Bhoys from Seville: Reading and Watching the Legacy

THE UEFA CUP Final that took place in Seville, Spain in 2003 is part of Celtic folklore. Martin O’Neill’s side were narrowly beaten on the pitch by Jose Mourinho’s Porto but the whole episode affirmed Celtic’s place as being one of the best supported clubs in Europe. The tale goes like this: despite a long journey to the Finals and a defeat by the Portuguese club, Celtic fans (somewhere around 80,000 of them) impressed the sporting world with their heartfelt support of their club.

More seasoned Celtic fans know an even older tale: the squad went south to Lisbon, Portugal where they battled against Inter Milan in the 1967 European Cup. In this tale, the squad defeated Inter Milan 2-1 with fourteen of its fifteen-member team having been born within ten miles of the Celtic home base in Glasgow.

The 1967 win left Celtic FC with a legacy known as the ‘Lisbon Lions’, while the 2003 brush with victory left Celtic FC with another prized memory: receiving Fair Play Awards from UEFA and FIFA. Though fans would have preferred a title win, a Fair Play award from either organization is prestigious in its own right.

The UEFA Cup final signify the most exciting time for competitors in the UEFA Europa League. At the moment, sites that offer free bets for newcomers tend to focus on the English Premier League or UEFA Champions League, but it’s only a matter of time before the newly-formed Scottish Premiership and Europa Cup leagues make their way into sportsbooks.

The Scottish Premiership began in 2013, while the Europa Cup was last altered in 2009. Since the restructuring of both, Celtic FC has claimed every Scottish Premiership Championship title, year after year.

However, the Bhoys from Seville era was the closest Celtic FC has come in recent years to a Europa Cup championship title. Though not afraid to travel far for their team, Celtic fans also haven’t won any awards since 2003. So, which format (documentary, book, or play) tells this beloved tale of both fans and football squad best?

STV and Club Documentary Productions

The term the Bhoys from Seville is a play on the classic book-turned-film The Boys from Brazil by American writer Ira Levin. The original production came directly from Celtic FC, titled The Road to Seville.
Produced by the club itself, the documentary focuses on the team’s journey. It includes a close look at season play and the most pivotal matches that Celtic won, like the away-match against Liverpool at Anfield and the battle against Boavista in the semi-finals.

Another production, created by STV, titled The Bhoys from Seville, focuses instead on the fan experience. It pays a special tribute to the Fair Play Awards and displays a variety of tales from die-hard Celtic fans as they scrambled to find a way to Seville.
Each production is of high quality and presents a unique perspective of the team or the heartwarming hijinks that 80,000 fans went through to get to Spain.

Over and Over: the Story of Seville

A literary exploration was undertaken by journalist and author Anna Smith. The book, titled Over and Over, provides an in-depth look at both the football and fan side of the journey to Seville.
The book investigates why fans support Celtic FC with such a fervor. While both documentaries above offer a comprehensive look at the happenings before and in Seville, Smith provides a hearty and gutsy look at why Celtic FC was important to local fans in the first place. For each football fan, this is a highly personal experience.
Additionally, the literary look expands the journey to Seville around the globe. It highlights the journeys some fans made from Asia and the Americas to make it to the final in 2003.

Celts in Seville on Centre Stage

Though not as publicized as the documentaries or book, Scottish comedian and playwright Tony Roper penned a play dedicated to the 2003 Bhoys from Seville legacy. It’s run twice, in 2008 and 2014, with success. Titled Celts in Seville, the play focuses on a family that supports the club.
The narrative follows a family’s journey to the big match. Much like Smith’s work with Over and Over, the play focuses on the emotional experience for fans. In the end, for Roper, it wasn’t about losing in Seville, but how fans lost in Seville.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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