Very much ahead of its time “The Shamrock” was the first Celtic fanzine and quite possibly the first such publication to be dedicated to a football club in Britain.
Born in a period of great frustration and disenchantment among the Celtic support The Shamrock was produced by the Edinburgh-based Shamrock Supporters Club in the early 1960s. Much to the annoyance of the club it was sold on match days by volunteers situated along the approaches to Celtic Park and cost 6d (2.5p).
The Shamrock took an unashamedly strong anti-board stance but it could be argued that the venomous attacks on the board were merely reflective of the growing anger and concern of the support at that time.
Robert Kelly and co were certainly not the only ones to feel the wrath of The Shamrock which frequently turned its guns on the SFA and Rangers. The publication was also a staunch supporter of the struggle of Irish Republicanism.
There is little doubt that The Shamrock to give a voice to the average fan on the terracing and although some of the opinions aired may be viewed as controversial the fanzine clearly reflected the frustrations of a support angered by the failings of the board and the often well justified perception that the SFA were inherently biased towards Rangers.
A combination of two factors resulted in The Shamrock ceasing publication in the mid-60s: the arrival of Jock Stein as manager and the launch of the club’s official newspaper The Celtic View.
The arrival of Big Jock was seen by the support as the board finally acknowledging the criticism of recent years and the subsequent avalanche of success silenced all critics. The View also – at least initially – helped to foster improved relations and communications with the support.
So THE SHAMROCK was a trailblazer for later Celtic fanzines like Not the View then more recently websites like The Celtic Star and all the other Celtic fan sites and podcasts that are available today!
On Saturday after we published an article from Matt Corr on the Anniversary of John Thomson’s death, we received another message from Neil and he followed up on the story Matt had told about the goalkeepers who played for Celtic after that tragic loss of life at the Rangers v Celtic match on 5 September 1931.
Here’s what Neil had to say and you may have already read this as we featured it on the site over the weekend…
Just been reading the article by Matt Corr regarding the tragic death of John Thomson on this day, the 5th September. In his article he writes about John Falconer taking over in goal for the next game at Celtic Park. Ironically the same John Falconer became a Rangers Director in later years while his brother and son Les Falconer were diehard Celtic supporters.
Both were along with my father John Doogan founder members of probably the first Celtic supporters Club in the East of Scotland shortly after the war.
Their passion for Celtic never wavered up until their deaths In later years my father and Les never missed a match home or away, travelling all over Scotland up until my father’s death in 1979. Their travelling companions were Dave Easton and Mowbray Dilger who made the journey for every game, Saturday and midweek from Kelso in the borders for the best part of forty years.
My father was the only R.C. in the merry band. Their commitment to the Celtic cause was total .
I have a photo of all the founder members of the Edinburgh C.S.C taken at at John Thomson’s grave on the early fifties. My wife’s aunt danced with Sam English in a ballroom in Edinburgh in the 1930s he to deserves to be remembered . None of the Celtic supporters of that period ever spoke ill of him .
Regards in Celtic
We asked Neil if he could send us the photograph he mentions in this email and he’s now done that. We have also asked him for more details on what he stated about John Falconer becoming a director at Rangers in later years. The Celtic Wiki are vey keen to clear this up, incidentally.
This is the unique photograph and it shows members of the East of Scotland Celtic Supporters Club in the early 1950s visiting John Thomson’s grave at Bowhill Cemetery in Cardenden, Fife. Below the photograph Neil gives us some information on these Celtic supporters from around 70 years ago. Neil is going to forward more photographs which we’ll let you see in due course.
List of names from the left of the East of Scotland Celtic Supporters Club visiting John Thomson’s grave in the early 1950s.