THERE are often times that journalists these days have cause to look back over our shoulders to those who went before us in the trade with more than a touch of envy. The days of lavish expense accounts to treat contacts to long liquid lunches are long gone, while readers had to at least go to the expense of a stamp if they wanted to accuse you of being born out of wedlock back in the day.

Thanks to the internet, today’s newspapers are no longer tomorrow’s fish and chip wrappers either, which leads me to open with a mea culpa, before some helpful fellow on social media highlights the hypocrisy behind what I mean to discuss.

Looking back at columns past is rarely a good idea, and so it was that I was cringing slightly as I revisited my musings on whether or not Scott Brown should ride off into the Australian or American sunset when he had the chance a couple of winters back.

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To save some embarrassment, I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice to say I was of the opinion that it might be a good time for Brown to be put to pasture, arguing that his best days as captain of Celtic were well and truly behind him.

I won’t flatter myself by assuming that column was part of the motivation Brown cited yesterday on his 35th birthday to prove those of a similar opinion at the time wrong, but it is fair to say I felt a little seen when I heard them.

So, an apology to Brown, who has shown he still has plenty left in the tank since then. Times change, opinions change, only hair-brained takes from columnists remain a reassuring constant.

It may be quite the leap then to consider that not only has Brown more than justified his decision to stay on and lead Celtic to a ninth title in succession, but that a whole other type of succession may be on his mind as his advancing years cause him once more to mull the longevity of his playing career.

It has been mentioned by Brown in dispatches over the last year or so that he has been taking his coaching badges, and Celtic manager Neil Lennon has also stated in March that Brown would be offered a coaching role at the club once he hangs up his boots.

Lennon shares a birthday with Brown, as it happens, turning 49 yesterday, and he will no doubt believe he has plenty left to achieve as manager of Celtic. But is it so far-fetched to think that Brown may potentially be groomed as the man to one day take over the helm?

There may be those who still hold prejudices about the type of character that Brown is due to his on-field persona, or the undoubtedly lasting image of him slumped on the pavement with a kebab in hand after a drinking session some years ago. That guy, management material? Well, actually, why not?

After all, there were plenty of doubters about his ability to take on the pressure of wearing the Celtic armband when Tony Mowbray appointed him club captain following the departure of Stephen McManus back in early 2010. But a decade of success has followed, and you will be hard-pushed to find a Celtic fan that wouldn’t consider the midfielder a bona fide club legend because of the way he has handled that responsibility for so long.

Let’s not forget either that the current Celtic boss was hardly short of doubting Thomas’s when he started out on his own managerial career. He is proof positive that fiery and combative midfielders can make the transition to the dugout, adapt and carry on the success they enjoyed on the park as players.

In fact, Brown could probably learn a lot from the mistakes that Lennon admits he made first time around as Celtic boss, and follow the example of the mellower Lennon that now sits in the manager’s office, a character in stark contrast in many ways to the one who was in the hotseat first time around.

Of course, there are many variables that could affect any ascension of Brown from the pitch to the dugout, not least of all the man who stands beside Lennon on a matchday, John Kennedy. He is hugely admired within the club both as a person and a coach, and provided he doesn’t lose patience as a number two and isn’t tempted away by suitors elsewhere who would make him his own man, then he would have to be fancied to take on the role whenever Lennon does depart the scene.

However, the prospect of Brown as a Celtic manager in the making is no longer as fanciful as it may once have been. Having been bitten once in writing him off, I won’t be doing so again.


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THERE is so much to like about Scotland and Scottish football, but we also tend to revel in an exceptionalism here that paints us as more enlightened than our neighbours to the south. The sectarianism and yes, racism, that still infects Scottish football and society as a whole would suggest that is a somewhat naïve outlook.

Racism may not indeed be anywhere near as prevalent in the game north of the border as the age-old religious divide, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem in Scotland. Far from it.

You don’t have to go too far back to find examples of black players being racially abused from our terraces, so I hope that the call from Rangers striker Jermain Defoe for players here to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter cause is heeded.

It can only be a good thing to shine a light on the problem, and showing that decent folk in Scottish football are united against the racism that is rearing its ugly head all too often up here still to this day is a worthy and overdue cause.