Football Without Fans – Singapore CSC

Singapore CSC…

The Singapore CSC was founded in 1999 by the late Tom Flaherty, Harry Murphy, Hugh Doherty, Michael Craig, Kevin Dickie, Mark McCann, Jack Wallace, and John McAuslin. Singapore in 1999 had many Celtic fans with nowhere to go on match days. Their organic start began when Harry met a young Tom in a Celtic chatroom. They learned that Tom had been at school with Harry’s daughter in East Kilbride.

Tom soon landed in Singapore for a new job and had a beer with Harry. They organised a committee with a few other Celtic fans. Within a few weeks, they had over 30 supporters. There was no Scottish football on Singapore TV. They knew the matches were videotaped in Scotland, so Kevin Dickie got his mum to tape each game and send it to them by DHL. They would receive it the following Thursday. It had to pass the Singapore censorship board, and they had to go to the relevant department to sign for it. It was stamped by the censor as being in a foreign language.

The club decided they had to find a pub that would agree to play the match tapes for them. Mark McCann found The Yard, a small bar on River Valley Road. They were there for almost two years. However, the CSC, now known as the ‘SingTims,’ was growing, and they needed to find a bigger home. The owners of a new Irish pub, Molly Malones on Boat Quay, stepped forward. It was a perfect place for them. By this time, Martin O’Neill was the new manager of Celtic, and the CSC was truly up and running. Membership had grown to 50 as news of the club spread to Celtic fans in Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, and other Southeast Asian countries.

The SingTims are proud to work with the Celtic Foundation by granting their ongoing support to Walfrid’s Wish. Sean Begley, their president for four years, said:

“The Foundation’s continuing outreach efforts remind us that Brother Walfrid formed Celtic to feed the hungry. We are committed to the Foundation’s cause for the long haul. We very much enjoyed our meeting with the Celtic Foundation’s CEO, Tony Hamilton, and Head of Income, Jane Maguire, in Singapore during their fundraising tour.

“We made an early decision to support their efforts. Walfrid’s Wish gives us a way to fulfil the club’s original objectives. Our boys are some of the most generous I have met anywhere, and we are all-in with the Foundation’s work.”

It has not been easy to maintain their numbers as far as members go, and that is not unusual with CSCs that have large ex-pat memberships. Gerard Sillars, vice president, said: “We currently have 40 active members, or as many as 120. It is hard to tell, given the transient status of ex-pats around the world and especially during COVID. In the early days, we had so many members that we had to curtail the number of people watching matches in pubs.”

Harry said: “It was quite exciting waiting for the tapes to arrive, especially when we had gone ahead and booked the pub and invited the members. Then we held our breath until the tape landed.”

Fast forward 25 years, and they manage to catch nearly all the matches across the available platforms. Members are kept up-to-date via Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp. They had their own newsletter, The Sing Times, that became hugely popular with members thanks to the witty takes on matches and sidebar conversations about all things Scottish. The articles were written by some of their members, and the newsletter was laid out by Harry’s wife Anna with her brother Martin on IT. Sadly, The Sing Times had to fold due to the travelling schedules of its writers and people leaving altogether. Murmur has it that they may soon have a podcast.

The SingTims were wooed by many pubs in Singapore for match nights. Over the years, they have nestled in several watering holes. To their credit, the pubs made great efforts to welcome them, going so far as to curate their own private lounge with Celtic colours.

And then Rod Stewart called. Harry thought it was a joke and hung up on his secretary. Luckily, she called back with, “I promise, Harry, Rod wants to come and watch the match with The SingTims.”

Rod was to be in Jakarta to hold a private concert and was planning to fly into Singapore for the match. He arrived in a limousine, slipped into the crowded bar, and danced and sang the night away with the members and bar staff. Every star-struck fan got a hug, a cuddle, and an autograph. You couldn’t meet a more generous rock star. Maybe he felt he was with a Celtic family.

As a non-profit organisation, they committed all the money collected through membership and merchandise sales to charities in Singapore and abroad, including the Celtic Foundation. They have raised funds for flood victims in Brisbane, Mary’s Meals in Malawi, helping to build 67 kitchens for their food programme, i-India to feed and school the street children of Jaipur, The Catholic Welfare Society of Singapore to deliver Christmas presents to the homeless, and charitable efforts in Thailand and many other countries.

Notably, Harry, together with two friends from Glasgow, George Grace and Robert Reilly, embarked on an epic adventure to climb Mount Everest to raise funds for the i-India project. A good time was had by all at a monastery, where the monks watched in amusement as the three of them cooked strange foods in their kitchen. There was yak tea. Also, it was not a good idea to send three old men up a mountain. In some of the photos, they were strapped into oxygen tanks while lying on camp beds. The lengths some people go to in the name of Celtic!

The SingTims pubs over the years are 1999: The Yard on River Valley Road, 2003: Molly Malones on Circular Road, 2009: Muddy Murphy’s on Orchard Road, 2009: Bojangles on Arcadia Road, 2012: Bojangles in Balmoral Plaza, 2016: McGettigan’s on Robertson Quay, 2019: COVID pandemic. 2021: The Hideaway on Arcadia Road and they are currently in Muddy Murphy’s Irish Pub. They will always remember the members who are no longer with them. Tom Flaherty, George Grace, and Robert Reilly.

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

Comments are closed.