For It’s A Grand Ole Team To See

by Paul J Laverty

A-League fans not heralding from Scotland (particularly its green-half) could be forgiven for shrugging their shoulders and muttering ‘so what?’ at the news that SPL club Celtic are touring Down Under this July. They may have a point. Celtic ply their trade in a two-horse league where the days of non-Glasgow sides posing any sustained threat are long gone.

Furthermore, the current Celtic squad is a pale imitation of Hoops sides from yesteryear such as Jock Stein’s legendary Lisbon Lions, a side made up solely of players born within a 30-mile radius of Celtic Park which romped to nine domestic league titles in-a-row and in 1967 became the first Northern European team to win the European Cup. Or even Martin O-Neil’s squad from last decade which boasted a certain Henrik Larsson and reached the UEFA Cup final.

However, upon deeper examination, this Celtic tour is the most exciting we’ve hosted since AC Milan and Manchester United came to town. That’s because Celtic are a special club with a unique history. It was founded in 1888 by an Irish priest to raise money to feed Glasgow’s poor and now has one of the largest fan-bases in the world largely due to the Scots/Irish diaspora. We saw a glimpse of this fervent following in Brisbane two years ago when they took on the Roar in front of over 31,000 fans and Celtic’s chief executive Peter Lawell has since said that, North America aside, Australia represents his club’s biggest market. With this in mind, the tour promises to be bigger, better and far more atmospheric than the damp squibs we’ve seen when Premiership sides have visited our shores in recent years (see Everton, Fulham, Blackburn and Wolves).

On the pitch, too, Celtic are an improving force. Manager Neil Lennon might have fallen short of lifting the domestic title in his first season in charge but he is slowly building a young side to be reckoned with. Ki-Sung Yueng, Cha Du-Ri (South Korea), Georgios Samaras (Greece), Efrain Juarez (Mexico) and Emilio Izaguirre (Honduras) all starred for their countries at last year’s World Cup while recently midfielders Scott Brown and Beram Kayal, along with Scottish Player of the Year Izaguirre, have been linked with big-money moves to England.

Then there’s the never-ending debate about whether the Old Firm should join the English Premier League. The current Celtic team is good but would struggle. However, with 60,000 home crowds and a huge global reach, if Celtic were to make the move south and receive a slice of their astronomical TV and sponsorship deals it could then fund a substantial transfer budget enabling the club to challenge for top honours within a few short years.

With the SPL starting on July 23 Celtic has arrived with its strongest 23-man squad. This promises to give Central Coast, Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory a thorough work-out as their own pre-seasons get up and running. But the biggest benefit may well be to the A-League fans in the stands. With predictions for 30,000+ crowd in Sydney, a sell-out in Perth and a record crowd at Melbourne’s AAMI Park, it will give supporters of our own fledgling competition a first-hand glimpse at how one of the biggest clubs in the world like to do things.

Paul J. Laverty is a Melbourne-based writer. His work can be found at www.immovablefeast.com.au.

8 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    How can you comment on the SPL when you watch the A League? The majority of A League players are the equivalent to lower league players in Europe. The league has nothing to offer the footballing world other than good weather. Its a bucket league! And as for Celtic being a ‘poor imitation’ of ‘yesteryear’, you obviously haven’t looked at the caliber of the players in the squad. This is one of the laziest articles on Celtics participation in the Oz tournament.

    1. Neil Sherwin Neil Sherwin says:

      Interesting that you say the comments about Celtic and the SPL are lazy yet your own about the A-League are pretty much a carbon copy.

  2. david says:

    I believe the article to be fair..

    Celtic my club like others say Ajax, Holland are starved of the big finance as in England..
    Of course we also don’t have debts like Manure of say £650,000,000. English Premier Leaque clubs, Itallian, Spanish et al are riddled with debts that if EUFA decided to use their own rules they would all be banned from their own tournaments like the Champions leaque.
    Indeed Rangers in Scotland would have bit the dust a good few years ago.

    Australian soccer ( football) club coaches’ have never as far as I’m aware said their leaque is of superior abilities in tandem with other top leagues in Europe and elsewhere..

    However their national team tend to be harder to beat than Scotland when it comes to World Cup Finals…(we canny even get their) Many very good individual footballers spread throughout the world come together and become a good team playing for their country , OZ.

    Celtic as the topic above says are a famous worldwide club and I am glad to be able to say I have supported them since born 1945. Proud to say so.

    I would go further than the journalist who wrote this topic when he mentions AC Milan or Man ure …. Worldwide support is easily bought when successful inparticularly MU.

    Celtic and the brand are probably the biggest fanbased club in world football.

    Genuine supporters not as Roy Kean once said. Quote: Prawn sandwich mob.. Aye Roy was correct.

    Back in the 80′s Man Un had average gates of 30,000 when Celtic FC turned up to play Rapid Vienna in the abhorted ECW replay..
    At that time the 54,000 midweek game was the biggest crowd at Old Trafford for around 20 years..
    No doubt Celtic FC are rebuilding with what money they have and some wonderful talent has came to my club from all corners of the world .
    Neil Lennon and the scouting, coaching staff seemed to have a real good idea for raw talent.
    Of course the Celtic touring party will not be at full strengh due to injuries to Kayal, Izzigurie etc …
    I’m sure that will not matter to all supporters who show up for the 3 games. I would be surprised if any happen to be easy… Very surprised…
    As Willie Wallace (Wispy) said beware, or words to that effect.

    Hail Hail fellow Celts……….. ENJOY

  3. Donald says:

    Perhaps if Chris had the wit to read further than the first two paragraphs he would have a better Idea of what the author has to say.
    Chris, the line ‘Howevere, upon deeper examination……’, might give you a hint.
    ‘Lazy journalism’s’ one thing and something we’re used to in the ibrox orientated media we have in Scotland, but to comment on an article you obviously haven’t read is real lazy and an insult to Mr Laverty.
    I won’t bother repeating your detailed remarks concern the ‘damp squibs’ of the EPL, when you wrote of our players and their international status or spoke of our financial ‘TV money’ with a fair degree of knowledge, but what I will say, is that we have posters from a certain Scottish team, (I would mention them by name but scrrubbing my hands and keyboard with bleach afterwards takes to much time) who insist on posting on articles such as your own, to try and make out we’re always complaining and such.
    It’s their attempt at trying to push the ‘one’s as bad as the other’ attitude their friends known as the ‘laptop loyalist lickspittles’ in the Scottish media constantly try to push to muddy the waters over the other Glasgow teams supporters disgusting behaviour across Europe, for which they were recently punished by Uefa for racist and sectarian chanting at European home and away games against PSV Eindhoven (NL).
    I guess this will be new to Australia, it’s something we are quite used to.
    A fairly erudite article Paul, and mostly ‘fair comment, although a wee mention of Strachans three in a row and reaching the Champions League last 16 two years running, beating teams like Man U and AC Milan along the way could have been worth a mention.
    I’ts ok not to mention Tony Mobray though ;O)

    Enjoy the game!

    Hail! Hail!

  4. Thanks Neil, David and Donald. Always to good get intelligent comments from passionate and informed fans.
    As for Chris – I think the result from Saturday’s game, albeit a friendly, shows the A-League is better than many think.
    I also stand by my comments regarding the current Celtic side. None of the players would make Jock Stein’s reserve team. And only Izaguirre and maybe Commons and Kayal would make Martin O’Neil’s bench. That’s just my opinion.

  5. BEN says:

    chris how can you comment on this article when you didn’t read all of it? The majority of your post was equivalent to early hours talk-back radio callers. The comment had nothing to offer the world except antagonism. Its a troll post! And as for the statement that A-League watching precludes Mr Laverty from commenting on the SPL you obviously assume he has no exposure to any other football leagues. This is an example of the most specious reasoning on the internet.

  6. bully says:

    Smeltics crowd r pyoor shite man. 15 of us bares doon ra windsor wouds make mair noise..

  7. Ross says:

    Rangers and Celtic on tour in Australia will just blow anything from the English Premier League out of the water.

    Although, some points I’d like to pick up on from the article and comments above.

    “Ibrox-orientated media” – nonsense. Just utter nonsense. The problem with football in Scotland is this pathetic ‘tit-for-tat’ stuff which drives me absolutely bonkers.

    Then we have Donald trying to isolate Rangers because of what’s happened with UEFA. Again, just utter nonsense, Celtic fans’ behaviour in Australia has been worse than all of Rangers’ tussles with UEFA put together.

    From the Australian press, we’ve seen figures such as 40, 50 and 60 arrests over the Celtic tour.

    I think the article is very fair. I don’t see much wrong with what Paul has written.

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