Paul Brennan reflects on the beginning of Celtic’s history for Celtic; The Early Years by Brendan Sweeney which is available from CQN now…
“They don’t have a history. Their founders were just a bunch of guys who started playing football. Since then they’ve won and lost games”. This comment, which I heard from a friend 20 years ago, was my first realisation that not all football clubs have a history in the sense Celtic fans understand the word. They all come from somewhere, most started in the 19th Century, but the rich tapestry of events which formed and nurtured Celtic through the club’s early years is remarkable in the game.
Modern Celtic is a phenomenon, well known in all parts of the world where football is played, but the beginnings of the club could not be further removed from the global enterprise it is today. After the famous meeting in the hall of St Mary’s, Calton, in November 1887, where it was decided to form a football club, “for the maintenance of the “Dinner tables” of our needy children”, the call was answered by hundreds, if not thousands, who laboured, rallied and, in the truest sense of the word, supported Celtic.
The story is fascinating, and full of rich revelations, even for someone like me, who is steeped in Celtic anecdote and legend. Author, Brendan Sweeney, has toiled to narrate and document the dramatic events which unfolded as people from an impoverished immigrant community set their sights high. The details have been research to an incredible degree. Your author has clear indulged in a labour of love to ensure that a definitive record of how Celtic Football Club was established is revealed.
If you are a Celtic fan, you will drink in the tales of how your club was born, but the book holds appeal beyond just football supporters, this is a story of people, a real and living history of what it meant to be poor, and to aspire to better days, in an often-hostile land. This is the real history of what is called the Victorian era, but it’s not a history of monarchs and wars, it’s the remarkable history of otherwise ordinary people.
Without this history, the thousands who raised funds for the construction of the new Celtic Park in 1994, would not have happened. The Lisbon Lions would never have been brought together, Jimmy McGrory would have had no overpowering affinity to the club he loved. The great following fans made as they endured the dark decades, and the historic six-in-a-row of the early 20th Century would never have happened.
Perhaps more importantly, many children’s dinner tables would have went unmaintained. Lives would not have been transformed, a community would have had to do without a shining beacon of achievement, as the work of Celtic continues through its second century.
Paul Brennan, Celtic Quick News
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brendan Sweeney is 48 years old, a life time Celtic supporter born and bred in Clydebank to Irish parents from Donegal. He is married to “his other love” Elaine and they have two children, Sinead and Declan.