The Celtic legend Tommy Burns once said “When you pull on a Celtic Jersey, you don’t just represent a football club, you represent a people, a cause.”
Even the club itself uses the mantra of “Celtic More Than A Club” to sell season tickets, that somehow the club retains the ethos originally set out by the founding members including Brother Walfrid that it would be a focus for charity to help the poor of Glasgow and predominantly the east end of the city.
I used to believe that, I bought into it with my hard-earned cash paying for 2 season book for over 20 years sitting in the Jock Stein Stand when it opened and in the Lisbon Liions stand the year or two before that.
But what was that cause?
Who are these people that the club represents?
The club itself was set up to help the poor of Glasgow, predominatly the east end where there was a large percentage of Irish-Catholic migrants, but the club was not set up to represent these people exclusively.
However, the reality is that in Glasgow there was another now defunct club who had well documented anti-Catholic policies.
So it was natural that Catholics in Glasgow or the West Coast of Scotland would gravitate to Celtic as they were not welcome at the other place.
But lets be clear Celtic has always been open to everyone of all creeds and colours.
What the club represents to me is the under-dog, the under-class, a place for those who are outwith the establishment to support a team that stands for more than themselves.
I personally have faced that anti-Catholic bias in employment situations, its there, it still exists although I like to think that its time has passed and that it will eventually disappear completely.
I have friends and associates who are, if not bigoted, not slow in voicing their hatred of Celtic and even all things green, some claim to be 90 minute bigots .. as if that makes it okay to sing their songs of hatred.
Personally, I fly low, I learned many years ago to keep my counsel with people that I trust and when someone rants about their hatred, I listen and smile, friends close, enemies closer.
Meanwhile I support the team they hate because it represents eveything that they fear, Catholics, Irish, immigrants taking their jobs, affecting their cosy lifestyle, the birthright to a superiority that they believe is theirs.
Their most-bigoted chant in my opinion .. is not “Up to our knees in fenian blood” .. which is gruesome enough .. but rather the cry of “We are the people” .. the implication is that you’re not people, but rather a sub-species, unless you are one of them.
But you can’t be one of them unless you’re born into it, a closed-shop of under-educated halfwits clinging to a belief in white protestant superiority.
It’s laughable, the world has moved on and they haven’t moved with it.
Today my season book renewal came through the door, its on automatic renewal, but they send the blurb through anyway and normally I don’t even bother to open it.
I’ve taken my son since he was 5 and too small to sit by himself and he sat on my knee with an empty seat beside us. The guys around, laughing at him eating pizza from the middle and getting it all over his face.
Going to the football every second saturday kept us close through the worst periods of my divorce, now he’s a strapping 6’2 lad of 26 and I’m proud of him. Even my daughters love going to the games, particularly with performances like Sunday beating Motherwell 7-0.
Supporting Celtic has been part of my family.
But this year is different, this year I’m in a dilemma to renew or not.
My problem is that now we know that old-Rangers used illegal tax evation strategies and undeclared side-letters on their players contracts to cheat for the best part of 12 years, and won 15 titles in that period.
Additionally, old-Rangers were given a UEFA licence to play in the Champions League in 2011 even although the corrupt and biased SFA knew that the former club had outstanding tax and no agreement to pay this debt in place with HMRC.
Yet despite all the evidence and a resolution regarding the UEFA licence being made at the last club AGM at the end of 2015, there has been no official statement from the club.
Let me paraphrase Tommy Burns “When you join the board of Celtic, you don’t just represent a football club, you represent a people, a cause”
My problem is that through their silence, the current Celtic board do not stand up and be counted for the people that the club represents.
I’d have more respect for them if they made a statement, pushed it with the SFA and it was out-voted due to the anti-Celtic bias.
But to say nothing is unacceptable.
Saying nothing is unbecoming of my family who have always stood up for their rights and the rights of others.
It’s with great sadness that I give up ny season books, not that I’ll ever give up on supporting Celtic and what I believe the club represents.
But I won’t support the current board who treat the fans merely as customers.
The pic above is taken from my seat in the Jock Stein Stand, at the opposite end of the stadium in the now half-empty Lisbon Lions stand, the mantra “More Than A Club” sits there in big letters, but its a lie and only used to drive season ticket sales.