Celtic’s “Rebel” Fans Should Focus On Supporting The Team – A Guest Blog By James Dornan MSP.

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A few days ago, I was asked to write something for the blog and I want to say thank you for allowing me to expand on a thread I put on Twitter regarding the behaviour of a group of Celtic fans commonly known as the Green Brigade but now apparently calling themselves the North Curve.

Let me give you some background, I’m a Celtic supporter over 60 years standing, ever since my dad took me to Celtic Park when I was a kid of six or seven.

I love watching Celtic just now; they are exciting, progressive, innovative, with a manager who has initiative and a desire to play what many of us would call ‘the Celtic Way’, something that’s been lacking for a few years.

However, recently when I watch Celtic, particularly in away games, I am embarrassed by the songs and chants that comes from one section of the ground.

Celtic are a Scottish team with a proud Irish background, something we should be happy to celebrate. I have even started and convened a cross party group on Ireland within the Scottish Parliament which I hope will help in that celebration of Irish culture in Scotland.

However, we are not the sporting division of Ireland’s struggle for reunification, which I believe in.

But it is for the Irish people to decide, not a group of football fans, and it will be a political not sporting decision.

I understand that some Celtic fans will disagree with my position, but interestingly, I hold this position, not because I don’t think there’s a place at Parkhead to celebrate our Irish culture; I do.

It’s because I see the way our Irish culture is abused for, what I consider to be, inappropriate reasons.

If you really support Ireland then sing songs of it at a time of special celebration, Saint Patrick’s Day, or the anniversary of Irish independence or any other major event in Ireland’s cultural or political calendar.

This would be completely understandable and something I would welcome.

However, this continual singing of IRA songs, in particular, appears to me to be not a celebration of Ireland’s wide and varied, interesting and beautiful, history and culture but simply an opportunity for a certain group of fans to highlight their importance in being the standard bearers of this imaginary eternal flame of Ireland that apparently burns, or should burn, in the heart of every real Celtic fan.

The other reason of course is football rivalry. We know these songs anger and irritate our opponents, who have, in my view, their own and in many cases much worse, songs in their own repertoire.

I always thought the whole purpose of going to the match was to hopefully see good football and to get behind your team.

How does singing about a conflict that many of our players will know nothing about help do that?

Take last nights’ game, Thursday 9th December, for example; this same group of fans decided that because they disapproved of a decision of the board, of which they’re fully entitled to do of course – and I can hardly remember the last time I agreed with that Board about anything – that they would attend but sit in silence during the course of the game.

This game was played by what could only be called Celtic’s B team, full of young boys and players who have hardly played for the team.

What the support got was a fabulous performance and result with a number of players staking a claim for a first team squad place.

What the players would have liked in return is the wholehearted backing of the support in attendance.

What they got from those arbiters of the ‘real’ Celtic fan was silence, except for near the end of the match when they decided to loudly chant against an ex-Police Officer.

Seriously, whatever your view on the Higgins appointment it wasn’t those young lads out there making their debuts who set it in motion.

For me football is about loyalty and entertainment, it’s about that club loyalty that probably came from your dad, and it is about the heritage of a club as old and distinguished as Celtic.

But, like it or not folks, Celtic are a Scottish club, they were created in Scotland, they play in Scotland and most of the fans including those that go to Parkhead, even those in the North Curve, were born in Scotland.

By all means celebrate where our ancestors came from. Celebrate and enjoy the Irishness within the club’s tradition but let’s not pretend that we’re something we’re not.

We’re simply a Scottish club with an Irish background.

One last thing, Celtic Park is a football ground, it’s not a church, it’s not a holy place, even if we do call it Paradise, so I don’t see what place songs about religion have in that ground or any other football ground to be honest.

The Pope is not a Celtic supporter and he is highly unlikely to hear chants in favour of him on such days. The players are Celtic supporters though, and they will hear if you sing songs about them.

So let’s get back to singing songs in support of the club. Let’s leave political allegiances and conversations for elsewhere. Let’s leave our religious beliefs to whichever place of worship, if any, we go to on a Sunday, Saturday whenever.

Let’s use the 90 minutes to support our club.

This is an exciting time for Celtic.

I look forward to getting back to trophy winning ways, hopefully over the next few weeks, but I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that during this journey we do not allow ourselves to become that which we rightly criticise strongly in others.

Let’s get back to concentrating on Celtic, starting on Sunday, and that we continue to be the football club that has won the hearts of football supporters all over the world.

Hail Hail!

James Dornan is the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart. 

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  • Allan Wood says:

    Very well put

  • Thomas Downie says:


  • Ian says:

    Finally someone on this site has wrote about the ridiculous songs sung at away games. I get it you want a united Ireland but you don’t turn up to the game to watch the IRA vs Britain its a football match being played by a SCOTTISH team. Get behind the Bhoys on the field and leave the politics at the turnstile HH

  • Anthony Mcquade says:

    Before pontificating remember that is only your opinion .
    GB and NC members are allowed their opinions !
    Maybe you could explain why ALL football fans are treated differently.
    If you allegedly commit an offence why are there different rules for football fans as opposed to others ?
    Why are football fans GUILTY TILL PROVEN INNOCENT?
    I am sure you have an opinion on this .Let us hear it

  • jackie says:

    very true, hail hail

  • Pat Clark says:

    A good and honest report The silent protest only helped our opponents {as it did when we had the last silent treatment against Dumfermalin)
    Do the support have a gripe? Yes they do but not at the cost of our team by self suicidal behaviour
    Take the protest away from the team and do the objections onto another platform
    65 Years following the Tic I am angry and embarrassed by this tactic that effects only our team

  • Pat Kelly says:

    Excellent article articulating what many Celtic fans believe. Coming from the same background and of the same vintage as James Doran, I am also embarrassed by some of the songs, particularly at away games.
    Regarding the Green Brigade’s ‘silent protest’ last night I just consider it an ill considered way of protesting. Whilst agreeing with their aim I think that anything which affects the performance of the team is to be avoided. I have supported most of the activities of the Green Brigade but all around me last night people considered the method of protest to be totally wrong.

    • Anthony Mcquade says:

      While I agree with some of your points I am puzzled as to what GB/NC are supposed to do
      They and hundreds of other supporters groups have asked for dialogue with the Club and the response , as in many other cases , has been SILENCE

    • Damian says:

      But had the GB not been silent last night, there’s a better than even chance that they’d have spent a sizeable chunk of the match belting out the rebs. Which is it you (and/or James Dornan) actually want?

  • Stephen James says:

    This article about Celtic is exactly how I feel and have done for years , my father was political but not at the matches , he was too busy going crazy being ‘Entertained’ by the Lisbon Lions
    On that note fans must drop ‘roamin in the gloamin ‘ embarrassing to hear amongst others .
    Jock Stein didn’t make his first communion , but he did a lot more than any idiot chanting this as a Celtic fan.
    I’d hope many thousands agree with Mr Dornan , reading this was like a breath of fresh air , voice political or religious opinions whenever you want , it’s a ‘free’ country , but not at the match , let us watch it and shout our support for the team.
    There’s enough hate , racism or whichever is your thing in the world , this is our club , keep it it out of Celtic Park

  • AllaboutCeltic says:

    Well said??

  • Mark B says:

    Fantastic article. Agree 100%. Been a Celtic supporter over 50 years and my saddest moment was when people booed Fergus when he unveiled the flag in 1998 after we stopped ten in a row. Why? Because he had criticised such IRA type chanting. That says it all. Our team winning in style is what counts. I think our board are awful not because of an appointment but because they let 10 in a row slip, did not invest in the squad (100m in fees taken in!) and let power slip across the city. THAT is what we should be criticising our Board for an ensuring they fix. The chanting against Protestants or “Dirty Orange B*******” is disgraceful and makes our support no better than those a Ibrox when they do it. Well said James.

  • Tony B says:

    Is this the same “football club that has won the hearts of football supporters all over the world” that was singled out by your government in the OBAF Act in order to even things up with the fascist supporters of another club?

    A shameful piece of legislation which you voted for, and which thankfully was subsequently repealed.

    If you want to criticise those who do our club harm……………………………………

    Smell yourself first.

  • Bryan says:

    I have been going to Celtic games for 51 years. The songs you refer to have always been sung during that time. The idea that losing them is in any way “going back” to some golden age is clearly nonsense. If you are embarrased by the singing, go and join Pat Nevin as a Hibs supporter instead of trying to turn us into the Glasgow version.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Agree with every word James, as a Celtic supporter for 70 years I’m proud of our Irish heritage but most of us are now Scottish born and have been over at least a couple of generations. Some of our supporters sing songs that are about historical conflict in Ireland that have nothing to do with sport. The young people of the Island of Ireland are moving on and a United Ireland is on the horizon. The board surely must take into account the feelings of the support in the head of security appointment or face the consequences, The team and Ange need our support at this time, surely the People behind these protests must realise this at this important time in the season.

  • jbhoy says:

    Very well put.

    Whilst I’m all for freedom of opinion and expression these songs have no place at Celtic Park or any other football stadium. There seems to be an increase in these songs amongst a certain element of our younger fan base and it just portrays us in a bad light.

    Our fans have a creative way of generating new football songs which unites us all. Maybe the club needs to do more to weed out those who repeatedly sing the songs that the majority don’t want.

  • Scouse bhoy says:

    The booing of fergus wrong that it was had more to do with wim jansen leaving than any songs.

  • Denis McInally says:

    Thank you for having the guts to say this;
    I have supported Celtic since my first match I attended in 1962.
    Before my first game I had never heard an Irish rebel song although I am from an Irish background.

    My parents taught me to be tolerent of all faiths and colours of peoples skins.
    Things were bad then and there was a large amount of chanting which was reserved mainy for the visits of Ragers. I am ashamed to say that I occasionally joined in.

    But thing have certainly become much worse.

    I have now lived in France for the past 10 years and can only watch the matches on Celtic TV. It has become embarrassing to listen to the so called Green Brigade chanting their disgusting crap every week. More so at away games.
    As you say in your article we are a club for all people and while we must respect our Irish heritage and culture but there is no need for this behaviour. Leave that to the peepul at Sevco. They are doing a great job without our help.

  • James mutter says:

    I agree with everything you said James we attend celtic Park to enjoy football and support the team not to demonstrate against the board

  • Brian says:

    There was nothing stopping all the other fans in the ground singing so why didn’t they make themselves heard, they criticise the green brigade for silent, well that was their chance to show that it’s not only them who can sing. The green brigade are correct on this issue, but our club really must start to engage with the fans on a regular basis it is our club not theirs. We should be united from top to bottom, but we are not we are a cash cow for some.

    • Jim Duffy says:

      Correct Brian ,well said our club was formed to help those unfortunates that didn’t have a wealthy protestant background.

  • Peter Mitchell says:

    I couldn’t agree more. In my humble opinion No other words are needed.

  • John mcgeachy says:

    Brilliant my thoughts, just how I feel, well put it’s greet to know it’s not just me who feels this way, stay safe

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