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The Green Brigade
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DetailsGroup Title: The Green Brigade
aka: GB, GB's
Formed: July 2006
Motto: "Until the Last Rebel"
BackgroundLove them or loathe them, the Green Brigade have survived the early predictions of impending collapse and have made for themselves a mark in the Celtic support. Begun as a bunch of splitters from the Jungle Bhoys, after a bit of disagreement over a joint anti-sectarianism banner with the Huns, the Green Brigade have made it clear that they are their own men (or boys!) and follow their own rules.
From the start they have defined themselves much differently than the Jungle Bhoys. Markedly more belligerent in their tone than other Celtic groups, they are a left-wing politically, anti-fascist group and are supportive of a united Ireland and independent Scotland (in their words) etc etc... Cynics would say their politics are simplistic and crude (a longer argument for another day for someone else to take on!) and sections of the support seem split markedly on their view on the group. E-tims described them once as "...about the best thing that’s happened within the support in a very long time", but others have said the exact opposite.
Their membership is generally quite young, although they have more than their fair share of overgrown teenagers in their forties, but in general the group appealed to younger Celts compared to the Jungle Bhoys (now ended). Their mockingly militant aspect is another factor that is likely to attract some people towards their group (as against the old Jungle Bhoys group) but on occasion it can also attract unwelcome people as well. You just got to deal with them and in fairness the Green Brigade are strict on certain modes of behaviour especially on racism or bigotry.
They have been quite an active group. Whilst most others have spent countless hours debating and bemoaning the state of the atmosphere at Celtic Park and elsewhere, the Green Brigade have actually gone and done something about it. The variety and quality of their banners have been nothing less than astounding and the humour in most of them has been a great advert for the support. Some of their banners have related to various campaigns, such as memorials to the Irish Famine and to the exorbitant ticket prices at games, and whilst this area is obviously going to create friction at least it has created public debate on various issues.. Their banners have even become cult interest. Clever and smart, pictures of their banner displays have been sent all over the football world. In general, they have reflected the humourous side of the club, the most famous display being the "Scotland's Shame" display targeting the Huns. A selection of their best banners can be seen in the following link. (Note we've marked most of the banners that are the Green Brigade's work).
- Link: Banners & Displays
Additionally, they have been a constant presence wherever we may be. Their banners can be seen and found wherever we go, no matter whether the match is important or not. At the Peterborough friendly away in summer 2008, despite the game being an unattractive and meaningless friendly, they helped to generate a really great atmosphere on old style terracing (much to the delight of the older fans). They'll even go to extremes: at the Rapid Vienna away game in 2009, the Green Brigade banner was clearly flown whilst whole loads of supporters were jumping around without their shirts on in temperatures of -8C! It was all in good fun and helped to build an atmosphere that was widely seen throughout Europe and put the Vienna home fans in the shade. They definitely follow the old lines of "we'll go anywhere,... faithful through and through...".
Despite being lauded for helping to create atmosphere there are criticisms. Unashamedly left-wing, the political aspect of the group leaves some a bit cold (many deem it unfit and irrelevant in the modern footballing environment). The retort is that critics are post-McCann fans which is patently laughable taking in the general age of many members of the Green Brigade. It's also been claimed that certain of their members start up singing of a number of old militant Irish tunes at away games, which is something that has the potential to cause the club serious problems with authorities (outwith of football as well as within), however this has been much on the wane and doesn't happen at Celtic Park at least.
One noticeable point is that they liked to display their signature banner upside down at matches! The reasoning is that it's a common standard amongst Ultra groups in Europe in protesting against any of their own club's decisions. In this case it was over the appointment of John Reid as chairman of the club. People can view this as they want, but the Green Brigade take it as a political stance, vehemently opposed to his appointment as he was a minister in the UK Government that took the country into the war in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000's.
Due to their stances, it's inevitable that they would run into conflict with the club, and this has meant various headaches which again can be left for a wider discussion elsewhere. The Green Brigade did state in their original notice (re-printed below) that they are not willing to co-operate with the PLC board, not exactly helpful. Must note that not all the trouble is necessarily their fault, and any flare ups are usually worsened by people wading in from nowhere just for the sake of it and so making the whole thing spiral out of control. The job of the stewards is tough enough for some. In truth, the Green Brigade have hardly pushed on many of their more tough stances and they have mainly concentrated on issues surrounding the support and the atmosphere at games.
Celtic is more than a club and doesn't follow the cliché that the phrase has become for some. Throughout the history of the club, the support has had a general antipathy to establishment culture and have been at the forefront of causes against oppression. Times have changed, but the support for valid causes is still an essential aspect of our culture. The Green Brigade are just another offshoot of this (whether you agree with their stances or not).
Despite cynicism, the Green Brigade managed to build on their early successes, and to help turnaround a fall in the attendances at games (following two poor seasons), and in 2010 the Green Brigade managed to obtain Section 111 of the ground (around corner of the Lisbon Lions Stand/North stand), and have built up a strong base of regulars who have helped rejuvenate the support. This is a notable action as proves that the club management (& board) have been fair and assisting the support despite whinges to the contrary. Many people began to openly applaud the Green Brigade and state that they were very much more enjoying going to games now due to the better atmosphere at games as created by the Green Brigade.
They have planted themselves into the support and they will be around for a long time to come. Many youngsters are attracted to them and it has nothing to do with any supposed crude politics. The singing, the colour and the humour from the group has been wonderful and at their best have made match experiences a joy (much better than the constant moaning that has been the norm from one or two other sections of the crowd).
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the Green Brigade should be chuffed as replica groups (The Comrades/The Rude Bhoys) sprang up on the other side of the ground (Section 122) mirroring them in many ways. Although they couldn't compete and sadly both ended not long after forming. Hell, even Rangers fans created a version (The Blue Order or The Blue Odour as some dub them) and have even stolen some of the Green Brigade's tunes & actions! Laughable.
Into 2011/12, more than established within the support, the club have even used images from their displays for commercial promotional exercises. The group's songs have become staples not only in their section but across the ground. They have became the centre for generating atmosphere in the support and for that all should truly respect them. Their songs are now the standard across the support, and the mass "Huddle" which they began at Celtic is replicated across the stadium during the most important matches.
If one moment more than any other that seals the Green Brigade's success then it will be from the last league game of the 2011/12 season. Celtic were handed the league trophy for the title, and Neil Lennon later walked over the GB's corner and placed the trophy in front of them, stepped back and applauded them. It was respect for their support (vocal and visual) throughout the season both at home and away, and a touching tribute to their effort. Some sections criticised Lennon for this believing it was unfair to single the GB out, but that was churlish in light of what they had achieved. On the other hand, is this acceptance by the club officials? Surely they prefer to be "rebels" and "outsiders"? Joking aside, they deserved their moment as much as the team players and management.
As long as the group focus on invigorating the Celtic matchday experience, they'll do well. We all have an opinion on them (and many have strong words to say on them) but being outsiders is part of their appeal for their members. We should still all continue to look forward to their future displays and everyone should applaud them (grudgingly if need be from the critics) for much of their efforts to date.
Quotes"What I find weird is RFC fans utterly obsessing with the Green Brigade, and praying for IRA chanting when, such as Saturday, there is none."
Graham Spiers (Twitter, 25 Sep 2011)
"The Celtic banners. Lord, how many man-woman hours went into dreaming them up? There was a level of genius about some of them, one in particular, a gigantic image of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse with Neil Lennon in the saddle on one and Hector the taxman on board another. Your Day Is Coming was the message underneath this footballing Mona Lisa. All around it, people waved black flags and held mock gravestones, each with its own message – The End, Rot In Hell, Scotland’s Shame, Get It Up You. Not subtle, but then subtlety wasn’t in the plan. Down the other end of the stadium another collection of Celts held up signs with the word Goodbye written in a dozen different languages. This was goading on a grand scale. If there was a Champions League for revelling in the misery of others, then Celtic would be Europe’s pre-eminent club"
Tom English (The Scotsman newspaper, 30 Apr 2012) on Green Brigade's classic banner (see match)
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