Last Sunday I stumbled down the stairs to the press conference room at Hampden.
We were waiting for Neil Lennon and there was only one question that any of us wanted to ask him.
Like everyone else there I wanted his opinion on the penalty incident in the dying moments of the cup final.
The waiting press hack hoped for good copy and the expectant tension of a cracking quote from Lenny was only broken by my offer of a dongle to assist a veteran sports journalist who looked like he had just been introduced to his laptop.
With my Vodafone thingy protruding from his USB port he carried the contraption around the room like a water diviner, but the mobile signal, like the Hampden Park Wi-Fi didn’t penetrate into the subterranean level to where we hacks are banished after the final whistle.
The cameras were set up and the recording devices blinked their red lights on the table.
All we needed was Lenny.
The opinion was split on the penalty decision and I wasn’t sure.
Since then the video of the incident has been analysed like the line of sight from the Texas School Book Depository window on Dealey Plaza.
However, last Sunday the best any of us had was a quick look on our screens at the time that Stokes had hit the Hampden turf.
There is a three or four second delay on the monitors on the media desks.
It gives a replay service more or less in real time.
I had quickly glanced down and simply I wasn’t sure about the penalty incident.
So it was within that context that Neil Lennon was ushered into the presser.
It was observable, being just a few feet from him that he was seething with temper about the Stokes penalty claim.
In Neil’s opinion his team had been the victim of an injustice at a crucial point in the game.
I asked him if he would think more of Willie Collum if the referee admitted that he had messed up and he said he would.
Lennon used the word “criminal” to describe Collum’s decision to:
(1) Refuse a Penalty
(2) Book Anthony Stokes for diving.
Words can have many meanings and they are usually context specific.
When a parent tells their kid that if they don’t tidy their room that they will “kill” them then no one hearing that interaction thinks that the child’s life is in any danger.
No one in that room thought that Neil Lennon was alleging that Willie Collum was a criminal or had committed a crime.
The Celtic manager also said he would be asking John Fleming for his opinion of the incident.
Fleming is the Head of Referee Development at the SFA (the post once occupied by Hugh Dallas) and he is the boss of all the SFA’s match officials.
I have been in several Lenny pressers and he’s an absolute dream for a journalist.
A straight question elicits an equally straight answer.
Even when the question is one he would rather not have been asked you still get an unambiguous response that you can use.
He speaks in clear easy to understand sentences.
He is as straight in his dealings with the media as he was pragmatic with the ball at his feet in his playing days.
He doesn’t utilise Martin O’Neill’s tactic of tying the hacks up in knots with educated sophistry and that isn’t because he isn’t smart enough to use such a ploy.
Lenny has a soldier’s staccato honesty of the situation as he sees it.
You are left in no doubt.
He doesn’t do ambiguity.
I know which I prefer.
Now compliance officer Vincent Lunny has written to Celtic for clarification about Lennon’s post match comments about Willie Collum’s decision.
If there is any action taken against Lennon then post match pressers won’t be worth going to because the managers will be even more gagged than they are at present.
Certainly ICT manager Terry Butcher will have to be mindful of further florid rants about “kangaroo courts” at Hampden.
I can’t imagine that Neil Lennon would be singled out for especially punitive action by the SFA.
I’m sure that won’t happen to the Irishman.