GLENGARRY – Glasgow’s Sacred Heart

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Bartholomew Street in Glasgow’s Bridgeton district still stands today but it is an empty street:  a brick wall runs along one side with nothing behind it, there are no houses, shops or businesses anywhere to be seen.  It is a ghost street.  As cars and buses drive past Bartholomew Street and nearby Dalmarnock rail station heading up the new road towards Celtic Park, few people are aware of the history of these deserted streets that lie close to the River Clyde, the people who lived on them and the pivotal role the area played in the story of Celtic Football Club. 

 

Before Bartholomew Street was named it was home to a small community of Highlanders as outlined by William Guthrie in his 1911 book ‘Recollections of Bridgeton’:

The next road had no name but is now called Bartholomew Street.  It led down along the side of a burn, which was the march between Dalmarnock and Barrowfield estates, and ended at the gate to Bartholomew’s Works.  There was a large block of brick houses here, which was called Glengarry, occupied by the workers at these works. 

John Bartholomew had established a cotton factory and dye works next to the River Clyde at Dalmarnock in 1768.  Slowly, the former idyllic riverside area just outside of Glasgow town changed in character as more industries and businesses set up works – principally bleach, dye and printworks – to take advantage of the river as a source of power.  This part of Bridgeton would never be the same again.

The Glen that is home to Loch Garry in the Scottish Highlands remains an idyllic setting.  Sixteen miles north of Fort William is the point where the River Garry joins Loch Garry, part of the Great Glen.  In the 1790s this area known as ‘Glengarry’ was still home to the Clan MacDonnell which had fought under Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden.  Like other surviving clans, the people of Glengarry were targeted in the notorious Highland Clearances.  1792 was to become known to these Gaelic speakers as ‘Bliadhna nan Caorach’ (The Year of the Sheep) as families were in turn evicted from their homes and their farmlands converted into sheep walks at the behest of profiteering landlords and a conniving Government.  Protests by local clansmen resulted in the Black Watch being mobilised against them.  For the community of Glengarry,  emigration was their only option.

 

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Glengarry:  Loch Garry/ Loch Garraidh in the Scottish Highlands

 

In 1791 a ship left from Skye heading for North Carolina in the United States with a large number of Glengarry families on board.  After getting into difficulties the ship required to dock at Greenock.  The Highlanders were forced on-shore for days while repairs were ongoing.  Many were destitute and, as non-English speakers, struggled to communicate with locals.  In these dire circumstances their priest was sent for.

Father Alexander MacDonell had been educated at Paris and Valladolid before returning to Glengarry after his ordination.  In the aftermath of the notorious Gordon Riots of 1780, an ‘anti-Papist’ protest which descended into the worst rioting and looting ever witnessed in the city of London which was only suppressed by the intervention of the army, Catholic priests and Catholic worship were effectively outlawed and liable to attack.  Anti-Catholic sentiment was especially strong in Scotland at this time and few Catholics made their faith publicly known.  In Glasgow in the 1790s, one historian has claimed that there were only 39 practising Catholics in the city – and 43 anti-Catholic societies.

Yet when he arrived at Greenock, Father MacDonell immediately started negotiations with a view to finding work and homes for his Glengarry flock in Glasgow.  The industrialist David Dale, who owned New Lanark as well as the Barrowfield Dyeworks in Bridgeton, had also gone to Greenock in the hope of persuading the Highlanders in to his factories.  Dale and George MacIntosh has found commercial success in producing colour dyed materials.  They had hired Frenchman Pierre Jacob Papillon, a master dyer from Rouen, to come to Glasgow in 1785 to implement the secret ‘Turkey red’ process of dyeing.  This proved a great success and business boomed.  The street where the works were established was originally called Papillon Street and later changed to French Street – the spine of this small network of streets that this riverside community would develop into.

In addition to shelter and work, Father MacDonell’s negotiations with David Dale and his business associates focused on establishing a safe place of worship in Glasgow for the Highlanders.  This was how a large hall in Mitchell Street (in the heart of what is now the Merchant City) came to be rented for ‘the publicly avowed purpose of being a Catholic chapel.’ Opening in October 1792 under the stewardship of Father MacDonell, a congregation of 200 began celebrating mass publicly in Glasgow for the first time since the Reformation of 1560.  This congregation was largely made up of the Highlanders who now occupied the houses around Bartholomew and Papillon Streets of Bridgeton.  This small area quickly became known by the name of the inhabitants’ original homeland:  Glengarry.

 

GLENGARRY BY THE CLYDE

This was a significant development as Glengarry was the first recognised Catholic community in the city in over two centuries.  Previously, private homes had been used to celebrate Mass clandestinely.  However, when anti-Catholic sentiments were running high, these unofficial places of worship would come under attack.  This was the case for Robert Bagnall, an English potter who had set up home in the East End of Glasgow in 1768 and allowed Mass to be said there in secret.  The home and pottery were burnt to the ground in a sectarian attack in 1779 and Robert and his family moved to East Lothian where he re-established his business.  Although Father MacDonell posted a guard when Mass was held at Mitchell Street, there is no record of any attacks or confrontations.  A congregation of a few hundred proved a less appealing target than one of a few dozen.

The Highlanders threw themselves into their new jobs although factory work was alien to them and would later receive ‘ample and favourable testimonials of the good conduct’ they displayed from their Glasgow employers.  It was not just men and women who worked in the cotton factories as David Dale, often remembered as a social pioneer, was renowned for the use of child labour.  It was not uncommon for children to work 15 hour days at this time. The reliance of families on the income their children brought in from such labour would prove pivotal to the story of this community in decades to come.

Colour cotton dyeing gave the owners a commercial edge and while factories grew larger in size and mills also became established, the bleaching of the cotton required to be carried out by sunlight.  This meant that large areas had to be retained as open land for sheets to be laid out in the days before bleaching agents were available.  It is believed that this is how one field, which became known as Glengarry Park, survived for so long in the increasingly industrialised setting along the River Clyde.  This drawing (below) of the Barrowfield Dye Works from the early 19th century, showing female workers laying out materials for bleaching, gives an indication of the layout of the land in this part of Bridgeton at that time.

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Barrowfield Dye Works in Glengarry, late 17th Century

 

The Highlanders had only been set up in their new home of Glengarry for two years before they faced a new crisis.  War in Europe had ravaged Glasgow’s trade in cotton exports, in turn leading to large-scale redundancies.  The impact on the Glengarry community was immediate and heart-rending.  In a letter to Bishop Hay sent on 12th February 1794, Father MacDonell wrote of the difficulties:

Since I came to Glasgow I have seen upwards of six hundred Catholics, men, women and children from various parts of the Highlands, spread over the whole face of this country in quest of a scanty subsistence . . . A recital of the sufferings of this miserable people since the fatal stagnation took place in trade would sear your very soul.  I have at this instant a list of scores of them unable to get labour and destitute of every necessity of life.

 

The Highlanders were facing a true dilemma:  there was little hope of work for them staying in Glasgow and they did not have the funds to allow them to emigrate.  Returning to the ancestral homelands of Lochaber was not, however, an option.

The bargaining skills of Father MacDonell again came to the fore.  Despite the fact that Catholics were barred from entering the ranks of the British Army at this time, he persuaded a large number of the Glengarry men to volunteer for military service – and negotiated with the British Government to create the first Catholic regiment post-Reformation.  With the British at war with France, MacDonnel engaged in several months of lobbying with the result that the First Glengarry Fencibles were duly formed in August 1794.  Incredibly, MacDonell was installed as regimental chaplain at a time when being a priest was technically a criminal offence in both Scotland and England.  The regiment saw service initially in Guernsey and then in 1798 was sent to Ireland to help suppress the rebellion led by Wolfe Tone’s Society of United Irishmen.  With Father MacDonell alongside them, the Glengarry Fencibles did not engage in the brutality towards the Irish which other British regiments were renowned for and, when the rebellion was over, they were instrumental in the re-opening of Catholic churches in counties such as Wicklow and Wexford where priests had been forced into hiding.  As Father MacDonell later wrote of his regiment: “They everywhere won gold opinions by their humane behaviour to the vanquished, which was in striking contrast with the floggings, burnings and hangings which formed the daily occupation of the rest of the military.”

 

fr-alexander-macdonnellFather, later Bishop, Alexander MacDonell

 

The Glengarry Fencibles were disbanded in 1802 as they were now surplus to military requirements.  In recognition of their service the British Government offered the Highlanders land to re-settle in Trinidad, which they surprisingly declined.  Instead Father MacDonell secured an offer of 160,000 acres in eastern Canada where other members of the MacDonell clan had moved in 1786 (with another Father MacDonell from Knoydart, Glengarry) – naming their new home Glengarry County, which now lies in modern Ontario.  Scottish Gaelic is still spoken in parts of the county today and it is home to one of the largest annual Highland Games outside Scotland.  Alexander MacDonell went on to become the first ever Catholic Bishop of (what was then) Upper Canada.  The number of Catholic parishes in the region increased from three on his arrival to forty-eight at the time of his death.  Most importantly, he had led his Highland parishioners from banishment, destitution and war to a secure and peaceful future abroad – with their faith, language and culture intact.

 

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Memorial plaque to The Glengarry Fencibles and Fr. MacDonell – in the city of Kingston, Canada

 

Meanwhile, over two thousand miles away in Glasgow, a sizeable number of the original Highlanders, particularly those with young families, had remained in Bridgeton.  An upturn in the fortunes of the cotton industry and increased mechanisation meant more jobs in large mills and other works which had developed alongside the River Clyde.  Glengarry, and Glasgow, was to change beyond all recognition.

 

 

A GLENGARRY FAMILY

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The River Clyde at Dalmarnock – 1827

 

One man’s story demonstrates how some of those original Glengarry settlers and their offspring fared in Bridgeton after Father MacDonell and their clansmen left for foreign fields.  In April 1817 Hugh MacDonald was born in Rumford Street, Bridgeton, just a short distance from Bartholomew Street, where his parents lived initially on arrival from Lochaber.  The eldest of eleven children, Hugh was working as early as 7 years old as a tearer” alongside his father in a local printworks.  He was later apprenticed as a block printer at David Dale’s former Turkey Red Works on French Street, by that time owned by Henry Monteith who would later become Lord Provost of Glasgow.  The young MacDonald went on to become a shopkeeper in Bridgeton before moving into journalism in 1849, despite having had scant formal education (it is believed he only ever attended night school and was the youngest person on the roll of Bridgeton Public Library as a youth).  He worked for various Glasgow newspapers and became widely known as a poet and naturalist.  In 1854 a book of his writings entitled ‘Rambles Around Glasgow’ was published which sold well, with his descriptions of the burgeoning city and especially Glasgow Green – his most cherished place and just a short walk from Glengarry – earning him fame.

 

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Hugh MacDonald – a Glengarry boy, poet and writer

 

MacDonald died at the early age of 43 in March 1860, leaving a widow and five children behind.  A fountain in his memory stands in Glasgow Green close to the location of the ‘bonnie wee well’ he celebrated in song, just behind the People’s Palace.  The entry to the Green which today faces Bridgeton has been renamed Hugh MacDonald’s Gate.

 

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One of Hugh MacDonald’s poems, The Guid Auld Field, was about his earliest days playing and working around the streets of Glengarry which he recalled with evident fondness:

Does a thocht e’er cross your min’
0′ the guid auld field,
And our happy years langsyne,
In the guid auld field?
Do you min’ our lichtsome wiles.
Our kindly cracks and smiles,
Mingling pleasure wi’ our toils,
In the guid auld field?

The residual Highland influence on the area is clear from the sports played in the winter months when the bat, bowl and ball were put away:

Ilk boyish game we tried,
In the guid auld field;
We had doukins in the Clyde,
At the guid auld field;
The bat, the bowl, the ba’.
Wore the simmer months awa’,
Syne we’d shinties ‘mang the snaw,
At the guid auld field

Glengarry was already changed from the time of MacDonald’s youth, especially with family and friends scattered far from the riverside where he grew up:

But a sairly altered place
Is the guid auld field;
Scarce now I ken a face,                                                                            
In the guid auld field.

Auld friens are in the clay,
Or scattered far away;
and a stranger bears the sway
In the guid auld field.

 

It is to the credit of that community that one of the East End of Glasgow’s most acclaimed writers and poets came from their ranks.  Hugh MacDonald’s children helped form the third generation of Catholic Highlanders in Bridgeton, although the ties with Lochaber were purely historical now.  At the time of their father’s death the area and community had changed almost beyond recognition.  It is believed that, following An Gorta Mor – the Great Hunger – of 1845–1852, over a quarter of a million Irish men, women and children fled to Glasgow, the overwhelming majority to the city’s East End.  Between 1850 and 1884 the number of Catholic churches in Glasgow increased from five to fifty-four. Glengarry and Bridgeton would become home to a new generation of immigrants of the Catholic faith.

 

SACRED HEART OF BRIDGETON

In late 1873, in the area behind Hugh MacDonald’s birthplace on Rumford Street, the Sacred Heart Mission was opened.  Bridgeton now had a Catholic church of its own.  On 26th January 1874 the Sacred Heart School was opened, adjoining the mission and its presbytery on Old Dalmarnock Road.  The school’s first headteacher was an Irishman from County Sligo who was born Andrew Kerins but is better known today by the name given to him on becoming a member of the Marist teaching order: Brother Walfrid.

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Sacred Heart Mission, Bridgeton – opened 1873

 

Father Edward Noonan, the first parish priest of Sacred Heart, was a Limerick man and he and Brother Walfrid had their work cut out.  In the 1870s Bridgeton was heavily industrialised and the area experienced all the well-established social ills that cities of the time were renowned for: poverty, squalor, illiteracy and alcoholism.  Building a parish to meet the needs of a burgeoning flock was no easy feat in an era without any system of social security or a National Health Service.  As Headteacher of the boys school (the separate girls school was managed by nuns from the Franciscan Order), Brother Walfrid developed a number of initiatives to encourage the children of the new parish to attend the school and remain engaged with education (and the church) when their schooldays were over.  He created youth clubs and started a library system accessible to young people throughout the parish.  A network of employer contacts was cultivated throughout the city to help identify work placements for when the pupils came of age.

Walfrid realised the importance of sport to children and encouraged interest their in the relatively new game of football (as he’d done in his previous posting at St. Mary’s school in the Calton).  He set up a juvenile football team for players of school age called Columba which played on the former bleaching grounds off French Street celebrated in Hugh MacDonald’s poetry:  Glengarry Park.  One former parishioner recalled the founding of the Columba club in this sketch of a conversation between two residents of Bridgeton’s Dublinland in the Glasgow Observer in 1900:  “’An while taking car av the boys’ literary education in that way, Brother Walfrid didn’t forget to have some fun an’ amusement for them too; for he made a football club for them that was called the Columba; and’ even there he had a fine fatherly care av his boys, for he rinted a park for them down at Glengarry, where they cud play ‘ithout havin’ to mix up wid the corner boys.” 

This park was also home to a parish football club from Sacred Heart called Eastern Rovers which the Glasgow Observer of 1885 year confirmed had originally “been raised through the exertions of Brother Walfrid.”   The Marist brother’s involvement and interest in football was only just beginning . . .

 

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Glengarry Park in a map of Bridgeton from 1892-4; next door to Clyde’s ground, Barrowfield Park

 

The biggest problem faced by Brother Walfrid was persuading families in the new parish of the value of education.  Child labour at the time was the norm and the income that children generated was relied upon by many families to ensure there was enough food on the table for them all.  If a child was attending school then they weren’t earning with less money coming in to the house – with the same number of mouths to feed.  When the school opened in 1874 there were only 300 children who attended regularly even though Sacred Heart had 2,000 parishioners.  While the number of Bridgeton Catholics continued to increase, this didn’t lead to a corresponding rise in the school roll.  In order to overcome this problem that the Sligoman conceived the idea of the Poor Children’s Dinner Tables in 1884.  If children were provided with nourishing food while at school this would reduce the financial burden on the families and allow the children to help receive, at least, a basic education.

With the help of lay members of the St Vincent de Paul Conference in the Sacred Heart parish, Brother Walfrid took over premises in Savoy Street, at the rear of the school and church, to establish a kitchen to prepare the food for the Dinner Tables.

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Savoy Street, Bridgeton – 1960s.  The pend leads on to Main Street.  

 

A ‘penny dinner’ scheme was established, which Brother Walfrid described in 1895 in these terms:  The children were provided with a good warm meal for a penny.  Should parents prefer they could send the bread and the children get a large bowl of broth or soup for a halfpenny and those who were not able to pay got a substantial meal free.  This has been a very great blessing to the poor children.  The expenses for some time were met by subscriptions and collections, sermons etc. 

 

In the winter of 1885 a breakfast meal of a large bowl of porridge was also introduced to the penny dinner scheme.  The scheme presented the families of the parish with new options regarding their children’s welfare and education and it also provided the Catholic Church locally with a formidable challenge to the growing threat from soup kitchens, Gospel Tents and Evangelical Halls in Glasgow who used food as the means of tempting under-nourished Catholics – and especially children – into abandoning their faith.  Irishmen such as Father Noonan and Brother Walfrid were well aware of the risks posed by evangelical Protestant missionary societies to their parishioners.  During An Gorta Mor such aggressive missionary activities were common throughout Ireland, offering sustenance for the body as well as the mind of those prepared to ‘turn’ from their religious convictions.  Those who succumbed to the temptations of the Protestant soup kitchens were commonly referred to by the derogatory phrase of ‘taking the soup’ or soup-takers, a label that has survived down the years.

 

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Brother Walfrid – first Headmaster of Sacred Heart School, Bridgeton

 

The penny dinner scheme at the Sacred Heart school was to prove a great success.  In its first year the SvDP Conference in Bridgeton provided over 48,500 dinners and 1,150 breakfasts.  By 1886 the school roll at Sacred Heart had quadrupled from its foundation twelve years earlier to over 1,200 pupils.  Dinner Tables had also been established by Brother Dorotheus, the Marist colleague of Walfrid who ran St Mary’s School in the nearby Calton.  In the first six months of 1886, 26,421 dinners were provided to St Mary’s pupils – 17,707 of which were free dinners.  Celtic historian Brendan Sweeney has outlined the dilemma that success of the scheme presented to the Marist headteachers at the time: “The problem was clear: demand far exceeded the income available as almost 70% could not afford to pay anything and less than 4% were able to pay the full penny.  More had to be done and quickly.”

With a weekly commitment to provide almost 2,000 dinners at the two schools, and the local community being so impoverished that very few families could pay either a penny or half-penny contribution, the Penny Dinner Scheme required urgent funding.  The cost of providing the dinners in the first year at Sacred Heart (£105) was a significant amount for a school in a poor community to raise in the 1880s.  Brother Walfrid’s thoughts turned to a new form of fundraising:  football.

The new sport was attracting followers in ever-increasing numbers in the 1880s.  In Edinburgh and Dundee teams had developed out of those cities’ Irish communities who enjoyed great support and success.  Brother Walfrid realised there was potential for raising considerable sums to maintain the Dinner Tables by organising charity football matches in a Glasgow which was without a high-profile Irish football club.  As early as 1885 he was responsible for an invitation being issued to the Edinburgh Hibernians to send a team through to Glasgow’s East End for a game. Hibs’ reserve team took on the junior club Glasgow Hibernian on 26th September 1885, winning easily by 6-0, and afterwards the Edinburgh team attended a dinner hosted by the SVDP in St. Mary’s Hall on East Rose Street.  This was the first in a series of matches which Brother Walfrid organised in the East End, all the while developing new connections with established football clubs throughout Scotland.

While only a modest amount was raised from that first game, a bigger crowd was in attendance on 8th May 1886 when Clyde FC offered to take on Dundee Harp at their ground at Barrowfield Park – their home before a move across the river to Shawfield in 1898 – which lay just across Carstairs Street from Glengarry Park.  Publicity posters for the game stated that monies raised would be used “for the purpose of supplying the children of the unemployed Catholic householders of Sacred Heart Parish with free dinners and breakfasts.”  Harp ran out 2-1 victors in that tie and this time it was Sacred Heart school where the visiting Dundonians and the Clyde players enjoyed a post-match meal with Brother Walfrid presiding.
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On 18th September 1886 a crowd of 1,000 attended at Glengarry Park, the home of the teams most closely associated with Brother Walfrid – Eastern Rovers and Columba – to see Edinburgh Hibernians reserve team take on a parish team from St. Peter’s RC Church in Partick.  It was the St. Mary’s Dinner Tables who were the beneficiaries of this tie.

 

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As successful as these charity games had been in boosting the coffers of the Dinner Tables, the sums raised paled in comparison to that of the ‘East End Charity Cup’ ties fought between Renton and Hibernian – recent winners of the Scottish Cup for the first time – at Barrowfield Park on 26th May and 6th August 1887.  Over 12,000 turned up at the first game, a massive gate which surpassed the crowds of most Scottish Cup finals in the preceding years, and the sum of £120 was taken in gate receipts.  That game finished 1-1 and a replay was arranged for the start of the new season and an attendance of 4,000 was recorded this time, both crowds providing a boost to the funds of not only the local Dinner Tables but also charities in both Edinburgh and Renton.  This time Renton ran out easy 6-0 winners with 5 goals coming from future Celt Neilly McCallum.

After the replay in August 1887, the Renton and Hibernian parties retired to the Sacred Heart Boys Club for the post-match reception.  The Sacred Heart parish had played host to this remarkable series of football matches which, over the course of two years, would ultimately lead to the creation of one of the greatest names the sport has known.  Brother Walfrid’s instincts about the popularity of football among the Glasgow Irish and the people of the East End generally were proven correct.  A new idea had began to take hold – the creation of an Irish club in Glasgow to match and surpass the success of Hibernian in Edinburgh and Harp in Dundee.  In September 1887, just a few weeks after Renton won the East End Charity Cup in Bridgeton, Brother Walfrid travelled to Cathcart in the company of John Glass and Pat ‘Tailor’ Welsh.   The purpose was to persuade Tom Maley to join a new Glasgow football club, plans for which were already at an advanced stage.  With great fortune, the trio also invited Maley’s younger brother Willie to join as well.  Many years later Willie Maley would recall that it was in September 1887 that he ‘took the shilling’ and signed up with a club he would serve faithfully as player, secretary and manager until 1940.

Celtic Football Club was formally constituted on 6th November 1887 in St. Mary’s Hall in nearby Calton.  In a circular issued in January 1888 it was stated that “the main objective of the club is to supply the East end conferences of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society with funds for the maintenance of the “Dinner Tables” of our need children in the Missions of St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart and St. Michael’s.  Many cases of sheer poverty are left unaided through lack of means.  It is therefore with this principal object that we have set afloat the “Celtic”.

Land had already been secured for a ground for the new club.  The first Celtic Park – just off Janefield Street to the rear of the modern day Lisbon Lions Stand – was located less than a mile from Glengarry Park.

The concept of a sports club being set up for charitable purposes was ground-breaking and Brother Walfrid oversaw the development of Celtic and continued to manage the Penny Dinner scheme at Sacred Heart school through to his departure to London in 1892.  He therefore missed the remarkable scenes outside Sacred Heart Church in 1905 when thousands turned out to mourn the passing of an early hero of the club he founded.  Barney Battles was a hugely popular Celtic player in two spells between 1895 and 1905, winning two Scottish Cups and one League title, and a Scottish internationalist.  He died suddenly from pneumonia at the family home on London Road within a year of leaving Celtic.  Following requiem mass at Sacred Heart a cortege of over 2,000 followed Barney to his resting place at St Peter’s Cemetery, Dalbeth via Celtic Park.  It was estimated that a crowd of over 40,000 lined the route.  It was one of the biggest funerals the parish has ever witnessed.

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Barney Battles – an early Celtic favourite

 

Bridgeton was familiar territory to many of those involved in the development of Celtic FC.  The club’s first captain, James Kelly, originally lived with his family in James Street before they moved to Blantyre as his playing career ended and before he joined the Board of directors, later becoming Chairman.  Early Celtic meetings and AGMs were held in the Mechanic’s Hall at Canning Street (now London Road), just a short distance from Bridgeton Cross.

In the new century the community of Sacred Heart augmented its position in Bridgeton.  The Highlanders – and their language – were no longer an obvious presence but the parish founded in Glengarry was now home to thousands of descendants of immigrant Irish. During 1909 – 1910 a new church was built on the site of the original mission building in the grand style of a Roman basilica in red sandstone over three storeys.  Designed by the Belgian architect CJ Menart, the front of the church is adorned with three statues:  below the central figure of Christ stands Saint Patrick to the left and Saint Andrew to the right, reflecting the Irish and Scottish identities of the people who both shaped and formed the parish of the Sacred Heart.

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The imposing facade of Sacred Heart Church (2015)

The new church dominated its surroundings on Old Dalmarnock Road.  Next door to the presbytery, as shown in this photo below, was the three-storey Sacred Heart Boys School.  The girls’ school and nursery were located to the rear of the church on Reid Street, home to Sacred Heart Primary School today.  Around the corner, on Muslin Street, was the League of the Cross Hall – effectively the parish hall – which completed the church’s estate in Bridgeton.

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Sacred Heart Church, Presbytery and Boys’ School, Old Dalmarnock Road

 

While the Irish had for decades been a significant presence throughout Glasgow’s East End, there was an obvious fault-line that existed between those of Irish extraction.  This was reflected in the development of Bridgeton’s Main Street in the mid-19th century as William Guthrie noted in his 1911 ‘Recollections’: “At the corner of Ann Street and Main Street was a range of two-storey buildings which was called Wee Belfast, occupied by weavers from the north of Ireland.”  Further along Main Street lay a different Irish settlement: “We now come to Dublin Land.  There were always a good many Irish here and I suppose that was how it got its name.” 

The earliest industry in Bridgeton and Calton was handloom weaving and by 1819 it is estimated that almost one third of the workforce were Protestant Irish.  Largely overlooked, it is now estimated that over one quarter of the Irish who moved to Scotland in the 19th Century were non-Catholics from the northern counties.  Scottish employers had directly targeted these workers due to large numbers of skilled Scottish workers emigrating to North America and beyond.  Historian Tom Devine has recorded how Belfast newspapers of the era had adverts placed by Lanarkshire and Ayrshire firms offering jobs in mines as well as new and developing iron and steel works.  As a result of immigration, certain Scottish towns and villages became home to large communities of Protestant Irish, including Larkhall, Airdrie and Bridgeton.  Many of those who crossed the Irish Sea at that time were adherents of a uniquely Irish institution with which these areas of Scotland were to become synonymous:  the Orange Order.

 

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Bridgeton and Glengarry – 1912

 

 

WALKING THE WALK IN BRIDGETON

The first Orange Lodge in Glasgow was established in the Trongate in 1813.  Eight  years later saw the first organised demonstration or ‘walk’ in the city to commemorate the Battle of the Boyne.  Organised by Glasgow’s then three lodges, the parade was not advertised nor had it been granted permission to proceed.  The appearance of Orange marching band and supporters in the Merchant City area, close to the homes of many immigrant Irish Catholics, was unsurprisingly met with resistance as it approached the Trongate: ‘the crowd burst upon it’ reported the Glasgow Chronicle.  Sashes and banners were seized and destroyed and the marchers had to flee, taking refuge in public houses in King Street.

The following July, in 1822, saw a bigger march involving seven lodges this time (including Paisley and Pollokshaws).  Despite a ban having been imposed by city magistrates, the Orangemen marched from the Gallowgate to Fraser’s Hall in King Street.  The march itself passed peacefully but at its conclusion the hall was surrounded by a crowd of “zealous Irish Catholics, most ready to give battle” as one newspaper reported.  Although it was only 10am on a Sunday morning, a magistrate – fearing a riot – decided immediate action was required.  Professor Elaine McFarland, author of Protestants First – Orangeism in Nineteenth Century Scotland described the outcome of Glasgow’s second Orange Walk in these terms: Police and military intervention was required and 127 Orangemen were taken into safe-keeping, returning ignominiously ‘with their sashes in their pockets.’ 

As a result of the disturbances of 1822, fifty years would pass before the city fathers would give permission for an Orange Order parade within Glasgow’s boundaries.

The social impact on the city of Glasgow of the large numbers of Catholic and Protestant Irish settling in the city would prove considerable.  Orange Order membership swelled as a result of resentment at the increased numbers of Catholics– with Ulster-born Protestants prominent in the upper echelons of Scotland’s Grand Lodge and instrumental in the Order’s subsequent development in Glasgow and beyond.

Between 1865 and 1900 the number of Orange Lodges in Scotland increased significantly and it was estimated that at the end of the century the number of members had risen to approximately 30,000.  In the 1850s there were already two Orange Lodges in Bridgeton and the creation of a third saw ‘district’ status conferred on the area.  In the 1870s a new district – no. 44 – was created as new lodges extended across Bridgeton’s eastern boundary into Dalmarnock – covering both the Sacred Heart parish and Glengarry.  Social conflict was never far away.

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A modern banner of a Bridgeton Orange Order lodge

As early as 1879 there is a newspaper record of the windows of the Sacred Heart church being smashed in the aftermath of an Orange parade.  A Bridgeton flute band had earlier marched through High Street towards the Garngad trailed by ‘a large and disorderly mob’ and it was these followers who attacked the church on the return to Bridgeton.  Such attacks would prove commonplace for decades to come – and were often met with violent responses.

Sectarian violence in Bridgeton was at its worse in the 1920s and ‘30s.  Developments such as the decision to bring Catholic schools into the state sector in 1918 and the creation of the Irish Free State four years later fuelled anti-Catholic resentment which was exploited by political organisations such as the Scottish Protestant League (SPL).  Led by the notorious Alexander Ratcliffe – who later publicly declared himself a fascist following a visit to Nazi Germany in 1939 – the SPL campaigned for the repatriation of Irish immigrants and repeal of Section 18 of the 1918 Education (Scotland) Act, arguing it was tantamount to ‘Rome on the Rates’.  In 1931 Ratcliffe was elected to the Glasgow Corporation to represent Dennistoun and another SPL candidate won the Dalmarnock seat.  In Glasgow’s municipal elections in 1933 the PLT secured 68,000 votes – 22% of the total amount cast – and won seven seats, despite (or because of) the virulent anti-Catholic policies they pursued.  The sectarian divisions regularly manifested in street violence at this time due to another social dynamic that had a uniquely Glasgow dimension:  razor gangs.

 

 

LEAVING THEIR MARK:  GANGS OF BRIDGETON

Glasgow street gangs were not a new phenomenon but their size and influence scaled new heights in the era between the wars.  The largest and most notorious gang was the Protestant-only Billy Boys who were based at Bridgeton Cross.  The Billy Boys were also an Orange flute band and had a separate juvenile division, known as the Derry Boys.   Their acknowledged leader was Billy Fullerton, born in the Calton in 1906, and one story claims that he started the gang after a football match against a team called Kent Star on Glasgow Green in 1924 led to him being subject to a fierce hammer attack.  Kent Star were in fact a Catholic gang from the Calton, who with their co-religionists in the Calton Entry, would be regular conflict with the Billy Boys (who at one point had a membership in excess of 800).   The Billy Boys had enemies even closer to home than the Calton.  The Evening Citizen reported in March 1926 that the Billy Boys had been in clashes at Bridgeton Cross with a rival ‘Fenian’ gang – the Norman Conks.

Taking their name from their base in Norman Street in the centre of the area known as Glengarry, the Norman Conks (short for Conquerors) were renowned for their willingness to confront the larger Protestant gang throughout Bridgeton and in defence of their Catholic enclave.  There were other Catholic gangs in Bridgeton at this time also.  The Savoy Arcadians gathered in the area of Main Street directly behind Sacred Heart Church (on the street where the kitchen for the Poor Children’s Dinner Table was set up) while the Shanley Boys claimed Dale Street (named after the industrialist of the previous century) as their territory.

The start of the Norman Conks territory in Glengarry was marked by large green shamrocks which survived years after the tenements came down.  The rivalry between the Conks and the Billy Boys was intense and the violence fierce.  Some reports claim that the Conks turned up at Billy Fullerton’s wedding reception in 1926 and carried out a bottle attack on those in attendance.  Earlier the same year thirty members of the Conks attacked a group of Billy Boys at their usual meeting point at Bridgeton Toll (next to the railway station), with one victim suffering a broken skull due to a hammer blow.  One of the Conks was caught carrying a bayonet which he later claimed in court was a necessary means of defence as, as one newspaper reported, ‘the Billy Boys had already come after him several times.’ 

 shamrock-grafitti-in-glengarry-corner-of-french-street-and-old-dalmarnock-road

Norman Conks territory:  a shamrock painted on the corner of French Street and Dora Street

 

Extortion of local businesses and theft were common means for the East End gangs to raise funds.  Street violence however was their real currency and some gang members were happy to display their allegiance by showing green or blue handkerchiefs in their suit jackets.  The Billy Boys did not restrict their attentions to local Catholic gangs.  The proximity of Celtic Park afforded them the opportunity to widen the scope of their attacks.  Bridgeton train station was the scene of an ambush in March 1934 as Celtic fans were passing through on an away visit to Love Street in Paisley.  Using a waiting group of Rangers fans as cover, a couple of Billy Boys jumped on the train and attacked two Celtic fans, one of whom was slashed with either a knife or a razor.  The principal attacker – a leading Billy Boy called John Traquair who had a previous conviction for attacking a Shanley Boy with a hatchet – was jailed for four years for the premeditated attack.

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The Billy Boys flute band – Billy Fullerton behind the drum

 

In 2008, the Glasgow comedian Janey Godley was surprised to come across a surviving Norman Conk – her friend’s elderly Aunt Katie.   Female members had been a common feature of the Glasgow gangs yet it was a shock when the sprightly old lady, who grew up in Norman Street, confessed to throwing petrol bombs at the Billy Boys in her youth.  In one candid remark, the former gang member said: “I once threw a hammer at one big bastard who battered a priest when I was 15.”  Her justification for involvement in street violence was straightforward: “They (the Protestants) thought they owned the place, but we showed them.” 

Gang violence in the East End was not always focused on sectarian lines.  The Catholic gangs of Bridgeton did not always act in unison.  A fall out between the Norman Conks and Shanley Boys in 1936 led to a two year-long feud which was peppered by violent clashes between Dale Street and Glengarry.  Sometimes gang violence was turned against their own.  Jurgis Stankawicus – known as Stankie – was a former pupil of Sacred Heart school born of Lithuanian parents who was a member of the Savoy Arcadians.  A dispute arose in October 1936 about his apparent association with two members of the Billy Boys, leading in turn to a fight – during which he was beaten to death with a poker and a knife by fellow members of the Aracadians.

shamrock-on-norman-street-norman-conks

Norman Conks relax on Poplin Street in the 1960s in front of IRA grafitti 

 

The extremely violent nature of the street confrontations between the Bridgeton gangs was illustrated by Glasgow’s Chief Constable in the 1930s, Percy Sillitoe, who would later become the Head of MI5.  In his biography, Cloak Without Dagger, he described the scenes in Glengarry when the Billy Boys with accompanying flute band would attempt to march down Norman Street on Catholic holy days of obligation:

As soon as the distant strains of his offensive music were heard by the Conks, they manned all upper windows, and even the roofs in their street, and when the Billy Boys’ band tried to march past, it was met with a downpour of bricks, missiles, buckets of filth, and broken glass.  If the Norman Conks could have made boiling lead, I am sure they would not have hesitated to use that too. It was certainly all that would have been needed to complete the picture of a medieval siege.

 

Parish life at Sacred Heart was far from normal during this period.  Street processions were a common feature of Catholic communities then, especially in May when children would be making their first communion.  The academic Andrew Davies, author of City of Gangs – Glasgow and the Rise of the British Gangster, noted that for Sacred Heart parishioners in the 1920s and ‘30s “the processions, headed by a pipe band, invariably aroused the ire of the Billy Boys.”  In May 1929 a Sacred Heart Boys Guild procession from St. Andrew’s Halls in the city centre found their passage along London Road blocked by a contingent of Billy Boys.  Norman Conks had accompanied the procession and, according to a 15 year old boy whose leg was stabbed in the subsequent melee:  “The whole crossing was in an uproar.  Gangsters were struggling on the ground and kicking and slashing at each other.” 

 

Catholic church processions in Bridgeton down the years

 

There were similar scenes four years later when a 600-strong grouping of Billy Boys charged from Bridgeton Cross to attack another Catholic procession as it neared Sacred Heart Church, with a police officer giving this description of events: “Orange handkerchiefs were raised, bayonets flourished and stones and bottles thrown.”  Later the same evening, the parish priest at Sacred Heart pleaded with a group of over 200 Catholic youths to abandon plans for a revenge attack.  The priest had earlier denied allegations that the League of the Cross Hall on Muslin Street acted as an informal headquarters for one Bridgeton’s Catholic gangs.  The hall was had previously been subject to attack by the Billy Boys in 1931 when they “hurled volleys of bottles and pieces of metal at the windows.”

The same hall was to again feature in the local newspapers in 1936 when a number of Derry Boys were jailed following another attack on the premises.  The Derry Boys had by that time assumed the mantle of the pre-eminent Protestant gang in the city from the Billy Boys and were regularly in conflict with both rival gangs and police.  Three of the gang had been jailed in 1934 for smashing the windows of Sacred Heart school.  The summer of 1936 was to surpass the violence of previous years however.  As was common, disturbances followed the annual Twelfth of July memorial parade but these intensified after one of the Catholic gangs disrupted a local funeral.  The Derry Boys attacked the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) Hall in the Calton and followed this up with midweek parades in the evenings, stretching police resources as these parades came under attack from the Conks and other gangs.

The judiciary and police decided that concerted action was required to bring the gang warfare to an end.  Their principal target was the Derry Boys and a trap was set in early August 1936 when the Derry Boys complete with flute band and supporters, altogether numbering excess of 500, left Bridgeton Cross one Friday evening, heading along London Road in the direction of Celtic Park.  A short distance along the road they were met with a small contingent of police who commanded the march to stop.  Realising that they heavily outnumbered the police, the Derry Boys attacked – mostly with bottles and stones although one police officer was assaulted with a spear.  The gang hadn’t realised they had walked into an ambush.  Dozens of officers were hiding in furniture vans parked in Davaar Street and they set upon the marchers with the help of additional officers on horseback (referred to in the press at the time as ‘Sillitoe’s Cossacks’).  Despite allegations of police brutality, 20 of the 24 Derry Boys arrested that night were given heavy prison sentences.  The gang’s leaders were arrested in the days that followed the London Road ambush and soon followed their cohorts to jail.  The clampdown was truly underway.

 

THUNDER IN MY HEART 

The power and influence of the infamous razor gangs waned as a result of focused police actions and increased jail sentences as well as the intervention of World War 2.  Post-war Bridgeton was a changing place.  The school which Brother Walfrid founded continued to prosper and in the 1960s the Sacred Heart football team which he initiated had two would-be stars in its midst.  Future Celt Vic Davidson, who grew up in Ruby Street, became part of the famed Quality Street Gang (of the non-violent kind), Celtic’s reserve team of the late 1960s, and would go on to score 22 goals in 66 appearances during two spells at Celtic Park.  Frankie Miller, who was also an altar boy at Sacred Heart Church, would go on to find much greater fame away from the football field as a blues singer (and songwriter) of international renown.

frankie-miller-and-sacred-heart-football-team-inc-vic-davidson

The Sacred Heart  team –  in the back row Vic Davidson (far left) and Frankie Miller (far right)

 

Born in 1949, Francis John Miller grew up in Glengarry’s Colvend Street and has been a Celtic fan throughout his life (he once wore a Celtic top gifted to him by Jimmy Johnstone on stage every night of a US tour).  Writing songs from the age of nine, Frankie started singing in bars in the East End and first came to the public’s attention with the band The Stoicks.  His raspy, full-throated soulful voice came to prominence after he moved to London in 1971 and he recorded a number of hit songs before moving to the States in the 1980s and wrote a number of songs for Holywood film soundtractks.  When pals would ask him why he was back in Glasgow he would usually reply: “To see Celtic and ma mammy.”  This was despite the fact his maternal grandfather was Archie Kyle, one of the few Roman Catholics to play for Rangers and Linfield in the early 1900s.

Image result for Frankie Miller

Frankie Miller -on stage in his prime

 

Best known for his cover version of ‘Caledonia’ which was a big success in 1992, Frankie has also written two fine songs dedicated to his beloved Celtic: ‘The JJ Man’ about his friend and hero Jinky (as is, allegedly, the song ‘Drunken Nights In The City’!) as well as ‘The Loudest Roar’, celebrating Celtic’s 1967 European Cup triumph:

There’s a thunder in my heart that I learned long ago

And it captures every part of my soul

And when I saw those lights a-calling me from way across the shore

That’s when I heard the Loudest Roar

 

 

 

Through the 1950s and ‘60s the streets of Glengarry remained a resolutely Celtic area.  The Bridgeton Emmet Celtic Supporters Club was based in Mitchell’s Bar on Norman Street. In the 1990s Celtic fan Robert McAulay recalled his father, another Glengarry son, telling him of the party in Mitchell’s Bar on the night Celtic beat Rangers by the record-breaking scoreline of 7-1 in the 1957 League Cup Final:

The celebrations lasted as long as the licensing laws would allow and then it was off to ‘The Hut’, a dancehall just along the street.  And before my dad realised it, his ten bob from selling the match programmes was gone!  As my dad explained, a victory such as this was once-in-a-lifetime and ensured that the vast majority of Celtic fans had, for a short time, an escape from the miserable social conditions that were their existence.  In 1957 he still lived with his mother and five brothers in relative poverty in a room and kitchen with an outside toilet.

 

csa-bridgeton-patch

Bridgeton Celtic supporters’ patch

 

Celtic fans had to ensure seven long years without any silverware between 1958 and 1965.  Victory over Dunfermline in the 1965 Scottish Cup Final under new manager Jock Stein  sparked scenes of joy at Hampden and beyond.  The Celtic team bus was mobbed that day as it made its way through the Gorbals on the way back from Hampden and these scenes were repeated in Bridgeton.  After crossing the Clyde the celebrating Celts made their way past Glengarry and up Dunn Street to the junction at London Road before turning right towards Celtic Park.  A photo taken outside the Waverley Bar, at the junction between Dunn Street and Bernard Street, shows the bus struggling to make its way through a throng of hundreds of cheering supporters.  It was another memorable moment of celebration for the Bridgeton Emmet CSC in their own neighbourhood.

 

celtic-team-bus-1965-at-the-waverley-bar-bridgeton

 

The district of Bridgeton itself has maintained a strong Orange identity through to the present day.  Loyalist bars predominate at Bridgeton Cross and the 1995 murder of 16 year-old Celtic fan Mark Scott outside one of those pubs demonstrated that sectarian violence is not an historical phenomenon.  The parish of Sacred Heart has continued on and, despite occasional attacks on church property, as has been the case throughout its history,  the church is one of the few surviving places of worship in Bridgeton in the new millenium.

sacred-heart-church-banner-2016

Sacred Heart Church today

The school which Brother Walfrid founded almost a century and a half ago remains a success story.  The modern Sacred Heart Primary School is a thriving community itself  with a large roll of pupils from a multitude of backgrounds and ethnicities and it is now the largest school in the district.   There is no reference in the building to the school’s notable first head-teacher or the incredible venture that was the Poor Children’s Dinner Tables,  established to encourage more children to attend school and help lift this originally Highland and latterly Irish community off its knees.  The focus is firmly on the educational and spiritual needs of the youth of the parish and few who attend are aware of the connection between the school and one of the world’s biggest football clubs.

 

Sacred Heart Primary School and adjoining Church in 2016

 

 

GLENGARRY NO MORE

Today, the streets around Glengarry are largely silent.  The tenements which housed thousands upon thousands of Glaswegians in Bridgeton, Dalmarnock and Calton have been swept away.  The East End experienced massive de-population in the 1970s and ‘80s alongside the decline of many local industries and businesses.  The streets around Glengarry gradually became deserted and after years of dilapidation the bulldozers finally moved in.

 

States of disrepair – Webster Street and Swanston Street

 

The Glengarry Bar, at the corner of French Street and Carstairs Street, is long gone.  A few industrial buildings have survived including the massive cotton spinning mill on Carstairs Street, built between 1884-1889, which still dominates the area.  There are no indications of the presence of those Highlanders who set up home in these streets over two centuries ago – other than the re-emergence of Glengarry Park, once again visible following land clearances between Swanston Street, Adelphi Street and French Street.

 

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Glengarry Park, home to Brother Walfrid’s original teams – 2016

 

From the edge of Glengarry Park it is possible to see the modern Celtic Park looming on the horizon, one of the prominent landmarks in the East End skyline nowadays.  Norman Street still stands – but the Conks have long gone.  (Perhaps just as well as a large Police Scotland building now stands at the edge of their old territory on the riverside).

norman-street-sign-2

 

The streets of Glengarry are slowly changing character once again as a result of a large-scale regeneration project undertaken in the East End before and after the Commonwealth Games, under the banner ‘Building the Legacy.’  The new Clyde Gateway now splits Bartholomew Street from the heart of Glengarry while linking Celtic Park and the Emirates Arena to Shawfield and the nearby M77 motorway.  The area looks better than it has for years but there is a distinct absence of homes and people.

As you drive past what remains of Glengarry on your supporters’ bus or car after a game at Celtic Park, spare a thought for the community that once lived here and the struggles they endured.  Our world-famous football club stems from this parish and the people who lived and worked on these streets – from Father MacDonell to Frankie Miller, from the street-savvy gangsters to the Gaelic-speaking Highlanders, Hugh MacDonald to Brother Walfrid – built a legacy that demonstrates the true meaning of the popular Celtic phrase ‘faithful through and through.’

———-

 (c) The Shamrock 2016 

 

Glengarry – 2016

 

Bartholomew Street

 bartholomew-street-2016

Savoy Street – where the Poor Children’s Dinner Tables were founded

 

 

 Celtic Park – as viewed from Glengarry Park

 dsc00176

 – – – – –

Thanks to GilleRuadh on the CelticMinded forum for this link about the one of the last original Gaelic speakers among the Glengarry community in Ontario:

http://www.electricscotland.com/history/canada/mcdonald_alec.htm

 – – – – –

Read more Celtic retro pieces in our magazine:  The Shamrock

Issue 3 out now!  

£3 digital; £4 by post 

On sale at Celtic Park at the Kilmarnock and Man City games

sham-3-cover

Issues 1 and 2

Available here, in print or digital format:  https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/magazine/

Covers of Issue 1and 2 together small

The Decider

 The Decider  header

Nothing wracks the nerves of a football fan quite as much as a closely fought Championship run-in.  In living memory, Celtic have been involved in some nail-biting end-of-season encounters in April and May.  Some have ended in utter anguish while others – especially last day victories such as Love Street in 1986, Stopping the Ten in 1998 and the Tannadice party in 2008 – will evoke joyful memories until this mortal coil is finally shaken off.

 

Season 1904-5 was different.  It was worse, much worse, from a supporter’s perspective.  Willie Maley, Celtic’s young manager, later referred to the League campaign of that season as “the great tug-of-war”.  It would prove to have a finale unlike any other before or since.  For the first and only time in Celtic’s history the League title was decided by one game: a winner-takes-all play-off at Hampden.

 

 

A NEW APPROACH

In the summer of 1904 Willie Maley was a man under pressure.  The club had embarked years earlier on a youth and scouting policy designed to ensure that talent would be nurtured rather than bought.  This was a major departure in approach from the club’s first decade when huge attendances helped fund significant under-the-counter wages and latterly transfer fees to bring in the best players from Scotland and England.  By developing players from an early age and picking the best from the junior ranks, Maley – with former team-mates James Kelly and Mick Dunbar on the club’s board – were also attempting to develop a particular style of football based on a strong defence but which emphasised swift passing and attacking, free-flowing play.

 

The problem with any youth policy is the time it takes to bed in – there was a yawning gap of six years since Celtic had last won the League flag, the season that Maley had taken charge of team affairs.  It was now time to deliver, the support would not tolerate continued failure to return the League flag to Celtic Park.  Maley could point to the fact that the average age of his squad was just 22 and they had –  just a few short months earlier – secured the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1900 in a remarkable final against Rangers at Hampden.  Despite going 2-0 down in just ten minutes and before a then record attendance of 64,323, the young Celts didn’t buckle.  Instead, one of Maley’s starlets announced his arrival on the big stage in unforgettable style.

 

Two goals before half-time and a third 10 minutes from the end meant Jimmy Quinn’s hat-trick won the cup for Celtic – a feat which would not be equalled until Dixie Deans against Hibernian in the 1972 Final.  The Croy bhoy was only played at centre-forward because Alec Bennett was withdrawn (it later transpired he had been ‘tapped up’ by Rangers).  Moving Quinn to the central position proved a Maley masterstroke.  The Celtic comeback demonstrated that his team were a match for Rangers – at least in a one-off tie.  Whether they could sustain a challenge over a whole season was another matter.  It was make-or-break time for Maley and his squad of raw recruits.

 

THE EMERGING RIVALRY

Celtic’s main challengers in Season 1904-5 were a relatively new force in Scottish football.  While Queen’s Park had dominated the game north of the border since the 1870s, Celtic’s arrival on the scene in 1888 – and the subsequent introduction of professionalism – heralded the end of the amateur team’s glory period.  Reaching the final in the club’s first-ever season, the Scottish Cup came to rest at Celtic Park in 1892.    In contrast, success had long eluded their emerging rivals -Rangers – despite being one of Scotland’s earliest football clubs.  Their nomadic early years had seen them move from Glasgow Green to various sites in the West End and ultimately the South Side of Glasgow where a base was established in the Ibrox district of Govan.  It took Rangers two decades to win Scotland’s premier competition.   (That is why the name of ‘Rangers’ does feature on the Scottish Cup itself – only on the base).

 

After winning the League for the first time in 1893, Celtic went on to dominate with three further titles in the next five years.  Rangers had shared the first-ever League title with Dumbarton in 1891 but did not win it again until 1899.  The Ibrox club won four titles in succession from that point, setting a new benchmark and establishing themselves as a leading club for the first time – and principal challengers in the Scottish game to Celtic.

 

Celtic had initially developed a rivalry with the widely-acknowledged ‘establishment club’ Queen’s Park and early matches between had been fiercely fought and there were a number of controversies over refereeing decisions that caused bad blood to develop.  There was also a clear division in identity.  Although Celtic were commonly referred to as “the Irish combination” or “the Irishmen” in the media (as had been Hibernian before them), the ethnic distinction between the Irish club and Queen’s Park was highlighted by the headline of the match report in the September 1889 sports newspaper Scottish Referee: ‘Celt v Saxon’.  As the challenge of Queen’s Park began to fall away, it was seen desirable by many at the time that a ‘purely’ Scottish club rise up to challenge the Irish upstarts from Glasgow’s East End.

 

Towards the end of the 1890s it became increasingly apparent to Celtic and onlookers where the new challenge would come from.  Up until season 1904-5 Celtic and Rangers had met frequently in finals and other ties and the competition between the two clubs was growing in intensity.  The print media was instrumental in promoting the emerging rivalry between the two Glasgow clubs and cartoons were the primary vehicle used to convey issues and identities to the large readerships.

 

The weekly Scottish Referee was the most influential sports newspaper in Scotland at the turn of the 20th century.  The daily newspapers paid little attention to football but the Referee and its rival the Scottish Sport increasingly focused on the game and the thousands who were developing an avid interest in it.  That these publications were influential can be gauged from looking at one key issue affecting football at the time.  The frequency of encounters between Celtic and Rangers – and particularly replays – encouraged the idea of a conspiracy between the two clubs to inflate the proceeds from ever-increasing match takings, which the media happily promoted.

 

Patronise THE OLD FIRM Cartoon Scottish Referee 1904

In 1904 the Scottish Referee had written that “we have a notion that the clubs themselves and the public, not to mention ourselves, would like to see them less often, and less seldom monopolise.”   The monopoly was referred in a cartoon in the Referee as ‘The Old Firm’ and, over a century on, this is a label which the Scottish media (now in various forms) persevere with to this day even after the liquidation of Rangers in 2012.  (Celtic fans had been resistant to the use of the tag long before that happy event and the club have, in its official publications and statements, refrained from using the label for a number of years.)

 

As season 1904-5 developed, with both teams vying for the League flag, cartoons were increasingly used to dramatise the unfolding battle between Celtic and Rangers.  Some of them contained imagery which reflected the Celt/Saxon division originally applied to Celtic and Queen’s Park, with Rangers taking the place of the amateur team.  The characterisation of Celtic players – and by extension their supporters – was unfavourably reminiscent of anti-Irish caricatures from an earlier age in British print media.  They reflected – and in the minds of some encouraged – an ethnic distinction between the clubs whose rivalry would develop in the next two decades into one of the greatest in world football.

 

 

THE ‘GREAT TUG OF WAR’ GETS UNDERWAY

Celtic started season 1904-5 in great form with a 5-0 victory over Partick Thistle Firhill in August quickly followed with a 4-1 win away to Port Glasgow (at this time it was 2 points for a win, 1 point for a draw).  The impressive start soon faded though with a defeat and a draw to Hearts in September meaning three points lost.  A boost in Celtic morale came when they faced Rangers for the first time that season in the Glasgow Cup Final on the 8th October, before a crowd of 55,000 at Hampden.  (At this time both the Glasgow and Charity Cups were still considered majored competitions in Scottish football).

 

A 2-1 victory was secured “by an all round exhibition of pluck and determined play.”  The first major honour of the season was Celtic’s but when the same teams met a week later at Celtic Park in their first League encounter it was Rangers who emerged happier after a hard-fought 2-2 draw.  Maley could take heart from defeat having been avoided and his team then went on an unbeaten run in the League from mid-September through to the year’s end.

 

At the beginning of December 1904 the Scottish Referee reported “Celtic and Rangers still keep each other close company and the race between the two for the championship is most exciting.”  Four wins and a draw in December left Celtic four points clear at the top of the League (having played one more game).  All eyes were now fixed on the next meeting between the two scheduled for Ibrox on the 1st January.  A win would give Celtic a significant lead in the race for the League title.

 

In the Balance  cartoon  cleaned

 

The peculiar feature of that New Year’s Day game is that it often isn’t recorded in listings of that season’s games even though the match took place.  Interest in the fixture was at fever pitch and this was reflected in the attendance.  The Scotsman reported that Ibrox held “about the largest crowd that ever witnessed the encounters between these clubs.”  It estimated that 60,000 were in the ground when the teams took to the field – but not for long.  A gate was forced and The Scotsman estimated that “between 10,000 and 15,000 persons thus got in without paying admission.”  With over 70,000 crammed in, the terracings could not contain the crowd and hundreds ended up watching the game pitch-side.  The crowd for this Scottish League game had surpassed that which usually attended the Scottish Cup Final – a sign that the times were changing.

 

The result of the massive crowd squeezed into Ibrox was that “the game assumed a farcical order” with constant stoppages.  Twenty-five minutes into the second-half, with the score still tied at 0-0, the referee “was reluctantly forced to order the players to the pavilion and abandon the game.”

 

Writing over three decades later, Willie Maley recalled that the game had to be stopped “because the crowd, breaking in, made play impossible.”  However the atmosphere the game was played in was by no means unpleasant, as this story of Maley regarding Celtic forward Peter Somers – a noted joker in the team – reveals:

As the players pressed their way to the pavilion through a seething mass of humanity, bottles and flasks in profusion were offered so that they could drink to the New Year in the usual Scottish way.  Of course, all offers were declined.  But in the dressing room Peter had something to say.  “Good heavens, what a chance to miss.  If some o‘ you blokes could on some pretence or ither ha’e ta’en the manager” – meaning myself – “oot o’ the wey for a wee, I could ha’e got enough tae start a pub.”  And Peter glanced at his pals disapprovingly.  “But here Peter,” said wee Davie Hamilton, “ye couldna ha’e carried the booze awa’.”  “Am nae speakin’ aboot booze,” snapped Somers.  And scorn was in his voice.  “I’m thinkin’ about the pennies on the bottles.  Didn’t I ha’e tae decline as mony as wid ha’e made me rich?!”

 

Maley’s hopes that his team could deliver a decisive blow in the title race were dashed.  That disappointment deepened two days later with an unexpected 3-2 defeat at home to Airdrie while Rangers won comfortably at Firhill, 4-1.

 

On the 14th January Celtic travelled to Dens Park while Rangers played Motherwell at home.  The Scottish Referee cartoon illustrated how the two clubs were fishing for points at the side of the respective rivers – and was the first to incorporate a crude stereotype much loved by certain areas of the British press:

 

The Rival Fishers  cartoon

 

A 2-1 loss to Dundee, coupled with a narrow 3-2 victory for Rangers, meant that Celtic were seriously faltering in the title race at a crucial stage.  At the end of January the lead over Rangers had been reduced two points – and Celtic had played 2 more games.  On the 3rd February the view of the Scottish Referee, with Celtic sitting on 35 points to Rangers’ 33, was that “the Championship is confined to Rangers and Celtic, and the slightest slip on the part of one will give the flag to the other.”

 

Scottish Referee   Celtic v Rangers  Snooker cartoon  Irish bogman

 

Celtic only had three League games left to play which Rangers had five.  Cup competitions were given prominence over League fixtures during this period which meant delays in concluding the League programme, especially when replays were necessary.  Celtic’s position at least was clear:  win the remaining three games and they could not be overtaken to the title.

 

This was no easy task for Maley’s team however.  Of the three games remaining one was at home (Morton) and the other two away:  Fir Park and Ibrox (the abandoned New Year’s Day game).  The Greenock team were comfortably beaten 5-2 which meant Celtic returned to Ibrox on the 18th February with the two-point lead over Rangers intact.  What happened that day would be crucial in determining the outcome of Celtic’s season.

 

On the Eve  Scottish Referee  Celtic Rangers cartoon  St Mungo

 

It was not a day for the faint-hearted.  The Glasgow Herald reported that “A fearful storm of wind and rain prevailed through the whole game.”  This undoubtedly affected the attendance as a crowd of 25,000 – less than half of that which had viewed the abandoned game in January – watched on as Rangers won the toss and opted to play with the strong wind behind them in the first half.  This appeared a wise move as Celtic keeper Davie Adams was quickly called into action, foiling four different attempts on goal in the early stages.  Celtic survived the early onslaught thanks to the Dunipace man in goal and it was their turn to go on the front foot, as The Scotsman reported: “Celtic imparted a dash into their work which delighted their supporters and completely enervated the home defence.  Quinn, Hamilton and Bennett led on the attack in fine style and it was but fitting that they should open the scoring, Quinn diverting a square pass from Bennett into the net.”

 

Having taken the lead ten minutes before half-time, Celtic now had to soak up more pressure.  From kick-off a Rangers attack ended up with Adams pushing the ball onto the woodwork and defender McLeod having to clear the ball away.  This was nerve-wracking stuff.  Just a few minutes later though and it was all square after Kyle slotted the ball past Adams, leaving him no chance.  The teams left the field at the interval with the score tied at 1-1 although Celtic had the consolation of knowing they would have the wind behind them when they returned.  It was to prove a whirlwind forty-five minutes.

 

The Herald described Celtic full frontal attack at the outset of the second half in these terms: “With the wind in their favour the visitors quickly became very aggressive and, after Sinclair’s goal had ran many narrow escapes, Quinn scored.”  Yet again, The Croy Express proved his worth to Maley in the centre-forward position.  Celtic had a goal advantage but more than that, they now had belief – in stark contrast to their opponents: “From this point to the end of the game the Rangers played like a beaten team” according to the Herald’s reporter.  Celtic kicked up a storm.  Davie Hamilton made it 3-1 to the Celts and it was ‘The Dancer’ again who scored a fourth soon after.  Celtic had routed their main challengers in their own backyard.  “Seldom have the Light Blues given such a mediocre display” was the unforgiving comment of The Scotsman. 

 

With confidence supremely high, Celtic went to Fir Park in their last League game a week later and trounced Motherwell 6-2 – with the mighty Quinn grabbing a hat-trick (he would end the season as Celtic’s top scorer with 19 goals in just 22 League appearances).  Celtic had amassed 41 points from 26 games.  Rangers were sitting six points behind with three games still to play.  They saw off Port Glasgow convincingly at home, winning 5-1, and the points difference reduced to four.  They now had to play Morton both home and away and required to win both games to catch Celtic.  Before those games could be played though there was the small matter of a Scottish Cup semi-final to play – at Celtic Park.

 

Celtic had home advantage as both teams chased the first ever League and Cup Double in Scottish football history.  Celtic also had one-eye on a potential clean sweep of silverware, with the Glasgow Cup having already been won and the Charity Cup still to be played.  That dream died on the 25th April 1905 though.  Celtic were two goals down and trying desperately to get back into the tie when Jimmy Quinn was alleged to have struck his direct opponent Craig – and was sent off.  The Celtic players protested, convinced that no actual offence had taken place.  The obvious injustice sent the Celtic support into a rage and hundreds flooded on to the park in protest and the referee was physically attacked.  The semi-final required to be abandoned following the on-pitch chaos and Celtic quickly conceded the tie.  Even though Craig testified at a subsequent SFA hearing that Quinn had not assaulted him it made no difference – Quinn was banned from playing for a month.  The League was still not finally settled and Quinn’s ban could yet prove crucial in preventing Celtic from taking the flag.

 

The mood of the Celtic support did not improve a week later when Rangers easily overcame Morton 5-0 at Ibrox.  They now required victory in Greenock to equal Celtic’s points tally at the top of the League.  Again though, the Scottish Cup took precedence.  At Hampden on 8th April 1905, a dour no-score draw was played out between Rangers and Third Lanark. This meant a further delay in the outstanding Morton tie being played.  In the Scottish Cup Final replay on 15th April the Warriors pulled off a surprise with an impressive 3-1 win, denying Rangers the chance of the ‘Double’.

 

The Victor   Third Lanark bt Rangers in the SCF

 

It was 29th April before Rangers travelled to Cappielow.  Almost two months had now passed since Celtic’s last League game against Motherwell.  The long, drawn-out nature of the League saga was being reflected in the crowds – supporters were losing interest.  Only 3,000 turned up to watch Rangers beat Morton 2-0 and finally catch up with Celtic.  The League Championship was now tied with each team on 41 points.

 

 

THE DECIDER

Until 1920, the Scottish Football League made no provision for a Championship to be decided either on goal difference or goal average when teams finished the season on equal points at the top.  Rangers had a goal difference of +18 and if either of those systems were in play at the time then they would have been crowned Champions.  Instead, both teams were required to play a one-off deciding tie at Hampden Park.  This truly was a decider in every sense.

 

Although the play-off rule had been in place since the League started in 1890, it had only been invoked once – in that very first season when Dumbarton and Rangers finished in joint first place.  That Hampden play-off ended all square at 2-2 and the League administrators decided, in their infinite wisdom, that rather than have a replay the two clubs would simply share the honour of the being Champions.  It would be very different in 1905.

 

Arrangements were hastily made after Rangers’ win at Greenock.  Celtic and Rangers were due to play the following Saturday in a Glasgow League fixture, a largely forgotten summer tournament.  It was decided to change the venue of the tie to Hampden – and to double it up as a Championship play-off.  Because of the lengthy delay in settling matters, Jimmy Quinn was now free of suspension and could play in the deciding tie.  This must have pleased the SFA (and Rangers) no end.

 

The Celtic team that ran out at Hampden on this never-to-be-repeated occasion was Adams; Watson and Orr; McNair, Loney and Hay; Bennett, McMenemy, Quinn, Somers and Hamilton.  Both teams were greeted by a noisy crowd on the terracing as the Referee reported: “There was no mistaking the enthusiasm of the spectators who exerted a vast amount of lung power in encouraging their favourites.”  The stage was set for the winner-takes-all encounter.

 

Having lost the toss Celtic played with a breeze behind them in the first half.  The forward line was quick to apply pressure, helping Celtic to monopolise the early play.  It was RS McColl though – known as ‘Toffee Bob’ and who at the time owned the first of what would become a nationwide chain of newsagent shops – who had the first clear-cut chance for Rangers, trying to beat Adams with a strong shot which the Celtic last-liner was equal to.  Jimmy McMenemy, Celtic’s ‘Napoleon’, was the next to threaten with a “fast shot from the penalty line” which Sinclair foiled.  Celtic launched a series of attacks, most of which resulted in offside calls “which were none too well received by a section of the crowd.”  Jimmy Quinn became increasingly prominent with a number of long-range shots and then, in a role reversal, he went on a dodging run on the left wing and set up Alex Bennet for a header which he failed to convert.  The Scotsman said of the first half: “Of the goalkeepers, Sinclair had perhaps more to do than Adams, but at the interval neither side had scored.”

 

It was – in the truest sense – all to play for at the start of the second half.  The entire League season had come down to forty-five minutes.  Celtic made the early running: “The Parkhead forwards resumed with the same dash as had characterised their work in the first half.”  Sinclair foiled Quinn after “clever work” by Celtic’s inside men.  Celtic’s forward line were knitting well together and forcing Rangers on to the back foot.  Twenty minutes into the second and after several “splendid attempts” the deadlock was broken.  Pouncing on a mistake by a Rangers defender, Jimmy McMenemy fired a shot past Sinclair from a difficult angle – and Celtic were in the lead!

 

The Celtic support celebrated wildly – and with good reason according to The Scotsman: “The cheering and excitement which greeted this success was only equally by that which followed a couple of minutes later, when, following a corner, Sinclair was beaten for the second time by a deceptive shot from Hamilton from the vicinity of the corner flag, the keeper striking the ball against the inside of the post.”  Two- nil to the Bhoys!

 

It was no surprise that wee Davie Hamilton, known to the Celtic fans as The Dancer, would have them jigging with joy on the terracings.  His quick thinking in striking the ball from the corner flag had flummoxed the Rangers keeper, forcing him to fumble the ball off the post and in to the net.  After a long, drawn-out campaign, the glittering prize was hovering into view for Willie Maley and his men.

 

The second half was now at its mid-point.  With a two goal cushion Celtic could afford to ease back on the attacks and concentrate on retaining possession.  If that was the plan it was soon thrown into disarray as Robertson converted a pass from McColl past Adams to make it 2-1.  The young Celts now required to hold their collective nerve.  Captain Willie Orr, the only survivor from the 1898 Title-winning team, led by example.  The Scottish Referee noted that after their goal “the Ibrox men had the best of the exchanges and seemed likely to equalise, but the Parkhead middle line was excellent and prevented further disaster.”  Celtic had ‘keeper Adams to thank yet again when he superbly tipped the ball over the bar from a long-range free kick, preserving Celtic’s lead.  One match report stated “play was fast til the finish” and it was in the heat of battle that “Gourlay and Quinn came forcibly together.”  Few people came away from a Jimmy Quinn challenge feeling the better for it and the Rangers man had to retire ten minutes from the end (no substitutes were allowed at that time).

 

The final whistle blew – and Davie Hamilton was first to grab the match ball for himself.  He may have had an inkling that this was history in the making.  Celtic had won the Championship decider.  The season was finally at an end and the young Celtic squad had won the greatest prize on offer.  They wouldn’t stop there though.

 

Maley’s men won the League title the following season.  They did it again in season 1906-7 and won the Scottish Cup also, the first ever Scottish team to do the League and Cup ‘Double.’  Not satisfied with that accolade they went out and did the Double again the following season – and won two further League titles in succession.  ‘6 in a row!’ was the cry as Celtic dominated Scottish football in a way that had never been witnessed before.

 

The Scottish League marked Celtic’s achievement with a unique shield bearing the names of every Celtic player who played during the monumental run.  It continues to adorn the modern Celtic Park trophy room today.

 

 Celtic 6 in a row Scottish League shield

 

Willie Maley and the Celtic Board had been vindicated for pursuing their youth policy.  They had built a top-class team from players who came largely from the lower leagues and junior ranks.  The 6-in-a-row squad was forged in the fire of Season 1904-5.  They held their nerve through a series of high-pressure matches, matching Rangers blow-for-blow, holding onto their lead despite various and carrying it to Ibrox where they recorded a famous victory.  They then had to go again, after weeks of inaction, into a one-off decider to settle who would win the League.  Never again has the Scottish League been decided in this way.  The tension surrounding the winner-takes-all encounter must have been unbearable at times.  The young Celts withstood it all and triumphed.  At the end of the month of May they won the Charity Cup also – making it the club’s most successful season in over a decade.

 

As Willie Maley wrote in his book The Story of the Celtic published in 1939: “It was a victory worth waiting for, and accomplished under conditions which left no doubt in the minds of the public that it was the forerunner of many more.”

 

It would take Rangers a number of years to fully recover from the outcome of Season 1904-5.  The rivalry between the clubs grew in its intensity, undoubtedly fuelled by the negative connotations which the media tried to associate to Celtic’s Irish identity.  Celtic’s relationship with the Scottish media remains prickly to the present day.  In the season ahead it is undoubtedly the case that Scottish journalists will attempt to breathe new life into the tired ‘Old Firm’ label that they love so much now that newco Rangers have finally completed their long, much-delayed journey to the top flight of Scottish football.  While Celtic, under new manager Brendan Rodgers, chase the club’s 48th top title, various media cheerleaders will be right behind the new club’s attempt to win its first.   Plus ça change.

 

————————

 

 

POSTSCRIPT

It is curious that, the despite the significance of Season 1904-5 and its incredible finale, it rarely rates more than a passing mention in The Celtic Story.  The reasons for that appear to relate to the low-key atmosphere in which the season finished which, over a century on, is difficult to comprehend.  Just under 30,000 fans witnessed the Hampden play-off.  This is peculiar given that over 70,000 attended the abandoned game at Ibrox five months earlier as the Championship race was reaching its climax.   What had changed?

 

The answers can only be guessed at from this distance.  The Scottish Cup remained the most important tournament and took precedence in the fixture list – as did the other cup competitions – even though the League had been running for over a decade.  The Cup Final was also the established end to the football season – and there was certainly extensive criticism in the sporting press for the way that the League competition dragged on beyond the cup final through to May (when it would usually be finished in early March).  One cartoon made the point with an illustration of a child playing football being forced off the playing fields to make way for a cricketer:  summer was not the time for football. The governing bodies had also been hindered by the number of cup games (and replays) to be scheduled in an era when midweek matches were not held due to the absence of floodlights, which effectively meant football matches were only played on Saturday afternoons.

 

The Turn of the Cricketer  cartoon

 

Those same governing bodies though – the SFA and Scottish League –had allowed much of the excitement built up in the Title race to simply fizzle out (although the SFA were unlikely to have been too disappointed at the state of affairs, given that it reinforced the importance of their competition – the Scottish Cup – over the League’s).  Celtic’s last League game had been on 4th March, two full months before the deciding tie.  The League fixed the decider for a day when Queen’s Park were playing local rivals Third Lanark in the Glasgow League at Cathkin Park, just over the hill from Hampden.  This local south-side derby always attracted decent crowds and this undoubtedly impacted on the Hampden game’s attendance.  The shambolic and sorry conclusion to the football season couldn’t have been handled any worse if Messrs Regan and Doncaster were involved.  Many supporters, especially neutrals, simply lost interest as the league competition dragged on and on.

 

For Celtic though, the events of May 5th 1905 would prove a landmark in the club’s history, the starting point of its first truly golden era.

 


 

Celtic’s Squad of Season 1904-5

Here are the men who made a first team appearance that season for Celtic along with their position, age at the season’s start and previous club.

Celtic 1904-5  straight and revised

Alex Bennett/ Forward/ 22/ Rutherglen Glencairn

Finlay McLean/ Outside-Right/ 24/ Hamilton Accies

Jimmy Hay/ Left-half/ 23/ Glossop

Jimmy Young/ Right-half/ 22/ Bristol Rovers (free)

Donnie McLeod/ Full-back/ 22/ Stenhousemuir

Jimmy Quinn/ Centre-Forward/ 26/ Smithston Albion

Alec McNair/ Right-back/ 20/ Stenhousemuir Hearts

Willie Black/ Half-back/ 26/ Queen’s Park

Willie Orr/ Left-half/ 31/ Preston North End

Davie Adams/ Goalkeeper/ 21/ Dunipace Juniors

Peter Somers/ Inside-Left/ 26/ Hamilton Accies

Willie Loney/ Centre-Half/ 25/ Denny Athletic

Davie Hamilton/ Outside-Left/ 21/ Cambuslang Hibs

Hugh Watson/ Right-Back/ 21/ Trabboch Thistle

Jimmy McMenemy/ Inside-Left/ 23/ Rutherglen Glencairn

 


Issues 1 and 2 of THE SHAMROCK

Available for sale here:  Buy The Shamrock

Covers of Issue 1and 2 together small

 

 

 

Artur Boruc – The Holy Goalie

Celtic's goalkeeper Boruc grabs Rangers' Weir by the throat during their "Old Firm" Scottish Premier League soccer match in Glasgow, Scotland

Back in 2006, the Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc received a formal police caution in Glasgow after blessing himself at a match.  It was his established routine to pray and make the sign of the cross at the start of each half.  In February, in a game against Rangers at Ibrox, he blessed himself in the usual way – and in the usual way, the Huns went mental.  Bizarrely, it was Boruc rather than the bigots subjecting him to sectarian abuse, who were the subject of police action.

 

 

 

The caution didn’t stop him – he kept on blessing himself.  The Holy Goalie’s failure to back down further endeared him to the Celtic support.  Many considered himself to be the best ‘keeper at the club since Ronnie Simpson.  As well as sensational saves, his obvious dislike for Rangers and their support, his public declarations of faith and occasional stunts (like wearing a t-shirt at Ibrox with fellow Pole Pope John Paul II on it) all meant that the bold Boruc will long be remembered and loved by the faithful.

 

It is believed the chant in his tribute was dreamt up in The Black Cat, a Celtic bar in Greenock, after the consumption of generous amounts of a certain tonic wine.  It was soon taken up across the country.  Simple and straight to the point!

 

Oh-oh, Artur Boruc – the Holy Goalie

He Hates the Huns!

He blessed himself at Ibrox

And the Huns off went off their nuts

He’s off his fuckin’ rocker 

And he sings ‘God Bless the Pope’!

Here is the Holy Goalie joining in with the  song in the  title celebrations at Tannadice in 2008:

 

And  here’s Homer Simpson teaching the weans the song.  It is not known  if Police Scotland are seeking an extradition warrant . . .

 

Ready for some more Celtic songs and chants?  Fill yer boots by clicking here.

Seven-One (Another goal for Glasgow Celtic)

7-1fingers

 

The 19th October 1957.  The Scottish League Cup Final.  The record victory in any senior British cup final.

Celtic fans have been singing about the legendary 7-1 scoreline for over five decades – and will always do so.  This humiliation of the old Rangers can never be bettered.  And this is one of the best songs about Hampden In The Sun, to the tune of ‘Kevin Barry’.

 

On the classic slopes of Hampden 

In October ’57

Stood the mighty Glasgow Rangers

And another great eleven.

100,000 voices singing

‘Follow Follow’ was their theme

While a gallant band of faithful

Sang ‘The Wearing Of The Green’

.

Battle joined and battle favoured

Battle favoured only one

As each glory goal was added

Seven times 

This song was sung!

.

Another goal for Glasgow Celtic

Another victory for the cause,

Another reason to be giving

Another cheer just for the Bhoys. 

For if I live to be a hundred, 

I’ll never, ever have such fun –

As the day the Glasgow Celtic 

Beat the Rangers 7-1

.

From the streets of dear old Glasgow

To the famous county Cork

From the bridge at Sydney Harbour

To the City of New York

They will sing of Celtic’s glory

They will sing it old and young

Of the day, the Glasgow Celtic

Beat the Rangers

Seven-One!

.

Battle joined and battle favoured

Battle favoured only one

As each glory goal was added

Seven times 

This song was sung

.

Another goal for Glasgow Celtic

Another victory for the cause,

Another reason to be giving

Another cheer just for the Bhoys. 

For if I live to be a hundred, 

I’ll never, ever have such fun –

As the day the Glasgow Celtic 

Beat the Rangers 7-1

(As the day the Glasgow Celtic 

Beat the Rangers 7-1)

 

There are a few versions of this great song out there – this one, by The Shamrocks, is the best.  Old school in every sense.

 

 

 

The Bhoys and Ghirls of the Gorbals know the score . . . 

Seventh heaven in the Gorbals  7 1 grafitti

 

For more Celtic songs, chants and get-it-up-yeez, click here.

There’s only 1 Bobby Petta

Bobby Petta on the ball

 

Bobby Petta, the Dutch winger, had a miserable first season with Celtic.  Signed from Ipswich Town in July 1999, he managed only 17 games and 1 single goal (v Ayr United).  The fans were far from impressed.

When Martin O’Neill took over as Manager in the summer of 2000 it sparked a rejuvenation in Petta’s form and fortunes.  His skills were there for all to see, especially in a fantastic away performace against Ajax in Amsterdam where Celtic ran out 3-1 winners with Bobby – an ex-Feyenoord player – even getting on the score sheet.

The misgivings that the fans had about Bobby Petta were blown away in the 6-2 victory over Rangers on 28th August 2000.  He assisted in three of the goals but it was the tormenting of his countryman, new Rangers’ defender Fernando Ricksen, that remains seared in the memory:  time and again Petta turned him one way and then the other over and over again, leaving mad-eyed Ricksen more sweaty and flustered than a Rangers fan appearing on Mastermind.

Bobby’s humiliation of Ricksen was complete after only 23 minutes when the defender was hooked by boss Dick Advocaat – with Celtic already three goals up.

This remarkable turnaround in fortunes merited a tribute all of his its own, in true Glaswegian style to boot:

 

There’s only one Bobby Petta,

He was shite – but now he’s better

We sent him to Mass,

And now he’s pure world class –

Walking in a Petta Wonderland

 

 

Bobby Petta v Ricksen

 

 

A group of Celtic fans giving the song pre-match laldy on a recent visit to Amsterdam . . .

 

 

Celtic 6 Rangers 2.  ‘Bobby Petta with an early surge . . .’

 

 

More Celtic songs, chants and general Timfoolery can be found here.  

 

 

Oh, I love my Tommy McInally!

Tommy McInally portrait

Tommy McInally was a Celtic star of the 1920s who manager Willie Maley struggled to contain his exuberance both on and of the pitch.  A delightful ball player, Tommy could score them as well (bagging 39 goals in his first season).

He quickly became a fans’ favourite, renowned for his cheeky tricks and on-pitch chats with opponents desperately trying to intimidate him.  A defender once threatened to “eat”  him.  Tommy responded by saying “Well, at least that’ll get some fitba intae ye!

He scored 127 goals in 213 first team appearances over 2 spells with the club.  The love that the Celtic support had for him is apparent from this song from the ’20s terracings (to the tune of Roamin’ in the Gloamin’):

 

Tommy McInally, he’s the toast of ground and stand,

Tommy McInally, he’s the greatest in the land!

Even though I get the sack, how I love my Tommy Mac,

Oh, I love my Tommy McInally!

 

 Tommy McInally, he’s the man that makes us sing,

Tommy McInally, as he charges up the wing!

And when he gets the ball, you can hear the Celtic call

Tommy, Tommy, Tommy McInally!

 

Find out more about Tommy McInally in David Potter’s excellent book on sale here
Thanks to Maley’s Bhoys – the song is referenced in the book Uniquely Celtic on sale here – a truly great Celtic read!
More Celtic songs and chants can be found here – get singing!