Thursday, April 15, 2010

Celtic fans rampage through Newcastle

From the Newcastle Fanzine True Faith - July 2007

'View from the Newcastle fanzine


Celtic eh? No history of British football would be complete without reference to the remarkable club from Glasgow. Formed to raise money to provide relief for the poor of the East End of that famous city by Brother Walfrid and the Marist Order, the club has gone onto become one of the most famous the world over and has a romance attached to it few can compete with - Patsy Gallagher, Jimmy McGrory, the tragedy of John Thompson, Jock Stein, Billy McNeil (Ceasar) and the Lisbon Lions of 67 and a procession of top, top players who have lit up the game and played the game in a distinctive, Celtic way. A good way.

At Celtic Park, on the big occassion, the home support can generate a spine-tingling atmosphere and despite the advent of all-seater stadiums, the place can be a riot of colour and provides the backdrop for the way football should be. At SJP they had a display of flags in the Leazes that were excellent - the best we've had in NE1 for a long time. Well done to those responsible.

There are plenty on Tyneside who hold a candle for Celtic - the Irish-Scots diaspora has generated a quiet affection for the Glasgow club and having had Celtic down to SJP to provide the opposition for testimonials for two of our most loved players of the modern era (Beardsley and Shearer), we have viisted Celtic Park twice in the last ten-twelve years for their return from Hampden and for a friendly match - we should be getting on with them like a house on fire.

But we're not. And its not our fault. Celtic should not be invited back to Newcastle and it saddens me deeply to say it. Not for the first time has their support visted our city and generated sheer disgust at their behaviour. I'll say now there are plenty of Celtic fans who have visited Newcastle and behaved perfectly well and I'll freely concede there are elements within our support who are hardly angelic but there is a large section of Celtic's support in Newcastle who behave in a thoroughly obnoxious manner.
This isn't meant for the Celtic fans who have visited Newcastle, had a few pints, a sing-song, gone to the match and behaved themselves. Not at all. But they do bring some of the detrius of Scotland with them and despite the money generated for Newcastle United, their visits have to be put to an end. A good 30% of their following simply don't know how to behave and see these visits south as an opportunity to behave completely without a lack of regard, respect for our city and without dignity for Celtic Football Club.

Newcastle is a safe, modern, friendly, laid back city with loads going on - much like Glasgow - but we can't have it turned upside down because NUFC can get a good run out and earn a few shillings.

Around the city, Celtic fans left a trail of rubbish - as any self-respecting Geordie Mam would ask - I wonder what their homes are like - and as I made my way up Blackett St queues of absolutely stotting Celtic fans urinated in the streets in full view of women and children and appeared to take a delicious pride in their bone-headed behaviour.

Its not the vulgar displays of their Roman Catholicism - huge crucifixes prominently displayed by some who I'd guess haven't found their way into a Church for many a year - that's a matter for them, though it cheapens an ancient religion in a way none of their detractors could ever do. Not so much Catholic kitsch but bling. Its not even the renditions of irrelevant Rebel Songs but it is the constant abuse of Alan Shearer, which was meant to be provocative but were largely blanked by supporters inside SJP bemused by their hostility to a man who has no history with them, who I hear has attended games at Celtic Park with Shay Given and who spoke warmly of their support after his testimonial. I don't recall us getting so uptight about Larsson do you? Why should we? A fine player. Shameful that they have to abuse a player who didn't play against them in a proper fixture in order to sing the praises of one of their all time greatest players.

To abuse one of our club's most beloved sons wasn't annoying for us - it was strictly small time for them. The "Keano" chants were predictable but harmless - we'll put that under banter - we're not so po-faced we can't take a bit craic.

But most seriously the hail of bottles and glasses hurled towards St. Andrew's St. from Gallowgate, under the Chinese arch next to the Tyneside Irish Centre (who rumour tells me ironically weren't keen on being swamped by support from Scotland) by Celtic fans was criminally dangerous, completely indiscriminate and should end the invitations to Celtic Football Club to visit SJP. I saw bottles narrowly missing families and they were being thrown with wreckless intensity. Remember this was a game to which U-11s were encouraged with free admission. Again, I'm not suggesting our support was completely innocent but there is no question of provocation.

Its truly sad when a fanzine feels the need to call for a football club to be banned from our city because large numbers of their supporters can't conduct themselves acceptably . Sad and probably irrelevant.

And we won 4-1. We're not getting excited.'
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