Friday, March 11, 2011

Interview with Tam Donnelly

*For the maximum Tam experience, this interview is done in Tam's own words.

What’s your earliest memory of Celtic?
My earliest memory is seeing them come through the Gorbals with the Coronation Cup. I had been to games with my Da before that he took me to a game when I was only 2, so I don't remember much about that to be honest, except the Pie he got me and some Bovril in my bottle, (Joking) The first game I can remember was Clyde Game not sure what age I was but going to that game with my Da we met Charlie Tully on the Tram Car and he gave me a silver Tanner. I will never forget that. He also said he would get a goal for me. And he did.

You were once arrested at Hampden, can you tell us what happened?
Scotland V Holland was the game my Pal came down to our street and shouted up to the windae, and asked me if I fancied going tae the game, I said "naw nae chance, nae Celtic players got picked, and there are six Huns playing for Scotland" He said "uch come on lets go doon see the game they wull get stuffed anyway" I said ok. As I started tae get ready, putting on my Celtic Scarf my Da said "where you goin? " I said tae him "gonny go doon and watch Scotland getting humped" He says "yer aff yer heid, no be any Tim's there the night, it's aw Huns playing for Scotland the night". I said "uch nuthing else tae dae" he said "please yer self ya daft bastard" and "yer wearin yer Celtic Scarf?" "aye" a said he just shook his heid. So off we go me and my pal we decide to walk it to Hampden save a couple of bob so we can go for a pint after the game. We count out much we got between us and we come to the conclusion if wan of us jumps the turnstile we hiv enough for a couple of pints each and a packet of fags between us. So big mooth me said tae ma Pal your hopeless at runnin so I will do the turnstile you hod back the Polis block thum at the turnstile door when they come efter me it will gie me a chance tae get inae the Park. As we walk up to the turnstile we are going in the Celtic end section O it used to be there is wan Polis and wan gate open "uch this is the doddle Archie, naebody about at all" I say. I walk up to the turnstile big Polis nods tae me I nod back and woosh up and over that turnstile like a hurdler, over and up the stairs like whippet no even looking back. As I get tae the tap I run in and low and behold not a sole in the Celtic end it's empty. I stop running and think (cleaning this up) Oh my goodness I am in Trouble noo. I turn round and 2 big polis staunin there laffin wan says "kimeer you". I walk over to them we are at the tap of the stairs . I figure there gonny take me doon the stairs and throw me oot. WRONGGGGGGGGGG. Hands twisted and both erms up my back and run me doon the stairs towards the track and up and over we go onto the track. I figure go left tae huckle me oot. WRANGGGG again. We go right past about 32,000 huns that way. Round we go towards my Scottish bretheren who are all cheering me as my scarf is noo hanging out as the polis shove my erms further up my back I bend over so the scarf is hinging right out. As we get tae the end where my Scottish bretheren are now calling me a hooly hooly hooligin, and they where all in fine voice, and in unison. As we get round the track right behind the goal at the hun end they are awe hinging ower the fence geein me pelters as these two polis are lovin it. I can see wan hun who is spoutin venim and eyes bulging out his napper leaning ower the wa. I figure oh well in for a penny in for a pound and I suck wan up fae ma toes, and as we are passing him I let it go it was a big green beach baw right on his coopon. As this happens two polis shove erms further up ma back and we all three hit the deck both of thum landing on me . Anyway they take me to the black maria and smack me about a bit. Then when they stuck me in a cell they came in there a wiz bollock naked they gave it tae me again. Lesson I learned there was dont wear a Celtic Scarf tae Scotland games.

You’ve lived in Canada longer than you lived in Scotland, is that now home?
Yes but I still call Castlemilk and Scotland home too.

How did the formation of the North American Federation of Celtic Supporters Clubs come about?
Way back when the Rangers supporters over here NARSA were first to get the games via Satellite and were away ahead of us getting jump start. They were getting the games and we had no been organised enough to get it going,plus the fact only a few big clubs in Canada, Huns were getting the big games like O** F*** games and we had to watch it with them in their clubs and we were getting charged big bucks, a lot more than their guys. Then Jacky Meehan (St Cathrines csc) Pat McGauley (Toronto csc) Harry Aire (Hamilton csc) Eugene (Durham csc) And Myself (Bramalea csc) decide after a few meetings to put together the Canadian Federation of CSC. Word got out and next thing you know San Francisco , calls to join then Kearny, then New York,  Then L.A. ,then Manhattan, then Chicago, then Houston, then Dallas, then Florida, then all the Canadian  provinces and Cities jumped in and within I would say withing six months we had 36 clubs, the huns had 18. We went as high as 74 clubs at one point but Ch67 plus the economy kicked the crap out of the clubs and we are back in the 40 or so but I feel it will come again and the NAFCSC  is something that is very near and dear to my heart and all the clubs that helped it get going. A lot of people sacrificed a lot of time and effort to make sure it worked.

You’ve been a tremendous supporter of and friend to The Lisbon Lions, any stories that stand out?
Oh dear there are loads. One story and it stands out in my mind, Jacky Meehan and I were invited to lunch with all the Lions up at Celtic Park one day during the week in the restaurant there at the time. I was like a wean in a sweetie shop waiting for this meeting. We go in and we meet Lennox and Chalmers. Jacky and I were already sitting at a table, wee Lennox says tae me "wit ye daen sitting here Tam?"  I said "we wur waiting for youz", He says "they are all up there" and points to the other end of restaurant "through that door we have a special table set up for the Lions and you two. I said "oh, I have got the waiter tae set this table up for us and you" he says "aye nae bother go and tell them tae come doon here". I saunter aff and through the door next thing ye know am in a stairwell and canny get back in. I banged and kicked the door waiter opens it and aw the Lions ar pissin thumselfs laffin, I could have choked that wee Lennox but we all had a great laugh at it. We had a great day. A few days later Jacky and I meet up with Jinky, and he asked "did youz enjoy the other day?" So I say to Jinky "Aye thanks a lot Jinky, ye invite us tae dinner then ye awe went away and we got stuck wae the bill". "Wit ye talking about Tam" Jinky says, I say "Ye awe went away and naebody paid the bill" Yer kiddin Tam" he says, "Naw am no Jinky, that's shite wit yeez done". Jinky looked gobsmacked "Tam that bastard Bertie collected awe the money aff us all as we awe chipped in, wait tae a see him" I say "it's ok Jinky we can cover it". "Naw" he says "not on" , I say "never mind Jinky its no a problem". "Ye sure Tam?" "Aye Jinky nae bother ok" Jinky says "Tam thats awfy good o ye. But a want ma 20 quid aff that bastard". A couple days later Bertie phones me and says  "Fur fux sake Tam will you tell that Jinky wan I paid the bill! He's sayin he wants his money back coz you telt him I got off my mark and didnae pay the bill and he is calling me everything under the sun and disnae believe I paid it" We had a good laugh at that one. From that day on I had to be careful cause I knew they would get me back, and over the years we have had some good ones that I will keep private.

It's fair to say that the NAFCSC really put Celtic on the map in North America, in all your time there, how much have Celtic helped you out?
Very fair to say we put Celtic on the Map in NA. Wee Fergus was the only one who has been any help as far as board level is concerned. Celtic used to help us with tickets for games but when the new system came in it made it much harder to get tickets but to be fair they do try to help with getting guys tickets, As far as the Convention goes, they don't do a thing. I have been in touch with them regarding the 2011 Convention have told them they should launch the new away strip for next season in Las Vegas. I have told them if they do that I will make sure TV stations are there to make a report on the evening news. I think its a great idea but it's still up in the air so we will see what happens.

Las Vegas, The NAFCSC Convention, how did it come about?
The LA csc, decided they would do the Convention way back when and everyone who went to Vegas as that's where LA decided to have it. We all enjoyed it so much we made it the venue each year but it was getting ho hum, so we decide that make it every two years.

Is it true you played a round of golf with Fergus McCann?
Aye that was a experience and a half. Fergus is something else. I like him a lot but we did get off to a bad start. Fergus can be very abrupt, straight forward and demanding. In The Gorbals we would call it a cheeky wee &%&*%&%($^$ but as you get to know him you find out he is honest and has Celtic truly at heart. This particular golf day he was something else. We were in Vegas for the Convention and everyone was feart of wee Fergus and didnae want tae play with him. So I said I will play with him so Fergus Tommy Love LA csc, me and I canny mind the other guy all set out to play as a foursome. Fergus is very competitive trust me and he shiriked us all day for being Diddys at the game. We go round and, as we are going to the 10th tee, we stop at the hut where they sell pop and stuff. I ask Fergus and the other two "ye want a pot?" they all say yes. I get out the cart and go to the counter and the three of them take off. Now we are in Vegas, it's noon and it's 120 degrees that day, and the 10th tee is about 300 yds fae the counter, I get the drinks and hiv tae walk there wae thum in ma erms, I get to the 10th tee and they have all teed off. They are waiting for me, then wee Fergus says "come on, hurry up, you're up, what kept ye?". At that point, wi sweat belting out my arse, I could have stoated him over the heid wae wan of the bottles. We carry on and we are going round and my baw went intae the mud so I pick it up and wipe it clean on the wee mans towel and don't think another thing about it.  A few holes later wee Fergus goes over to the Cart and lets out a yell ye all know the way he talks so you can guess his voice as he says to me  "Mr Donnelly have you been wiping your balls on the towel I use to dry my bald head?" Oh dear me I think there a opening for a cheeky answer if ever there was but I crapped out and said "No Fergus must have been one of those two other guys". He just threw me a look. Funny thing about it when he said what he said about "my balls" the other two heard it and cringed. But all in all it was a great day for me and I fully respected the man after Vegas.

What’s the state of play with the NAFCSC and the games being shown in the clubs, is the future secure?
Depends on ch67. If that stays alive and the economy doesn't get better we could be in trouble but as long as I have a breath in me I will work my butt off to make sure all Celtic Supporters in NA get to see our beloved Celtic.

When Celtic tour North America, do they get it right?
No. In fact they dont have a clue. They really are way behind. They could not organise a piss up in a brewery here and that's a fact. I always have to get on them with things like "why did you not get in touch with Jacky or I? We would have sorted better training facilities?" Alll kinds of stuff. It's a joke  the way they do things and have voiced that till I am sick to the back teeth.

What’s your views on the current on going madness within football in Scotland?
I feel for Neil Lennon. It's a bloody shame what's happening to him. I am proud to be Scottish and would dealy love to go and support Scotland National Team but since as far back as I can remember they and we all know who they are, don't want us there. My God almighty you only have to look at the number of Caps Bobby Murdoch got for playing for Scotland yet he was one of the finest mid field players you have ever seen in your life. As long as you have people like Peat and the likes running Scottish football it will always be a shambles. As far as I am concerned there is one helluva campign to run Neil Lennon out of Scotland. I hope he stays even if it meant they took us down to the second division I will still support Celtic and Neil Lennon and thats coming from my heart.

Finally Tam, what is a rivit?
hahahahahahah something hard you Ram into.   oh geez or a ships hull hahahaha.

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