The Psychology of being a Celtic supporter – The ‘what school’ question

The Psychology of being a Celtic supporter – Part 2

YESTERDAY we carried the first part in a series by New Zealand based Dr Pat as he considers the psychology of being a Celtic supporter.

You can catch up with part 1 below before we move on to consider what the Doc has to say today.

I have many memories

Jimmy Johnstone had a morbid fear of flying, which Jock Stein used to great effect on one occasion. Ahead of the first leg of a European tie against Red Star Belgrade at Parkhead in November 1968, Stein told Johnstone that, if Celtic won by four goals, he wouldn’t have to travel to Yugoslavia for the second leg. Johnstone went on to produce an outstanding performance, scoring twice and providing assists for the other three goals in a 5–1 win.

Jimmy Johnstone makes it 5-1 so no need to fly for the return leg.

I was at the Ibrox disaster match. The disaster occurred on Saturday, 2 January 1971, when 66 people were killed in a crush as supporters tried to leave the stadium. The match was attended by more than 80,000 fans. In the 90th minute, Celtic took a 1–0 lead through Jimmy Johnstone and some Rangers supporters started to leave the stadium. However, in the final moments of the match, Colin Stein scored an equaliser for Rangers. Some of the exiting fans assuming they has lost heard the cheer and turned back just as the final whistle blew a few moments later and the flow was in two directions with awful consequences.

When the final whistle blew we exited from the stadium and walked to our bus completely unaware of what was happening at the other end. The bus driver was told by the police to wait. The radio was broken and no one on the bus had a clue why we were held up.

We waited patiently in the bus for nearly two hours oblivious. At home my mother was watching TV when a newsflash came up stating that there had been a calamity at Ibrox and that people had died. First reports said that there were 10 dead, then 20, 30, 40 50 60. There were no cellphones then. We were an hour late, 90 minutes late, two hours after expected home time. 66 now dead said the TV.

Can you imagine what my mother feared? We should have been home two hours ago. We got off the delayed bus and walked through the front door oblivious to the unfolding death toll at ibrox. I was first in the door and my mother rushed up and she gave me the biggest and longest hug I’ve ever had in my life.

Some of the younger fans may not know that we were minutes away from another two European finals.

In 1972 I watched us against Inter Milan losing a penalty kick decider in the semifinal. Dixie Deans the only player who missed still has sleepless nights over that I’m sure.

The dirtiest team I ever saw us play was easily Athletico Madrid. In 1974 I watched yet another European Cup semi-final at Celtic Park.

The Celtic team line that night was Connaghan: Hay, Brogan: Murray McNeil and McCluskey: Johnstone ,Hood, Deans Callaghan and Dalglish.

This team was a blend of the Lisbon lions and The Quality Street gang. Athletico had 10 players booked. Even the goalie was booked. They had three players sent off. They should have been arrested for assault.
My father explained that one more sending off would mean the game would have to be abandoned and we would probably be awarded a 3-0 victory by UEFA. I never knew that rule was in the rulebook.

Chaotic scenes at the final whistle

As a 17 year old I had thus watched my team be in the top 4 of Europe four times in the space of 7 years. Winning once, losing in extra time, missing out on a final by one missed penalty, and kicked off the park by thugs. That’s how good Celtic were back then.

I was a medical student in the enclosure on my own in the 4-2 game when the 10 men won the league in the final match against Rangers in 1979. That night was perhaps the best feeling that I ever had as an adult Celtic supporter. It was utterly euphoric.

Ten Men won the League.

I left Scotland in 1984 to work for 2 years in a mission hospital in Mzuzu, Malawi, Central Africa and we had our first child there. We gave her a Malawian middle name and I would bet my house on the fact that she is the only Kirsty Chimwemwe McCarthy on the planet.

There was no TV in Malawi. No newspapers. When the 2 years was nearly up I asked my wife where in the world we should bring up our family. I was hesitant about returning to Scotland despite my fervent desire to be close to Parkhead. I now had a family. They came first.

A memory from 1980 still haunted me. I applied for a job as a doctor at the RAI hospital in Paisley. The medical consultant who interviewed me was I later learned an Orange Lodge Grand Master and Mason and season ticket holder at Ibrox.

There were 6 jobs available on a first come first hired basis. I was the very first appointment. He said “Your name is Patrick McCarthy and you want to work here?” Yes. I’m the first applicant, any reason I could not get the job. He replied That’s the point of this interview. I need to have full confidence in my staff. Tell me, what school did you go to? I replied For the last 5 years it was commonly called Glasgow Medical School. Yes but before that. That’s ancient history and not relevant for this job.

“Ok so how many exams did you fail at University?”


“How many did you nearly fail?”

“None. so do I have the job?”

“Wait, bad handwriting. I cannot stand bad handwriting. Write something on this piece of paper but If I cannot read it then I’m sorry you cannot have the job.”

“I took the piece of paper and wrote on it ‘Yes I am a Catholic and I do want the job.” I gave it to him.”

He snorted. “That’s not the issue.”

“I know. It’s whether you can read my handwriting and you can read it.” Thanks for the job.”

I stuck out my right hand and he shook it with the weakest handshake I have ever experienced. I learned later that I was the first Catholic ever to be employed by him.

People told me then in 1980 that religious discrimination was on the way out in Glasgow. I did not believe them. I was right.

We decided to emigrate to New Zealand where jobs are given on ability and no-one cares what school you went to.

Hail hail.

Dr Pat

To be continued tomorrow on The Celtic Star.

Doctor Pat – Wellington, New Zealand – The Psychology of being a Celtic supporter for The Celtic Star, part 3 to follow on Thursday 13 May.

‘Fifty years after Milan, Feyenoord fans hear the Celtic story’ – Mike Maher

Coincidentally another New Zealand based Celtic support – Mike Maher, wrote an outstanding article on his trip to that second European Cup Final in Milan in May 1970 on The Celtic Star at the weekend and it really is an outstanding read….you can check it out HERE.

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

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