Scattered beer cans and sore heads were, no doubt, the order of the day last Wednesday morning as the city blinked its bleary eyes and slowly attempted to recall the events of the previous night, writes Gary Gowers.
I think it’s fair to say that, if nothing else, Tuesday night’s Norfolk invasion by the Celtic masses gave us all some light relief from the negativity that has pervaded City related message boards and social media over the last week or so.
The whole evening was an undoubted triumph for all concerned – not least for the star of the show, Adam Drury – whose wish for a ‘party atmosphere’ was followed to the letter by the 4,000 ‘invaders’.
Such was the infectious nature of the Celtic following we were treated to the unusual Carrow Road phenomenon of ‘audience participation’ from the Geoffrey Watling stand – their unbridled version of the Celtic Huddle, as they joined in with the rest of the ground, presented an image that will remain in the minds of those present for quite some time (note: Huddle, not Poznan, as our Scottish friends were very quick to point out!).
What on earth would dear old Geoffrey himself have made of it?
The game itself, whilst largely irrelevant, was unusually competitive for a Testimonial – although given the combination of a team managed by Paul Lambert and a passionate and fervent visiting support bigger than other seen at Carrow Road this season, then I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised.
For Celtic to bring such a huge travelling support for what was really nothing more than an end-of-season friendly was astonishing although, again, we shouldn’t have been surprised – after all, their following for Tim Sheppard’s 2001 Testimonial was equally as passionate and possibly even greater in number.
Ever since Ms Smith’s ever so slightly embarrassing ‘Let’s be havin’ you!’ rant back in 2005, I think a few of us have been fooled into thinking we actually are the best fans in the world.
Please think again folks – yes, on our day we can put on a decent show and there’s no denying that our away support is right up there with the best that the Premier League has to offer.
But compared to those clad in green and white hoops, if we’re really honest, we seriously have to ‘up our game’ to even get close to emulating that wall of Glaswegian sound.
I jest of course – in reality there’s no way we would ever be able to recreate that same embedded unity and passion that they display, particularly given that their united beliefs lie far deeper than supporting just a football team.
Such was the sense joy on display on a balmy Norfolk Tuesday night we were all prepared to overlook the odd sectarian chant – but in truth it is these songs, even more so than those of the footballing variety, that bond this mass of Scottish folk together so unconditionally.
The closest we can get is the odd raw, raucous, heartfelt (and spontaneous) version of On The Ball City, which does still retain the ability to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand up.
The Fields of Athenrye and You’ll Never Walk Alone clearly have a similar effect on the Celtic faithful, and also anyone else in earshot – or perhaps it was just me. And the song about Paddy McCourt has led me to the brink of emailing Neil Lennon to implore him not to sell!
(Does anyone know when/why Celtic and Liverpool formally traded those two songs?).
Some argue that On The Ball City is something of a dirge, but to all those doubters – be proud that we have a song that resonates so deeply with us, and us alone.
Yes, it may be considered a bit of a dirge, but it’s our dirge and never should anyone even contemplate replacing. Add to it with some new, uniquely Norwich songs by all means, but please never lose it.
The melodramatic part of me wants to say it’s part of who we are. Many clubs, and I’m not looking too far afield here, have no songs that are unique to them and in my view are much the poorer for it.
Whilst I’m not expecting to hear On The Ball City belted out regularly at Parkhead next season (wouldn’t work would it?), I do wonder if the bond forged between the Celtic and City supporters as a result of last Tuesday’s ‘party’ will be more enduring than your average holiday romance – I certainly hope it is.
Great article my friend. Thanks for the kind words. Hail hail… We hope to see you up at Parkhead very soon.
Jim Forrest says
Good article apart from where you say the odd sectarian song ? Can I say as a Celtic fan its a long time since I heard a sectarian song being widely sung never mind on Tuesday night.there was the odd Republican song , which I don’t think should be sung at football games. Some of the great Republicans where Protestants,so there not sectarian. Tuesday night was a remarkable night, as was when we went to Liverpool for Ian Rush testimonial. We lost 6-0 but to a man stood and sung to the end. We are Celtic supporters and proud of what we achieve when we visit anywhere be it Norwich, Liverpool or Seville ? where 80,000 Celtic fans went.No Arrests. This is how all football fans should behave, Good luck Norwich City FC for the future and I hope Paul Lambert stays
as a celtic fan of nearly 60 years i first heard our fans sing you’ll never walk alone just after the musical carousel was out it was about 10 years before gerry and the pacemakers who liverpool copied ,as for the fields of athenrye the writer of the song performed it at celtic park ,liverpool fans do not sing the corect words listen to the song its about love during the famine.liverpool fans sing about anfield rd that is not the song.hope norwich finish in a european place next season that would mean you had a good season. would love to have you at celtic park for a pre season fiendly or end of season renew friendships had great time in norwich great fans great people c’mon the canaries/hoops united in good fooball
Mike Bhoyle says
As a Celtic fan ..I thank you for taking the time to give our support a good crit.
Yes we sometimes sing songs that shouldn’t be sung….I apologise for that..and I’d rather we didn’t…
However…for joy in our club…respect for our opposition ( well ..some at least)…and our aim to keep the name of Celtic to the fore…
You’ll not find better…anywhere.
Thanks again Gary.
Good to hear some positive feedback from English clubs/support. Makes a change from getting lumped in with the ‘old firm’ tag. Hope you guys manage to keep hold of Lambert, he seems like he’s becoming as good a manager as he was a player.
margaret black says
I as a celtic supporter would just like to say that the ppl of norwich gave us great warm welcome. They joined us in song,dance and in our huddle and the celtic support were grateful for the warm welcome we received.Thanks again hope to see u soon at paradise for another game.hail hail and thanks. ynwa
great read, wish i could have attended the match but like most up here had to settle with the it on the tv, that has been our fans all season long and im proud to say that i’ve been apart of that, we have really been sensational ever since Neil Lennon took charge and everything that obviously went with the bomb threats and all that has united our support more than ever, without realising it the media up here and these idiots who threaten the life of Neil and other high profile Celtic minded individuals have struck a chord with the fans and now we’ve found our true voice it will take a miracle to shut us up!!!
Excellent article,apart from the sectarian songs slur,maybe a few republican songs sung,but if you care to check this out,these songs are NOT classed as secterian. Hope Norwich get a euro spot next season,a very friendly club with an excellent manager.hail hail
Jinky 1888 says
Great to hear such good things from an english club support! Speaks more volume than ourselves saying were the best fans! Hope Lambert stays with you! funny how you never see things like this written about Ran**rs!!
Gary – a nice piece. Many of the Celtic fans I know who were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the evening and were highly complimentary of their hosts.
Just one thing, and I bring this up as you are most likely completely unaware of your error, and more importantly unaware of how those in the Scottish media will apply their dark arts of spin.
It is almost certain that you did not hear any sectarian songs – the Celtic support simply do not have any! What you likely heard are folk songs, which though probably Irish in origin, are not religiously motivated or remotely religious in content.
There are some songs which are nationalistic, and unfortunately, there are those which make direct reference to the IRA.
Without turning this into a history lesson (apologies for my verbosity already), and certainly not wishing to create offence through inadequately full explanation, it would be difficult for me to explain why even the songs which reference the IRA are not necessarily bad. However, most Celtic fans accept this part of the song book is quite simply best avoided.
Please understand that our club has a proud and strong tradition which is as loudly celebrated by today’s support as it ever was by those of the past. The Irish connection is an important and colorful part of our identity, and the reference to it is typically appropriate, and not intended to cause offence or create a wrong impression.
YNWA: no one truly knows but both CFC & LFC make it special-my LFC mate concedes we do it better mind! Fields of Athenry-as per earlier comment-LFC don’t sing it, theirs is different. Resonates with Tic fans due to Famine etc but also sporting anthem for Munster and Irish rugby. Anyway, main thing is, CFC and NCFC are friends and we all love Paul Lambo of Ghod! Lets be avin a Huddle
Hail Hail, thanks for a real honest feedback column. We wish you luck next season.
patrick h says
Thank you for your article except for one word.
We as a travelling support try to show the celtic family in the best possible light.
That is made easier when the home support join in the party, yes we enjoy & celebrate where ever the Hoops play but to make it a MEMORABLE ocassion takes two sets of fans so thank you Norwich for your invitation & hospitality.
Till we meet again HAIL HAIL & best wishes for the future.
from Yours in football and more than a club celtic fan
Paul a Soulbhoy of Fairhill says
Great stuff mate but you maybe need to listen to the words of what are ” sectarian ” songs and what are part of our heritage. We are ( along with countless supporters of other teams) part of the Irish diaspora and celebrate as such without violence or hatred towards anyone. Come up and visit us sometime and enjoy our craic and hospitality. We obviously have big love for your manager ( NB a protestant incidentally ) and he’s made youse a smashing wee team to watch. We try to befriend everyone we meet and a wee bond between our teams seems inevitable! Glad we gave the man a deserved testimonial! Dia duit mo cairde and Hail Hail!
Never heard a Celtic fan sing ‘Sectarian’ song yet! Ask Protestants like Wolfetone, Robert Emmett, James Connelly and Charles Stuart Parnell if those songs are ‘Sectarian’!?!? However, the ‘establishment’ and the Main Stream Media seem to think labeling songs of freedom as ‘Sectarian’, will somehow ‘cover up’ the bigotry going on on the other side of Glasgow! The fact that some Scottish Celtic fans fall for this is nothing short of disgraceful!!!
red and black says
nothing like the celtic support and family. Selective memories I would say. How did the wonderful support and family look after
your greatest manager when he stepped down. No seat on the board for the wonderful Jock Stein. Shoved into the background
with the Celtic View. I wonder why?
Where were all your voices then. SCOTLAND’S SHAME I WOULD SAY.
Bhoy Fett says
Good article. Was disappointed not to make the match. Would be interested to hear what sectarian songs were sung at the match, Gary. If you could email me I would be grateful.
Jim Wood says
Not heard a bad word about you guys either.Very kind just the way all who made the journey feel. Thanks and hail hail.
ps you need someone to make a song about Letsbe avenue that’s the sort of story history is made of.
Ryan Keegan says
That’s a good report on the atmosphere during the drury testimonial, particularly from the hoops invasion. Being a Celtic fan myself, we are proud of our club and what it stands for as you can tell now. Your question regarding Celtic/Liverpool songs, there is always a debate about who sang ynwa first, all I can say is we sing it better!!:-) the fields of athenry is definitely a Celtic song (about the Irish famine, from which Celtic were born) Liverpool sing a song to the same tune but it’s not the same song. Would like to say that we all want to see all former Celts doing well and lambert is doing a super job ( he’s a Martin o neill clone) hope he stays at Norwich for a few years, well done. Cheers
Thank you for the kind words friend,Celtic fans are unique in the way that they support their team and I m glad it added to the party atmosphere ! Hope you hold on to Paul and who knows maybe a trophy will
Turn up! Best wishes for future seasons to Norwich fc
Glad to hear that Celtic yet again have done themselves proud on their travels. Just goes to show what a fantastic support we have and are welcome wherever we go. Makes you proud to be a Celt.
Great piece mate, 2 things i’d like to comment on are the sectarian songs and Delias rant. What sectarian songs did the Hoops fans sing. only too often do i hear this said and when i ask i get told it was songs about the IRA(1919-21-68). The IRA aren’t a sectarian organisation nor are they a terrorist group, most people get them confused with the Provisional IRA(1969-97),2 different groups. Secondly I think Delias rant was amazing, your fans weren’t supporting the team, someone had to inspire you as the team nor your “ultras” were doing so, i think more owners should follow suit, afterall she has put a lot of money into your club and is passionate enough to attend the games
Good luck for the new season and hope it’s more successful than last seasons
Celtic fans have sung Irish nationalist ballads since the day we were founded… they weren’t sectarian then and they aren’t sectarian now.
Good luck to Norwich and Paul Lambert next season!
Red and Black.The reference to Jock Stein was as irrelevant as it was inaccurate. Try reading Jock Stein’s biography. Her was offered a seat on the board but was unhappy at being shunted aside as he saw it. He wished to remain as manager or at least have a controlling influence on the playing side. The board at the time and the incoming manager Billy McNeill were not prepared to accomodate this and he left to become manager of Leeds without the rift being healed. Sorrowful end to his time at Celtic but his family have since come to terms with this and regularly attend at Celtic Park as guests of the club. The memory of Jock Stein is honoured by all Celts despite the efforts of Rangers supporters to distort the truth about a great man.
Apologies to all Canaries for a lengthy history lesson on matters which should not concern you.
Poor old Red and Black, Trolling on a Norwich blog. It was Celtic pools that Jock Stein went to but thats beside the point. How many Testimonals do Rangers get invited to? Our Friends at Norwich don’t probably care about your opinion and I appologise for even commenting on it. Thanks Norwich for your hospitality, your fans are fine just the way they are and you are welcome at celtic park any time.
P.s. YNWA was rejuvinated at Celtic park when Liverpool played their first post Hilsborough match at celtic park.
Red and Black at least we employed Jock Stein same could not be said about your club with a sectarian policy up till Maurice Judas Johnstone don’t you just love Rangers fans posted all over websites about Celtic Fans rioting in Norwich then we get plaudits from Norwich fans and they can’t take it
Jim Davies says
Just so it’s not all Celtic fans replying to this article – I couldn’t go (committed to a bowls match), but my son went, and was very complimentary about the Celtic fans and their Republican (not sectarian, Gary!) songs. He also claimed that the Huddle was re-invented as the “Mexican Huddle”, as it went round the ground in waves.
Good luck to the Hoops for next season, and long may the friendship continue.
mick mcm says
Good piece, sums the hoops up exactly, Celtic fans have forged friendships with other teams supporters throughout the world,
GREAT WEE STORY..COME ON YOU BHOYS IN GREEN!!GBNL
(YOUTUBE)Celtic Park Bouncing again! Celtic v them 28/12/11
Nigel J Britton says
Great honest article friend.
I’m sure the bond between the two clubs will last, that tends to happen when decent folk are involved.
What you witnessed was the reason Celtic get invited to testimonials all over the land.
And you’re right, Celtic are more than a club.
Hope Paul continues his good work at the Canaries.
John Donachie says
Celtis were singing You’ll never walk alone at least 101 years before Liverpool Fans. The Fields of Athenry was sung at Celtic Park long before Liverpudlians chemged the wording to the Fields of Anfield Road
John Donachie says
typo make it 10 years not 101 years sorry
Phil McGuire says
Cheers mate,great article. Respect to all the Norwich fans for joining in and adding to the occasion. Canary boys in wether spoons gave us a run for our money in the sing song. Great night and great fans from both clubs. This was our away support and I would love to say all our fans at parkhead are like this but not so as not all fans are as vociferous. Your boys make plenty of noise away froom home as well. We introduced a singing section at parkhead and this has helped create a better atmosphere. Good luck for next season . Hail Hail and On the ball City