This is some book! An absolute treasure trove of information about the early years written in such detail that it is difficult to imagine anyone in the future ever writing any better! Our first five years were of course the most vital because we could well have gone the way of Renton, Cowlairs, Vale of Leven and many of the other teams mentioned in this book. That we didn’t was due to the sheer determination and commitment of our “founding fathers”, all of whom are detailed in this book.
It is the same sort of commitment that motivates Brendan Sweeney. How long he has taken on this book I do not know but I would imagine it to have been the fruit of many years labour at the Mitchell Library and elsewhere. Brendan was prominent in the Celts For Change movement in the 1990s and in recent years has done a huge amount of work with the Celtic Graves Society. His love of the club absolutely shines out of him and is very obvious in this tome.
Rightly he traces the club from its pre-history, as it were, from the winning of the Scottish Cup by Hibs in February 1887, and whatever the Edinburgh Irishmen could do, so too could the Glasgow Irishman, but the object was not to imitate Hibs but to better them, something that causes a little bitterness in Hibernian circles even to this day, as exemplified in 1952 when Hibs Chairman the detestable Harry Swann tried to ban Celtic from flying the Irish flag, or when in 1977 when Celtic won the Scottish League at Easter Road, Hibs banned the BBC TV cameras! But then again, Irishmen fighting other Irishmen is hardly unusual.
Support and encouragement came from Rangers and even the snooty Queen’s Park who perhaps realised too late that this new club was to usurp them. All this is detailed in the book. Particularly valuable and interesting is the work done on the Old Celtic Park, and there is a particularly good illustration of where exactly it was, plus a photograph or two of what it looked like.
The book finishes in 1892, the year which made Celtic with the treble of the Glasgow Cup, Glasgow Charity Cup and the Scottish Cup (very nearly the League as well) and of course the move to the new stadium. It is hard to believe that they came so far since 1887. This book explains how and why they did it.
Not only is the book a thriller in that you keep reading it, but it will also be a vital reference book for other students of Celtic history. We are definitely the best club in the world for having histories written about us. There are hundreds of Celtic books around now. This one is one of the best.
The price is £19.99 and that is not overpriced for 450 pages and loads of illustrations. Thucydides, the ancient Greek historian claimed that his history of the war between Athens and Sparta would last for ever. I think this one might do the same. Brendan invites us at the very start to “Close your eyes for a minute and try to envisage your life without Celtic”. I don’t think we can do that, Brendan.
Review by David Potter
ORDER your copy of CELTIC THE EARLY YEARS direct from CQN today and we will send you a copy signed by Lisbon Lion Jim Craig. We only have a small number of copies signed by Jim and these will be sent out on a first come first served basis, as is only fair. CLICK HERE TO ORDER or click on the image below.