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Books - We are Celtic Supporters (2011)
|Celtic Multimedia | Media | Players & Managers Biogs | If You Know The History|
DetailsTitle: We Are Celtic Supporters
Author: Richard Purden
Published: 15 Sep 2011
SynopsisIn We Are Celtic Supporters Richard Purden examines what created the culture, ideas and beliefs around Celtic football club. In new and exclusive interviews with supporters, he explores the Celtic way of life and the rich traditions that give context to much of the support while deconstructing some myths along the way.
As a travelling supporter he visits a variety of fans in locations such as New York, Spain, Germany, Italy and various parts of the UK. He talks to well-known Celtic supporters such as James MacMillan about the often misrepresented Catholic roots, to Pat Nevin about why he fell out of love with the club and to a number of well-known rock 'n' rollers such as Noel Gallagher, Bobby Gillespie and Johnny Marr.
We Are Celtic Supporters gives the inside story of how major events in Celtic's history have shaped the identity of the fans, and what it really means to follow this unique football club.
Richard Purden grew up in Edinburgh but with family roots in Limerick and the west of Scotland he always felt a strong connection to Irish literature, culture and of course, Celtic FC.
While studying at the University of Stirling he began to write arts reviews for student magazine Brig and on graduating he was first published in the Celtic View, Scotland on Sunday, The Scotsman, The Irish Examiner and The Irish Post.
More recently he has contributed to Four Four Two, the Sunday Mail and the award-winning Herald Saturday magazine.
Review(written by Pd1978 of KDS)
There is an almost fictional romanticism entwined throughout the illustrious history of Celtic Football Club, dating right back to their 1887 beginnings, which prompted the late, great Tommy Burns to conclude over a hundred years later that “Celtic is not just a football club, it‘s about a people and a cause.” That same people and cause are examined in Richard Purden’s fantastic exploration of what Celtic, and their vast support, truly represents. If Celtic are more than just a football club, then ‘We Are Celtic Supporters’ is far more than just a football book. It is a political, sociological and cultural study of writers, movie producers, rock ‘n’ rollers and chip shop owners; all with one thing in common - a love of Celtic.
Lazy journos and obtuse politicians would have us believe that The Old Firm is a singular living, breathing entity and that fans of both sides suffer the same idiosyncrasies and sensibilities; that they’re all as bad as each other. Purden goes some distance to explain what makes the Celtic fan unique; what makes them a special breed. Not content with deliberating the predictable and impotent content all too often found in the pages of the nation’s antiquated tabloids, Purden seems intent on digging to the very core of the Celtic supporter’s psyche and tackles religion, bigotry and sectarianism with a penetrating fervour.
The Celtic Story began with Brother Walfrid’s vision of a football club being formed in the East End of Glasgow for the maintenance of dinner tables for the children and unemployed and it is with this inclusive, non-violent philosophy that many Celtic fans can connect. This human, charitable and social solidarity of a club with no geographical, religious or racial boundaries prompts award-winning writer Des Dillon to declare that by wearing a Celtic top “you are not completely locked into this country, your own town and your local team.” Whilst Celtic supporters born out with Glasgow by default will share this view, many other Scottish clubs bemoan the weekly outflux of supporter’s buses from every village and town in the country, heading on their own Parkhead pilgrimage to a Paradise-like cathedral where they feel a genuine connection and shared ethos. As the wide global variety of contributors to this book testifies, and in the words of legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee, “it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.”
Jim Kerr speaks of smuggling Bono into an Old Firm game in the early nineties and of his sense of connection to Celtic’s heritage when he exclaims, “You might feel distance from the political party you grew up with, maybe the religion you were brought up in, even your ex-wife but your team is your team.” The Simple Minds front man obviously has an in-depth understanding of Celtic’s unique history, ethics and ideology but he undoes himself here with his outrageous critical assessment of the club’s 1994 saviour, Fergus McCann.
Dunfermline-born film director and erstwhile member of the Skids, Richard Jobson, speaks of travelling to Parkhead on the Arthur McKenna bus with McKenna himself when it was simply called the Lochgelly CSC and writer Andrew O’Hagen misses the days of, “A ***** ground, really horrible Bovril and the smell of piss on the terrace” and when he transports the reader back to 1847 in explaining events which culminated in the formation of Celtic, you get the feeling Purden’s volume could as easily have been entitled, ’If You Know The History’, such is the depth of content on display.
The peculiar case of Pat Nevin makes up perhaps the most controversial chapter of this collection as the ex-Boys Club non-graduate explains his ongoing infidelity with Hibs. In ‘I Was A Celtic Supporter!’ Purden strives to provide the reader with an unthinkable scenario whereby you suddenly find yourself falling out of love with your first flame, only to find comfort and security with a lesser beauty. Nevin, a bonafide member of football’s intelligentsia, offers a far more convincing justification than Sean Connery ever did, when he admitted of his 1990’s Ibrox defection that he was simply following the winning team. Nevin explains how he felt uncomfortable and distanced from fans chanting Irish extremist songs whilst supposedly supporting the club he once loved and realized that his life-long crusade had descended into nothing more than a paradise lost. Nevin’s sentiments have sparked much gnashing of teeth amongst the Celtic support and his assessment of Martin O’Neill’s Seville side as being “a slightly more sophisticated version of Wimbledon” will certainly not endear him to many more members of the hoops faithful.
Creation records boss, Alan McGee, once quipped that “Celtic have all the cool people supporting them and all Rangers have is me and Marti Pellow” and although you can also add Lotto Lout Michael Carroll to McGee’s all-star list, the man who discovered Oasis isn’t far wrong in his assessment of the Celtic tribe. Indeed, Purden leaves his finest chapter until last and ‘Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll’ reads like an NME Cool List of ardent Celtic fans.
A host of musical icons reveal their true colours within these pages and self-confessed rogue rose, Mani, speaks of the bond between fans of Celtic and Manchester United when he explains that both Glasgow and Manchester have, “An inner city, anti-royal, anti-establishment, working-class sub-culture. You always knew the rebel songs and the songs of depravation from back home”. Fellow Manchester United and Celtic fan Richard Ashcroft speaks of his love for the Glasgow club for the first time and believes that home-grown players have been, “lost to Sega, Playstation and the internet… You see it at gigs, they don’t want to be there, they’re filming it, watching it through a screen”.
Bobby Gillespie, who when asked by the NME in 2006 if he supported Hamas or Hezbollah replied, “No, I support Celtic”, speaks of watching his team in the 1970s: “You would see Johnny Doyle jumping over the advertising boards and crossing himself at the Rangers end. You’d be watching him thinking, ‘I’d love to dae that’. Celtic was about the Catholic population standing up for itself but doing it in a beautiful way… when it was a Protestant ruling class that ran everything”. Fellow Scot, Stuart Braithwaite explains what drew him to Celtic when he surmises that, “Rangers represented the establishment and traditions relating to the monarchy and unionism in Northern Ireland. These are ideas that I wouldn’t fancy so Celtic were the anti-authority club”. Whilst the Primal Scream lynchpin and Mogwai guitarist hint at a true Rock ‘n’ Roll ethos, Glasvegas front man, James Allen, simply announces that, “I see Andy Walker in the same way I see Elvis”.
Johnny Marr speaks of his admiration for Charlie Nicholas and points out that he, “had a good haircut, which is always important” and his Man City-supporting comrade, Noel Gallagher, rates hearing Celtic fans singing ‘Roll With It’ before the August 2000 6-2 victory over Rangers as, “The greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life”.
Throughout ‘We Are Celtic Supporters’, Richard Purden captures the very essence of a politically and socially aware group of fans, who not only appreciate the football, but who also have an ardent passion for cinema, music, art, literature, history and pop culture. Compare this to the emphatic ramblings of village idiots across the city, who are often heard to proclaim, “We are Rangers, super Rangers, no one likes us, we don’t care”, a chant followed up by the liberal and outdated use of the F-word to describe the religious heritage of Celtic fans, whilst simultaneously casting eternal doubt on their parentage, and you get the overwhelming sense that Celtic fans are indeed a cut above.
With writers such as Tom Campbell, David Potter and Pat Woods offering unrelenting coverage of Celtic’s history over the past three decades, the club’s fans have been blessed with the literary genius of some of football’s finest historians. Richard Purden’s debut clearly marks this emerging talent out as a true contender to carry on the torch with an obvious passion and knowledge of the subject that leaves the reader wondering what delights he has in store for volume two.
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Hachette Scotland (15 Sep 2011)
- Language English
- ISBN-10: 0755360958
- ISBN-13: 978-0755360956
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.8 x 24 cm
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