Mike Maher reflects on over 60 years supporting Celtic

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Although Celtic won nothing in my years at the Rangers End there were some great games including the exciting European run in 1963/64 which saw us get to the European Cup Winners Cup semi final…and it should have been the Final!

However, by the time we were 14 we were hankering to experience the excitement of the Celtic End. We finally made it in October 1964 almost exactly 3 years to the day that my mate Peter and I had gone to our first unaccompanied game against Stirling Albion. The opponents this time would be Morton and that was the excuse we had for venturing to the Celtic End.

Morton had taken the old Second Division by storm over the previous two seasons. Their entrepreneurial manager Hal Stewart had brought in players from Scandinavia – a real novelty in those days. They had exciting players like Joe Harper and had been attracting crowds well in excess of the norm for Second Division grounds. They had won promotion the previous season. They had given Celtic a close run in the League Cup Semi Final and were expected to bring a good-sized support.

And that was our reasoning in abandoning our usual spot. Apart from Old Firm games there was no segregation in those days. We were used to being close to visiting fans at our stance in the Rangers End. The Jags, Dundee, Hearts usually brought a good support along and I recall on one occasion spending the game in the company of some Aberdeen fans and being envious of one lad not much older than me who had told me of his experience travelling around the country following the Dons.

Morton would be different apparently. According to Peter the Morton fans were a lot wilder than we had previously experienced. Shipyard workers who would be armed with rivets and even knives. So we convinced ourselves that it would be better to head for the Celtic End. We did not tell our parents that though. They would have not as been as convinced that the inhabitants of the Celtic End were more genteel than the Greenock visitors!

Despite it being a night game there was a crowd of 35,000 at the match, only the visit of Rangers attracted a bigger league attendance that season. As it was we only dipped our toes in the West Terracing, contenting ourselves with a spot in front of the floodlight pylon on the Jungle side of the ground. However now that we had experienced the passion and noise a bit closer there was no going back and from now on our spot would be in the middle of the Celtic End as part of the “choir”.

The repertoire in those days was slightly different from more recent times. “Sean South of Garryowen” and ” A Soldiers Song” would be recognisable to modern fans as would be the “Celtic Song” which was in its relative infancy then. “Hail Glorious St Patrick” which is only heard on very odd occasions now was a main standard in the early 1960’s. However the present day songsters might be surprised to know that the Celtic fans also had then their own version of “Follow, Follow'”. And in the way that the Rangers fans always segued into “The Billy Boys” from their “Follow, Follow”, the Celtic fans had, to the same tune- ” a 1, a 2, a 3, a 4 a 5″. This was apparently in reference to a 5 goal victory over the Ibrox men in some game that nobody could actually recall.

In the 1960’s it was hard to imagine any Celtic victory over Rangers let alone one that was achieved by a 5 goal margin.

Actually we had beaten Rangers in a league game at Celtic Park a month or so earlier. That was my first experience of a league win against the Ibrox side. The last one had been 7 years previously, at a time just before I had got really interested in senior football.

Continued on next page…

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  1. A very nice read Mike, thank you, although I think we will have to disagree over YNWA, but still a good read and I can remember attending quite a few of they games from the mid sixties myself.

    • Thanks- To be honest I actually like seeing and hearing YNWA at the big European games. If I do manage to get over for one of the CL games this season I will be joining in! Probably because of my age and being a bit grumpy I tend to think that things were better when I was young! I would prefer though if we did have an “anthem” that a was bit more unique to us. When I got my first proper mobile phone a few years ago my son put YNWA as the ring tone. I had to get him to change it as I got fed up with so many people thinking I was a Liverpool fan when they heard it ringing!

  2. James o Rourke on

    Watching the Scottish Cup final against Motherwell from the school boys enclosure,there may have been a hundred thousand packed into Hampton,and when big John McPhail scored the winning goal,the place went crazy. That was our first trophy since the war,. Mat Lynch was a teacher at my school,st.margarets,and later brought the treasured cup tothe school,to hold or just touch was a thrill of my young life! So I share many of your memories Mike. Keep the faith Hail Hail.

  3. David Potter on

    You’ve watched them for as long as I have , Mike, and the passion never leaves you. A great read!