My Story – Martin Burns
I wasn’t around for Celtic’s greatest moment… but I may have been a product of the resulting euphoria surrounding it… born as I was in 1968.
As far as anyone in my family is aware, we’ve always been fervent Celtic supporters, my parents & my grandparents, were all proud Scottish Celtic fans and my great grandparents, proud Irish Celtic supporters. I cannot remember a time as a child when I did not have a football at my feet in my free time, it was my whole life and I knew… I was certain… it was my destiny… I was going to play for Celtic when I grew up… no doubt whatsoever! I played up the park, just opposite my house with my friend Sandy from down the hill, a staunch Rangers fan, every second we had after school till my mum shouted me in for my bath and from dawn till dusk at the weekends and holidays. Sandy and I always played in our respective team tops… I had a long sleeved top with the filled in white v-neck and collar circa 1975, he had the plain blue with the Rangers insignia on the chest. One day we decided to swap jerseys for some unknown or long forgotten reason and that was one of the weirdest feelings I can remember… it just felt wrong and we both quickly changed back! Tops weren’t as readily available back then and I’m not sure where mine came from as I know my family did not have much money but I wore that shirt out and by the time I was too big for it, it was literally all white!!! I also had a hand-me-down, round collar, shirt from the 60’s, probably from one of my uncles which kept it’s colour well after I grew too big for it (I think my dad cut the sleeves off it to make rags for polishing shoes – sacrilege!) and I always referred to it as my Jimmy Johnstone shirt! I could never understand why I was never picked for the school team though… I reasoned that I must’ve been unfortunate to be in the same year as so many really good players… but I was also never picked for any of the local teams outside of school either… A few years ago I was back visiting my parents and we were standing in the front room looking out the window at my brothers’ kids playing football up the park just like I did, we were reminiscing as you do and I said wasn’t it strange that my brothers (3 of them) have filled the house with their medals and trophies from their football successes, but I never managed to get into a team… and they all laughed and said ‘No – you were terrible – the worst footballer ever!!! I can’t begin to tell you the utter devastation I felt at that moment – how could I have been so wrong… in my mind I was the greatest and it was just sheer bad luck… but no, I was mistaken, even the girls in our family all agreed how bad I was!!! But growing up I was blissfully unaware of my rubbishness and now I wish I still was!
When I started high school I got involved in the school play and from there started taking drama lessons, there I truly did seem to have a knack and then joined Amateur Dramatics clubs outside of school. After a play in Airdrie Arts Centre, one of the make-up girls told me I should join proper acting classes in Glasgow, so I did and from there I got really seriously into it. I still followed the football, but I didn’t have time anymore for playing. My best friend Matt and I were both mad Celtic fans and one day we were cast together in John Byrne’s Slab Boys Trilogy – a fantastic set of 3 plays which follow the lives of 2 young neds in the 50’s right through to adulthood in the 80’s. Both characters are catholic so Matt and I assumed we could make them Celtic fans. The play was directed by Robert Carlyle – obviously before he became the mega-star he is today – and Bobby of course is a mad Rangers fan! We had a good bit of friendly banter throughout the rehearsals, there was never any animosity as Bobby, like me, is only interested in the football side of it and not any of the other baggage that attaches itself to our clubs. However, during the production week, the set designer had built the sets for us and as part of his ‘concept’, he wanted to add a touch of ‘realism’ to it and wanted myself and Matt to graffiti it up a bit as we think our characters would’ve done back then. We duly set about writing over cupboards things like ‘Celtic Roolz’; ‘Celts ya bass’; etc etc, Bobby came in as Matt was finishing off ‘Celtic 7 Rangers 1’ across the back wall… well to cut a long story short, he told us in no uncertain terms to ‘get that shite aff’, we argued that it was within our characters to have done this kind of stuff, but he was having none of it and so we had to relent! After that play was finished Bobby ‘advised’ me that if I wanted to be a good ‘actor’ and not just a ‘good Scottish’ actor, that I should get out of Scotland and try to make it work down in London… off I went and of course Bobby went on to super stardom and I spent the next 5 years not getting any work at all… do you think he just wanted rid of the competition?? ;)
I spent 8 years in London, just getting bits and pieces here and there, nothing much at all really! But I did meet my wife Emiko there – we both practice the same form of Buddhism and we met when she joined the same local group that I belonged to. After we got together and decided to get married she told me that one day she wanted to go back to Japan and take care of her mother, and I thought yeah that sounds like fun… (the living in Japan bit, not the looking after mother-in-law bit)… and then that one day came 6 years ago. I wasn’t making much progress with my career so I thought why not and here I am.
All those years in London, I never once thought of joining a CSC, I would drive back up the road for Old Firm games etc, or watch the games on the telly or in a CSC pub, but when I decided to move out here, I got straight on the internet to see if there was one out here… and of course there was!!! It was about the second day I was here when I went round to the pub we gather in and joined up straight away! I now run the club as all the original members have either left or have gotten family commitments which keep them away from the pub at the extremely unsociable hours we have if we want to watch the games live!
We’ve always had a good support of native Japanese people well before Nakamura. Some of them studied in Glasgow, some had Scottish friends, one even got into Celtic because she was a fan of some pop group who professed a love of Celtic ( I forget which one), but most of them were converted by seeing how much fun we have when we gather to watch a game! We’ve had some tremendous nights watching Celtic out here and of acourse after Nakamura joined us, a lot more Japanese wanted to join us and interest from both the Japanese and the UK media went through the roof and we found ourselves thrust into the unexpected limelight! Journos from Scotland wanting interviews and pictures, TV shows wanting to film us, radio shows wanting us to phone up on their programmes and even authors putting us in their books! The one thing that has made my family most proud of me is not any of the roles I’ve played on stage, TV or film… but the fact that there are 2 whole pages all about me in Nakamura’s biography - The Zen of Naka! One of my proudest moments was getting to meet Gordon Strachan and presenting him with our player of the year awards when Celtic came out here for that ill-fated game against Nakamura’s old club Yokohama F Marinos!
So that’s me, my story of where I came from and how I got here! I’m still plugging away at the old acting game, but I can’t make a living from it so I teach English to kids to pay the bills! Of course all the kids know Nakamura, they’re all football crazy as I was at their age and they love it when I wear my Celtic top and pepper my lessons with conversation concerning the previous weekend’s game! I don’t know how long I’ll stay out here, I have no plans to leave at the moment so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens!
Unfortunately my wife and I can’t have kids of our own but we do have a little dog, his name is Jack and he has been indoctrinated into the Celtic way as any proud father would his son! My wife’s sister also lives with us and she has a mentally and physically handicapped son Yuya, who comes home from the special hospital at the weekends to stay with us and he loves it when I get excited and shout at the computer screen when watching a game. He’s now of course a big Celtic fan also and has the strip and the t-shirts to prove it!
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell my story, Jim. Keep up the great work you do there, Channel 67 is a Godsend for me and many others who have to live far away from ‘home’… honestly I don’t think I’d have stayed this long if I didn’t have that connection! We have all the games on satellite here, but it’s not the same – I want to hear Celtic people talk about the team they love as much as I do and there is no better place than right here on Ch.67
All the best to everyone there and all the listeners and viewers around the world – ‘Mon the Hoops!!!
Secretary, Tokyo CSC