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From Brake Clubs to The Jungle Bhoys
Jock Stein once famously said: “Football without fans is nothing”.
Certainly at Celtic the support has been the lifeblood of the club. From the earliest days the Celts have attracted among the most faithful, dedicated and organised supports in the game. So much so that throughout the decades Celtic fans have been spoilt for choice when it comes to joining organised supporters group.
Almost within months of Celtic forming the ever growing fanbase of the club were starting to organise themselves into Brake Clubs. Named after large horse drawn wagons they would use as transportation, the Brake Clubs were mostly formed from temperance groups within Glasgow’s catholic parishes.
Often travelling in large numbers each club would have their own colourful banner, featuring a favourite player, and in keeping with the origins of Celtic they would raise generous amounts for charity. However, as the years progressed the reputation of the Brake’s became tarnished by rowdiness and, rather ironically given the original connection with temperance, drunkenness. The increasing popularity of the motor car and the railway would mean that by the late 1920s the Brake Clubs were all but extinct.
It would be 1944 before the next organised fans body was formed. With World War II still raging Willie Fanning submitted a letter to the Daily Record suggesting the idea of a new Celtic supporters club and inviting interested parties to join him at a meeting. After initial meetings the new group had gained significant support and the Celtic Supporters Association was born. Within two years boasted 12 branches across central Scotland.
The Association was endorsed by the club and would grow considerably in the following decades. The Affiliation of Celtic Supporters Club would also later emerge as another influential body for supporters while Hoops fans in Ireland, North America and England would also form their own separate associations. In the late 1990s, in the wake of Fergus McCann’s share issue, The Celtic Trust was founded in an attempt to represent the voice of the small shareholder.
The new Millenium would see the creation of the Jungle Bhoys and latterly the more political Green Brigade. Both groups, influenced by continental style Ultra groups, were formed in an attempt to improve the atmosphere at Parkhead and in recent years have produced some truly outstanding displays and banners.
Almost all of the supporters’ bodies have admirably upheld the original charitable purposes of Celtic, although it is fair to say that not all their actions have always met with the universal approval of the wider support. But there is no doubt that, from elegant banners of the early Brake Clubs to the poignant and witty efforts of today’s groups, these organisations have become an integral and welcome part of the Celtic experience.
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, Feb 11 2011, 7:37 AM EST
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