Irish Blog Whacked

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Celtic Green Brigade

Is Celtic finally talking the language of global football?

by McAllister of Ongar in Exile

Football is one of the few universal languages in our world: it has the power to unite people in a passionate and unparalleled way. It can supplant life in some sections of our society and it can reward us emotionally in greater ways than we care to admit.
Looking back over the decades of my life following Celtic I can honestly say there have more good times than the bad.
Now this will definitely age me, I can recall the first time I saw Celtic. It was at Cathkin Park [1960-61 season] against Third Lanark though I can’t remember the score [I think we lost...they finished third that year] just the noise and the stench of cigarette smoke and urine. My Dad took me…he reasoned with my Mum that it would be a ‘safe game’ to go to and as my Dad didn’t have a car, we could walk from Govanhill. On the way back I was cautioned not to mention the toilet habits of our fellow supporters or my Mum would ban me from ever going again.
My excitement that day still lives with me and even now I get that same sense of anticipation and glow when I journey to any of the games.
Another seminal moment in my football supporting life was the 1963 Real Madrid - Eintracht Frankfurt European Cup Final. I was in awe of the football that night. That was my first really big football night. What a stadium Hampden was with its steep terraces and giant floodlight pylons. A magical place and it was owned by Queens Park! How could they afford it I used to wonder?
In my lifetime I have seen Celtic grow from being not even the second best team in Scotland to become the best and then the best in Britain and Europe. Yes my Dad took me to Lisbon too. I have watched them achieve international fame and infamy and back again as our beautiful club slipped back down the global rankings. But we never lost the faith.
Today it’s all about money and brands if we are to survive on 'Planet Football' and the number of football brands seems to be consolidating as the TV contracts become bigger. The big boys get richer and the wee guys get marginalised in this world of sport. According to Brandirectory, a US based sports marketing agency, Man U are the biggest global sports brand, bigger than any of their NFL, NBA or NHL franchises. Football is truly a global game.
Sitting in New York, where I travel to frequently on business, I am spell bound by Fox Soccer and its spin on ‘football’. The format is basically the same the obligatory anchorman and the couple of football pundits. Today it was Warren Barton. They talk about “three to two’ victories in “game 17” but by and large the language is pretty much the same. Their ‘uber’ enthusiasm is certainly addictive. They even managed to make the Man City - Reading post match analysis exciting.
Imagine my pride this week as I watched a re-run of Celtic versus Barca right there on Fox Soccer and following that up announcing: “Soccer’s Next Young Star” a new series launching in January filmed at Celtic AND you can watch the Celtic games by signing up to Fox Soccer Plus. North America the home of the brave, the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS featuring our wee club, this ‘pub team’ as the English media like to call us.
It blows my mind. We might just be on the way back to the top table after all. Why? Well because the great global game is coming to terms with its need to grow its own talent if we wish to compete with the big boys. We need to be spotting “soccer’s next young star” and be like Barcelona and grow our own.
At Celtic we have always had that culture the only problem was we lost our way chasing the Ibrox dragon as it burned its way through cash and Scotland’s football heritage.
We know that our leaders made some shocking errors of judgement and didnt have courage to stick to the principles of the club and respect its heritage. However we have the best home fan base in Scotland, recognised and respected around the world. Welcomed by all for our colour, our joy, our enthusiasm and good sportsmanship and a passionate belief in our destiny. Yes frequently we’ve been kicked in the head by lady luck and fate has scorned us but we are still here, still fighting and still singing.
Along the way our club administrators might have lost the faith at times BUT WE NEVER DID!
Happy Holidays and Hail Hail
The Green Brigade is an ultras group consisting of supporters of the Scottish football club Celtic.

The group were formed in 2006 and describe themselves as a "a broad front of anti-fascist, anti-racist and anti-sectarian Celtic supporters".[1] They are normally situated in section 111 of Celtic Park; Celtic football club were closely involved in creating the Green Brigade section within the stadium. The Green Brigade have organised various displays at Celtic matches involving banners, flags and demonstrations which have been credited with improving the atmosphere at Celtic Park.
Green Brigade display on 13 August 2011
The group participate in, and often start, pro-Irish Republican Army, anti-British and Irish Republican chants.
At a match against Dundee United in November 2010, there was serious disorder in the section occupied by the Green Brigade when a supporter was being ejected by stewards.[5]Supporters charged at the security guards and one was left with a bloody lip after a coin was reportedly thrown.
In April 2011 at the Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen police officers attempted to remove a supporter who had set off a flare inside the stadium. Police were unable to remove the supporter because other fans held onto him. Four supporters were later held by police in connection with the incident.More than 100 Green Brigade members walked out of the stadium in protest of the arrests.
In April 2011 some members of the Green Brigade were not sent season ticket renewal forms after the club threatened to disperse the group around other sections of the stadium.
After the last match of the 2011-12 season Celtic manager Neil Lennon presented the SPL trophy to the Green Brigade by placing it in front of the section where they sit. He later said, "I just wanted to say thank you to them because they have, week in, week out, created a great atmosphere. They sing non-stop. They add colour. Sometimes they are a little bit controversial but in the main they have behaved themselves impeccably and they have changed the culture of the stadium. It’s a fun place to come for the supporters and the atmosphere in the big games has been fantastic. They are the catalyst for all of that."[8]
In November 2012, the Green Brigade organised a pre-match card display against Barcelona to celebrate Celtic's 125th anniversary.The display featured a Celtic cross, green and white hoops and 125 Celtic in written form, with supporters earning the praise of club chairman Peter Lawwell