Football Without Fans – Cavendish 7-1 CSC (Willowford CSC)

Cavendish 7-1 CSC (Willowford CSC)…

Willowford CSC was founded in the 1969–70 season and originally left from St Bernard’s Chapel grounds on Wiltonburn Road, South Nitshill. The parish priest, Father Carney, objected to the bus leaving from there as people were not always on their best behaviour in the chapel grounds and advised they’d be better leaving from the Chapel Hall in Willowford.

Early members and committee members included John Hunter, Peter and Pat Harmon, Jimmy O’Brien, Eddie Hunter, Ernie Walsh, Hughie McAuley, Frank McConville, Jimsy Murphy, and Willie Miller, amongst others.

The club took a double decker to Aberdeen the following season, which included a fitted optics bar downstairs, which helped both the journey and club funds. This became a tried and trusted fixture for quite a few years, including a stop in Blackford for a fish supper on the way home.

In the mid-70s, several stalwarts joined the bus, including Davie Murray, John Robinson, and Danny Hayes, who were joined in the late 70s by Stan McNicol, John Ramsay, Dennis McCafferty, Willie Walker, and a young Gerry McGinlay. Trips to Aberdeen were still a major highlight, with many an overnight adventure in the late 80s, with a fantastic welcome in both the Parkvale FC Supporters Club and later, the TUC Club near the docks.

Being near the docks led to controversy as Willie Miller and John Ramsay, with the help of an old Nitshill contact, Willie Bentley, brought boxes of fish back down the road, which were remembered for the smell.

In the late 70s and early 80s, the club was fortunate enough to have Bobby Murdoch travel on the bus on many occasions as he worked for a time in the nearby Levern Water Hotel.

Another character on the bus was Oakie. He never joined, as he was never sure whether he was a Celtic, Rangers, or Partick Thistle fan. Members who joined in the early 80s included Robert Allan, Ben Logan, Willie Cusack, Donnie McKinnie, and Mary Gillies, who was the first female member at a time when there were none.

Her nickname ‘Bobby,’ along with her tammy, helped sway any doubters. She was, however, undone on a trip to Dundee when the committee, while in a pub, happened to be seated next to the ladies toilets. ‘Bobby, that’s the ladies’ was met with ‘I know.’ You could’ve heard a pin drop. She was well liked, and her tammy-wearing days became a matter of choice rather than necessity. She still travels, but unfortunately, Willie Grieve (the face of the Celtic’s dementia care project at the Lions Lunchbreak initiative) and Luke McShane have recently passed.

A delightful story revolves around a player of the year dance held in 1983/84 for winner Frank McGarvey, where the club approached Frank to see if he’d like a trophy or something else as his prize.

Frank said his hoover had broken and asked if the club could get him a replacement, so Frank became the recipient of a shiny new hoover! The mid-80s were also a time of strife for the club, and it only managed to survive due to a dozen or so members putting in an extra £5 a week at the start of one of the seasons.

Several names were mentioned earlier, with support from Tam ‘Da’ Scott, Bobby Stewart, Charlie MacAree, Dennis Craig, John Cameron, and Frank Daly. James Kerr joined in the late 80s, along with John Condon, Paul Murray (R.I.P.), Jade Walsh, Sid Wilkie, Malky Barr, Lawrie Meechan, Stiv McKenna, and Drew Noble, amongst others.

There were several charity nights in the following years, with Guide Dogs for the Blind, a local hospice, and other local charities and families benefiting from these nights. The early to mid-90s saw several stalwarts depart the club as age caught up with them.

The new Celtic Park lounges held several of the club’s dances, which were well received. The club continued to travel to home games independently, but in the mid-90s, through necessity, they shared many an away bus with both the Alex McCabe Neilston CSC and Thornliebank Emerald CSC.

It was around this time that the Willowford Club had fallen into a bad state of repair and was now derelict, a fact pointed out by the priest at St Bernard’s, who remarked during Mass that ‘the insurance runs out next Friday and we can’t afford to renew it.’ Luckily, the hall burned to the ground on Tuesday night, solving a difficult problem for the local parish.

Fresh faces appeared towards the end of the century, including Dunky Simpson, Phil McCafferty, Robert Ray, Tam and Billy Cassidy, Phil Rodgers (Cavendish Bar proprietor) and his son Brian Rodgers, Div Moore, Raymie Gallacher, Kev McWatt, Chris ‘Roxy’ Hannah, John Hutcheon, Mick and Tam Barrett, and Dan Fitzpatrick.

Following a vote amongst the members, it was agreed to change the name of the CSC in 1997/98 from the original Willowford CSC to reflect the current departure point, sponsorship, and support from the local pub: Cavendish 7-1 CSC.

Phil Rodgers had very kindly sponsored the bus for several years, up to and including the early 2000s, which saw some fantastic success on the field and some amazing celebrations in the upstairs lounge of the pub.

Seville was a tremendous occasion, with the club securing 100 seats on a chartered trip, comprising a two-night stay in Seville, though unfortunately some accommodation was cancelled late on, which then involved a 90-mile trip for a busload to and from Cordoba.

Many of the members travel to away games in Europe frequently, and both James Kerr and Marc Morrow have chapters in Frank Rafter’s book ‘Standing on the shoulders of Giants’ detailing their trips to both Blackburn and Boavista.

During this period, other younger members joined the club, among them Gary ‘The Big Owl’ Anderson, Kenny Congalton, Mick Melvin (R.I.P.), Martin Ingles, Gerard McGinlay Jr. (R.I.P.), Sammy Graham, Craig and Paul Gallacher, Marc Fotheringham, Gary McCall, John Hayes, John and Stephen Currie, and Marc Gannon.

The club has travelled abroad several times through the years. Coaches to Lyon, Bordeaux, Ajax, Rennes, and a few down south were a fantastic experience.

The bus continues to flourish with solid support from both the regulars and the local area, having recently held evenings for both Mary’s Meals and to support one of their own in difficult circumstances. The band ‘Errigal’ played the latter event free of charge. In the last few years, a sad feature has been the move towards foodbanks, and members support all of these initiatives extremely well.

A shout out too to everyone who keep the bus going home and away, Shannon and Declan Kerr, Ryan Wilkie, Steven Ridley, Chris O’Donnell, Kev Gallagher, Darren ‘speccy emerald’ Malloch, The Tierney’s, Davie and Evan Curran, Robert and Ryan O’Donnell, Mark Allan, The Morrows, Stevie Kerr, Ped Dickson, Panda, Jimmy Doc, The Steels, Martin Melvin, Conner Gallen, Jack and Davie McGonigle, Louise McGilloway, Denise Bradley, John and Annmarie Donnelly, Pat McBride, Tich Walker, Pierce Hutcheon, ‘Auld’ Gerry Strain, The 3 Dans and Aiden, Tosh, Whitey, Ricky and Elaine Kernachan, Kieran Fitzpatrick, and lastly but by no means least ‘The Bhoys’ Ross Bready, Martin and Jac Gallagher, Martin Crumlish, Mick, Cheryl and Jaxon Bentley. Also, a big shout out to Doddsy, Kenny McDade, Jim Gallacher, Marty Gilmore, Gerard Strain Jr., Des Cunnigham, and Willie Adams, who help them out massively with tickets whenever possible.

There are also several drivers and bus operators who have stood by them through thick and thin. Hughie McGinley, John Condon sr., Phil Rodgers sr., and John Cameron (Western/Arriva), John and Mark Gilmartin, Andy McCreadie, Brian ‘Daydza’ McDade (Pride of the Clyde), Jim McInally (Abbey), and many others.

An extract from Football Without Fans – The History of Celtic Supporters Clubs by David McIntyre (Celtic Bars). Football Without Fans – The History of Celtic Supporters Clubs is out now and available in print and kindle versions HERE.

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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

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