Thursday, August 4, 2011

From Maple Leaf to Four Leaf

Celtic currently have 23 official CSC's in Canada. I've been to Toronto twice and on both occasions made a visit to the Toronto CSC's HQ in Midland Avenue, and I was greatly warmed by the fact it was their own location. Don't look for any other team comparisons there, there are none, this is Celtic. The NAFCSC is a federation which encompasses clubs in Canada and America and a lot of that comes from the migration of Scots to Canada in the 60s and 70s.

My own friend there Mike Paul, emigrated in 1974 and never regretted it. His family are all grown up, he and his wife are very happy and they have a beautiful house just outside Toronto that I could happily never leave. Very little stress, lots of long days in the summer and very cosy when harsh winter hits.

Another who emigrated there, just a little bit before Mike, was Tam Donnelly. Tam, for the two people who don't know him, is the living embodiment of supporting Celtic. His passion is such that, along with people like Jacky Meehan and Peter Milligan, he wasn't prepared to accept not seeing Celtic any more. As technology got better, the will became stronger, let's do a deal to get the games here and in America and form a Federation, so that people all over North America can form their own CSC and Celtic can build a base here. Let's not beat around the bush here, the NAFCSC put Celtic on the map in North America as a whole.

It is interesting to look at what life was like for Celtic supporters in North America pre the Federation. The BBC World Service on the radio was invaluable, as were phonecalls although very expensive and there are stories of brothers and fathers drawing out what goals were like and then sending them across The Atlantic. It was a very grim time, then, Celtic were on live every week. That must have been akin to Adam realising Eve had more than just an allure about her.

Tam himself is an extraordinary character. At one time he was a strike enforcer. This meant, in cities like NYC, he'd often visit shops asking if they would be stocking certain things? If they said Yes, the baseball bat was put on the counter and the question asked again. Similarly when strikes were coming to the front line and it became a straight out fight with the cops, Tam would be right at the front, almost always fighting with other big burly Scots and Irish dressed in NYPD uniform,

As President of the NAFCSC now, Tam is trying to steer the ship through some troubled waters at the minute, that can lead to lots of different things, praise, abuse or simply non stop "What about this...what about that..." but it is clear that most people see in Tam, the man to lead the Federation into a new world, just like Scots and Irish led their families in the years gone by to the shores of America and Canada, and, just like they did then, what is needed now more than anything, is for everyone to close ranks. The NYPD&NYC Deli owners will tell you how effective that can be.

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