Say the Hail Mary

Fate
Up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him

Under a blue moon, I saw you
So soon you’ll take me
Up in your arms, too late to beg you
Or cancel it, though I know it must be
The killing time
Unwillingly mine

I believe that the loss of personal bohemia causes nostalgia. Paradoxically, although nostalgia can be mentally draining for its practitioners, it is also part of what attracts the next generation of enthusiasts to the same vibe. When looking back at this counterculture it seems it was very grounding. I have always been a bit of a flaneur so looking for the next locale was perfect timing.

It’s 1983 and I’m walking through the Barrowlands in Glasgow on the London Road side of the market. Myself and a friend are dressed in post -Two-Tone attire with wedge haircuts and baggy jeans. Aberdeen appear.

I’ve heard it said and I agree, “Where’s the next scene?’ Nobody sees it coming, ah it’s over there.” – (Casuals DVD)

Eighties

It was every Saturday in the mid to late ‘80s. Glasgow City Centre seemed to be occupied by us the (CSC “the Celtic Soccer Crew”) A lot of the time I’d recognise a face and a nod was given. Other times you would approach a group and anticipate it could go off. Some lads would interrogate by asking your authenticity with “say the Hail Mary”. However, as time proceeded into the late ’80s it just seemed to always be Celtic in the city centre.

Inevitably, before any home games; it was a dash from George Square, along the end of Argyle Street and it would kick-off on a big scale at the island in the middle of the road at Trongate. From there, the away firm would head onto the London Road side of the Barrowlands we would go the other way (the Gallowgate). The drill was to go through the Barras and catch the away mob as they walked up the London Road side of the market. Many a time on the corner a crowd of mods were gathered at the ice cream kiosk. I vividly recall the young ginger baby crew member from Posso would tag the first one and the rest would follow through. Mods, yesterdays subculture especially that second generation type, one dimensional with targets on their back, what did they expect.

Most weeks when Celtic played at home we would approach Bridgeton Cross there would be a mob gathered at the bandstand. Like clock work about 10 of the crew would make a dash over to this Bridgton Derry lot and they would bolt before any of us remaining had even followed through.

Beginnings

Celtic first went out as a crew in a Scottish Cup match in 30 January 1985. This was away to Hamilton under the name (RCC “the Roman Catholic Casuals”) which was not a decent or suitable moniker I think we can all agree.

My first outing was a couple of months later on 20 March 1985 at Celtic Park v Hearts. We numbered around 50 and we had positioned ourselves next to the Hearts fans in the old Rangers end at Parkhead. This was just before they put a fence and plastic screen down the middle of the terrace. All there seemed to be was police segregation. The attire was sportswear and those half ‘n’ half ski-hats which wasn’t exactly anti-suss; but I think at this stage we actually wanted to be noticed. I recall over hearing a Celtic supporter commenting: “I didn’t realise we has so many casuals” this would be on the assumption it was an Aberdeen thing or perhaps Motherwell.

At the age of 15, I was just loving the camaraderie, the labels worn but I am posturing as a foot soldier. It was also a good game to have chosen for antagonising the away support. Hearts took the lead and were two nil ahead within 30 minutes. However, Celtic pulled one back through Mo Johnston just before half-time. Late into the second half Murdo MacLeod equalised, then on 92 minutes Brian McClair scores the winner for Celtic. The raging Hearts fans are trying to break through and attack, they still have this Gorgie aggro Skinhead look among their support mixed in with their firm.

Going into the 85/86 season things were starting to change and grow. Sportswear was replaced by shirts and cords, more dress down anti-suss. An umbrella was an accessory for some and more shoes being seen then trainers. Boys were becoming men. The Celtic ski-hat had gone. The Celtic support thought they had got rid of their casuals. However, there was a much sinister not so obvious crew sitting opposite them at the bottom of the main stand at Celtic Park.

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