30 Day Challenges… Day 16
“A Player That You Used To Love But Now Hate”
There’s one player that comes to the minds of most Celtic fans as soon as you read that. But since I’m slightly too young to remember him playing for Celtic and just old enough to remember him nearly returning to Celtic but instead signing for Rangers I can’t really say that I used to love him in the first place. So we’ll pull it forward by ten years instead and go for the former Celtic player and now ESPN and ITV commentator who annoys me any time I hear his voice now.
When Craig Burley signed for Celtic in 1997 from Chelsea, I wasn’t exactly excited by it. I paid about as much attention to Chelsea then as I do now – ie. none – so I wasn’t that fussed. But Craig soon won me over by putting in some terrific performances for Celtic. His starring role in scoring the first goal as Celtic won the New Year Glasgow derby for the first time in ten years certainly helped cement him as a hero in my head. Mind you, it was always Paul Lambert I preferred who scored the second, crucial, a stunningly better goal in that same game. But not every Scotsman has a Champions League winners medal round his neck months before signing for Celtic. When Celtic stopped Rangers winning ten in a row that season, all the players were forever in out debt. The main players that season of course being Henrik Larsson, Players Player of the Year Jackie McNamara, and Football Writer’s Player of the Year Craig Burley.
Craig then joined up with the Scotland squad to play in the World Cup. We were awful, but it stick in the memory because it’s the last time we played in the World Cup. After a 2-1 defeat by Brazil in the opening game, we got a 1-1 draw with Norway. The equaliser came from Craig Burley, and since we lost the last game 3-0 he’s actually still the last Scotsman to score at the World Cup.
A disappointing second season at Celtic saw him score plenty of goals from midfield but finish the season with nothing. Then came the Barnes era…
If John Barnes did one good thing in his time at Celtic, it was finding the mole at Celtic Park that kept leaking stories to the press. While it was never confirmed, lots of stories soon dried up when Craig Burley fell out with the management at Celtic and went running off to play in England once more. That wasn’t the last we would hear from him though, as talking to the press in his Celtic days must have earned him a few friends. When Craig finally retired from playing he quickly found himself with a pundit and commentary job in the game – the usual end for players not good enough to become managers but who have friends in the media. Very few pundits are actually qualified for the job, and Craig Burley is a perfect example of it.
So now we have to put up with Craig Burley’s bitterness any time a game in on ESPN. If Celtic are playing you can hear it in his voice just how much he wants us to lose. Or if Rangers are playing he seems to want them to win. It’s pathetic to be honest. Never mind his allegiances (despite playing for Celtic he doesn’t hide the fact that his nose is a shade of blue), he’s actually dreadful in general. I’ve heard long periods of silence where he adds absolutely nothing. I like those times, but then he’ll find something idiotic to say once more. He’s the kind of moron that makes you shout at the TV.
To be honest, he’s just the symptom of a larger issue with pundits in this country. But since he’s a guy I used to love seeing playing for Celtic, he’s the one that gets up my nose more than most.