In this article Der talks about the Celtic Soccer Crew.
In this article Der talks about the Celtic Soccer Crew. He looks to touch on the early beginnings and how bits came together, this is the first of a few stories from himself on the beginnings and couple of games.
Most of the Crew still attend games to this day; a lot of the lads not active – but still meet for a day out. Der said I will always class myself as a Celtic fan and as with all the other lads, they are Celtic to the core, the CSC was/is just an expression of that..
The Beginnings by Der Basit-Cubb
I never felt in the inner cabal, coming from slightly out of town as I did and with a slightly different accent to perhaps the required one. I was going to Celtic games every weekend and loved getting to Celtic Park, it was a kind of escape from what was a town that was hardly inspirational.
Around the early to mid-80’s I remember coming into Glasgow by train in the lead up to the start of all this. Just showing your colours in Glasgow or on a train could be hard work.
You would get rival fans, just random blokes or women giving you real abuse, taking a swipe at you, gobbing in your direction. This was all down to anti Irish/Catholic sentiment that was endemic in parts of Scotland. These early events and feelings remain with us even through the passing of time.
As well as the football and my strong affection for Celtic I was always crowd watching and picking up the latest styles. The first time I saw the now famous wedge haircut was at the match and I started picking up on what was being worn, especially in the footwear department. The big turning point came at a match in March 1984 against Aberdeen.
This was a semi-final against Aberdeen in the League Cup. It was a replay at Celtic Park. Myself and a pal are walking through the Barrowloads on the London Road side. A Celtic fan walks towards us and comments: ‘Cannae get moving for Aberdeen Casuals lads eh?’ I didn’t know what he was on about, until hundreds of lads walked past us towards the match. They were dressed in sportswear, ski jackets and to my eye they looked immaculate.
I didn’t quite know what to think concerning the way this Aberdeen group were dressed, but it had a sort of aesthetic mystique to it, they were different and they clearly stood out, yet it only kind of registered with me a few months later.
Celtic still had a lot of fans at the match stuck in the old in ‘poser Charlie Nicholas’ look. But in time you started to see bits of this sportswear starting to appear at the game though it was still and individual thing rather than any collective response.
As far as I’m aware, Celtic first went out as crew in a match against Hamilton in January 1985, and from that point we started seeing Celtic become more of an organised force. My first match was a midweek game against Hearts in March 1985 in a 3-2 win with us scoring in the last minute.
The first thing that got me turned onto the group was the clothes. It was also the time when a lot of clubs had their own casual crew and were starting to come to down to Celtic Park. During the Hearts midweek game, we were positioned in the old Rangers end, bombed out in sportswear and ski-hat’s.
I was a foot soldier and we had decent numbers for such early days, but nothing much happened apart for a bit of posturing and putting myself on show.
The first real lads I got to know were from Maryhill, Ruchill and Central Glasgow. Now at the age of fifteen, I was starting to go most weeks with the lads I’d met, and more often than not stayed over in Glasgow so I got to know them really well.
From that point I began to consider myself a Casual. To begin with we’d still come to Celtic Park by supporters bus. Our bus would get to the Grange pub on the Gallowgate for 1 o’clock on the Saturday. Four of us would jump in a taxi and get dropped off at the start of Argyle Street, as we walked past Olympus Sport you’d start seeing mobs of Casuals. It was all a bit daunting at first as we didn’t know what team they belonged to, but we soon got to realise after a few ‘what team are you?’ questions, or the obligatory ‘say the Hail Mary?’ that the city centre belonged to Celtic. You only had to give the first verse of the Hail Mary before you got the nod! Although I’d say half our crew were protestant or of no faith at all.
Before all this, there had been some minor incidents I could say I was there in the early days. Rangers and Aberdeen at Celtic Park before Celtic didn’t have an organised crew if you like. One game on 22nd Dec1984 when Rangers equalised late on with a Davie Cooper goal to make it one each, a lot of Celtic fans after the match, cut through the Cemetery at the back of the old jungle, and some Rangers fans came into the Cemetery at the bottom corner of the old Rangers end. The Rangers fans tried to come up towards us but after a few missiles being thrown both ways and the Celtic fans then chased the Rangers fans out of the Cemetery.
The Saturday League Cup game at Celtic Park against Aberdeen I mention earlier in 1984. Aberdeen had come down in a massive crew as they always did.
The old Rangers end at Parkhead was split in half with 20ft gap; the only segregation was 4ft temporary barriers. The jungle was chanting ‘Casuals come ahead’ and a mix of Celtic supporters were getting over the barriers as well as the Aberdeen Casuals and clashing with each other. All the police could do was try and separate and push each set of fans back over the barriers although very young at the time, it was a kind of taster of the years ahead.
There are a few myths that the Casual Scene didn’t really take off at Celtic. I read this also in a Green Brigade article when they were describing their football terrace ultra-culture.
The real story is very different. From the mid-to-late 80’s we had a good crew, good numbers and we were certainly the better unit in Glasgow in those early days. Organisation was always a bit of a problem this was due to a lot of Glasgow gangs with a few grudges although there remained this under-current we continued on.
Our trips to Easter Road, Ibrox and Tynecastle were the best. The 4-4 game against Rangers when we ran a mock in 1986 also the Glasgow Cup Final on the Friday night in the same year.
Easter Road season 85/86 but most memorable would be Hibs or Aberdeen coming off the train in Glasgow. I can recall Aberdeen bringing hundreds of lads to us. We’d have separate mobs in town all kicking off with Aberdeen. We seem to have the city centre in Glasgow, it was our territory, around Queen Street and George Square also Buchanan St and Jamaica St the pubs we’d frequent.
The season 1985/86 we played Hibs six times all together, they put us out of the two Cups at Easter Road, so we play them four times at Easter Road in this season, this was to be the start of a long feud with the CCS that lasted until the late 80’s and the CS Gas incident.
We saw Hibs CCS as the main firm in Scotland; this is why we would always make the effort to go to Easter Road. In the early days we’d take around 300 lads and it always went off with us and them. The two Cup matches I mention, the first one was a League Cup match and Hibs put us out on penalties on a wet Wednesday night.
Hibs v Celtic League Cup Easter Road 4th September 1985
My first game away to Hibs with the crew.
This is a wet midweek match. We had a go with them on the way to Easter Road before the game and can remember being quite impressed with their crew. When we got into the game we seem to gather a lot more lads that had come to the game late or on buses.
We were positioned at the away end against the fence, this game Easter Road was going under some work so there was a no man’s land next to us on the right, the Hibs support were farther along the terracing and behind the goal; this meant we couldn’t see them during the game.
It was an end-to-end game with Celtic taking the lead but then conceding by daft defending, also during the game we were singing daft songs on the terraces whilst bouncing and swaying forward. I recall the Celtic support just staring at us. We were winding up the coppers with the Z-cars tune and ‘nick nick’ Around 300 lads dressed in casual gear with a lot of us carrying a wee black brolly, this was the place to be – this was the scene that replaces all other subcultures’. Nobody knew what it was outside people that attended football matches.
It was a youth movement that had appeared out of nowhere.
The game finished 4-4, which was then to be decided on penalties. Celtic should have had this game sewn up; but due to some ridiculous calamity defending and bizarre decisions we end up in this penalty shoot-out. To begin with we were going daft at the decision that the penalties were to be taken up at the Hibs end of the ground. Hibs then win the shoot out and put us out the League Cup.
This was an excuse forus to try and kick-off, we decided to go onto the pitch, The Celtic lads and fans weren’t taking the result very well, we then noticed Hibs lads coming onto the pitch, one of our lads has grabbed the corner flag and swinging it around his head. The police managed to segregate us and we were lead towards the exit between the main stand and the away terracing.
As we come out the ground we managed to get all our numbers together and were able to mingle in with the Celtic fans due to it being dark. We noticed the small footbridge had been closed after the game and we were all getting lead onto Easter Road from another street. Just before we reached Easter Road we were attacked from a side street by the CCS, to begin with they backed us off, but soon we were back at them going toe-to-toe, we didn’t budge and we had more numbers at this stage and managed to back them off.
As we then go onto Easter Road the CCS came at us again with more numbers all the way along the street. Normally we’d get lead to the right and onto London Road, but we’ve went straight up to where some of the buses are parked. We went left towards some small stairs then we notice a mob of the CCS are coming down the stairs as they must have clocked us approach them. With our numbers we’ve chased them back up.
We’re then in front of Hibs and we also have some CSC behind them! This allows to ambush, we’re getting in about and it but we notice to our right a good number of Hibs have came at us and swelled their numbers we then have the ‘who’s who’ scenario.
Hibs then have us on the back foot again and we head along passed the supporters buses. As we approach Waverley more CCS have approached from the shopping centre to the right. We stand them and take it from both sides, the OB split us up and we’re moved on into the station. We know we’re returning to the same ground on the Saturday.
Hibs v Celtic Saturday Easter Road 7th September 1985
We played Hibs again a few days later in the League at Easter Road. It was again, a wet soaking day and we brought through around the same numbers as the night before. I recall the game being a walk in the park for Celtic with us winning 0-5 but it certainly wasn’t a walk off the park. Before the game an early mob of about 50 of us managed to get around Edinburgh without too much hassle.
The lads decided to smash a Jewellers shop window and we do a smash and grab, we get off but some lads are caught and arrested. We came across a crew of the CCS on Leith Walk just as it splits for London Road they came out a chip shop and the rest came over from the other side of London Road. They ambush us and we come off badly. We’re outnumbered but the CCS look organised. During the match much like the previous night we’re at the wind up with anything that was in front of us. Celtic play Hibs off the park and we come away with the 0-5 win.
After the match we leave the ground with our proper numbers. It’s a soaking wet day and we gathered outside, between the away end and the Hibs main stand. A few of our top lads were suggesting we go into the enclosure at the front of the stand but we then move on towards Easter Road. This is the moment I personally witness Hibs CCS at the top of their game. Not just organised but a healthy crew.
I can remember thinking before all this, that Hibs being a mid-table club couldn’t pull a crew like us! They were nothing like Aberdeen but this was a bit naïve as it pans out.
We then come onto London Road not sure of where Hibs will come next, they then come running down the famous hill to our left through the trees and onto London Road where the supporters buses are. We didn’t budge. I can remember thinking we’re doing ok here, until, we arrive at the top of Leith Walk. Hibs come at us from both sides and ambush us – outnumbered and out thought. We eventually make it to Waverley Station – not a good day for us. We then start to plot or next game against Hibs at Parkhead.
I was arrested on Easter Road before a Hibs v Celtic game in 87 we had running battles with the CCS all along Easter Road, one of our lads attacked a Hibs lad with a Burberry brolly at the top of Easter Road and it kicked off with us and them all the way down. These were days when crews outnumbered police on a big scale.
Hibs were starting to back us off before they left the part of Easter Road to the away end, as we turned the corner they’d arrived at their famous bridge, it kicked off again this was a tactic they used to try and stop us on the footbridge, it was always a daft one as the OB were able to block both us on the bridge making it easier to nab lads so again a few of us were stuck on the bridge which was easy for the OB to circle us and nab a few.
I managed to get a not guilty in court for this though down to poor evidence.
Another one that stands out was Ibrox on New Year’s Day 1987. I’d been thrown out of the ground – probably stood out with my cartoon jacket and was challenging the ICF as a few of us were in the enclosure and had been noising up Rangers lads before the game.
As I get thrown out I notice there was a crew of our lads outside the stadium at the flats around 50 without tickets, we hung around for a bit then noticed Rangers coming at us from the Edminston Drive area we end up going toe to toe with them at the side of the Broomloan Stand all I remember next was a police van drive through us, stop and nab as many as they could. New Year’s Day in the nick a 0-2 loss and a £50 fine.
In the early original days of the Terrace/Casual scene there were a lot of left leaning lads and multi-cultural firms it certainly wasn’t racist or right wing, or even political at all, but much like the original skinhead culture the scene it was basically hijacked in later years, the right wing seem to try and get an influence in things.
Also we had couple of lads who were Black and Asian as did a lot of other firms in England. Due to us being passionate Celtic supporters and our clubs origins, we were fans as well as casuals – we were/are openly anti-fascist. We could be seen as a Left leaning mob, some have strong left wing some don’t, but we are definitely openly anti-fascist that has remained to this day, which sets us apart from all other modern day casual firms.
Celtic has a special support, a great support no doubt about it. They guard their reputation and there’s no problem with that. They support the greatest football club on the planet.
In general they seem to police themselves when they go abroad. That’s not to say they have a perfect reputation. When Celtic Casuals got together our support didn’t seem to take to this.
A few opinions have been offered, they perhaps seen this as a right wing movement or simply they didn’t want a reputation as Hooligan support especially after taunting the Aberdeen Casuals for many years with a ‘come ahead’ chant.
This possibly made it hard to accept that Celtic now had its own casuals.
Firstly. the Casual scene had no right-wing origins as I said earlier and certainly the Celtic lads were remote from that. The strange thing also is, throughout the 70’s you had football fans in Scotland involved in an all-in Boot Boy culture and the Celtic fans were certainly part of that. This was the obligatory – have a pop at the away fans by any means necessary; this just certainly seemed to change at the start of the 80s.
Much has been made about the relationship between the Celtic fans and the CSC, but in all honesty the Celtic fans had no influence on the decline of our crew. It was however awkward at times as they’d sometimes turn on us during a match and there was incidents at Morton, Hamilton, Hibs and St Mirren where it got tasty in the 80’s, but most of the time this was just a chant of ‘Casuals Get to F*ck’ with that we’d give them a wee wave back during the match. The fans would never say a thing to us without massive numbers, whether that be approaching the ground or on any train; it was always inside a ground when they had a full support behind them.
At the end of the 1984/85 season the Celtic support seemed to believe they had got rid of their casual element. They couldn’t locate the ski-hats within the crowd – but there were now a much bigger number of us growing and we located ourselves in the Main Stand bottom right, we’d moved on from sportswear and into shirts, cords, paisley, chunky jumpers and shoes. Boys were becoming men.
Most of us still attend games to this day; a lot of the lads not active – but still meet for a day out. I will always class myself as a Celtic fan and as with all the other lads, they are Celtic to the core, the CSC was/is just an expression of that..
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