Glasgow Irish FC v Edinburgh Harps Jason Lyons Memorial Trophy

On Saturday 30th July Glasgow Irish FC took on Edinburgh Harps at Toryglen. Two teams with a lot in common, a friendship had been born a few months previously over social media and then by dialogue between the men in charge of running the clubs. The idea was raised for an annual trophy we could play for each year in our respective pre season campaigns. It was decided that charitable causes should benefit from the bond the clubs were keen to see grow. 
The untimely and extremely sudden passing of a close friend of the Glasgow Irish founders, Jason Lyons, prompted us to honour his memory by creating The Jason Lyons Memorial Trophy. This will now be played for each year against Edinburgh Harps who played a huge part in making it a thoroughly enjoyable day for everybody involved. 

This was only Glasgow Irish third game since our birth and a quality Edinburgh Harps team won the game 2-0. The Irish management and support were somewhat dumbfounded by this scoreline however as Glasgow Irish squandered chance after chance and dominated the game aside from some short lapses in concentration. All in, it was a great game to watch for both supports and with Jason Lyons himself being a huge football fan I’m sure he would have appreciated the attacking football on show. Hopefully the Irish can go one better next season and lift the trophy for you Jase. 

A massive thank you must go to Edinburgh Harps for helping make it a great day and long may our friendship continue. 

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Glasgow Irish FC v Lanarkshire Amateurs 

Glasgow Irish FC 5-2 Lanarkshire Amateurs

The Irish kicked off the first competitive game of our existence against an unknown quantity in the League Section versus Lanarkshire Amateurs. Starting with a 3-4-3 formation the Irish stated intent when in 5 mins a through ball from Jordan Jeffrey was smashed home by number 9 Lewis Maitland. Our joy was to be short lived however as a long throw from a Lanarkshire full back was misjudged by defender Efe McAuley and stand in keeper Kevin McCaig was beaten from close range. 

The Irish upped the tempo after this and some great passing moves through the entire midfield created 3-4 chances that should have been buried. Irish went ahead however when a cross from striker Stephen Cleary found Jordan Jeffrey and he glanced the ball into the corner of the net with a fine header. Ten minutes later GIFC went further in front when a deep cross from the left was headed back across goal by the impressive Connor Jack and Stephen Cleary rose above the away defence to bullet a header past the keeper. 

Half Time 3-1

Glasgow Irish started the second half as they had finished the first with some exciting football down both flanks. Hitting the post and some good goalkeeping by the visiting keeper kept the scoreline the same however. Calum Mclean replaced Jordan Jeffrey for his GIFC debut while Martin Rice came on for Lewis Maitland. Almost immediately the goal of the game was scored by Martin Rice. Some great play through midfield was rewarded when Calum Mclean sent over an inch perfect cross for Martin Rice to header into the far top corner. 

Irish then took their foot off the gas and allowed Lanarkshire into the game and they pulled a goal back when an unmarked forward slotted past McCaig. 

This shook the Irish into life though and wing back Stephen Cairns finished a flowing move by chipping the ball over the away keeper for another superb goal. 

This was an impressive performance from GIFC. More ruthlessness will be needed in front of goal however as the result would have been far superior had chances been taken. 

Man of the match number 4 Robert Gallacher. 

Special mention to Kevin McCaig, Connor Jack, Stephen Cleary and Stephen Cairns who were also outstanding. 

Glasgow Irish FC

  Season 2011-2012 was my most enjoyable in amateur football. It was also a fine one for our club and on an emotional level a fantastic one for a certain family member who kicks a ball for the Hoops. Enough about the big team for now though. That season I had played for Celtic Amateurs in the Saturday afternoon league. Having been involved at amateur level since I was 18 it surprised me to find the best dressing room, team mates and general atmosphere I had been a part of thus far in my time in the ammies. There were lads from all over, as far as Dunoon, coming to train and play for us. Having the chance to pull on the Celtic home and away kits of that time in an official capacity was an absolute privilege. I won’t throw any falsehoods out there that we were an amazing side, we had some great individuals but found it difficult to have any consistency. It was baffling as the training and commitment to the team were second to none. Indeed it had taken a final fixture victory over Greenock to ensure we stayed up in the top division. 

Due to reasons out with the players control the team folded that summer. I hadn’t even enjoyed a full season with my teammates but I swear I was heartbroken. The whole occasion of putting on the club tie or tracksuit and wearing those famous Hoops made me feel amazing. The abuse we suffered against certain teams had to be seen to be believed. Our away fixture at Campbeltown Pupils was unreal. We arrived at the park to be greeted with huge union jacks and Rangers scarves in the dozens. Undeterred we fought out a 1-1 draw with a defender in goal against the league leaders. Auldhouse at home was a game that changed me as a person. I knew there was bigotry and hatred in this country and I also knew why. To see it in such a collective form however, really had an impact on me. The centre mid I was up against that day took less than two minutes to inform me I was a fenian bastard. Fair enough. Used to that one. To see the referee chuckle to himself was the real kick in the balls. The venom spat from their sideline also went unnoticed. After a game which we lost 1-0 to a blatantly offside goal I approached the referee to ask why nothing had been done about the day’s events only to be shown a straight red card!!! I actually pitied the excuse for a grown man. 

All in though it was a great experience and one I feel shouldn’t be denied players of the amateur game. This led me to start a new team, not another Celtic team but Glasgow Irish Football Club. Using the ethos of a club we love as a driving force behind us, we aim to be unique to any other amateur club. Far too many people in Glasgow/Scotland are afraid to openly embrace their Irish identity. I feel we should be proud of where we originated from and this team intends to celebrate that background. Any race or religion will be welcomed to our club and charity will be at the forefront of our goals. Whatever funds left over from running costs, bills etc will go straight to charities. The playing side will take care of itself. We have covered so much ground in the last 6 weeks of setting up. There has been a fantastic response on social media and our advertising streams continue to grow. The abuse on Twitter has also been very heartening. You see Irish is a bad word in Glasgow. Put the two together and we’ve got a lot of people who don’t like it. We need to be united and push on with our plans though, which are so big it’s almost overwhelming to me. 

We are on Twitter @glasgowirishfc. If anyone wishes to play for the club or contribute in any way please get in touch. We would love support at our games also. Merchandise will be available shortly to fund strips etc so any help is welcome. We’ll be representing a certain group of people at amateur level and that can be an amazing thing. We genuinely hope to make people proud of what we are doing. 

Hail Hail. C’mon the Glairish. 

Maestro

  
My Dad is something of a dinosaur. A man very set in his ways. Modern advances in technology have by in large passed him by. It’s not that he’s ignorant or unintelligent, he simply sticks to what works best for him. Fair enough. This is why he can still be found in his den watching videos. Not DVD’s but VCR. Videocassette Recorded movies. Ancient. Older than dirt. He still keeps all his favourites in a suitcase in his room. Almost every cassette I wouldn’t watch stranded on a desert island. There is one shining light in his collection though, Maestro, the Paul McStay story. A story that I could never tire of watching on his old tv/video combo antique. I’m surprised the video is still in working order. The amount of times I’ve watched it must easily hit three figures. From a young age and still now it is still a privilege to be able to watch what I consider an artist of the beautiful game. Here I try to convey just why Paul McStay will forever be my favourite player. 

  
It was perhaps written in the stars that Paul Michael McStay would play for the club he loved. Following in the footsteps of his great uncles Jimmy and Willie, Paul was to pull on the Hoops and serve our great club with distinction. A player well ahead of his time, with a range of passing second to none and a knack for scoring spectacular goals, McStay was a joy to behold. His introduction to the first team on league duty began with a typical McStay goal in a 3-1 win over an impressive Aberdeen side of the time. Paul went from strength to strength through the 80s. It’s as our captain in the 90s that I will mostly focus on here though. About how his drive and determination impressed on me that, in life, you don’t always have to be the loudest or most brash to succeed. 

It must be worth mentioning that in some supporters eyes Paul was something of a let down in his career. That he never fulfilled his early promise. Some say the only reason he never left Celtic was that no other teams came in for him. Call me a romantic but I much prefer to believe that Paul stayed with us for one simple reason. He had Celtic blood pumping through his heart. That to lead our team meant more than monetary gain. Everyone is open to their own opinion of course. Not every player will capture every fans adoration. Blinded by my love for Celtic there can only be a select few in my mind who can truly represent Celtic and the Celtic philosophy. In an earlier blog I wrote on Tommy Burns a keyword I used was humility. This is a recurring theme throughout when discussing players our support has been able to relate to as if in the stands alongside us. I’m glad it was only a minority who didn’t fully appreciate Paul and his many efforts. 

  
Maestro- a man who is very skilled at playing or instructing. 

Paul McStay was the maestro of the team I first started watching and grew obsessed with. I can’t comment so much on his work in the 80s as it will all have been seen secondary. I do consider myself to have been privileged to watch the man play for Celtic for a few seasons at least. The barren years that we faced throughout the early nineties coupled with our club almost going under was an extremely tough time to be a Celtic supporter. One constant throughout this time though was McStay and his unbowed, relentless drive to carry us on the park. He done this unselfishly. Playing under these circumstances and surrounded by players of far less ability and understanding must have been the hardest of tasks yet you never heard a bad word from our captain. 

When Pauls ex teammate Tommy Burns took over as manager at Celtic there must have been an immense pressure amongst the real Celtic men within the group. Peter Grant, Packie Bonner and Paul along with Tommy would have hurt the same as us supporters during these dark times. The League Cup of 94 was an opportunity to end our misery trophy wise. This culminated in McStay missing the deciding spot kick in the final with Raith Rovers. Sitting some 14 rows directly behind the goal where the penalties would be taken to see my hero fall at the last hurdle in such a fashion was a memory I would rather forget, although never will. He would not be starved much longer however. The Scottish Cup Final of 95 would see us face Airdrie at Hampden. Tosh Mckinlay’s wand of a left foot set up Big Pierre and the wait was over. The relief our captain must have experienced that day must have been unimaginable. I remember watching the game and my household was ecstatic. We had won silverware for the first time in a long time and this may well have been the catalyst for what we were to see in future seasons. We had a belief back. Thank you, Tommy and Paul. 

  
Nowadays the sleeve tattoo and a variety of odd haircuts are the tell tale signs of the modern footballer. Back in the 90s there were more sinister temptations for footballers in Glasgow. Our enemies from over the river had a few undesirables in their ranks. Durrant, Ferguson and Goram the more unsavoury. They thought nothing of pandering to the Neanderthal followers of their team. They were happy to hit Paisley Road West and keep the company of various Loyalist figures. Think about that in contrast to the men we had leading us at the time. These men didn’t need to align themselves with any risqué element of our support. They lived in a humble manner. Paul McStay especially. A class apart from the names I mentioned earlier. They couldn’t touch him on the park and couldn’t stand next to him off it. Absolute class all the way with our captain. In recent years we have learned that a cheating establishment and other black arts were against us. This is why it’s a travesty that men like Tommy and Paul never had more silverware. You wouldn’t hear them complain or blame anyone else though. Like I said, class. 

  
My sister works for a major airline. A stewardess on long haul flights has been her job since leaving school. On a flight to Sydney, Australia one day she recognised the man himself, albeit a bit greyer in hair and fuller in shape. Approaching the Maestro she explained that she was a Celtic fan and that her brother idolised him. McStay replied that I myself must be a fair age now. When my sister informed him I was late twenties he was shocked. “Why does he like me?”, “Can he even remember me?” My sister said exactly what I would have, “Because you are a legend Paul”. That chance meeting epitomises everything about Mcstay as a man. Humble and grateful for what Celtic gave him. We should be the grateful ones. 

You’ll Never Walk Alone Paul. 

Hail Hail. 

@hammer_celtic

We All Dream of A Team of Twists and Turns

  Nothing in the way I write this blog or describe how he made me and most other Celtic supporters of our generation feel will truly describe the admiration, love and respect I have for this man. Thanks. That’s the overriding emotion I have towards Tommy Burns. A thanks for guiding a wee Bhoy into catching the bug of supporting and loving the Celtic. A thank you for giving me the pleasure of seeing the most exciting style of football I’ve seen us play so far in my lifetime. For bringing through our youth whether they made it at Celtic or not. I’m truly and eternally grateful for Tommy showing how you can make it in all aspects of life by showing great humility, courage and decency. One word sums up TB in my opinion. Class. 
  
TB was the fan who lived out his dream. I won’t start hitting out with the statistics from his superb career. This isn’t for that. It says everything that he had the complete respect of his fellow professionals. He was known as a players player. With a cultured left foot and a tenacity to match the surroundings in which he had grown up. Hard as nails. You don’t get to play for Celtic for as long and as TB did without being special. From 75′-89’Tommy played with some of the best players to wear the Hoops in recent times and never looked out of place. His efforts on the pitch, his background and his all round love and appreciation towards the support was second to none. He was one of us, a warrior for his club and people. We loved him then. We love him now. 

After moving to Kilmarnock as player/manager TB galvanised a very weary support in Ayrshire and gained promotion to the Premier League. His infectious enthusiasm had given Killie a new lease of life and the fans still speak fondly of TB and his efforts whilst there. When the call came to return home to Celtic there was only ever going to be one outcome. Tommy being unveiled as our new manager was welcomed with great joy from the support. I can clearly remember the elation around my family households when the news broke. Tommy was one of us and you just knew that when he spoke it was from the heart. We believed in him and he never let us down. 

  
The quote above should be used as a mantra for any Celtic player to absorb. It came from Tommy and you can picture him selling Celtic to the likes of Pierre Van Hooijdonk, Paolo Di Canio and Jorge Cadete. In his all too short time as manager Tommy would only lift one trophy, the 95′ Scottish Cup. For me this trophy was just as important as any silverware the club has won in its history. It brought a realisation that we were not down. That we could still have those days. That final had taken years off most of us. We could have ended the drought against Raith in the Coca Cola Cup final but for The Maestro missing the deciding penalty. In defeat Tommy radiated calmness and solidarity with a support in dire need of trophies. His team had Celtic men all through it with Bonner, Grant and Mcstay representing us out on the pitch. You could see the hurt in these players in defeat and the relief in victory. You genuinely related and skipped the same beats as these men. You couldn’t do that now. 

The style of football we played under Tommy Burns was an exceptional one. A joy to watch. Attacking, adventurous, daring and exciting. Youth given a fair chance. A mixture of homegrown and foreign stars entertained us and showed the passion TB had instilled in his team. The facts and figures say we never won the league. This much is true. At the time we never knew there was a serious financial advantage bestowed upon our deceased rivals. Carte Blanche was afforded to the dead club. No-one could have competed with that freedom of spending. Although Tommy very nearly broke the stranglehold the crooks had over the Scottish game. The SFA/RFC facilitator Jim Farry deliberately holding up the Cadete transfer without a doubt had its baring. The “offside” Cadete strike at Ibronx too? The kind of things we were up against at the time. 

After leaving Celtic for a second time Tommy took on several roles in England but never looked at all comfortable in another teams colours. Thankfully TB returned to us during Kenny Dalglish short stint as manager. Many Celtic fans wanted Tommy to take the reigns once again but Martin O’Neill was to come in. Making Tommy head of Youth Development was a shrewd move. The youth could only benefit greatly from Tommy’s knowledge of the game and the attitude needed in keeping with what our club stands for. Who better to teach you how to be a good human being as well as nurture you as a footballer? 

Coupled with his involvement with the national teams set up Tommy Burns was a great link between players and management. You couldn’t imagine morale being anything but good with a man such as TB around. Blessed with a comedic nature and a known patter merchant TB wouldn’t tolerate the heads being down. Anyone that can amuse Gordon Strachan more than he can himself has to be hilarious. When the time came for hard work however Tommy was as stern as any coach on the training field. The relationship he had with the players meant they were on his side. Anyone who’s played at any level can tell you that when you admire someone like they did with TB you give that 10% more in your efforts. That’s called inspiring people. Something this great man specialised in. 

Tommy’s rapport with the Celtic support is one I doubt will be bettered. He moved to the same rhythm as us and we did with him. A policy brought in during his time as manager was the players going to Supporters Clubs functions. He encouraged this greatly. It made the support more in touch with our team and I personally feel we miss that relationship badly. Tommy was out there for us and we knew it. Without a doubt. When he hurt we hurt and vice versa. That is a rare thing these days. In my opinion TB at the club in any capacity would greatly benefit us and it’s no coincidence we enjoyed many successes and built foundations with Tommy involved. 

  
In looking to get the ball rolling with our new training ground TB had been tasked with the job of going round some of Europe’s top clubs and bringing feedback on which routes we should go down. What we were given after his endeavour was a world class training ground in Lennoxtown. I cannot fathom why the facility hasn’t been named after TB but I’d hope in the fullness of time when we have people running the club that are in touch with things this is one of the first things on the agenda. Tommy had done the hard work at Barrowfield in all weathers and look at the football his teams produced. Imagine what we’d be seeing out on the park with the lush, bowling green surfaces the team get to train on now. 

After bravely fighting illness Tommy left us behind in May 2008. All of football was united in grief. No matter the colour of your team. A man who united two supports that have no time for each other. The night we clinched the league title at Tannadice will live with me forever. “Tommy twists, Tommy turns, Tommy Burns” echoing throughout the night all over the city. We had won it for Tommy. A typical Celtic story played out just as it should have been given the great mans passing. God bless you TB. 

Jock Stein is considered our greatest manager and rightly so given his success. For me Tommy Burns is just as important. In my opinion he led Celtic into a new era and brought a belief about us as a team that could achieve again. If you get the chance go onto YouTube. Hibs v Celtic, December 1995. Watch the quality of performance. The Maestro running the show and the players TB had brought in. Donnelly being moved out wide and excelling with Jackie Mac on the right. Paul Mcstay looking like he’d gone back years. Collins, O’Donnell and Thom with pace and guile. Big Pierre superb up front. What a team to watch. What a manager. What a man. 

Hail Hail. 

The Celtic Connection-Banbury Bhoys 

In looking for some more positive things to blog about my mind drifted back to a much more optimistic time for any Celtic supporter. In August 2012 we were a young team, with a young and ambitious manager in Neil Lennon. We were sold on Neil after his efforts as a player with our club and his promise to bring the thunder back to Paradise. In a personal sense this was also an exciting time for myself. With Glasgow getting a little too small after a good few years of being out 8 days a week and pretty much pissing anything meaningful away it was time for a fresh start elsewhere. 

Helsingborgs away from home in a Champions League qualifier was the occasion. The location was Molly Malones on Hope Street in Glasgow city centre. Myself and the Reidster were well settled at the bar some three hours before kick off. Whilst I was giving my usual lecture on how poor my quality of life was Reidster suggested I get a change of scenery about me. No doubt fed up with my daily rants concerning my mostly self inflicted circumstances my comrade in Guinness had thrown me some pearls of wisdom. I was to look for work down south and give it a month at least before making any plans on returning. 

For a person who’s never even endeavoured to get a driving licence and had spent his last ten years or so rather drunk, the world had become a very small place indeed. Clinging on to wherever I felt most comfortable like a limpet in terms of pubs has long been a trait of mine. I normally try to enjoy affairs with only 3 pubs at the one time. One for each mood I generally find myself in. Different company of rogues in each and you’ll never be bored. You can imagine how my habits were thrown into disarray when my good pal had suggested I take flight. The Celtic won 2-0 away from home in Europe that night. I took it as a sign that since they had gotten their act together on the road then maybe I should too. 

The next morning, due to the nature of my trade, I had a job to start the following week if I wanted it. In Oxfordshire. Wherever that was? Luckily I would be travelling down with a fellow Glasweigan. Macca from Govan, a fellow Tim and someone I had known briefly through our working lives. With Macca being in the same dilemma as myself, in the fact he had never worked or lived down south, we had both agreed that if nothing else it would be an experience. The man from Govan had his license and a working car to go with it. After saying our goodbyes we were off. A mixture of excitement and fear of the unknown we both shared. We both agreed however that it was the Celtic we would miss above most. 

After 9 hours on the motorway we reached the digs the agency had recommended to us. The two of us were pleasantly surprised by the outside of the pub/restaurant/lodgings in the countryside close to a place by the name of Banbury. Once inside however we quickly realised the exterior of the hostelry was the most deceiving of facades. The room we were shown to would have made the Bellgrove hotel appear 5 star. All kinds of smears, marks and splashes of various coloured liquids covered the walls that surrounded a bare matress which sat on a carpet that was visibly moving with creatures. We decided on a night in the Audi. Not the best of starts to our adventure it has to be said. A few hours of broken sleep and we were on our way to work. 

Arriving at our new workplace was a welcome distraction to the previous nights disappointments. After asking around we were told to head for Banbury to seek accommodation. There would be plenty for us to do there seemingly. Sat Nav banged on and we were away after a shift in the tropical heat of Chipping Warden, Oxfordshire. The first pub we tried for any rooms came up trumps. We were in a hurry you see, The Celtic were playing the second leg against Helsinborgs on this night. The Horse and Jockey had been good enough to promise us a shared room for two nights minimum. The barman had been a Scotsman in his mid fifties who seemed more than happy to help out a couple of young compatriots. No Sky tv was available in The Horse and Jockey but having passed plenty of pubs on the way we weren’t missing our beloved team. Showered and changed into the Hoops tops me and Macca had most likely packed before anything else we headed down through the bar to be greeted with the words “If I’d have known yous were Tims I’d have never given yous the room!!!”. It would seem mine host Denny was of the Hun persuasion. You can only sympathise. 

We had decided on a boozer adjacent to the famous Banbury Cross statue in the centre of town, The Swan Inn. Standing outside for a quick smoke before we entered, resplendent in our home tops we were approached by an older woman. With more than a hint of Irish in her accent she told us that “The rest will be down soon”. Myself and Macca gave the woman a nod and a friendly smile but were both as confused as to what she meant. After ordering two pints of strong cider and confirmation from the staff that they were indeed showing the game we took our seats towards the back wall of the pub in decent view of the flatscreen TV for the game. Both agreeing this was like a working holiday we got stuck into our cider. Not trusting the Guinness in a foreign land just yet. 

Ten minutes before kick off the side doors of the pub swung open and around 15 men made their way into the bar area. Immediately we were questioned as to our origins and reasons for being here. The men all varied in age, Scottish and Irish, and as happy to see us as we were them. After the introductions we settled into viewing the game. 2-0 the Celtic and everybody was happy. We drank together and sang together. The woman who had approached us outside the bar joined her husband and son in the company and it all clicked. We had stumbled upon a hardcore of fellow Tims slap bang in a “ye olde” market town in middle England. Very quickly the thought dawned on me that this was the place for me. On leaving at closing time that night we were invited to meet the rest of the gang at a different pub in town, an invite that was duly accepted. 

  
The Wheatsheaf Inn sits just off the Main Street in Banbury and can only be described as an on land pirate ship with varying degrees of rogue regular it could never be described as a family pub. Macca didn’t fancy a scoop so I made my way down alone to keep up our pre arranged appointment with the Tims we had met a few days earlier. What followed were the beginnings of friendships that last to this day. On meeting the rest of the gang and hearing their stories of how they had all ended up in this strange scenario I realised I had found somewhere I belonged. None of these people had known each other previously. They had never really heard of Banbury before. Various circumstances all meaning they had ended up here. If I hadn’t seen it or experienced it for myself I doubt I’d have believed it. 

All in I was to spend another 6 months in Banbury over two stints working down there. The second time I went down solo. Only I wasn’t alone as soon as I arrived there. I knew exactly where my comrades would be. Cormac, Mick, Tom, Stevie, John, Brian, Leo, Kenny the Hun, Larko. Some of the laughs enjoyed were unreal. We had a fantastic rapport with the locals too who most likely didn’t understand what we were saying half the time. Televised Tic games were great occasions that we would all make a massive effort to enjoy. One night that sticks out in the Swan Inn was Barca away. We lost 1-2 to a late Jordi Alba goal. Manchester United and Chelsea were both in action that night and the Chelsea fans were given the games room, Man Utd the bar area and us our usual side to watch the respective games. I will never forget the Chelsea and Man U fans watching us singing for almost a full 90 mins in utter disbelief. More than once I heard them ask, “What if they had fucking won?”.

What was the magnetic force that brought us all together down there? The Glasgow Celtic. I know it’s a nothing story you’ve read here. That a lot of you will have been thousands of miles away and found fellow Tims and supporters clubs in all corners of the globe. That’s a beautiful thing too. This was my amazing thing. It made me believe in the togetherness of Celtic people. It gained me friends I’d never have had. Memories that can’t break. It was an awesome time and place. We take our club for granted when we are right next to it. It’s always with us though. It’s always The Celtic. It brings us together. 
Hail Hail. 

#celtic