Mon the Candy – St Roch’s Centenary reminds us all of Celtic’s roots

On Saturday night, I had the pleasure of being in attendance at 100 years of St Roch’s Football Club. Celtic Park hosted this magnificent event for a community football club that has a glorious history in its own right.

St Roch’s is my local team, being born and raised in the Garngad. The community feel that surrounds the club, is in no-small part due to the incredible work that is tirelessly done by those of the area that surrounds the ground.

Volunteers which give endlessly of themselves in the pursuit of a shared ethos and that fundamental belief in the milk of human kindness, are at the epicentre of everything St Roch’s is about. Not only a football club, it serves as a hub for those in the community that can drop in anytime for a variety of reasons. St Roch’s has a homework club, a walking club to help those with mental health issues, in tandem with Roch Talk; a drop-in for anyone struggling during these tough times. All of this is in addition to helping fight poverty as and when required through foodbank initiatives.

I was reminded on this night of my roots and why they are foundation stones of who I am as a person. In my younger years, I attended St Roch’s Secondary school, a school in which the motto ‘Allios Adiuva’ is embroidered on their badge, and is paramount to their collective spirit. Latin for Help Others, St Roch’s has a thread of helping those who need it running through the community, from the school to the football pitch and beyond. Saturday was a wonderful reminder of these things that we, as a community, value above all else. As Winston says to the butcher in Still Game, when he needs the community to rally around his grandson before his big boxing match: “It’s not about what you take out, it’s about what you put in”. A nugget of wisdom some other major football clubs in Scotland should bear in mind.

The night was a roaring success by all accounts. Peter Martin chaired the event, with Tommy Sheridan, Tosh McKinlay, and the legend that is Chris Sutton all guest speakers. And added to this was the Garngad’s very own Andy Cameron and Shug Farrell. Safe to say the patter was flowing from start to finish folks. A fitting tribute to what is a phenomenal football institution, and one that has served it’s community and Celtic Football Club well for a century now.

St Roch’s links to Celtic are as strong as they are profound. For it was our very own community club that gave Celtic FC their all-time top goalscorer, James McGrory. A winner of the Scottish Junior Cup, McGrory went on to have an illustrious career with the Hoops. A Celtic Legend, made in the Garngad. Now that’s something to be proud of! This fact was reminded to us by Shug, who in finishing on the podium declared: “Never forget, we gave them James McGrory!” A moment which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, whilst I unashamedly felt a small tremor in my lip.

Moments like these rarely occur in everyday life, which makes them all the more sweeter to savour when they do. All too often in our time on this earth we dedicate time and energy into redundant enterprises. We never stop to remind ourselves of the roots that make us who we are. We are part of a large family of immigrants mostly. The Irish-Catholic diaspora that settled mainly in the West of Scotland, and has not always been accepted. St Roch’s reminded me of this unassailable fact. It should remind you too. My vendetta against the current PLC at Celtic, is driven by the way in which they have discarded our heritage and our ethos of community. We have been belittled by way of contempt. Deemed a lesser-class than the those of the Upper Deck.

St Roch’s has never forgotten it’s bread and butter. They demonstrate everyday what the phrase ‘More than just a club’ is. They have endured and will continue to do so because they have never forgotten their sense of community ethos.

It’s a pity others haven’t done the same…

Mon the Candy!

Paul Gillespie

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About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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