Celtic fans have been getting a bit of pushback for hostile chanting about the coronation during last weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final. Some context is useful. Celtic were founded in a church hall, in 1888, to provide food for the dinner tables of hungry children. All football clubs have a foundation story, but not every foundation story lives to inspire values a century later. Celtic’s foundation is not just a story, it is history itself.
The people of that church hall, St Mary’s, Calton, in the east end of Glasgow, were poor Irish (or second generation), Catholic immigrants. Their lot in life was poverty, squalor, limited access to work or education and high mortality. If you are a Celtic fan today, there’s a good chance you can trace your ancestors back to that founding generation.
Many Celtic fans have nothing to do with Ireland, the Church, or even Glasgow, and care little about these things, but to be close to Celtic, is to have an affinity for its founding values. I’ve met an Ulster unionist, who moved to Glasgow as a young man and became a Celtic fan through his wife’s family. On Ireland, he was often a dissenting voice, but his values regarding equality and respect were on point. If you are part of the Celtic family, you were either born into it, or you’re here because of these values.
I heard on the radio today that at the time of the last Coronation Cup, 70 years ago, many in this country believed the Queen was chosen by God. That belief was no accident, the Divine Right of Kings was brutally enforced to the extent that questioning the Divine choice was a mortal gamble.
Much has changed in the years since. No one now believes the monarch was chosen by God, although disappointingly few are aware that for centuries kingship was won and maintained by brutal force. To an extent, that ended in 1701, when succession was codified into law – a good thing, you may believe, but let’s park this for now.
The founding fathers of Celtic lived in what your government May (!) call a hostile environment. They were excluded from many professions and workplaces, suffered discrimination and outright hatred, a totem for which was their religion. Employers, educators, politicians and the judiciary often closed doors to the immigrant population and they had reason to believe their actions were legitimate.
That law passed in 1701, the Act of Settlement, prohibited Catholics (or “papists” as the Act describes them) and those who marry Catholics from accession to the highest position in the land. The Act was overhauled in 2013, providing equality of access for females and for those married to Catholics, but while Jews, Muslims and non-religious can ascend to the throne, Catholics remain barred.
If you know your history, the passing of the Crown at a coronation determined by the Act of Settlement, is an affront to decency. It is not just contrary to Celtic’s values, it is a lightning rod for those who seek justification in their own prejudices. Don’t want to sign Catholics? Here’s a photo of the Queen for your dressing room to help you feel better about things.
The Crown is many things to many people, and I see on television, recent immigrants excitedly look forward to tomorrow’s coronation. Others, stuck in relationships with married men, destined to spend Christmas alone while he’s with his wife and children, now look at Camila and think, ‘One day he’ll leave her, and we’ll be happy ever after.’ No one speaks out for the skank population, a minority almost universally disrespected, who tomorrow have their champion. On The. Throne. Although, from a branding perspective, Queen of Hearts works better than Queen of Skanks.
If the coronation is your thing, knock yourself out, but many of us have no interest in supporting a deeply flawed succession methodology. Celtic fans are not alone in valuing equality before deference, you will see this sentiment shared across the land.
Road to Seville
Tomorrow, the Road to Seville cyclists leave from Celtic Park on their two-week journey to Seville. Months of training and planning have been completed, countless miles racked up, all to raise funds for the Celtic FC Foundation.
Today we hear from Shane O’Meara and Paul Gallagher on the Celtic journey that will take them to Celtic Park at 8am tomorrow and the enormous undertaking ahead. You can support the work of the Foundation and encourage the cyclists here. Keep in touch with their journey as they sent out from tomorrow here on Twitter. Thank you.