A Throwback To Jungle Days, Five Years Since Linfield Visited Paradise

Like them or loathe them, think they’re appropriate at Celtic Park or think the opposite, Irish Nationalist and Republican songs have been sung by Celtic supporters since the Brake Club days immediately after Celtic’s inception.

Over the years the politics and songbook of the faithful have adapted, along with the evolution of current affairs themselves. In that sense, Irish Rebel songs are not often heard en masse in Paradise anymore, but the visit of Belfast based Linfield in the month of July rolled back the years to the Jungle days.

On this day in 2017, Linfield visited Parkhead for the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Qualifiers. Tensions were high as a number of racist and derogatory banners against Celtic and its players had appeared on the infamous 11th night bonfires in the North of Ireland. Meanwhile, Leigh Griffiths had a glass bottle thrown at him in the reverse fixture.

The Irish national flag and symbols of Catholicism ready to be burnt on the Eleventh Night bonfire in Belfast

Patience was wearing thin among the Celtic support and midway through the second half, most of the stadium joined in with songs such as The Merry Ploughboy and Broad Black Brimmer, dating back to the Tan War/War of Independence, while Go On Home British Soldiers was also given an airing – a song written in the recent Troubles in the immediate aftermath of Bloody Sunday.

The scenes, coupled with the unveiling of a paramilitary style banner proclaiming the words ‘Brendan’s Undefeated Army’, caused a lot of controversy in the media. There was a mixed reaction among the Celtic support too. Although, the sound of 50,000 voices suggested most matchgoing fans didn’t have much issue with the songs, at least on that occasion.

Whatever one’s view on the events of that day, it would be nice to see an end to the open bigotry on show each July, and the people of Ireland united in respect of each other’s differences. Or as a certain Wolfe Tone once strived for, to see a new democracy that includes Nationalist, Unionists and neither, of every class and religious persuasion united in “liberty, equality, fraternity”.

As a footnote, a football match took place that day and Celtic won the match 4-0!

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.

1 Comment

  1. I was there that night and the GB Banner, ‘Brendan at work’, in a red road sign really wound up the NI huns, they later claimed it was a reference to an PIRA sign that said’Sniper at work’, which was from South Armagh BUT Celtic fans pointed out an issue of the Celtic View newspaper that had a similar look, and aye there was also a game played that night