Football Without Fans – Lisbon Lions CSC

Lisbon Lions CSC…

Lisbon Lions CSC was started as a breakaway from Glasgow University CSC after a dispute over the running of the club. The breakaway team was led by Stevie O’Neil, Jeff Harris, David Ballantyne, and Paul ‘Big Lou’ Leeson.

The first bus ran to Aberdeen on April 23, 1983. The committee had spent the previous two weeks gathering much-sought-after tickets for the game from a variety of sources, including Aberdeen players and contacts with other supporters clubs. They then ran to the final two away games of the season. With the money raised from these three trips, they decided to run a bus to the pre-season friendlies in Germany. Initial names for the CSC which were considered was Billy McNeill CSC, Glasgow Central CSC, and Charlie Nicholas CSC. Credit for the Lisbon Lions name goes to Jeff Harris.

Celtic authors and Lisbon veterans Jerry Woods and Pat Woods talking about the 1967 European Cup Final

The first bar they were based in was the Devil’s Elbow outside Queen Street Station, and later, Chambers Bar in George Square. Celtic historian Pat Woods was an early member, as was journalist Kevin McCarra and Brendan O’Hara, now SNP MP for Argyll and Bute.

Another visitor was Lorraine McIntosh of Deacon Blue, who was on an early bus and is a journalist currently employed by Radio Clyde. She travelled on the bus to the League Cup final in 1984. More recently, they had Lisa Commons, wife of Kris, travel with them to a game against Kilmarnock. Characters in the club from the early years include John Duffy, who is still a member, the Patterson clan, Big Lou, Terry McQuade, Logie, and the Auchinairn Bhoys.

In 1983, 53 members of the CSC went on a 2000-mile round trip by bus for a pre-season tour in West Germany. The first stop was Nuremberg for a game against a local team. After a 30-hour journey, they arrived at the stadium and paid to get in. Once inside, they sensed something wasn’t quite right. There was an athletics meeting involving deaf and dumb competitors.

They tried to ask some of the 2000-strong crowd what was happening. With it being a deaf and dumb competition, they had difficulty getting any joy. Eventually they found a guy who told them that the Celtic game was actually being played 700 miles away in Switzerland, where both teams were touring. They were not even in the right country!

Despite six meetings with Celtic, including with chairman Desmond White, Celtic neglected to tell them the game had been moved. They asked Celtic for compensation when they got back and also got commemorative t-shirts made up that said, ‘Celtic Nuremberg 1983’ on the front, and ‘Deaf and Dumb Olympics.’ on the back. Their story was in the newspapers when they got back. It put them on the map, even though they were not very good with maps.

They run to all domestic aways, and when applicable, they will take a bus to England for testimonials or competitions, as well as the odd Euro away. Pre-budget flights, they ran many buses to European destinations. Their membership has flourished over the last 10 years, with around 42 members every season, boosted by a steady number of regular non-members.

In the last few years, they have donated to The Celtic Foundation, The Kano Foundation, Mental Health Walk and Talk, a Glasgow-based support group, and a kidney charity after the recent death of one of their long-standing members, Stuart Cassells, who passed away in November 2021. Stuart had been a member since 1986 and travelled everywhere. His memory will live forever, and this article is dedicated to him.

David McIntyre –

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.

More from Football Without Fans tomorrow on The Celtic Star, the Celtic supporters website. Will it be your CSC that’s featured?

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.

More on the ill-fated trip to watch Celtic in Nuremberg in 1983…

The Celtic Star asked for European stories well this wasn’t my first game or even away trip but it was my most adventurous. It was the summer of 1983, big Billy McNeill had left us to go manage Manchester City and Davie Hay had been brought in to replace him.

The pre-season tour this year was Switzerland and Germany so as usual I checked the supporters notes in the Evening Times and saw that the Lisbon lions club were running a bus to the two German games which were Nuremberg and FC Kaiserslautern. I thought that this sounded like a good idea so I booked up, if memory serves me right, it was £75 for the bus and hotel.

The bus was leaving from George Square on the Thursday morning and a certain ex-director and Lord Provost of Glasgow actually waved us away. The supporters on the bus were a mixture of bhoys and ghirls of all walks of life but as I was on my own I soon made some new friends.

We had one Wolfe Tones tape between us so it was a great way to learn every word of every song! It took around 24 hours to reach Nuremberg and we arrived roughly around lunchtime on the Friday and the first game was scheduled for that night in a stadium which held many war connotations.

We assembled outside the hotel all decked out in our colours and we set of for the stadium which was so big you could see from the hotel so we decided to walk there then a local guy told us quickest way was through a huge public park and we should follow him so there we are 50 odd Celtic Supporters following a guy on a bike through the park.

We reached the stadium and soon we were inside and we were singing our hearts out when we realised all wasn’t what it should be as unknown to us Celtic had re-arranged the game to be played in their base camp in Switzerland and that we were in the stadium where an athletics meeting for deaf people was taking place!

So as you can imagine our presence caused much bemusement to all competitors and spectators so we all decided to head back to our hotel and make something out of what had been a bit of a let down. Next day was Saturday and no game was scheduled so we took a trip to Munich and got a tour of their magnificent stadium then we headed back to our base as we were leaving early next morning to head to Kaiserlautern for the game.

As you can imagine a lot of frustration and anger was being directed towards Celtic as they knew that we were travelling to the games so when we got inside the ground we were met with Kevin Kelly and Davie Hay who tried to explain that the club had no way of letting us know that the venue had been switched and the club were sorry.

We lost the game 1-0 so we had been through all that without even seeing the Bhoys score a goal but the club did invite the entire bus to the pre season game v Spurs at Celtic Park and we got to to meet the players who thought it was very funny! However the new players got to see that how dedicated the fans of Celtic were.

Hail Hail

Jim O’Rourke


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


  1. I was just about to write i was one of the 53 bhoys and ghirls when I saw my old story reprinted. HH

      • 41 years ago hard to believe but of all my European away trips nothing matches nuremberg

        • I remember the guys coming into the Jungle wearing the t-shirts, we had all read the story in the papers and there was applause and laughter. Brilliant wee memory.