Best fans in the world

A painting of The Huddle graces the room in Fiddler’s Green in Millbrae, California, where the San Francisco CSC watches Celtic games.

I spent Saturday’s match against St. Mirren with about 15 of the most passionate and dedicated Celtic fans, cheering on the Bhoys in Green from 5,000 miles away.

Those at the Millbrae, California, pub called Fiddler’s Green early on that Saturday morning make up the San Francisco Celtic Supporters’ Club, or CSC, which meets at the pub every game and watches each game — win, lose or draw — with the same passion and conviction that the most ardent local supporter in the stands at Paradise musters for 90-plus minutes.

The only difference is this: We aren’t there in person. And some of those in the room, like me, unfortunately have yet to step foot in Paradise, though it is in our plans and in our dreams, if not always in our hearts.

CSCs like the San Francisco group make up the worldwide extension of the “12th man” on the field, and the chants of Celtic Park are echoed by the attendees in the room where we watched. In addition in Millbrae, an impromptu chorus during the game of “Boys of the Old Brigade” was sung, started basso profundo by one member, with those who knew the song joining in. At Callum McGregor’s penalty, some of us started singing the “Hawaii 5-0” theme song while it played at Paradise.

We’ll get back to CSCs in a minute.

Unfortunately, there is a microscopic segment of Celtic fandom — a minuscule, small-minded, and tragically misguided segment — that seems to think that somehow some of us can’t be real Celtic fans because we’ve never been to Paradise. That somehow, those who go to home-and-away matches are better fans, and a class above those who cannot make the games for whatever reason.

I seem to have missed that memo: I was not aware that loving Celtic was some kind of competition.

Of course, it isn’t. But you wouldn’t know it by the attitudes of by this tiny-numbered, and tiny-minded, portion of the support.

On more than one forum, I’ve been accused of a.) being less than a fan because I have never attended a game, despite the insurmountable barrier of 4,378 nautical miles and 10 hours of flight time between San Francisco and Glasgow, making attendance at matches, home or away, just a tad difficult; or b.) being a local poseur and not really a Californian, in reality a Glasgow kid in his mom’s basement (Note: My mother lives in suburban Miami and has no basement); and, best of all, c.) the “gotcha” that if I have only been a fan since the 2018-19 season (true, as documented elsewhere), I must be a fake because I praise Shunsuke Nakamura and it’s impossible for me to have seen him . . . as if YouTube and Internet connectivity have never existed.

I’ve dismissed all that, since it’s all world-class ridiculous on an astronomical level. And I know the vast majority of Celtic fans at home in Scotland recognize and appreciate Celtic fans abroad — those of us who make the popularity of the Hoops a worldwide phenomenon — and realize that we are brothers (and sisters) in arms in the cause of the Green and White.

The club surely knows the importance of the CSCs, and whether it’s San Francisco or Johannesburg or Vancouver or Tokyo — or any of the 91 CSCs around the globe — we know that we are part and parcel of Tommy Burns’ iconic quote, “They’re there, and they’re always there. And God bless every one of them.”

Every one of them: From the decades-long season-ticket holder to the newest fan who just found Celtic yesterday. From the fan who travels to every away game to the fan who watches halfway around the world and may never see a Celtic game in person.

The passion is the same. The green-and-white scarf doesn’t shrink to fit inferior fans, and all who truly love Celtic are worthy to wear the scarf.

Every one of them: And those fans are everywhere.

Faithful through and through.

’67 in the Heat of Felton appears on a regular Tuesday/Thursday schedule, often with game observations following Celtic matches.

5 thoughts on “Best fans in the world”

  1. Forget the mindless minority. Every Celtic supporter is equal, whether attending a game at Paradise or watching or listening on the radio. HH to you guys across a very wide pond.

  2. Brilliant Larry, god bless you,the troops in San Francisco,and every Celtic fan the world over, who logistically can’t attend games but they’re love of Celtic is real,ignore the trolls,or give it to them big time, we know who real Celtic fan’s are, and it’s not the ‘keyboard warriors’ who have nothing good to say about our worldwide fan’s our club, and our team, Come on You Bhoy In Green! Hail Hail,and give my regard’s to the Bhoys and Ghirls of San Francisco CFC!

    1. Unfortunately Larry, those attitudes aren’t only directed towards our intercontinental fan groups, they are also evident on our own doorsteps.

      There is a very, very, very small group of fans who feel that if you can’t trace your Irish lineage back the mid-19th century, or if you didn’t offer confession or take mass last Sunday, or if you aren’t native Glaswegian – then you don’t have the credentials to be a Celtic fan.

      On the other hand, the vastly overwhelming majority of those who love Celtic will welcome and embrace any individual (regardless of race, creed, colour, faith or nationality) who has made an emotional committment to Celtic.

      In recent years, matchday at Celtic Park has resembled a UN assembly as fans and football tourists from all over the world have come to share the experience. Many of those primarily come as neutrals but exposure results in a 99.99% chance that the subject will contract Celticitis and have these symptoms for life.

      There are a million and one reasons why fans can’t get to games. It’s cost-prohibitive for many. There are health issues, work and family commitments to consider, geography doesn’t allow for fans to make a whistlestop trip to attend a game of football. Some laddies and lassies are actually playing matches for their age-group, youth, amateur, junior and senior teams while the game is being played.

      The key to it all are the values of the individual who has committed themselves in supporting Celtic.

      These are values which are not based on religion or nationality. They are based upon a sense of charity, decency and a neverending fight to stand up to injustice throughout the world.

      Pretty much the model for humanity really.

      Here’s my own personal thoughts on the matter……..Those of us who were blessed enough to be born into Celtic didn’t have much of a conscious choice in it. I’m not complaining, I love being a Celtic fan and besides my family, Celtic has been the one constant throughout my life; however – for those Celtic fans who may not come from a more “traditional” background – many of them then have to endure divisions within family. Aggravation from within their peer groups (school, workplace, location etc…..) Many of them are labelled as “gloryhunters” or “fairweather fans”. Many of them are deemed traitors to their faith.

      For the courage that these fans have to show, I’d happily stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them every single day of the week to watch the game.

      There is one other overriding, overwhelming (and often understated) reason why folk choose to be a Celtic fan – and that comes down to pure unadulterated love of Celtic.

      That’s plenty of credentials to be a true Celtic fan right there.

  3. A great read Brother
    Win, lose or draw, the one thing that bonds us, is our love of Glasgow Celtic
    Empty vessels, make the most noise
    Consider the source
    Hail Hail

  4. You are the proof that the Celtic family is truly international. Just as in other families, members are spread across the globe (flat earth????) but they are still relative and most supporters of the best team in the world will happily acknowledge that.

    I love the fact that folk all over the world get the history, get the traditions and live and breathe the Celtic air. HH

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