Celtic are a football club but unlike any other club to paraphrase the cliché, the Irish roots make Celtic different otherwise they would be like the other 91 clubs in British football.
Honestly does anyone think that Celtic get 60,000 fans at Celtic Park to watch us play teams like Ross County or Hamilton just because we like football? The Irish and Scottish Diaspora make Celtic what it is but there’s different elements to the Celtic support, Scots born without Irish roots, Scots born with Irish roots and of course the massive Irish support base.
More than half of the support see the club as the Irish club in Britain and this echoes with their choice of song sung by the fans including Ultra groups like the Green Brigade and Bhoys and by supporters clubs and individuals. Many who have been singing these songs before Ultras were mentioned in the dictionary.
The banners on display in both Ultra sections reflect many of the fans thoughts but not all as some fans have a distain towards the Ultras and resent the Republican background of the founders of the club and those who carry the Republican torch both for Irish and Scottish independence from Britain.
Celtic fans travel by plane, train and automobile from Belfast, Dublin, Donegal, Galway, New York and beyond. The majority of fans see Celtic more than a football club.
There is a section of the Celtic support who objected to the the Ultras and other like minded fans when they protested against the wearing of the Poppy on the Celtic jersey and their refusal to be part of commemorating imperialism and slaughter of the working classes in WW1.
Those running the club are in an awkward situation, they want 60,000 bums on seats and they can’t afford to cut off the hand that feeds them.
The club have had directors who were part of the British war machine in Ireland including John Reid these men have no love for the Republican ethos that abounds in Paradise.
We also have to recognise that many of our greatest servants on the pitch have taken honours from the Queen. One of our greatest managers, Martin O’Neill took an OBE from the Queen despite his GAA background.
Now we have ‘Sir Rod’ who has infuriated many working class Celtic fans who are struggling everyday under Tory rule. In his wisdom he thought it clever and smart to praise Boris ( A silver spooned Bollix in my opinion) and saluted probably another decade of Tory rule.
Many of the Celtic Board are Tories, we have had a former Chairmen of the Bank of England, but the common denominator is that they’re all Celtic men, our Celtic family includes all religions, class, ethnic groups, should it matter what they believe outside football as long as they support the Green & White? Maybe a debate for the future.
If the majority of Celtic fans want to sing ‘The Boys of the Old Brigade’, ‘Sean South’ or ‘Grace’ and refuse to have poppies on our jerseys then that’s the way it will be. The Poppy has been removed from the jersey due to the backlash from the support but the club still donate to the poppy appeal.
The rich kids in suits like Rod Stewart have very little in common with the majority of Celtic fans and are out of touch with the heart beat of the club. I hope Rod will apologise to all the Celtic fans he has offended from his Ivory tower but I won’t hold my breath. He may get as warm a welcome from sections of the Celtic support as the 900 visiting fans from across the city at the end of the month
Rod’s love affair with Celtic may not be over but for many Celtic fans they now see through his crocodile tears for Grace Gifford and those leaders of 1916. Crocodile tears at Kilmainham jail and a visit to Glasnevin cemetery don’t hide the fact that Rod is a subject and we are citizens.
Paddy McMenamin was born in Belfast with Donegal and Tyrone parents. He spent the 1970’s in Long Kesh. He has been going to Paradise since the Benfica game in Nov. 1969. He lived in Donegal for 30 years but now lives in Galway. He returned to University at 50 and became a secondary school teacher of history and English.