To say I’m an avid Celtic fan would be a huge lie on my part. But a football (soccer) fan I am. Arsenal all the way. My aunt Bernadette lived in London when I was a young girl and she introduced me to Arsenal before I even started school. I haven’t wavered since!
But one cannot grow up in Donegal and not be aware of Celtic. They’re almost a local team going by local support and regular bus loads going from my now home village of Muff to Park Head. My brother, who lives in Glasgow, and many of my relations, are all die hard Celtic fans. I never did get, or understand, the sheer passion they all seem to share.
Last night I went along to Celtic the Musical at Derry’s Millennium Forum with an open mind. I really didn’t know what to expect. Suffering with sciatica at present I wasn’t particularly looking forward! I know the game, and most of the rules (though Off-Side does beat me on occasion), and I do enjoy the game. So just what would this show be about?
The title pretty much explains the plot. It is indeed the history of Celtic Football Club. Founded in 1888 by Brother Walfrid, it has seen many ups and downs in its 100 plus years, but it has continually enjoyed the support of fans. Those fans who have seen much history in the country, the world and life in general over this period. The show serves as much as an insight into the social history and that of Glasgow alongside the history of Celtic FC.
Using archive footage and media clippings from newspapers etc Celtic FC historical informaion is continually on screen and we are reading, watching throughout. However, at the same time, I was watching an exceptionally energetic performance on stage. There is so much consistency among the cast that I was beginning to get caught up in the phenomenon that is Celtic. No, this couldn’t be happening to me! Could it? I even got a tad excited when Tom Boyd came on stage!
I was singing and clapping along. How did I know these Celtic songs? I’ve no idea but I did. And I actually wished I’d had that green and white scarf in my son’s wardrobe with me.
I can’t help but admit to the fact that the history of the football club intrigued me. From it’s very onset in 1888, there was a real community spirit and community support for this club. The fans are so dedicated to their team that it forms a very large part of their lives. Something I’ve never understood before. Until now! Family members gone before have loved the club. Celtic is like an heirloom, passed down from generation to generation. One cannot help but be impressed.
Amidst all the history, the facts and the game, this show is intertwined with comedy. Sammy and Paddy have just got to be the new ‘comic’ duo of 2016. They are brilliant. In fact everyone on the stage is brilliant. The music excels almost anything I’ve heard to date. The keyboard, drummer, guitar and fiddle player are among the best I’ve seen on a West-End stage.
What moment stands out for me from last night? When I learned of the young goal keeper who died on the pitch. John Thomson was just 22 years of age and died as the result of a collision against a Rangers player at Ibrox in 1931. He never regained consciousness and died shortly after. This story hit me. The music on the fiddle was just so poignant and I must admit to wiping a tear. The show portrayed the incident beautifully, yet heartbreakingly.
Would I recommend this show to non-Celtic fans? Most definitely. This show will win you over. If you have even the slightest interest in what it may be about, just go along. It runs at Derry’s Millennium Forum until this coming Saturday, 1st October. If you are a Celtic fan, do NOT miss. Wear your Celtic jersey and bring your green and white scarf.
I can honestly say I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this show last night: boy was I wrong. It totally blew me away – for all the right reasons. Am I now a fan? No, but I’ve a whole newfound respect for Celtic FC and their supporters. I left last night knowing that if you’re a Celtic fan, you really will ‘Never Walk Alone’ in life.
Tickets for the show can be booked here Millennium Forum Derry or call the Box Office on 2871264455.