The Rosses Celtic Supporters Club
A Short History
If History means a recording of facts and dates then the following, in fairness, is not a History of the Rosses Celtic Supporters Club, as exact dates are not included and no doubt included facts will be disputed over the Counter be it on the Ferry across to Scotland , Sharkey’s in Annagry , Sharkey’s in Glasgow, The bar of the Days Inn Hotel or any other place where good after match debates take root.
Of course it’s an honour to be asked to put down a piece of how it all started and the fun in the days of setting up a club. It is however a bigger sense of satisfaction to see the Club going so well and in good hands with a steady and traditional home in the Lower Rosses and Sharkey’s Bar in Annagry today and so many still going over time and again to support Celtic.
My memory of it all was that Hughie Pat Sharkey from Calhame and Brian Boyle from Ballymanus, both deceased , kept badgering at a few of us for years about the setting up of a Celtic Supporters Club where we could meet and organise trips to Celtic Matches. Both men were dedicated Celtic men and I suppose were very aware of the fact that although many of us were over and back to games in cars, with Feda, Anthony Dora or Doherty’s bus service or an odd Flight with Loganair……nothing was organised and it should be!! Brian and Hughie were formidable characters in their own way and their calls for a club eventually were met.
I remember a cold Winters night in Bonner’s in Mullaghduff and the first meeting in 1988……a significant year , 100 years after the founding of the great Celtic. Hughie Pat who always sat proudly , sat extra proudly that night, Brian Boyle and James Barney his father, Owen Joseph Coyle, George Doalty,(enough to cause a good argument supposing there was nothing to argue about)… Danny Doogan the painter and young Daniel his son, John the Thatch, Timmy Hughie Tim, Josie Joe, Paddy Bhrini and Daniel, John G Gorman, Conal O Dubhaidh, Patrick Mc Ginley, Tony Bonner from Dungloe and myself….were among the 20 or so who attended. A long discussion took place and the general agreement was that we would form a club and go to about 6 games a year (amazing that even in 1988 going to more was unrealistic)! A Committee was elected;
President; Hughie Pat Sharkey
Vice President; Timmy Boyle
Chairman ; George Boyle and Brian Boyle
Treasurer ; Owen J Coyle
Secretary; Charlie Boyle
PRO ; Conal O Dubhaidh.
Although Bonners was the meeting for that meeting, subsequent meetings moved around the Rosses for several years before settling back into Bonners again around 1994. The highlight in those early years were as usual, the trips to Glasgow as a Supporters club. Many of us had of course travelled over previously but there is without doubt a difference, in a better way, in travelling as a Club. Accomodation varied, many had relatives and friends in Glasgow and would stay with them or some would stay in the Queen’s Park or Dunkeld Hotels. On the many first trips we seldom were organised enough to all stay together and as it was slightly before the explosion of mobile phones, Sharkeys Bar in the Gorbals, got many a phone call asking where such and such a character had disappeared to. Sharkey’s Bar was our happy base and the craic and sport would start there as we’d roll into town on the Friday night. Isa, Peter, Fiona , Isobel and Staff would welcome us as if we had come from Alaska and although they never showed it, I’m sure there were many times they’d hoped we were returning there! Sharkey’s was for us a West Donegal Pub which happened to sit in the Gorbals of Glasgow, many a song, craic, football match was replayed there and it’s a great continuation that this is still the case today.
As I watch and listen today of how the current Rosses Club Committee organise tickets for big European ties against the mighty Juventus or a league game against Dundee Utd, and the demand for these tickets……I often wonder yet can’t really remember how we used to get our tickets. I remember around 1991 in Sharkeys’in Glasgow with 35 tickets for a Rangers match at Parkhead and being three short an hour before kick off. There was no panic but a few phone calls were made by someone and it all worked out. The source of all these tickets varied and we were getting tickets from all angles, Packie Bonner was good for a handful, Isa in Sharkeys kept her eyes open for another bunch, Conal Boyle from Meenmore would get another lash, and lots of the times members would simply sort out their own ….. but not in any organised fashion and in my six years as Secretary I don’t remember ringing Celtic Park once.
The football of 1988-1994 was forgettable by and large……Rangers were dominant and the main match was in the boardroom. This was the end of the Kelly regime(Thank God) and Fergus Mc Cann although a change and a hope, was mistrusted by many as he had put his business cards on the table and told the supporters that he was simply in it to make a profit. He was honest however and no one can doubt that he left us with a great ground and a league title after nine nightmare years.
In 1990 before Packie Bonner and Chris Morris went off to the World Cup in Italy we took them back after a Celtic match to Sharkeys and made a presentation to them and a few beers as well. This was a nice night and the First time we were able to do something like that. After the World Cup we held a dinner-dance in Ostan na Rosann for over 350 with Packie and Anton Rogan as Guest Of Honour.
When we became a bit more organised we started getting more attending meetings and therefore more wanting to go to games. The amount going to games varied from four of us flying over to present Paul Mc Stay with a Golf Club (sadly after a defeat by Rangers) …to 280, Six Coach loads going over for Packie Bonner’s testimonial match complete with RTE cameras in toe. My main memory and there were many from that testimonial trip was Conal interviewing Paddy Bhrini in the Jock Stein Lounge for Raidio na Gaeltachta. The significance of that has never left me…..here was a man from West Donegal giving an interview in Gaelige about his memories of Celtic in the Jock Stein suite………you can’t beat stuff like that.
Josie Joe was a cornerstone to the Club then . Always a bit reluctant to take on a role…he was an ever-present at matches, meetings , functions etc. A great character who always would help out and had the club and its trips at heart…….another great connection through to the Club today.
The Celtic Sod story has been told many a time and needless to say it was , without doubt our Highlight. We agreed as a club to write and offer to donate a Sod and when Fergus Mc Cann personally replied by phone of course I thought it was a local wind-up but I was not prepared to take the risk of not hearing his request of a sod of turf from the Rosses Celtic Supporters Club for the New Celtic Park. This connection between our beloved Celtic and the Rosses Celtic Supporters Club is now written into History and as the years go on and the story “gathers a few bits” it remains a great part of the Clubs History.
Today, the Rosses Celtic Supporters Club is strong and Proud. It is better organised, as this is the demand of the current game. The Club Committee work very hard against all the odds to get as many tickets as are possible, organising buses, Flights and cars over to games. They try as best they can to help out a few Rosses Folk, who may be based in the Scotland or England. Hotel accommodation is better organised and the value for money packages available are a reflection of the work being done to get a good deal for the Rosses Supporters. From its beginning until today although many things have changed the one thing that hasn’t is the desire to get to Celtic Park to See Celtic play……..long may it last.
Charlie Boyle (Yank)