When it comes to most football clubs, they represent the local area or bring joy in a purely sporting sense to their fans. That’s great, football is a brilliant game that captures the imagination, but it also means that the origins of the club generally don’t carry much significance. Go to 90% of football clubs around the world and you will find that the vast majority of fans have no idea about the foundations of their club, with only a few taking an interest.
Celtic is different.
Whilst we all love football and if we didn’t then we wouldn’t support a football team, there is more to Celtic than the game itself. It’s all the external factors such as charity, immigration, Irish culture, Catholicism and inclusivity etc which come together and create such passion for our football team as they represent these values on the field. In short, we have what every other football fan has, but with so much more. Even then, our history on the field is remarkable; a real tale of success from the Empire Exhibition and Coronation Cup triumphs, to the Lisbon Lions and the Invincibles.
We love football, we engage in the game, we discuss tactics, we long for success on the pitch and we demand that players entertain. But why do 60,000 people turn up to watch a team playing in the Scottish League most weeks? Why is Celtic Park famed for its incredible atmosphere? The passion that produces both lies in the past, with a unique history both on and off the field.
Celtic is more than a club in every sense, not just a slogan on a banner. It represents the Irish people and their descendants in Scotland and around the world. It instills in us the values of charity, through being formed to support the needy people of the east end. Celtic has a political dimension, especially where British Imperialism and Ireland are concerned. The club has an incredibly unique culture, with a song book that is so unusual in the sporting world. Where else could you hear Irish ballads, football chants and then football songs with verse and chorus written in folk style, such as the Celtic Symphony? To a degree, Catholicism plays a part in some people’s decision to support the club, stemming from the roots of this institution, whilst that is not an exclusive identity as the club have played a team of all faiths since its second season.
On the pitch, Celtic have been famed for an attacking, entertaining style of play known as the Celtic way. We have been bequeathed with entertainers throughout the decades and have had incredible success from winning a trophy in our first season, to conquering Europe before anyone else on these shores. Aside from that, Celtic are renowned for scoring last minute winners and defying the odds.
We know all of this in the present and, in combination with our love for the sport, it all culminates in an absolute way of life for thousands around the globe. However, this didn’t magically occur. As fans we need to know why this is the case. Why are politics and support for Irish independence so prominent at Celtic Park? Why have we developed a style of play known as the Celtic way? How did we create our identity?
Most fans could tell you the basics, that Brother Walfrid formed the club to feed the poor Irish immigrants in Glasgow, yet that only tells half the story.
Unlike any other club’s fans, it is important that Celtic supporters know their history as it’s what makes us special. The club was political from the outset, but what political actions did they take and why? Who shaped this identiy alongside Walfrid and what was their story? How is this relevant today? The club was charitable from the start, but what were the specifics of the Poor Children’s Dinner Table campaign? This is the reason for our existence and why Celtic and so many fans continue to make life easier for the less fortunate to this day. To what extent was Celtic’s identity Catholic and why was it important? How did the club ensure early success on the field and develop an identity of playing attacking football?
All these answers and so many more can be found within the pages of Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys.
From a profile on each of the founding fathers who helped Brother Walfrid to establish the club, to details of how they came together. From the first game of the club’s inaugural season, to the last match of 1889. From the early greats of James Kelly to the legendary Jimmy Quinn, who is still revered in song at Paradise today….
This book has everything to ensure you know your history, which as a Celtic fan, is so pivotal.