Branching Out ?
I always try to draw distinction to whichever branch of the Celtic family I am referring to at the time . Im sure this has and does drive some people nuts but I think I have good reason.
Now to some when you hear or think the word “ Celtic “ they automatically think of the stadium and team in Glasgow’s East End . I shake my head at this although its an easy mistake to make.
Should you have got my grandfather ( RIP ) to stop talking about his beloved Gaa for a while and talk about Celtic those 11 players in Scotland didnt come up.
He would tell us how the crowds would fill the local bars then walk down to Celtic Park , Donegal Road , West Belfast to cheer on their mates in the Hoops . His mate Charlie Tully and many others gave him and the community tons of joy and pride not to mention entertainment .
Now it seems that dead giant may well be resurrected ( kinda ) and rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
Two businessmen are plotting to bring her back and give the community its old entertainment again . They intend to rebrand an existing club that they own ( Swifts ) . I will admit right now I am delighted about it .
The PLayers,,,First off the area produces great players and sportspeople in general , quality should be high .
As an example check out some of these names from only the West of the oul city,,,
Mal Donaghy , Gerry Armstrong , Anton Rogan , ( Father ) Phil Mulryne , Paul Mc Veigh , Paddy Kelly , JIm Magilton , and of course Charlie Tully himself.
Fiona Shannon and Rinty Monaghan were world champions in their sports of choice also ( handball and boxing respectively ) We would be looking at some good players here Im telling ya.
Entertainment factor and quality of play could well be high . Immediately though scout city wide and although west is best the rest of the city has produced decent players also notably Best , Whiteside , Blanchflower .
The ground,,No doubt the Holy Grail would be a new stadium on the site of the old one . About a year ago I was last in that shopping centre thats built on the site of the old ground and I was shocked at how little stores never mind shoppers there were . However right now that is not the ground that would be used . It would be the ground of the exiting club for now ( Swifts ) on up the windswept Glen Road in the shadow of Black Mountain.
The community,,,we all know theres nothing beats supporting your own homegrown sons , brothers , friends . Communities bond that way . Great inspiration for the kids also if they know they have a chance as ie yer mates brother plays for “ Celtic “ and he lives around the corner and isnt some megastar which proves you can actually make it. Its a fantastic idea. Lets not also forget many of these kids will watch the first team play whilst growing up which further inspires you to try to be one of them and helps you find that extra percent when needed as its “ your “ team just like KT . Great positive options for a youth that are besieged by suicide , drugs and drink at present. This project could really help the community that has seen its largest Gaa pitch and stadium go into disrepair while the court cases over how to renovate rumble on .
However , its not going to be all plain sailing . A group owns the name “ Belfast Celtic FC “ and
made clear that this is not connected to the original club in any way it would be a new club and thus could not be considered “ Belfast Celtic FC“ .
It seems the workaround that is to drop the “ FC “ part and simply become Belfast Celtic . This seems to be completely legal and has been put forward to the IFA board although they will not hear the case until the end of this season so any name change would take effect next season . Any name change must be passed by the IFA board by majority vote .
The Belfast Celtic Historical Society ( BCHS ) are disappointingly not on board either . I found their stance to be petty and believe its a case of we arent behind this so we cant support it ,,, despite the fact they have had all these years to do something of their own.
The Moral Dilemma,,,So its not Belfast Celtic and its not an offshoot of Glasgow Celtic or even Donegal Celtic so what is it ? Can you just stick a “ Celtic “ on it and thats it youre in the family ?
This will be a personal decision just how much to recognise this new entity .
I will give my take and Im sure you expect nothing less .
Any “ Celtic “ club or branch or team of any kind or level is a manifestation of our ( the Celtic with a K ) peoples nature . A nature that is charitable and will stand up together for oppressed and against oppression .
No one , absolutely no one , has the right to say you may or may not use that name ,,, it is a right bestowed by being a member of the family . Any of us has the right to name any endeavor that name . That name should come with responsibilities though , such as standing up for your fans and being community inclusive in its affairs not to mention continue or charitable traditions .
The owners had this to say of their intentions ,,,
“ Our club have not entered this process with opportunism and exploitation in mind rather we see it as a chance to encourage the growth of Senior football in the west of the city and to develop talent and encourage a better view of our area from people who reside outside of West Belfast . Ultimately it is our view that if we progress this initiative to its fullest potential then we will attract more investment to the west of the city which can only benefit local footballers and supporters . “
I fail to see anything wrong with that at all and if anyone reading does please let me know . Sounds to me like a little bit of the original spirit of Celtic that Br Walfrid held in his heart ,, lets help this community .
The biggest loser,,,Its kinda hard to see exactly how much impact this would have in the bigger picture . Should the key areas of investment ( it has been promised ) and possibly a change of home venue to something more fan friendly be met then interest should be high . A new kit should be popular as ever .
Should the plan and action match the words and vision then we could have a formidable new member of the family . We seen just what can be achieved in terms of crowds , entertainment , and being a focal hub of the community by the old team , the bar is already set . That could be done again make no mistake . If the snowball starts rolling and gathering pace the biggest loser would surely be Glasgow Celtic .
The day out from Belfast to see the Glasgow based team play usually starts with waking up at about 4.30 am to catch bus to early ferry , getting dropped home again around 9pm or so and costs about 100 quid per adult once youve added ticket , travel , drink , food . Its a hell of a slog Ive done myself trust me.
With the ease of having a normal day and dinner then grabbing a child and taxi down to the game for maybe 15 quid and 2 hours I could see a significant drop in the numbers to go through the long haul over the water , thats if this new club does indeed become what it aims to be . And as mentioned earlier once your kids know some of the players or possibly play for the youth team , going to Glasgow will be a thing of the past for many if not most .
Supporting the local community financially and emotionally is always a good thing and that will be encouraged .
Would be a delight to see things going the way they were for my granda , Celtic was that big stadium and team right there down the road and we have our own team thanks.