From the marvelous West London Celtic Supporters Club, The Holy Poet gives us his run-down on when the Bhoys came to town:
Brentford v Celtic Report.
Celtic fans turned up en masse to vastly outnumber the local Bees fans but we could have been so many thousands more. When I visited Griffin Park around 12 noon just 3 hours before kick-off to hand in framed poems from The WLCSC for the Celtic players, I was told by their Operations Manager that only 8,300 tickets were sold! The tickets left over would definitely not be on sale today as there was a chance that sinister fans were lurking in the background (somewhere) waiting for tickets and potentially cause trouble inside the ground.
Why? Tickets sales were disrupted as soon as they went on sale with Celtic allocated 3 sides and Brentford allowing their fans the away end only. Rightly, Bees fans complained and Brentford FC buckled under the pressure. They were then given their main stand plus the home section behind the goal. All this was going on whilst tickets were actually being sold. Their Club had given their backing to the fans and it was now down to their supporters to show management they would repay their faith in them by snapping up the tickets. Wrong! Experience should have told them that they only get 4,000 per game. They then complained at the price of the tickets for the visit of the SPL Champions as the £25.00 asking price (£15.00 and £20.00 concessions) was far too much and £10.00 was what they were expecting to pay.
I called Brentford ticket office last Wednesday asking for another 2 tickets in The Bill Axbey Stand where most of the Hoops were but was told it was sold out and that they had to turn Celtic fans away a week before that. BUT, they said, we have just released another 2,000 today! Why? Why did they turn fans away the week before and why, with only 7 days to go before the game did they release another 2,000? Did they not realise that Celtic fans don’t all come from Brentford? These fans who may have bought these could not because they still had to organise flights, trains, coaches, buses to get there plus accommodation and London in general is short on hotels as it is but especially in summer. It was too late now and the sales needed for Brentford to break even, around 9,000, were not met. Brentford fans lobbied their board when they had no right to and Brentford FC bowed down to fan pressure needlessly. Ultimately, Brentford FC and their fans lost the Club money and cannot be blamed on a poor showing of Hoops fans.
Our big day had come and we were here to welcome a Celtic support that could possibly come from every corner of the earth. The sun was out though not as strong as it had been earlier in the week but when I awoke this morning, my folically challenged head told me otherwise. Pure rid and bouncing. Nothing to do with the drink you understand!
Anyway, the streets were mobbed, pubs overflowed, flags hung on every post and covered fences along the Ealing Road whilst litter lined the pavements. Everyone was in good spirits but in some cases those spirits, or more likely Buckie, had sent them over the edge and thought themselves indestructible as they held up buses and cars along the way. Passengers on the buses couldn’t believe what they were seeing as some looked on in awe and others were taking pics and making videos on their phones. The car drivers just averted their eyes as they couldn’t believe people could actually enjoy themselves as much as this through drink.
Every pub including our ancestral home, The New Inn, was jumping and here in The Horse Guardsman Noel had set up a beer counter in the garden. That proved a Godsend to those dying for a pint and there’s nothing like a match for getting a thirst up. The ghirls behind the jump were already stressed out and there were still 3 hours before kick-off. They all deserve a medal from Noel though I know Tracy will settle for a Hoops top. Luckily John Connelly brought in a bagful of old tops if anyone wants them but unfortunately, they wouldn’t fit our Trace!
It was great to see old faces from the past, not only of this Club but also The Spirit of 67, The Hayes Bhoys. Both these Clubs had past Members of the WLCSC. I’d also like to mention that two of our guests were actually at the first meeting between Brentford and Celtic in 1958 though can’t remember anything about it at all. I’d arrived around midday and spent the next couple of hours making calls for tickets then finding Members had too many so trying to sell them and then even more asking for tickets so trying again to source these. In between times running downstairs for polo and T-shirts. Two drinks in 3 hours says it all. And no, I wasn’t pissed! For those who kept asking, the other flag hanging above our door belonged to The Jimmy Johnstone CSC from Gosport. A couple of minor offences happened on the way to the game with the police, being very lenient, just ticking the guys off. They handled our bhoys in the correct manner, having a laugh when needed and talking forcefully to them before letting them go thus avoiding any unnecessary confrontations. Anyway, time for the game.
Some left for the game with 10 minutes to go and others, like me, James Morrison and his girlfriend’s dad, left half an hour before that. Yep, those who left late didn’t have to queue and the ones, who left really early, queued for 40 minutes. I lost James & co but met up with Eric Northcote and his entourage in the queue which seemed to go on for miles. In the distance, I could see those coming out the pubs were walking straight in. Eric in his own inimitable way complained but was just dismissed by the steward.
A guy earlier on stood outside the ground with a can of Magners (Celtic’s new sponsor) telling the steward how good it was. Want a drink? I don’t drink! It’s lovely mate as he held it once more against his lips, sipping away. You want some don’t you? I don’t drink he said again! You said that but you still want some don’t you? The steward couldn’t take it any more and started screaming at the Hoops fan. He offered him a drink once more and the steward ranted for a last time before the Celtic fan walked away knowing he’d accomplished what he set out to do. Another happened at midday when two friends talking were joined by a rookie cop. They then started claiming each other, square go style – de ye want tae go ahead – Come on ren – whits’ up, urr ye feart? The poor cop was panicking and nearly fainted with relief when the two guys started hugging each other and laughing! Wind-ups Celtic style.
We eventually got in well after kick-off and missed the first goal. I recognised the strip, Lukas Zaluska, Dylan McGeoch, Auntie Effie, Tony Watt, Amido “Bobo” Balde and Tom Rogic (still arguing how to pronounce his name) but that was it. Who were these guys? I looked at the bench and didn’t recognise anyone in there either apart from the coaching staff. Auntie was the only first team player on the pitch and although we were “only” playing Brentford, I thought a few more first team players would have been given a run out. At least I was hoping that as I didn’t want another Brentford win and putting us into hiding. Seeing Danny McGrain sitting there brought great memories flooding back. A guy in front of me tried to present Neil Lennon with a rag doll by tossing it gently to him. NL just looked at him and asked “what’s that”? The guy, who was about 40, mumbled something which was totally incoherent with a stupid grin and a shrug of the shoulders that signalled a head full of Buckie and lager was failing to control any of his faculties. In fact his head was wobbling all over as he tried to get his neck into an upright position. Our coach turned away, his eyes looking into a big blue sky in complete bewilderment. I don’t know why he should be bewildered as this guy’s not the first halfwit and certainly won’t be the last to offer the coach his very own version of gold, frankincense and myrrh to their Messiah.
One numpty had run onto the pitch but the stewards struggled to catch him, he just kept waltzing in and out leaving them in his wake. Remember this guy was very probably drunk and it took a lunge from one of the “bouncers” to take him down but it was the way they handled the situation after they caught him. His arms stretched behind his back they held him out like a starfish, I was waiting on the rack coming on. Four of them kneeling on him excessively and they were heavy unfit guys with all their weight on him but still they grabbed and pulled him, hoisting him up with his arms being twisted in every direction. He shouldn’t have done it but they could have walked him away. Another, later on, had done the same but they were easier on him. The culprits meant no harm but deserve what they get. One bit I, and thousands of others missed, was when another came on whilst we had a goal kick and Lukas stepped aside to let him take it. Fair play to our ghoalie.
The game itself was okay but Tony Watt did not want to be there, blaming everyone around him for his mistakes and he was eventually taken off for Atajic to show us what he was capable of. And capable, he seemed to be. Very lively, lovely runs, good touches and fast plus knows the route to goal. He’s proved that in the under 21 side as he’s been the top scorer for the past two seasons. Others who impressed me were young McGregor, Henderson and Fisher but Rogic again looked good. His gangled hunched up walk with that knackered look as he trudges through the grass transforms to something you couldn’t expect when he gets the ball. His control and strength on the ball is very good, uses both feet although predominantly left footed and is not afraid to take on people as he surges forward. Amido who has still to find the form he showed for Guimares scored his first for Celtic and brought us level. Young McGregor scored a nice second goal and we were on our way. Flares had been thrown onto the pitch all through the game with Uwe Rossler showing the inept Brentford steward how to diffuse it properly. The poor steward was pouring buckets of sand and leaving them standing like mole hills around the 18 yard box but Mr Rossler lifted the next flare, which was only a few minutes later and whilst glaring at the steward, lifted it up gently and put it out in the bucket of water/sand. The steward then disappeared and came back a minute later, complete with safety gloves, to spread the mole hills he had made, evenly across the grass. Div!
Brentford put on a good show and missed a few chances late on but it was Celtic’s day. Mr Rossler showed his appreciation of Celtic’s fans by applauding us after the final whistle blew. Then a few ran onto the pitch to celebrate the victory and in the midst of them was Neil Lennon. More came, then more and the police seemingly knowing it was all in fun, stood back – this time so did the stewards, taking note of how police handled things.
It was noticed by the Celtic crowd, those still in their seats anyway, how the police were laughing and joking with the crowd who were climbing over to get onto the pitch. They were letting them on and the crowd, although huge at this point, paid back the Police’s trust by leaving in a disorderly manner but without causing any damage. The reports on Sky told a very negative side to this. Not a misinterpretation but plainly and simply trying to make us look bad in the eyes of those who were not there. According to them we were jumping on the crossbars when in actual fact, one guy swung on it. The police even escorted some of our fans back safely across the barriers. This was our third meeting but Celtic’s first win against Brentford EVER! I don’t think we’ll be coming back next year as their Club and Brentford as a whole aren’t ready for us yet.
I had arranged for our Club Members to meet up with the Celtic players after the game but I am actually quite glad Brentford cancelled it due to Health and Safety reasons. Not because either of us have a contagious disease lurking but they don’t have a place big enough to take us. What would we have said to the young Bhoys? What’s your name, what position do you play, are you still at school? Best wishes to the young bhoys and hope they have a great future at Celtic.
I think the local police, and there were only a few of them, handled the situation perfectly with most of them laughing at their antics/jokes though probably couldn’t understand them and in cases even swapping names with the Hoops support. Excellent display by the Met.
Back at the ranch and it was all as expected, buzzing again, queuing for ages despite the extra bar staff and the beer garden counter. The Hounslow contingent were present as always and Kim and Kevin McLaughlin came to their new home just in time to see Kevin Gaskin taking pics with his camera standing on the couch. I could hear Noel’s brain ticking over like an ATM. The band had cancelled and no replacement found in time but now the wi-fi was down and no-one could hear the music in the garden (don’t understand that one either folks). Celtic fans don’t really need a band as they are more than capable of making their own entertainment and their strongest point is the ability to take the Mickey out of themselves.
The Spirit of 67, with Jon Boyle (of WLCSC Flag fame), Owen Clerkin, John and family, Jarek and of course there was Joe. He must have knocked over everything he touched everywhere but was still tormenting Mr Boyle about a lost WLCSC flag on a train in Barcelona many years ago. I couldn’t believe he’d never heard the story! One of their Members, Pat, is a massive Celtic and Cliftonville fan and hoped one day he would see the two play each other but the day before the CL qualifier was announced, Pat was shipped out to work in Syria and couldn’t get time off. How gutted was he? He comforted himself in finding a local team in Syria, founded by Craig Bellamy Foundation (CBF), who play in the Hoops. Not just in green and white but the full official Celtic strips.
Lors skipped out to the chippy and brought Alan back some food which he quickly shared with everyone around but it gave him just about enough strength to climb the table and organise the singing which was getting a bit messy. Us against them sort of thing, 3 songs going on at once and within five feet of each other. He organised Glasgow’s Green and White and that seemed to go on for ages. Well, you just start and go on till you drop as it doesn’t have an ending! That’s great for Parkhead but not when you’re pissed, hoarse and in the pub.
This guy coming up now is the original shakey hand man. Young Michael Patrick Francis Jones (think that’s what he said as he’d lost his voice through singing and I’m half deaf through age) whose voice went downhill rapidly didn’t really care about the whereabouts of his mates but was a little curious as to where they were. Unfortunately, he not only lost his voice but also his coach back to Castlemilk! I even helped him scour the grassy area opposite for bodies he may have recognised but they were all gone and only the debris was left behind under the lingering smell of dope. Then Annie, Mark’s girlfriend called me over to tell me that YMPFJ fae Castlemilk was taught Sports by her dad! Those back in the pub today will probably find young Michael still there. I asked him how he was getting back and he said, I’ll worry about that when the party’s done!
The Chuckles and their brother seemed to be having a great time and so too were Ryan with his Norn Arish mate Stephen whilst Jamie and his mates were down the bottom next to the beer counter. The Murphy ghirls were there and Shug as always was holding court. I realised then that this pub holds more than I actually think. My feet were stinging after standing for hours and spared a thought for Big Pat Brusnahan who must be in agony after walking hundreds of miles through the mountains of Spain. He’d trained for it, I hadn’t. I got talking to two brothers (Breen) from Ardrossan who knew the Brusnahan family but couldn’t quite remember Pat. They remembered as it was a strange name ……………
Good luck Pat on the walk and Joe up there in GY. You would have loved the day.
John and Sheila told me about the press reports in the local Chiswick rag. Seemingly sleepy neighbours in the affluent area were rudely awakened at 10.07am yesterday with extremely loud singing emanating from Connolly’s bar where the Hoops had descended for pre-match drinks. Kew Gardens didn’t escape it either as loud hymns were heard throughout their grounds. Now that’s class but what isn’t is that the afore mentioned paper also commented about our fans singing hate songs towards Lee Rigby. I never heard these nor did I hear anyone even mention this. Poor taste from Chiswick’s EDL contingent whom I was informed turned up at Brentford with a Union Flag. John had a dodgy stomach yesterday and still taking it easy today. I witnessed him drinking a soft drink as I met up with them in Hounslow to hand over the season tickets! He’s on the mend.
It was brilliant seeing all these fans here and I think this prompted The Spirit of 67’s Jarek’s conversation with Lors. He suggested each London CSC holds one party throughout the year. The Jimmy Johnstone CSC from Gosport want to keep in touch so we could possibly include them in this as they’re not that far away. Lors and I thought this a great idea and we could host the first of maybe 3 or 4 per year. Something, hopefully, to seriously consider and discuss at the next Meeting.
There is so much to write and I’ve forgotten most of it but another couple of things I remember are a story from Paul who used to live down my street. He told me of a guy at his work who bought a pair of blue shoes, not for the shoes but for the label which read £16.90. He took the label off and framed it! How sad is that! I’ve just come back from Tesco, still with my WLCSC shirt on, bought a few things and asked how much I owed. £19.67 !! Honestly. Should I frame it? Today’s going to be a good day.
The second story concerns the dark side too. John from the Spirit of 67 told me how one of the guys he works with was thirsty and asked if he had any Skoosh. John said yes, I’ve got some limeade. The dark one replied, “stick that up your arse” to which John replied, “well die of thirst ya Orange Bastard”.
The bhoys from Newmarket must get a mention but unfortunately, can’t remember their names. Good to meet Sean Cahill too and seemingly Rod Stewart was in The Guardsman at some point yesterday or last night but I never saw/heard him but he has obviously heard of us. Maybe he’d also heard our band hadn’t turned up and the wi-fi was down and he was the stand-in act!
Again, our guests were complimenting us on our new shirts and a lot of shirts were finally paid for, collected and worn last night. I read on Facebook that it was great to see the flag flying at the ground. Funny, I don’t remember seeing it and haven’t seen it since it was hanging high in the sky before the game. Jon Boyle sprung to mind immediately!
We at the West London CSC were given a rare opportunity to welcome Celtic and their fans worldwide to Brentford. We hoped we could carry it off and show to all that this wee Club is a great one. I think we can say that yesterday was a great success and everyone had a brilliant time. Thank you everyone for making this day, a great one.
Lastly, just after I got home, I got a text from Jamie Stewart who’d just joined the Club to say he’d been jumped. He was walking home on his own when 5 guys jumped him from behind shouting Chelsea whilst hitting him. Thankfully Jamie texted me this morning saying he was still raging but fine with only a scraped elbow.
The Holy Poet
YouTube Coverage of the game is here
And as a wee special bonus….here the welcoming poem written before the weekends game :
Brentford’s Green and White.
10,000 fans had packed the streets, draped in green and white
Fans were singing, flags flew high, it was an awfy sight
Dancing down the Ealing Road they came to our wee pub
They were all Celtic supporters come to see their London Club.
Some had a few, a few too much but still they sang their songs
With each Hail Hail, another crowd, came in and sang along
The locals even praised them as the best they’d ever seen
When they let one final chorus rip “Come On You Bhoys In Green”!
Griffin Park is going to hear a noise like none they’ve heard before
The Green Brigade can lead us off, they’re our diplomatic corps
The whole place will be rocking, it’ll open up your eyes
But half of those who’re singing, think they’re still in Paradise!
We’ve been in Brentford many years and the locals know us well
But witnessing what’s happening now must seem to them like Hell
This quiet town’s turned upside down they’re not used to all this noise
But it’s just the Celtic family cheering on their Bhoys.
We’re always well behaved on tour, Bhoys and Ghirls having fun
Drinking all the pubs dry in Brentford’s summer sun
The locals who have joined us, all drink in our wee pub
So here’s to the Brentford people and our wee West London Club.
The Holy Poet.