STEVE Crilly was first-generation Irish. His parents moved to Scotland sometime early in the 1900s in search of a better life.

A lifelong Roman Catholic, Steve was Celtic daft his entire life. A story often told was of when his two uncles took him to a game, perhaps a cup final, when he should have been at school. 

Young Steve would have got away with it as well had the man who sat beside him on the train not been his headmaster – who was also playing hooky.

This love of Celtic passed down to his son and grandson – that’s me. And, while I’ve personally never felt a need to hide which team I prefer over the rest, lots of football journalists don’t reveal the team they support, and for reasons I completely understand.


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I wasn’t at Rugby Park.

I have a view on fans running onto the pitch. It’s a poor show but not as serious as some have suggested. However, it wouldn’t be right to comment on the people being crushed because something went wrong outside the Chadwick Stand.

Those who jumped on the disabled section are numpties who I would hope feel awful. No-one, even in the delirium of a last-minute winner – and we’ve all been there –would deliberately endanger the life of a fellow fan in a wheelchair.

Then there’s the singing of the Billy Boys. For me, this is more tiresome than troublesome. 
Unlike my grandpa, I’m not religious. 

My heroes include the late Christopher Hitchens and Professor Richard Dawkins. So I get more offended by what is said in places of worship than football grounds.

The Billy Boys is on the list of banned songs, so it’s up to the SFA to do their job.

To be clear, I’m not excusing the behaviour of those hooligan Rangers fans.

The reason for declaring my religious stance and football affiliation is that if I now criticise a section of the Celtic support it’s not because I have some ulterior motive.


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So, here goes.

I strongly believe banners about a Fenian Army being deported to keep Celtic down (a quote from a song about the Coronation Cup, in case you didn’t know) have no place in a stadium in 2019.

And yet they were held up in the standing section on Saturday.

I can’t help but wonder what old Steve would make of it. 

He would not have have been impressed by the display, and he was at the Coronation Cup final.

People with his background were second-class citizens until the Second World War and then Irish Catholics, like everyone else, were suddenly deemed good enough to go off and fight. 
Steve was in the Navy, where he served alongside lads of every denomination imaginable. This hugely influenced him.

As big a Celt as he was, and considering the discrimination he must have faced, I never heard one sectarian comment or even a pro-Irish/Catholic quip. For him it was all about the football. 
My uncle tells a tale that’s way out of character, of shouting “orange b*******” towards the Rangers fans and getting a clip around the ear and a reminder that: “You’ve got friends in that end.”


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This is what is known as the correct attitude of a parent.

And, yet, on the day Celtic raised the league flag – thanks to the wives of Lisbon Lions Billy McNeill and Stevie Chalmers – the Green Brigade opted for what they knew to be a controversial message about “keeping Celtic down”.

This is the Celtic that win everything and have more money than the rest of Scottish football put together. 

What every other club would give to be in that sorry state.
Jock Stein, no less, hated all this stuff. So did my grandpa. And so do thousands of Celtic supporters who would rather a club “open to all” left the Fenian references in the past and instead looked forward. 

Celtic supporters should celebrate their club, not what they think it was back then but what it is now.

The Green Brigade, in fairness, have come up with good stuff, some of it brilliant.

But we don’t need to see the F-word on a banner. Like the Billy Boys and being “up to their knees”, the relevance has long since past. 

It’s time to move on.