The awakening of the “Club Captains tops” idea
It was an early Sunday morning in August 2014, and we had been at the Celtic FC Foundation night, “An Evening with Maestro” the previous evening with Andy F (one of the WWS bhoys) and his family, and other friends. I had already snaffled the signed ball by The Maestro and Rio (Ferdinand) which was on our table, to raise funds for Shay. We had just started to support Shay through CQN and I had visions of a big fundraiser event for Shay and had been mulling around a few ideas in my head, including various signed tops.
The evening had been fantastic and at one point during an interval break, we (Mrs CRC and myself) made our way up to one of the tables to catch up with Tommy Boyd and have a chat with him. I had the privilege of meeting Tommy at a number of previous events and even ended up watching a Celtic game in Mollies, in Playa Blanca, with our respective families, thanks to another great CQNer, who is a close friend of Tommy’s. Also on Tommy’s table was the Maestro and Jackie MacNamara.
The next morning the idea came to me. Wouldn’t it be great to have a top signed by the Captains of Celtic. It had dawned on me that the previous night, we had been sitting for a brief time with 3 Celtic Club Captains. All inspirations in their own right, covering different parts of, not only Celtic history, both good and bad, but also parts of all of our lives growing up as Celtic supporters. This was history, our history.
My idea grew over the day and I eventually decided to restrict the signings to Club Captains only. Club Captains were an inspiration to me and no doubt many other Celtic fans over the years. They were our leaders, people we looked up to and worshipped at times, rightly or wrongly!
I had also decided to get two tops signed, so whilst one would be auctioned; the other would be raffled. Although we wanted to raise the maximum amount possible for Shay; we were also keen to ensure that all Celtic supporters could afford the opportunity to win one of these special tops for £5 (the price of a raffle ticket). So, the idea was born, we just had to make it happen.
When I told Mrs CRC of my idea the same day, she said “Typical, why didn’t to come up with the idea a day earlier, when we were in the company of three club captains?” I explained to her it was being in their presence that had inspired me to come up with the idea in the first place.
So where do you start?
Having thought of the idea, the plan was now to identify and then find the Club Captains and get them to sign the tops.
Identifying was pretty easy, as The Celtic Wiki, a great Celtic website, maintained a list of all Club Captains with their periods of Captaincy. I decided at that time that it would be fitting to start with Cesar, the first British player to lift the Big Cup. Teams had come and gone (and even died!) trying to emulate this amazing feat. Taking this through to Broony, our current day Captain, would mean that we would have 53 years of unbroken Celtic history on 2 tops. Restricting it to Club Captains only would also make the tops special.
Finding the Captains. I thought fantastic, I have 3 in the bag already, since I already knew Tommy Boyd. Billy McNeill lived just a mile up the road from me (and had helped in previous campaigns), and the Maestro was across from Oz. I had also built up a number of contacts from previous fundraising campaigns and indeed, we had the power of CelticQuickNews to help. Surely, it was only a matter of time before we would find all 11 Captains. Easier said than done, as I soon found out!
Having said this, I kept the idea very low profile for a good while. I think I needed to get the 3 Captains in the bag before I started to get a bit more confident and start telling people of the idea and indeed ask for their help. They say that you can connect to anyone through six degrees of separation or less. I was going to now put this theory to test.
The order of Captains that follows in our story is based on when the Captains actually signed the tops. Whilst we were probably going after 2 or 3 Club Captains at the same time through several different avenues, it didn’t always work the way we intended. However, through hard work, patience, perseverance and a lot of support and help from others, we got there in the end.
Monday came after “The Maestrio game”, and I dropped an email to Jane Maguire, head of fundraising for the Celtic Foundation, asking for her help to put me in touch in Paul McStay, to obtain the first club captain’s signature. I had known Jane from the time our path’s first crossed during the Bringing Martin Home (Kano) Campaign and she had been a godsend on a number of occasions since then.
Jane replied via email on Tuesday morning, having been tied up all day Monday, apologising for the delay and also telling me that unfortunately, Paul was heading back to Oz on the Wednesday. I thanked Jane for her assistance, and suggested that maybe that she could help me with posting the tops out to Oz for Paul to sign. For me, that was it, Paul’s signature was put on the backburner for now, but then I did not reckon on Jane’s willingness to always help others. I should have known better.
I was in a works meeting in the afternoon, when my mobile phone rang. I had a sneaky feeling that Jane had not given up on me and I was right. It was Jane and I excused myself to take the call. Jane had been in touch with Paul and he had agreed to meet me just off Sauchiehall Street at his brother’s business premises at 2pm today. The time was now 1pm and I didn’t even have any tops for him to sign. I told my fellow work colleagues of the news and with their best wishes, I was soon on my way into town to firstly acquire the tops and then on to meet the Maestro.
I headed first for the Celtic shop in Sauchiehall Street and arrived at 1:30pm and picked up two current tops, one home and one away, and went to pay. I checked my wallet and realised that I had forgotten to pick up my shareholder card, which gets me 10% off the tops. 10 minutes later, having explained to the manager what I was doing and who I was meeting; I left the shop with two Celtic tops purchased, with the manager having applied the 10% discount.
So, I was off to meet The Maestro, one of the finest players to grace the Hoops in my time. As a youngster, I travelled on the Busby and Eaglesham CSC to all home and away games, and I remembered how much I idolised Paul, as well as most of the other Club Captains. I was completely dumbstruck and in awe as I approached the meeting point, but Paul was soon to relax me in his company. Paul was ever the gentlemen, listening patiently to my story and the task we had ahead of finding all the Club Captains in our ultimate goal to raise money to support Shay. He asked me how we were going to achieve this and I told him of our plans (which still had many holes in it) and current Celtic contacts that we hoped to utilise. We also talked about the game at the weekend and indeed his future plans in Oz with his family. What struck me most was that, as Paul took the time to speak with me, I realised that he was just a Bhoy like you and me. He signed both tops and wished me well on our journey. They say you should never meet your hero, but Paul crushes that statement in an instant.
Of course, after I was telling the story to others at a later date, I was asked, “Did you get a photo with Paul?” “D’oh,” I thought, “What an idiot, why didn’t I ask for a photo!” Little did I know at this time that fate was to play into my hands at a later date.
Captain No 2: Stephen McManus-September 2014
Big Mick’s signature came about as part of a chance conversation with Nick, a Training manager at my place of work. It was a Monday morning, shortly after I had just obtained the Maestro’s signature, and I asked Nick how his weekend had gone. He told me that he had been to Dingwall at the weekend. I knew he was a big Motherwell fan, and I said to him, “Wow, that is dedication! “. He replied, “I’m the kit man!” I just smiled and Nick said “ What are you after?” I told him about our plan to help Shay and Nick agreed to help and promised that he would get Big Mick’s signature on both tops at the next game. The following Monday came, and I met up with Nick who handed me back the two tops, duly signed by the second club captain. I asked if there had been any issues and Nick said no and that he had asked Big Mick if he would sign a couple of tops, to which Big Mick said “Sure, no problem”, assuming they were Motherwell tops. When he opened the bag and saw the Celtic tops, he said to Nick with a big smile on his face, “I have not been asked to sign a Celtic top for years!”. When he pulled the tops out of the bag and noticed that The Maestro was the only signature on it, he had said “Wow, my hero!”. Another down to earth Celtic man had just signed our tops.
Part 2 to follow soon.
To purchase (or sell) raffle tickets to win our Club Captains of Celtic Away Top (11 Captains from 53 years of our Clubs history) and a host of other amazing Celtic prizes at our draw to be made on 25th May 2017 at Celtic Park please contact us via: