An Overdue Thank You
A few days ago,I mentioned that my Dad was one of the founding members of The Ardrossan Garryowen Celtic Supporters Club. It was set up because their Alma Mater,Saltcoats Star Of The Sea,refused to start the match bus run from Hunterston,where a lot of the members had to work a Saturday morning overtime shift.
I’m maybe spotting a minor parallel there with the reasons for MAHE and I setting up this site,due to a certain disaffection with our own Alma Mater at CQN,but I digress.
You see,my Dad is an Ardrossan lad,and even having lived the best part of his life,probably half of it in total,in Kilwinning,he is still an Ardrossan lad. I’ve only lived in Kilwinning for about thirteen years,my first eight then a further five in my thirties-but there is no doubt in my mind about my home town!
Kilwinning is a very strange,even cliquey,town. Comprising of five main parts,hell mend ye if you wander into The Segton if you are a Woodwynd guy. Though the closure of many pubs has seen the drinking culture concentrating on the few remaining ones on Main Street,that wee wind-up of being from the wrong part of town always persists.
When I moved back to Kilwinning 25 years ago,after another 25 years away from the place,it was difficult. A card carrying Celtic supporting Catholic,and a stranger into the bargain. Not helped much when I pointed out that,given the above,it was only natural that I was brought up on Parkhead Avenue!
You’ll gather,then,that not many of my Celtic supporting friends come from Kilwinning. In fact,if I’m honest,most of them come via my earlier affiliation with CQN. Yes,there are a ton of them down here in Swindon-very few Rangers fans,surprisingly-who are terrific fun on a Saturday,but when I am home,it is the good,great and hopefully lifelong friends I have made from that community that I meet with.
One of them lives on a houseboat on The Thames nowadays,and I’ll call him TC. His Dad was the first president of The Garryowen,but met an untimely death at Ibrox during an Old Firm Game about 1971. We arranged to meet for a match at the Wimbledon CSC one day,and while the match itself was uneventful,the rest of the day made up for it. A smashing day,despite the obstacles of tube line closures causing me and my mate from Swindon,Paul,to miss the entire first half!
So when SOLKITTS sent me a mail of an old photo from the archives of The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald,mainly because he recognised my Uncle Jim in it,I forwarded it to TC. It was their POTY do,and a few Celtic players were there too.
My Dad must have been on the wrong shift that night!
TC phoned me back right away. Coincidentally,he was staying at Dalgarven House,just outside Kilwinning,as his Mum was in palliative care and he needed to be near her. And,yes,his Dad was in the photo. There weren’t many photos of his Dad-working class types couldn’t even afford a Kodak Brownie,much less an iPhone back in the sixties. He was sure that his Mum would love to see that.
SOLKITTS and I didn’t meet because of a shared love of Celtic. I had to drag him to his first game,he had no interest whatsoever! That changed absolutely,and within about his first five minutes. He was hooked. Celtic will get you like that.
That was forty years ago,best pal ever-yet we lost touch for nearly half of that! He moved south at the same time as I moved back home in 1996,and that was that. He phoned me out of the blue one Saturday as Mrs KITTS had found a wedding invitation from 1994. It had my parents number on it,so they called it.
I arranged to meet him in Chelmsford for the next Celtic game which was live on the telly-and it was like I’d only nipped out for a smoke. Where did the twenty year gap go? It didn’t,life happened,but everything clicked back into place.
This is a Celtic site,first and foremost. As is CQN,and various others. But we can and do become,first,cyberfriends and then friends for real when we actually meet up. Sometimes,we can organise to help others,that is what charity drives are for. The recent Royal Ascot competition saw almost all of the winnings being donated to charity,as an example. JIMMYNOTPAUL has highlighted his own close to his heart cause,which has prompted a number of our site to ask for details.
We should cherish the opportunities that the net has given us to do good for others,while probably enabling our own wellbeing. Some of us are stuck in the house all day with nothing to do-oh,God,the lockdown!-while others can only spare about twenty minutes,so not enough time to nip out for a pint.
Is this site,and others like it,simply turning into a talking shop or a social club? Yes and no. Yes,it is. And that should be encouraged for the social side of things,as people comment on this and that. But no too,because we and others still raise many issues which are relevant and important to us,and particularly on how our club is being run.
A site like this is only as good as its contributors,and as we approach our fourth anniversary,MAHE and I are very grateful to you all for making it successful. Everyone said it couldn’t be done,not at that time,but we reckoned that refusing to bugger people about by refusing to take advertising would win a few hearts and minds,and hopefully we can take it from there.
Visiting sites like this,expressing your thoughts and feelings,can be cathartic,liberating or comforting. Or it can lead to an ailing widow seeing a rare photograph of her long gone husband,and genuinely putting a smile on the woman’s face. Like everything else in life,it’s how you use it.
I’m proud of you all for using it well. Thank you.
Above article by BMCUWP