Football Without Fans – Joe Kennaway CSC, Montreal

Joe Kennaway CSC, Montreal…

Founded in 1994. The year before, Pat Gillen was at Montreal’s St Patrick’s Day Parade with his friend Peter. Both of them are from Greenock, and they met Jim Traynor, who was wearing a Celtic bomber jacket. They asked him, ‘Where did you get that jacket?’ He turned around with a deadpan face and said, ‘Glasgow.’

They introduced themselves, and after some green beers and a few Jamesons, they exchanged phone numbers. Jim called Pat in 1994 and said he was trying to start a CSC and asked if he would be interested in joining. Up until this point, having arrived in Montreal in 1987, Pat had been reduced to listening to shortwave radio or phoning family members in Scotland on a Saturday afternoon to find out the results.

Fergus McCann

Their first game was in the Haraiki Bar and was attended by Fergus McCann. The Montreal CSC was officially underway with a handful of dedicated club members. This was in the early days of Setanta Sports, and Haraiki Bar had a satellite feed they could use.

Jim Traynor became the first club president. As president, it was his job, when required in winter, to go on the roof to break the ice, sometimes more than once per game, from the satellite dish. The cry of ‘Jiiimmm,’ from various members when the feed started to buffer would result in a series of expletives as Jim donned his hat, coat, scarf, and gloves and headed out the door, not returning until he heard a resounding cheer from inside the warm pub indicating that the feed was good.

Billy Connolly sits in the stand during the UEFA Champions League qualifying match between Celtic and Arsenal at Celtic Park on August 18, 2009. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

After one season at The Haraiki, they moved to a bigger bar called Brasserie des Rapides, where their membership grew to approximately 40. On Scottish Cup Final day in 1998, while waiting for the game to begin, Billy Connolly came to the club to watch the game.

Their next port of call was the Peel Pub in 2003 after they had been asked to leave the Rapides due to the excessive noise on Wednesday’s when the pensioners club met at the bar to play bridge. It was during the run to Seville, so in retrospect they probably were a bit over-exuberant.

Dermot Desmond is seen prior to the Celtic vs St Mirren Cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park on May 20, 2023 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

One season later, they arrived at Le Cordon in Lachine, which had a private room, but they had to pay rent of $2200 per season. A special guest at this location was Dermot Desmond. A few of them were outside having a final smoke before game time and watched this massive stretch limo pull into the parking lot. The chauffeur opened the door, and out stepped Mr. Desmond and his wife. They directed him inside, and their crazy Hungarian treasurer, who didn’t know Dermot from a hole in his head, demanded $10 from each of them, which they duly paid.

After a few seasons and with membership dwindling, they were looking for somewhere rent-free. A chance meeting in 2008 in a downtown pub with a gentleman named Tom Finnegan solved their dilemma. He happened to mention that he was opening Finnegan’s Pub in Montreal and would like to host the club free of charge at his bar.

This was quickly agreed upon by the members, and they had a new home. Tom was a more than gracious host, but with an increase in 07:30 am games and his bar having been opened until 3.00 am each morning, it became difficult to get staff to open for them. There had been times when they arrived at the bar only to find it closed, and Claude, Tom’s business partner, was sound asleep behind the bar waiting for them instead of going home when the bar had closed.

He did, at one point, give them a key so they could open the bar themselves. A key to a bar! What more could a bunch of Scots and Irish ask for? Pat was at his wife’s company party where she introduced him to a colleague, Joan Kennaway, and he remarked that there had been a Kennaway who played for Celtic in the 1930s.

Joe Kennaway

She informed him that this was her great-uncle. After some research they discovered that Joe was born in Montreal, and he is still the only Montreal-born Celtic player. Pat proposed the club name be changed to Joe Kennaway CSC, Montreal, and this was agreed upon by the members.

In 1931, Joe replaced John Thomson after his tragic death and remained in the team until 1940. Kennaway was born in Montreal in 1905, one of a family of four, his parents having immigrated from Dundee. He is a member of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and the New England Soccer Hall of Fame. He has been ignored by the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

Sadly, Tom’s pub closed in 2012 (The CSC having a key to his pub was not the reason for the closure) so they returned to Le Cordon, this time rent-free, although in the main body of the restaurant, not the private hall.

Over the years, a few of the members have taken in the delights of Vegas to attend the NAFCSC Convention. In the early days, this was held at The Imperial Palace on The Strip. One of their members, who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, was escorted to his room by casino security to ‘sleep it off” after three days of pretty much non-stop drinking. He was put to bed by the security team, but somehow he still managed to beat them back to the bar area.

There was a time when Celtic played pre-season games in North America, and various members through the years have road-tripped to Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Connecticut, and New York. They moved to PJ’s Pub and Grill on St Jacques in 2017, where they stayed for three seasons until the owner built a new restaurant close by, called Brasserie de Manoir.

It is the best place they have been and is where they are today. It has a VIP section that they have exclusive use of during games, with six big-screen televisions that they link to their Celtic TV feed. Their membership is back to approximately 16 members. Their latest celebrity visitor was Greg Hemphill, who came to watch the champions win the league. Greg grew up in Montreal and needs no introduction, but if you are a big fan of Still Game, you may know him as Victor McDade.

Club presidents: Jim Traynor, founder member and president until he retired to darkest Ontario; Alexander Strachan until his death in 2009; David Craig 2009–2017; Patrick Gillen 2017–2021, and Ronald Rondeau 2021–present.

Sadly, on December 16, 2022, they lost their most dedicated and long-standing member and treasurer, ‘The Mad Hungarian,’ Jozsef (Joe) Tornyos, who passed away at the young age of 61. Joe was born in Hungary and had recently retired from Air Canada.

How did a young lad from Hungary become a die-hard Celtic fan? While working at Air Canada, he was invited many years ago to watch a football game in Montreal by some of his co-workers. On arrival, he was happy to see one of the teams playing was in the colours of his beloved Ferencvaros FC. He announced to the bartender that Celtic would be the team he was supporting. Joe did not realise that the team Celtic played that day was Rangers, and his Rangers-supporting co-workers had invited him to the Rangers Club.

Needless to say, he was not invited back and, very soon after, joined the CSC. His favourite story was when he was visiting Scotland and was asked to be on the field to do the half-time draw, and he never tired of telling the story of getting on his knees at Paradise and kissing the turf. He was a bit peeved at drawing the £10,000 winning ticket and not even being offered a pint. His jumping up and shouting ‘olé olé olé’ every time Celtic scored, much to the amusement of all members, staff, and patrons of the Brasserie Manoir, will be missed. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

If any members of Joe Kennaway CSC, Montreal have any photographs of the members please send over to The Celtic Star and we’ll add them to this article.

David McIntyre – CelticBars.com

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. Watch the video in the Celtic World tweet below for some amazing facts on the Celtic support around the world.

Just before Christmas, David McIntyre from Celtic Bars was interviewed by Celtic TV about his Football Without Fans book. Here’s the video on Celtic TV’s You Tube channel . You can order a copy in print or kindle from Amazon regardless of where you are in the world. Order your copy HERE.

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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