125 years of enormous privilege


Adam Smith, regarded by many as the father of modern economics, once observed that crop failures caused dearth but that it took “the violence of well-intentioned governments” to convert “dearth into famine.”  Throughout the 19th century, governments, social-reformers and subsistence –dwellers learned the enormous human cost that resulted when the poor were left to starve.

Ireland suffered regular famine for more than a century before when what became known as THE Irish Famine first struck the country in 1845.  The potato blight travelled across Europe before arriving in Britain and then Ireland, but in most places the links between those who were suffering and those who were in a position to alleviate that suffering were sufficiently established to ensure dearth did not become cataclysmic famine.  Not so in Ireland.

The famine lasted until the 1850s, a million starved to death.  Nothing would ever be the same again.  The blight returned in 1879 but by then the Celtic population of Ireland, who suffered disproportionately in earlier famines, were politically better represented and had structures in place to ensure those in need were assisted.  As a result, the 1879 blight caused great hunger but cost fewer lives.

Brother Walfrid lived through the famine of the 1840s.  The community who 125 years ago today decided to form a football and athletic club in order to feed the starving either lived through the same hardship, or were the progeny of those who did.  All were informed by the actions across the water in 1879. Squalor, disease and starvation afflicted Glasgow, as it did many of the newly industrialised cities of the world.  Walfrid and his colleagues were not going to stand idly by and hope for the best.

Celtic Football Club was not the only institution established in those years to cater for the poor.  Across Britain others campaigned for clean water, sanitation, better working conditions and occasionally health care, but Celtic were quite unlike any others.

Football had caught the public imagination and benefited from the increased availability of leisure time in the early 20th century.  Brother Walfrid could just as easily established a musical troupe to raise funds.  If so, there would be no Celtic.  Those who met in St Mary’s hall had seen how successful other football clubs were becoming and decided to copy their ways.  They watched how successful Hibernian, from Leith, had become and decided Glasgow’s east end would be equally fertile ground.

Hundreds of other football clubs were formed in the 19th century but no others had the unique story of Celtic.  If you listen to modern brand consultants you will hear them talk about establishing a legend for your brand.  Adorn it with positive, aspirational sentiment that people want to be a part of.  Whenever I hear this kind of talk, or watch a business try to position itself along these lines, I think of how getting the foundations right on day one set our club out on this enormous journey.

No one was trying to establish a brand in 1887, in fact, those in charge of the club seemed immune to the concept for over a century, but all of the positive sentiment which is persistently associated with Celtic can be traced back to that meeting at St Mary’s, even down to what might have seemed like small detail.  Unlike Hibernian, Celtic would not be a club for members of a church or parish, this would be a club who wanted all members of society to work with, support and play for.  From conception, the message of social responsibility was evangelised.

The world is enormously different today than it was back then, and our community reflects those changes, but anyone who counts himself a Celtic fan is a product of the club’s history.  You are here for a reason.

Tomorrow night’s opponents proclaim they are ‘more than just a football club’.  In their case that is correct, but this is a truism for most football fans.  Few will say, ‘Although I turn up every week, there’s nothing special about this place’. Those who understand how much more Celtic are than just a club, know that it is no longer the responsibility of Brother Walfrid, now it is yours and mine.  We have the enormous responsibility to take care of that 125-year heritage and, if possible, enhance it.  That’s the challenge every time you get your ticket out your pocket, you scribble on a blog, or you’re asked to assist someone in need.

What an enormous privilege.

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  1. Paul67


    The greatest team in the world right now visiting us at such a momentous time for our club. Fate…




    THE European Cup will be on display in Celtic’s Argyle Street store both today (Tuesday) and Wednesday.



    Celtic’s most prized possession will be on show in the window of the store today from 10.30am until 3pm.



    Tomorrow is will be on display from 10.30am until 4.30pm.

  2. AS Celtic welcome FC Barcelona to town this week, the club is keen to ensure that supporters of both teams can enjoy this momentous occasion.



    Celtic are delighted to be back at Europe’s top table. This will be a football fiesta like no other and supporters will be able to see that the wonderful relationship between Celtic and Barca is celebrated.



    Therefore, on the day of the match, this Wednesday, November 7, a Fanzone, bringing Celtic and Barcelona fans together to enjoy this great occasion will be set up at Merchant Square in the Merchant City.



    The city of Barcelona always welcomes Celtic and our supporters so warmly and it is right that we should offer our good friends the same hospitality.



    We are sure the Fanzone will be very popular with supporters of both clubs and we look forward to everyone who attends enjoying the venue, enjoying the city and enjoying the famous Celtic welcome.



    The venue will provide an opportunity for fans to gather and meet and there will be music and entertainment on offer to supporters.



    The event will run from 12.30pm – 5.30pm and supporters travelling in the official Barcelona party are advised to be on board their bus by 5.45pm latest for the short journey to Celtic Park.



    We hope you all enjoy the live music and entertainment that is provided and that you have a safe and responsible time before attending the match.

  3. Excellent, Paul. Well done.



    I quite like the sound of the music troupe, though. Maybe it’s not too late.

  4. Paul,



    I’ve always believed that if it were not for geographic restrictions on our licence to play then we would be more global than Mancherster United or Barcelona both.



    I might not live to see the day that that belief might become a reality but if we break the restrictive bonds that bind us I see no reason why my sons might enjoy Celtic as global giants of both sporting and charitable renown and integrity.

  5. Neil canamalar, 01:36


    I’m playing catch up here – could you post a link to what Cosgrove said as I missed it.


    I agree entirely with your points. And if he has now done what he should have years ago it’s because of what was started by AlexThomson

  6. Philbhoy - It's just the beginning! on




    A wonderful article.



    You really do tell it like it is!



    Proud to be a Celtic supporter and to be part of this wonderful blog!



    Many, many , thanks.

  7. O.G.Rafferty:



    I might be getting the wrong end of the stick here but was in not all started by initially the E-Tims and also our host and belatedly RTC and Phil?

  8. Paul67


    Great article…agree 100%, We are the ambassadors for this great club.


    My wife is sick and tired of my complaining about her driving as she doesn’t see how it could reflect badly on our club, in regard to the personalised licence plate.


    She does however, make great mince and tatties.


    Hail Hail


    Teuchter ár lá

  9. ASonOfDan, fate, indeed.



    garygillespieshamstring, yes, busy day ahead.



    Marti Sandino, you’re very welcome.



    Stringer Bell, thanks.



    Celtic_First, ha! Let’s get the Wee Oscar team onto it, they seem to be able to do anything.



    FAVOURITE UNCLE, enjoy the day.



    kitalba, I agree.



    Philbhoy, thank you.

  10. kitalba, 11:37


    You have it entirely right my good man, entirely. I mean the start of the coverage outside of Scotland that in turn has influenced how it has been covered in Scotland

  11. Fantastic Paul!



    Time to pause, reflect and be grateful for what our forefathers gave us and what we can do to carry the torch.

  12. Superb article Paul, brought tears to my eyes reading it, a unique Club with unique Supporters and a world-wide brotherhood that will never be broken. Greetings & Best Wishes to Celts everywhere on this momentus day.

  13. i’m neil lennon (tamrabam)


    Which just proves that success can be bought.


    We competed financially with RFC-RIP for about one season in fifteen.


    MON front loaded his budget so that after a few years the team was on the wane with no funds to replace the £6m stars.


    I loved watching MON’s team. It had an air bordering on arrogance that good teams have. Jock’s teams had it. The fact is that MON bought players other Celtic managers could only dream of.

  14. Wed 7th November 2012.



    The greatest club in the World welcomes the greatest team in the World.


    However, they won’t be the greatest team forever…….

  15. Ralston Row, and so you should be.



    Teuchter ár lá, great mince and tatties is one of life’s most important things.



    taggsybhoy, it sure is.



    KevJungle, :-) God bless you too.



    corkcelt, we sure are.

  16. Wonderful and uplifting piece of writing Paul..it says so much about who we are.HH



    Happy birthday Celtic.

  17. Green Lantern (((((0))))) on

    Tomorrow night the greatest team in the world plays the greatest club in the world.



    Thank you God for making me a Tim.

  18. During the UEFA Champions League clash with Barcelona a 360 panoramic image will be taken of the full house at Celtic Park in what will be the biggest match of the season so far for the club, as “FanPic” comes to Paradise.



    Fans will then be able to view the image via the official Celtic website from 9pm on Thursday and pick themselves out amongst the capacity crowd.



    Options will also be made available for fans to “tag” themselves within the image on Facebook to highlight their attendance at this glamorous fixture!



    Hmmmm… Might not get as drunk as I would like before the game if my wee Ma and the Mrs will be able to pick me out later on.

  19. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on

    B B & sp & Tallybhoy



    Wee up date re Leigh Griffiths goals tally. I said he had scored 5 its actually 11. Sorry abt that. Get him signed Neil.

  20. Gene's a Bhoys name on



    Excellent article – a football team created out of adversity with charitable aims at its fundamental core – 125 years later we can look back with pride on the achievements both on and off the field. Long may it continue and you never know one of these days the wider community in Scotland may also recognise and appreciate our achievements.



    God bless the Celtic Family – open to all for 125 years

  21. A fanzone in Glasgow. What an excellent idea. Was at the one in Barcelona a few years ago and it was great craic all day long. Will there be beer at this one?




  22. Paul67



    Great article, thanks for reminding me about the responsibility that


    comes with supporting this great club.



    Paul subscribed to mag recently ,any details on delivery




    Proud to be part of this club




  23. Great article Paul, thank you Celtic and thank you CQN my life as a Celt abroad has been enriched and expanded since that first day I wandered in here by mistake and like Celtic the gift just keeps giving and giving…

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