Some remarkable Celtic memories and memorabilia across half a century

We recently told you the story of how The Shamrock became the first ever Celtic fanzine and became such a concern for the Celtic Board that they decided to launch their own newspaper, thus The Celtic View was born.

That article was titled East of Scotland CSC visiting John Thomson’s grave in the early 1950s. The trailblazing Shamrock Fanzine and we featured this photograph which we understood came from the early 1950s (as explained below it’s actually from the 1948).

Probably the best thing to do is tell the story again before showing you some remarkable Celtic memorabilia.

We received an email from a Celtic supporter, named Neil Doogan who wanted to praise David Potter for his historical articles on The Celtic Star, which was vey nice. In his email Neil mentioned The Shamrock Fanzine which was the first ever Celtic fan media and played an indirect role in Celtic deciding to launch their own newspaper, The Celtic View.
Here’s what Neil wrote on 1 July 2020….
Just been reading some of it be articles by David Potter which I have found  fascinating.to say they bring me back to my childhood  is an understatement . It’s like being in a time machine listening to my father telling stories of Patsy Gallagher and Tommy McNally etc.
David Potter is doing a great service to the history of Celtic by recording for posterity the stories and anecdotes which pick up the mood of the period.
In one of the articles about Bobby Murdoch he refers to an article  which was written on The Shamrock Fanzine back in early 1960s which stated that Murdoch should be moved back to the old right half position which on Jock Steins arrival was was duly done and we all know the outcome of that decision where he blossomed into a world class player.
My father John Doogan was the editor and founder of The Shamrock Fanzine which he started to give a voice to the suffering fans of the late 1950s and 60s up to Big Jock’s arrival. During that period endurance was our badge of honour when defeat in cup finals was a regular occurrence not to mention crazy board decision mainly by Bob Kelly regarding team selection and player transfers left us light years behind not just Rangers but Hearts and Dundee.
The darkest night was surely just before the dawn. In the Not The View history section where The Shamrock was referred to as written by Nostradamus they wondered if we were still around when Fergus McCann saved the club.
Although my father died in 1979 on the day after Celtic’s Ten Men Won the League he planted the seed well as myself and three sons are still fly the flag. For many years I was involved  in the Dublin C.S.C and still travel over regularly to games. One of my sons lives in Dallas Texas and is in the Dallas C.S.C which was run by one of Willie Fernie’s sons. Keep up the good work, David your work is of great value.
Neil Doogan
So what can we tell you about The Shamrock Fanzine? Let’s tell you what The Celtic Wiki says about it.

The Celtic Wiki’s view on The Shamrock Fanzine

Very much ahead of its time “The Shamrock” was the first Celtic fanzine and quite possibly the first such publication to be dedicated to a football club in Britain.

Born in a period of great frustration and disenchantment among the Celtic support The Shamrock was produced by the Edinburgh-based Shamrock Supporters Club in the early 1960s. Much to the annoyance of the club it was sold on match days by volunteers situated along the approaches to Celtic Park and cost 6d (2.5p).

The Shamrock took an unashamedly strong anti-board stance but it could be argued that the venomous attacks on the board were merely reflective of the growing anger and concern of the support at that time.

Robert Kelly and co were certainly not the only ones to feel the wrath of The Shamrock which frequently turned its guns on the SFA and Rangers. The publication was also a staunch supporter of the struggle of Irish Republicanism.

There is little doubt that The Shamrock to give a voice to the average fan on the terracing and although some of the opinions aired may be viewed as controversial the fanzine clearly reflected the frustrations of a support angered by the failings of the board and the often well justified perception that the SFA were inherently biased towards Rangers.

A combination of two factors resulted in The Shamrock ceasing publication in the mid-60s: the arrival of Jock Stein as manager and the launch of the club’s official newspaper The Celtic View.

The arrival of Big Jock was seen by the support as the board finally acknowledging the criticism of recent years and the subsequent avalanche of success silenced all critics. The View also – at least initially – helped to foster improved relations and communications with the support.

So THE SHAMROCK was a trailblazer for later Celtic fanzines like Not the View then more recently websites like The Celtic Star and all the other Celtic fan sites and podcasts that are available today! 

That Saturday after we published an article from Matt Corr on the Anniversary of John Thomson’s death, we received another message from Neil and he followed up on the story Matt had told about the goalkeepers who played for Celtic after that tragic loss of life at the Rangers v Celtic match on 5 September 1931.

Just been reading the article by Matt Corr regarding the tragic death of John Thomson on this day, the 5th September. In his article he writes about John Falconer taking over in goal for the next game at Celtic Park. Ironically the same John Falconer became a Rangers Director in later years while his brother and son Les Falconer were  diehard Celtic supporters.

Both were along with my father John Doogan founder members of probably the first Celtic supporters Club in the East of Scotland shortly after the war.

Their passion for Celtic never wavered up until their deaths  In later years my father and Les never missed a match home or away, travelling all over Scotland up until my father’s death in 1979. Their  travelling companions were Dave Easton and Mowbray Dilger who made the journey for every game,  Saturday and midweek from Kelso in the borders for the best  part of forty years.

My father was the only R.C. in the merry band. Their commitment to the Celtic cause was total .

I have  a photo of all the founder members of the Edinburgh  C.S.C taken at at John Thomson’s grave on the early fifties. My wife’s aunt danced with Sam English in a ballroom in Edinburgh in the 1930s he to deserves to be remembered . None of the Celtic supporters of that period ever spoke ill of him .

Regards in Celtic

Neil Doogan

We asked Neil if he could send us the photograph he mentions in this email and he’s now done that. We have also asked him for more details on what he stated about John Falconer becoming a director at Rangers in later years. The Celtic Wiki are vey keen to clear this up, incidentally.

This is the unique photograph and it shows members of the East of Scotland Celtic Supporters Club in the early 1950s  visiting John Thomson’s grave at Bowhill Cemetery in Cardenden, Fife. Below the photograph Neil gives us some information on these Celtic supporters from around 70 years ago. Neil is going to forward more photographs which we’ll let you see in due course.

List of names from the left of the East of Scotland Celtic Supporters Club visiting John Thomson’s grave in the early 1950s. 

1. not known  2. my father John Doogan  3. Andrew Sweeny 4. Les Falconer (behind bald man) 5. Pat Glass 6 not. known (at rear) 7. Eddie McBride 8. not known  9. not known 10. Tommy  McKinley (front) 11. Owney Collie 12. not known 13. Tommy Lindsay  14. My Uncle Denis Duffy(extreme right).

Denis Duffy is still alive at 95 years of age and is living in Co Donegal. I  will phone him  to ask about this photograph.  He still retains his full mental acuity. He may remember the other names.

This photo would be taken nearly seventy years ago.

Best  regards

Neil Doogan

We’ve received a couple of updates from Neil which we’ll share with you now, starting with the Celtic memorabilia.

“Just a few items regarding recent posts,” Neil stated. “This photo taken from Celtic Supporters Association magazine 1951/52 – it was the first one held. Ronnie Simpson is in goal for Newcastle in a challenge match between Scottish and English cup winners.”

“Also here is the programme from the Celtic supporters rally in 1966 when Ronnie was guest of honour,” Neil added.

“Next is the programme and ticket for Barcelona in 64 and St Etienne as well as myself and my father’s tickets for that fateful day at Ibrox in 1971.”

Neil had promised to get back to us regarding his further investigations into John Falconer as the guys at The Celtic Wiki were very keen to hear more about this.  Here’s the latest on this…

David, have not managed to get any further information on John Falconer regarding Rangers Directorship but spoke with the family and my sister is adamant
this is the case. She would have more contact with Les Falconer than I as I left for Dublin in 1971.

She also related the story as to why Les and his father became Celtic supporters. Apparently Rangers came to their house to sign John when he was a young lad starting out on his football career. It would be around the time in the early 1920s when Rangers were adopting the policy of only signing non Catholics.

When their grandfather heard this he was appalled. He stated quite forcefully that his boy would not be signing for Rangers or any club that would have such bigotry. Prior to this they were of a Rangers persuasion, with no connection to the Celtic ethos. From that day on the grandfather’s allegiance was switched although it seems John remained in the Rangers camp and I can say from experience I never met two more dedicated Celtic supporters than Les and his father.

They were at the very first meeting when a Celtic supporters club was formed in the East of Scotland in the mid 1940s just after the war and remained so for the rest of their lives.

I spoke with my Uncle in Donegal by phone and I asked him could remember the photo taken at John Thomson’s grave. Although he is now ninety five he said quite clearly it was taken on Sunday 5th September 1948. My father had organised a bus for the anniversary. I checked on Google and sure enough his facts were correct.

My sister has some photos from Christmas parties and outings that the C.S.C. used to hold for members children, she will send them on to me.

Will keep mining the archive for information, have sent some stuff to Matt Corr.

Best Celtic wishes especially for the game on Saturday.

Neil Doogan

Just love features like this that take us as Celtic supporters back to the 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s and even the 1920s…

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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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