“The Terrorist or the Dreamer. The Savage or the Brave? Depends whose vote you’re trying to catch or whose face you’re trying to save”
On the left you have William Wallace with whom I’m sure you know much about (see Braveheart and Mel Gibson) but not a lot on Bobby Sands. An IRA hunger striker, or more accurately an Irish volunteer for the Provisional Irish Republican Army who died while on hunger strike within a British run Irish prison in May 1981.
He was convicted of bombing the Balmoral Furniture Company but the judge even admitted himself that there was actually no evidence whatsoever to support this. He was also later charged with possession of a gun that was found in a car that he was travelling in and sentenced to 14 years in prison (again, very little evidence here) but the British police and legal team desperately needed scapegoats and to convict somebody, at any cost.
The significance of the hunger strike was the prisoners’ aim of being declared political prisoners (or prisoners of war) as opposed to criminals but Sands then died 66 days aged just 27. So essentially what the banner says, is that a man who stood up against the unlawful English occupation of Scotland in the 1200’s, and quite rightly so, is heralded as a ‘hero’, a ‘freedom fighter’ and a ‘man with a just and worthy cause’ but a man who believed in Ireland being a Republic, who believed that Northern Ireland should remain a part of the Republic of Ireland and not be a part of Great Britain, who believed that the British invasion of Ireland in the early 1900’s was wrong and unjustified (similar to what the Israelis have scandalously done in Palestine) is labelled a ‘criminal’ and a ‘terrorist’.
Celtic supporters have a massive affiliation and also huge ties with Ireland given how we were formed back in 1888. A man called Sir Brother Walfrid (a priest) set up a local football team to help raise money for the poor and impoverished in Glasgow, West of Scotland and because Catholics in those days were almost treated like the Blacks in America during the 50’s, this was their first real opportunity to get together and play for a team as other teams in those days would not allow Catholics to play for them. Celtic Football Club was formed and became extremely successful very early on, beating Rangers in their very first competitive game 5-2 and going on to win their first League Championship in 1893 which set the benchmark for professional football in Scotland.
Suddenly Celtic were generating home attendances of over 100,000 people at their games and the Scottish Football Association wanted to counter this movement from what they saw as ‘Irish immigrants’ which had all the hallmarks or a revolution. This was then they painted Rangers (a club already in existence) out to be a ‘protestant’ club to count our Irish, Republican Catholic routes.
I have been a Celtic since I knew how to pronounce the word ‘football’ which was probably when I was a year and half old. Of course, how much are you really aware of when you’re only 18 months old? So I received my first Celtic shirt when I was just 4 years old and I remember playing football in my back garden avidly, setting up jumpers and heaps of grass to dribble round and then shoot at an imaginary goal.
For Celtic fans, supporting Celtic is more than just supporting a ‘football club’, it’s about following a movement, a culture and being a part of a family which is more than 12 million strong worldwide. We have a repertoire of songs as long as The Beatles which are original and exclusive to us and neutrals will often say that there is no atmosphere in world football like the atmosphere created at Celtic Park, in particular on Champions League nights.
I can honestly say I am proud to support a club like Celtic and I often shout it from the rooftops (especially when I have had a few beers) – Do I envy clubs like Manchester City and Arsenal? Being able to buy players like Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Mesut Ozil? Of course I do. But what we have is more than a few expensive football players on 100 K per week; what we have is a passion and an appetite for the game that cannot be rivaled anywhere else. What we create is an atmosphere on match day/night like no other in world football. What we have is a history rich in success and a genuine global support who know what it means to follow a club like Celtic. The first British team to win the European Cup in 1967 when we convincingly beat favorites Inter Milan in the final. The first team to ever win all trophies they entered in one season (Bayern Munich joined this list just last season). The second highest average attendance in British football (behind only Manchester United). Lastly, the most passionate, knowledgeable, football mad supporters in the world.