THE corridor outside Celtic Park’s media room is fairly narrow. At both half-time and full-time it becomes chock-full of fans coming in from the posh seats and, in the opposite direction, reporters in need of a pie.

On Saturday, at the game with Stade Rennais, the small but perfectly formed press pack was graced with greatness as the old solider himself, Hugh Keevins, decided to pop along to take in a game and a blether with the guys.

As we all trooped back after the first 45 minutes, knowing the lovely Jennifer would be there with cups of tea and coffee, Hugh got stopped by two men, suited and booted, I’m guessing in their late twenties, early thirties. This is what happened next.

“Hugh, how are you doing?”

“I’m fine.”

“What’s it like to be hated by both sides?”

“Doesn’t bother me, I still get paid.”

“Anyway, can we get a selfie?”

The Shugster graciously, if a little taken aback, smiled when posing with his new pals.

Evening Times:

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Daft story, really, except at the time, and it’s festered ever since, I couldn’t get the word hated out of my mind. Why did the chap frame his comment in such a harsh way? Who thinks that is an acceptable way to conduct themselves?

When I think of people in the public eye for whom the word ‘hated’ would apply, Donald Trump comes to mind because of the whole racist thing, and then there are others such as Katie Hopkins, who will be a hard one to explain to future generations.

Hugh, almost 70 years young by the way, is a sports journalist. A good one, but I’m sure my friend won’t object to me saying he’s not hugely important, just a wee guy from a working-class background who has made a life for his family by being superb at his job.

He’s mostly written about football, and does love his boxing, but probably is best known for being on the radio. Talking about Scottish football with wit, mischief and passion.

And yet people apparently “hate” him. And from both sides. We all know what that means, Why? Because, erm, they sometimes disagree with him about sport, which unless you play professionally, is a hobby.

That’s really what football is; a pastime away from work which is brilliant but nowhere near as important as the real world.

Some claim being a Tim/Bluenose/Jambo is all they have. Or it’s family and then whichever club they support – although not in that order, as the joke goes. These people have my sympathy and, if they want, a loan of my library card.

Evening Times:

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I’m 24 years younger than Hugh - just wanted to get that in there – and if I live to be (unlikely) 100 I will never understand the vile attitude some, more than you would like to think, supporters of football are happy to tell the world about.

All because of 22 men kicking a ball about.

If football brought out so much anger and hatred in me, I wouldn’t go. If I felt the need to be rude to another human being, chant songs about a manager’s wife, be sectarian, make light of people dying or kids being abused during my leisure time, it would be time to think about where it had all gone wrong.

I don’t do telly, That means next to nobody knows who I am and whenever I do get recognised, folk are pleasant. Of course, peek on social media and someone who writes extensively about football is, on a daily basis, wished illness, unemployment (a new one) and spoken about as if we go about punching kittens.

What most of us do is cover events to the best of our ability, write news stories, opinion columns and these days talk gibberish on podcasts and the like. About football. Not politics. Not religion. Not why foodbanks are a terrific thing. Certain social issues might creep in every so often, but mostly it’s about, cough, the beautiful game.

Someone claiming to be a journalist once wrote a letter to my editor and UEFA accusing me of being anti-Catholic and anti-Irish. He didn’t like my negative tone about Celtic in a match report – which they lost.

Evening Times:

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Hugh’s ‘fans’ did say what they did to his face. It was beneath contempt but at least it didn’t come from a conspiracy theorist during the one hour his mother releases him from the cellar to have a go at the computer.

There is a PHD to be written about this. Why something so joyful, which is what football should be, brings out the very worst in people. Chances are, the club you follow is the one you were born into. Your football allegiance, just like where you are born and into what kind of family, is purely accidental.

Look at the world, folks. These are troubling times. If this era in human history was a film, it would be directed by Stanley Kubrick while in an especially bleak mood. Hey, but at least for a couple of hours at the match, or in your living room, you can get into a good match and the real world is kept at bay.

Football is not life and death. It’s frivolity and drama. The unpleasant background noise does nothing for the atmosphere at games. We saw that last season.

The plot has been lost. Football is to be enjoyed, not endured. I’ve never got why so many so-called adults get themselves infuriated by something that doesn’t really matter, let’s be honest.

Would it be too much to ask everyone to calm down a bit and try to enjoy what I honestly believe is going to be a brilliant Premiership season? But those negative ninnies are never wrong. Their minds are made up, attitudes set in lead.

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

Old Bertrand (father of Bobby) Russell was right there.