsea’s progress from that night at Stamford Bridge proved it. And who bought the players at Chelsea? Not Di Matteo.

Of course Di Matteo played his part – and his dismissal on Thursday was brutal – but maybe Roman Abramovich considered the contributions of Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Terry, Ivanovic, and Lampard and Drogba in particular, to be considerably greater than that of Di Matteo.

You would be hard pushed to disagree with Abramovich on that.

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