Celtic Stories: Juve Got To Be Joking

Celtic fans  Turin 2001

The Celtic Support in the Stadio delle Alpe, Turin, 2001 

Bear writes:  Celtic were playing away to Juventus in Turin in Celtics first ever champions league game in the group stages.  Our first game should have been against Rosenberg at home, but was postponed because of the Twin Towers/9-11 atrocity.

I was running our local CSC at the time, interest was intense and we organised a 77 seat twin deck Neoplan bus to get us to Italy from Renfrewshire with an overnight stay in Southern France.  Sounds glamorous and this thing looked great but only did 60mph max going downhill and all the Kassbhorrer Setras pumped us for speed in the outside lane screaming past at 90!  It was a 2 day donkey ride to get to Turin.

Suffice to say most of the liquids including water had been quaffed by the time we arrived in Turin and plenty thirsty Timaloys were ravenous for swally!

Celtic Security officer Dibble Bawbaghorn had warned us and other CSC’s in advance: no alcohol on sale in centre of Turin.  Absolute no-no.  Complete ban.

Forewarned with this info that I had disseminated to the non believers, I bought an extra 24 cans of Electric Soup from ASDA – put them into two Asda bags and stuck them right in the far corner of the luggage boot before everyone else fired their bags on top.  The lager stash was concealed and my dastardly plan was to retrieve it on arrival in Italia and swagger into the big square with the carry oot.

We arrived in Turin and everyone made their way towards Giorgio Square, with tongues as rough as Shettleston and drier than nylon y-fronts.  I got my hands on my cargo and tried to sneak out the bus park in an alternative route to Piazza Il Geordie.  Trying to be a selfish but thirsty bastardo shames me to this day.  My mates were lambs to the slaughter.  They had no Jack Palance of a Pat O’ Malley and I was rich!

I was making my merry way meandering down the road in the direction of the thirsty and noisy Celtic contingent carrying the two Asda bags full of the amber nectar.  And that’s when it happened . . .

A Celtic fan from another supporters bus came running up towards me at top speed having spotted the cargo in the bags and blurted out:  “Haw Mate!! Whereaboots is the Asda???”

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Read more Celtic Stories here:  https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/celtic-stories/

Got a Celtic Story you’d like to share?  Email us at theshamrock@outlook.com 

Celtic Stories: A real Bummer for The Rooter

Johnny Madden player green tint

Johnny Madden – ‘The Rooter’in Celtic kit

There have been many, many times when Celtic players have been subjected to rough treatment by opponents while the referee has failed to step in to ensure fair play.  When it happened to Celtic striker Johnny Madden back in the early 1890s, and the ref turned both a blind eye and a deaf ear to his complaints, the Celt decided to take matters into his own hands – with the help of a knife!

Madden was christened ‘The Rooter’ by Celtic defender Jerry Reynolds due to his ferocious shot which threatened to uproot the goalposts from the ground when he hit the net.  The Dumbarton Bhoy is recognised as Celtic’s first outstanding centre-forward and played for Scotland’s premier Irish team from 1889 through to his retirement in 1897.  He scored 49 goals in 118 competitive appearances for the club and also played in Celtic’s first ever game, the 5-2 victory over Rangers in May 1888, although a year passed before he formally signed on at Celtic Park.

It was there that this incident took place in a game recalled decades later by Madden’s team-mate Willie Maley in his memoirs in 1936.  Celtic were playing Killmarnock at the time and The Rooter kept tangling with the Killie forward James Campbell.  Campbell was a distinguished footballer, the first ever Kilmarnock player to be awarded international honours, yet he wasn’t afraid to mix it.  Curiously, his nickname was ‘Bummer’.   This was supposedly due to his non-stop activity on the playing field – although it’s fair to say that perhaps something has got lost in the translation in the century and more that has passed since his heyday.  (Whether he was related to the famed Irish internationalist Johnny ‘Jobby’ Crossan is unknown . . . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Crossan)

Johnny Madden Celtic Squad 1892

Johnny and his Celtic team mates:  League Champions – 1893, 1894 

Madden complained vigorously to the referee at the treatment being meted out by Bummer.  As well as hacking and shirt-pulling the Killie man kept ‘tapping’ The Rooter’s ankles.  ‘Play on’ was the referee’s instruction as Madden’s fury increased.  It all got too much.  Faced with the ref’s intransigence and Bummer’s persistent fouling Madden walked off the pitch.

He quickly returned, carrying a large pocket-knife.  With the blade open he marched towards Bummer – and handed him the knife. Maley, who was standing nearby and amazed to see his team-mate walk on to the pitch carrying a knife – only to hand it to his opponent – heard Madden’s instruction to Campbell:  Stab me through the heart!

The Killie player was perplexed – to put it mildly – as Madden stood in front of him, asking him to use the knife he was offering to stab him.  The reason?  Madden told him simply, as he looked down at the knife:  “I prefer sudden death to the slow torture that you’re subjecting me to.”

Campbell laughed, Madden smiled – and the referee recovered in time to send Neil Lennon to the stand.  The knife was put away and the rest of the game was played out in a slightly more sporting manner by the Killie man.

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Johnny Madden later went on to greater fame when he travelled to the Czech capital Prague in 1905 to take up a coaching position with Slavia Prague – where he became a legendary figure, earning the moniker ‘The Father of Czech Football’ for his influence on the game there.  He remained in Prague, with his Czech wife and son, until his death in 1948.

Johnny Madden coach Slavia

Read more about this fascinating Celt at The Celtic Wiki:  http://www.thecelticwiki.com/page/Madden,+Johnny

Read more Celtic Stories here:  https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/celtic-stories/

Celtic Park – New Year’s Day, 1954 (film)

1954  The Jungle and tricolour

Great footage of Celtic Park including The Jungle in all its glory in 1954 as Celtic’s Double-winning team of that season beat Rangers in Paradise.

This is part of a great series of clips relating to Celtic from bygone years released by British Movietone.  There are some real delights in this short film – excellent shots of the crowd and the old ground; Jock Stein as Celtic Captain;  Charlie Tully in full flow and Neilly Mochan scoring yet again in his debut season in the Hoops when he emerged as top scorer with 25 goals.  Enjoy!

The clip of Celtic’s victory can be viewed here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnnAbrfmEZI

Part of a great series of Celtic-related clips which can be viewed on YouTube here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHq777_waKMJw6SZdABmyaA/search?query=celtic

Thanks to @Fitzpas on Twitter for spotting and sharing these gems.

Frankie Miller – The Brigton Bhoy (documentary)

Frankie Miller 1980s

Frankie Miller is one of Scotland’s best known singer-songwriters who was a major recording star (and sometime actor) in the 1970s and early ’80s, best known for his renditions of the songs ‘Caledonia’ and ‘Darlin’.

Frankie comes from Bridgeton and attended Sacred Heart School in the area – the school that Brother Walfrid was the first headmaster of and home to the first Poor Children’s Dinner Table which Celtic were established to raise funds for.  He is a very well known Celtic supporter and was a long-term drinking pal of Jinky back in the day as well as friend of Billy Connolly, Rod Steward and many other entertainers.

Frankie Miller and Jinky and TB

Tommy Burns, Frankie, Jinky and Chrissie Stewart at Celtic Park in the early ’80s

This is an insightful documentary into Frankie’s life and career as well as the impact that a brain haemorrage in 1994 had on him and his partner Annette, thanks to whose love and support Frankie survived and has recovered to an extent that was initially thought by medics to be unimaginable.

Click here to view the documentary on YouTube:  Frankie Miller documentary – Stubborn Kind of Fella

God Bless You Frankie.

Frankie Miller Celtic Park

Frankie gets a run out in the Hoops in front of the old Jungle

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Issues 1 and 2 of The Shamrock fanzine on sale at Celtic Park on home matchdays and through Paypal here:   https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/subscriptions/

Sham Issue 1 front cover  Sham 2 cover


Book Review: The First Game With My Father

The First Game  COVER  First

‘The First Game With My Father’ by Michael Tierney

A Story of Love, Loss, Family and Football


There are lots of little blessings that you come across in life.  When I first picked this book up and read the blurb on the back I thought this was right up my street:  a son writing about his father’s life, a memoir of an entire family, with football as the theme running through it.  When it dawned on me that both the author (Michael) and the father (John) are Celtic supporters and that the club at the heart of this book was my club, I was at first excited and, by the time I finished reading it, felt a little blessed.

This is quite simply an extraordinary book.  The ordinariness of the lives of the Tierney family from Bishopbriggs is something that many who grew up in Glasgow or the west of Scotland in the 1970s and 1980s will be familiar with; but in the hands of Michael Tierney the family’s story, and especially that of his Maryhill-born John, becomes extraordinary.  While John was a craftsman when it came to handling electricity, the son is a craftsman of words.  His mastery of language leaves you begging for more.  He can give form to feelings and emotions that are often very difficult to capture.  Here he describes how he found the Celtic scarf he had worn as a child:

I knew my scarf so well. 

It had a Celtic FC Supporters Club badge, a Celtic FC badge, with a green shamrock, Celtic FC in the shape of an arrow, and two conjoined circles with Celtic and The Bhoys on them.  I had sewn all of them on myself when I was about nine or ten.  I’d sat down with a needle and thread and the patches looked like someone wearing boxing gloves had stitched them. 

The scarf had power.  It was like a rare insect tacked through the thorax to a board. 

‘I haven’t seen it.  Sorry pet.’

‘I’ll pop round and have a look.’ 

Three hours later I found it in the left, hidden in a box we had set aside after freeing the space of my father’s stuff.  It was a little dusty and smelly and the wool had seen better days.  But it was mine.  My Celtic scarf from childhood. 

I hadn’t worn it in years.  It was too short to wear to everyday matches without looking self-consciously like an overgrown nine-year-old boy, but I just wanted it with me and then I could pass it on to the children.  Totems everywhere.  The scarf was part of something.  A speck from my father’s past. 

Michael Tierney cut his teeth as a journalist on the Scottish Catholic Observer before joining the Evening Times and The Herald.  His despatches from around the globe for the Sunday Herald magazine brought him to the attention of a wider audience and he went on to win a number of valued awards for his writing including the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.

His gift for incisive description is demonstrated when he outlines how it felt being a Celtic fan during the 1990s, up until the arrival of the Blessed Martin:

             Rangers had been going through almost a decade of domination and every Celtic fan felt dread to their marrow.  You could tell just by looking them.  You could tell by the shame-filled eyes.  You could tell by the way no one looked directly at each other back then.  It was just too painful.  It would have been easier walking around with a dead penguin around your neck. 

            Rangers fans, on the other hand, strutted.  They marched. 

            My father always told us to watch the way we walked.  We were never to march.  It was too much like them.  We weren’t invading Poland. 

. . . .

            Then came Martin O’Neill. 

            If he had been a child he would have arrived at Celtic on a bike without his hands on the handlebars.  Not a one-handy.  A no-handy.  He wasn’t scared.  And he certainly wasn’t scared of Rangers.  O’Neill came to Celtic from Leciester City in June 2000 and decided, quite emphatically, to stop the godawful rot.  No longer would Celtic be bullied on the park and no longer would they haemorrhage goals.  Celtic fans stopped sitting in the damp and gloom of Parkhead with their hands over their eyes.  The worry left their faces. 

The writing is laced with humour and localised references which illustrate the Celtic supporting experience, as with the pub which remains central to many fans.  Quins in Bishopbriggs is where his father drank for many years:

The men never called it a bar.  It was just Quins.  It was down the road at the Cross.  In the rough-and-tumble world of men and football, Quins was the place where Celtic men assembled to discuss their lives and their problems and their hardships and their work and anything really that men talk about away from their wives:  which is to say, everything else apart from their wives.  Drink coursed through the place like a glorious green river. 

            The barmen were dour and miserable on a good day and if they told their customers to get lost it was considered a fairly amicable conversation.  Good service was nothing to be particularly proud of and the men were happy with a few pints, a whisky and a conversation that touched only on football and politics and religion and work.  They called it a Celtic shop.  The appearance of a stranger was regarded with utmost suspicion.  The interloper was either a bluenose or a policeman and frequently both. 

The story is book-ended by two Celtic games but it is much, much more than a book about Celtic or football.  It touches on identity and politics and sociology and history and takes you to Barra and Maryhill and Seville and Bishopbriggs and a few war zones as well for good measure.  It gives the unique world perspective of John Tierney, who lost his own father at an early age in World War Two, as he and his wife Cathie bring up their large family.  John’s relationship with Ireland and how it differs from those of his children will strike a chord with many who read the book. He liked to call his son ‘a souper’ when he felt he was straying too much from his own path.

Michael Tierney baby and his dad

John with baby Michael

This book is as times a biography of the son as much as the father.  From a Celtic perspective, there’s a lot in the book to excite interest:  his interviews with the Lisbon Lions and Henrik Larsson in his hometown in Helsingborg; the account of his trip to Seville with friends and family and also his visit to the Estadio Nacional in Lisbon with his six year old son.  His conversations with Jinky’s widow Agnes will live long in the reader’s memory also.

Ultimately it is about the life of John Tierney seen through the eyes of one of his children from the game against Sporting Lisbon in 1983 up to a return visit to Celtic Park in 2013.  That life took an alarming twist in 2002 and the impact of what happened to John and his close family is what drives this book on – and inspired the son to write the father’s story.  It is a difficult but necessary and enlightening read.

Michael and John Tierney 2013 at Celtic Park

John and Michael back in Paradise

The son’s account of that first game with his father – and his brother Iain and his father’s pal George – in November 1983 when Tommy Burns turned in the performance of his career to help overturn a 2-0 goal first-leg deficit is one that will chime with many who were in Paradise that night with the Tierneys:


The shouts of the fans came swirling around the ground as they sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and we joined in with our scarves waving about our heads. 

‘Christ, John,’ said George, when he saw Tommy Burns galloping through the midfield, as if bandits were chasing him.  ‘Tommy’s flying.’ 

            A wee man shouted out, ‘He’s got mair moves than a monkey on ten foot of grapevine!’  Laughter all around. 

            Celtic attacked from the beginning.  Tommy Burns twisted and Tommy Burns turned.  That’s what they sang.  My father liked Tommy because he was religious and he believed in Our Lady and the intercession of all the saints.  I liked him because he was a number ten, like me. 

            The red-headed midfield maestro, with his neatly parted hair, scored after only seventeen minutes.  But I missed it going in because I was looking up at the sky and listening to all the noise around me.  I knew he’d scored because the whole ground erupted and my father jumped, along with George, and then he lifted Iain up and he smiled and shouted, ‘You beauty.  You wee cracker.’

 Book cover 2


The Shamrock rating: 8/10 


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The book can be purchased from Amazon here:   http://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Game-My-Father/dp/0552779636/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436878855&sr=1-1&keywords=the+first+game+with+my+father


Martin Greig interviews author Michael Tierney in Bishopbriggs Library about the book:  https://audioboom.com/boos/2682041-the-first-game-with-my-father-michael-tierney


Read The Shamrock’s other reviews here:  https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/celticreviews/


Celtic Stories: Oh Harry Harry

Harry Hood no.9

We came across one of the most memorable Celtic stories involving a player and a supporter online a good few years ago.  Apologies as the source has been lost in the mists of internet time but this is how we remember the story going . . .

In one of the many Edinburgh buses that transported Celtic fans from the capital home and away in the 80s and 90s, there was one regular argument that broke out surrounding a famous hat-trick by the 1970s star striker Harry Hood.

One of the older members of the bus had a problem with a stutter which wasn’t all that noticeable unless he was getting excited or wound up and then it became very obvious.  This fan used to always maintain that when Harry Hood scored a hat-trick against Rangers in the 1973 League Cup semi-final at Hampden – the last Celtic player to score a hat-trick before the Ibrox club were liquidated – he did so with three headers.  The more others on the bus would disagree with this old fella, the more worked up he would get and he would start stuttering and swearing all over the shop.  It was a source of much merriment to everyone else.

Harry Hood hotel 1970

Harry – and his hotel, 1970

One day the bus, who normally stopped on their way to home games in Lanarkshire for some refreshments, went to Angels Hotel in Uddingston, long owned by none other than Mr Harry Hood.  This was the old fella’s chance to set the record straight and put down the detractors who for years had been claiming his memory was faulty.  As luck would have it, Harry himself was behind the bar that day.  The exchange went something like this:

Up went the old fella, a wee bit anxious about meeting one of his heroes:  “Harry, do you remember that hat-trick you scored against R-R-Rangers at Hampden all those years ago?”

Harry responded:  “Of course I do pal, what a night that was.” 

The old fella again:  “Well you’ll remember Harry, each of the goals that night you got with your head, didn’t ye?” 

Harry again responded:  “No, it was two shots and a header that I got.” 

The old boy leaned over the bar, up to Harry Hood’s face and said:  “You’re a f-f-f-f-f-fucking liar!”

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The day after the semi-final the Daily Record declared him to be Harry Hoodini and the accompanying match report (and photos) confirmed that Harry’s recollection of two shots and a header was bang on:

Harry Hoodin headline

Harry Hood was a popular striker among the Celtic support in the 1970s and they adapted a famous George Harrison song in his honour:

We don’t need your Colin Stein, Eusebio or your Alan Gilzean

We’ve got someone twice as good

We’ve got Harry Hood!

Oh Harry Harry

Oh Lou Macari

Oh Kevin Barry

Oh Harry Hood! (Oh Harry Hood!) 

Harry Hood card


Read more Celtic Stories here:  https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/celtic-stories/