A REGULAR caller to Clive Bull’s radio phone-in show on LBC was a love-sick Norwegian by the name of Sven from Swiss Cottage.

This began in the late 1980s when a middle-aged former fisherman in his native land moved to England to find a woman and, more importantly, to get away from the fish obsessed phone-ins which dominated Norwegian radio.

They would have competition such as guess the size of my cod. It was too much.

You may laugh but this fascination of Norwegians to dominate every call-in with fish and fish related topics depressed Sven’s wife Yuta so much that she left him, which drove the poor heartbroken man to seek a new life in London.

Clive, bless him, always took Sven’s call and in his unique melancholic Nordic tones relayed to listeners how football hooliganism in Norway was controlled by tanks, that the small fresh water fish the gudgeon is more harmful than cannabis and how his estranged wife would regularly beat up the Dusseldorf police.

It transpired that Sven was in fact the genius who was Peter Cook and Bull, eventually, was in on the joke. It’s all in Cook’s book ‘Tragically, I was an only twin.’ Do yourself a favour and search for the calls. I did and giggled all day.

Sadly, the great man is no longer with us but his influence can be found in any satirical comedy and, indeed, on radio phone-in shows, especially those about Scottish football.

Because surely to goodness half of the callers are, as they say, at it.

There were the two Rangers fans who called to tell Hugh Keevins on Radio Clyde and the rest that a defeat to Kilmarnock had affected them so badly that they couldn’t go into work the next day. Tim from Greenock phoned in to call Hugh “a weapon”. He’s actually a rocket.

And there is the all-time classic, which came on talkSPORT from the Scotland fan confused as to why Hearts goalkeeper Antti Niemi wasn’t been given a cap.

“For at least three seasons he’s been ignoring Antti Niemi.”

“Antti Niemi?”

“Aye. I dunno why he doesn’t get a game.”

“For Scotland?”


“He’s from Finland.”

“He’s what?”

“He’s Finnish, isn’t he?”

“He’s not finished, he’s only 28!”

I love football but would listen to anything else on the radio than angry Old Firm supporters going ten rounds with the English language as they struggle to articulate what is on their minds.

Dafties are dafties. No harm done. But a couple of weeks ago, while driving, I stuck on Clyde as it was just after Cluj beat Celtic and thought it might be worth listening to.

This was from one guy, a well-spoken Celtic fan: “Watching him last night I can tell you now that Neil Lennon is not the manager for Celtic.

“I don’t know where he goes and regarding this next tie in the Europa League, I’m sorry lads, I can’t see them qualifying and it wouldn’t surprise me if they get put out and say they will concentrate on the league.

“Peter Lawwell and Dermot Desmond have to look and ask themselves if they want to go further in Europe. If they do, they have to look at the management.

Another caller stuck to that theme and said something along the lines of: “Neil Lennon doesn’t know anything about tactics.”

One of the panel, I can’t remember who, described the comment as disrespectful, which it was, but the hour or so was filled with folk wanting rid of Lennon there and then. And it’s the evil Press who have apparently got it in for the Celtic manager!

I wonder if any of the callers were among the 800 who sang Lennon’s name at the end of Celtic’s most satisfying wins at Ibrox!

The attitude of many Celtic supporters to Lennon being the manager is to this observer a dark joke even old Cookie himself would have been happy with. Martin O’Neill, Gordon Strachan and Brendan Rodgers were knocked out of the Champions League at the play-off stage and there was nothing near the abuse aimed at them as Lennon has had to put up with.

He came in last season and led a tired team to a treble. His side have won all four Premiership games, including the first Old Firm of the season, and there is there is European football right up until Christmas.

All of this with a new-ish team minus Kieran Tierney. Lennon wouldn’t expect a pat on the back for doing his job but he doesn’t deserve such vitriol. It’s got to him as well.

More than once, including the post-match interview at Ibrox, he spoke about the lack of respect shown to him and mentioned that this was Celtic supporters as well.

If truth be told, Lennon gets good press for the most part – at least these days – and he’s never anything other than superb value when speaking to the football hacks. He’ll be one of the very few who knows the first names of every reporter.

My take is that Lennon has been taken back by so much public criticism from his own fans when none of it is deserved. Sure, he made mistakes in the Cluj game but the players should have seen that through.

Fans are entitled to have a pop but to go on the radio and call a club legend “clueless” and “out of his depth” is way out of line. Celtic fans have become spoiled. Every setback, large and small, is a disaster and the Green Brigade banner said they were worried the board were risking ten in a row.

This era in the club’s history should be enjoyed and appreciated.

Celtic aren’t entitled to win anything and yet for three years they have won everything. Lennon is the man to keep the good times rolling.