Once upon a time, the European Cup was the gold standard of European football.
A knockout competition – played in two legged rounds from the first round – it was a hard, hard slog, to win this trophy.
If you did, you entered the pantheon of the greats and your club was immortalized forever.
Celtic became immortal and iconic as a club by winning it in 1967.
Such was the desire by David Murray to emulate that success, he drove Rangers 1872 into the ground.
He craved being admitted entry to that pantheon of the greats – it was all consuming – so much so, that it eventually consumed his club.
I would imagine when that man is on his death bed – despite all of his achievements through ill gotten gains and cheating – never achieving what Celtic did will be his biggest regret.
The bullshit 5 stars that adorned their crest for so long are absent this season, instead replaced by 150 years of bullshit.
Celtic’s one star is the real deal, it is that star which David Murray craved, he will never have it.
Nor will we ever have another one for that matter – because for a club of our stature to win that trophy in today’s footballing landscape – it would take a miracle.
The Champions League glitters, but it is not gold.
It is no longer the gold standard of European football because it is no longer a competition for winners.
It is a competition for the richest clubs in European football.
Of the four teams comprising this season’s CL semi-final line up, one of those teams are the current champions of their league.
Villareal finished 7th in La Liga and they are this seasons rare exception to the Champions League rule. They’re not a mega-rich cub.
Calling this competition the Champions League is akin to the US calling their baseball competition the World Series – as if the US was the only country in the world – it ain’t and neither is the Champions league for Champions.
To epitomise what a farce this competition is, the only team that are Champions of their league – Manchester City – are the most desperate to win it.
That desperation comes from the same desire David Murray had to win that competition, they will never be admitted to the pantheon of the greats unless they do.
They will never emulate their city neighbors, United – who have been in their shadow for close to ten years now – unless they do.
They are still in the outside, looking in.
Despite a limitless supply of money, the trophy has remained elusive to them.
Proof positive that money cannot buy you happiness.
It must grate at the Citeh supporters that fans of Championship Nottingham Forest can boast that they have two European cups sitting in their trophy table cabinet.
If Manchester City win the Champions League this season, to those of us who support clubs who won the competition as champions of their leagues, it still won’t seem like they have entered the pantheon of the greats.
Their victory will be hollow – the culmination of a long pursuit – with tens, if not hundreds, of millions spent by means of the oil rich Abu Dhabi United Group.
The egos of Khaldoon Al Mubarak and his City Group cronies will be well massaged, should they manage to finally pull it off.
Millions upon millions in pursuit of ONE trophy.
David Murray’s club lies dead in its grave as a result of the same pursuit, with millions of tax-payers money spent in the process.
What lengths some men will go to – to massage their egos.
On May 25th 1967, when men were men, with shovels for hands and bellies for beer, eleven men from within a thirty mile radius of Celtic Park lifted the European Cup.
In doing so, they entered the pantheon of the greats and elevated themselves to legendary status as the Lisbon Lions.
There they will remain forever.
No amount of money, no faceless corporation, can purchase that kind of legendary status.
It is earned and when it is earned the way Celtic, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa et al earned it, then it is remembered and will survive down through the annals of time and history.
If Manchester City win the Champions league this season, do you think it will be remembered in years to come for the same reasons our triumph is?
No, it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons and for epitomising everything that is wrong with a once glorious competition.
In reality, the European Cup died in 1992 with the formation of the Champions League.
That began the process of shutting the door to the former legends of the competition.
The Champions League glitters, but it is definitely no longer the gold standard of European football.