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  • Meet Russia's biggest Hoops fan and founder of Celtic Shatura

    Meet Russia's biggest Hoops fan and founder of Celtic Shatura

    By: Mark Henderson on 13 Jun, 2018 11:01

  • SEVERAL Hoops players will feature in the World Cup when the tournament kicks off this Thursday, but they won’t be the only Celts representing the club in Russia. His name may suggest otherwise, but Denis McGoalach (pictured above, far left) is Russian-born and raised and his passion for Celtic led him to establish his own green and white hoops team named Celtic Shatura.

    The team is based 120km from where the World Cup opening ceremony at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow will take place, and despite living thousands of miles away from Glasgow, 27-year-old Denis, who featured in the second part of Frankie Boyle’s BBC2 documentary ‘Frankie Goes to Russia’, last weekend, has followed the Scottish champions since he watched one of their games on TV as a four-year-old.

    To bring the Celtic story, particularly its charitable origins, to a greater audience, Denis formed his own version of his beloved Bhoys in his hometown of Shatura in 2015.

    “I am a Celtic supporter from my childhood,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Celtic View. “I am Russian but I fell in love with Celtic when I was four-years-old and I saw the team on TV for the first time.

    “I started to follow Celtic when I was a young boy. Year by year, Celtic became a bigger part of my life. All my life, I was interested in Scottish and Irish history and history in general. Over the years, Celtic became an obsession.

    “Three years ago, I decided to start Celtic Shatura in my hometown as I wanted to bring Brother Walfrid’s dream and the Celtic philosophy here, as that is part of the make-up of every Celtic fan.

    “My town is rural, with a population of around 30,000, but I founded Celtic to help the local community in our hometown and carry out charity work. For example, the players at our club try to help local children at a rehabilitation centre in our hometown. Every New Year’s Eve, over the last three years, we have gone to this children’s centre and brought them presents.”

    Three years on since their formation, Celtic Shatura have already reached the heady heights of the third tier of Russian football, and the club has also expanded, operating teams at various age-groups. Along with running the club, Denis, who works at the local power station, manages the team. He is a busy man.

    “I founded this club and I am also the manager and coach,” he said. “I have friends who help me but I am the manager and the owner of the club. We were an amateur football team who played at a regional level. In the first year we finished third and in the second season we were champions and last year, 2017, we started playing in the third division of the Russian championship. It was a huge step for us, going from an amateur football team up to such a high level, but we have some really good players.”

    Seeing a name like 'McGoalach' on the back of a strip in the Russian third tier would come as a surprise to most football fans. The name holds a far greater meaning to McGoalach than just sounding Scottish, though.

    ““It was around 10 years ago,” he said. “Some of my family were surprised, but my mother said ‘It’s your life, you have to do what you want! It’s like a mirror into my world as Goalach is a Scottish word for loving. When I took this surname, I thought it was fitting as the love and care of our children is one of the biggest characteristics in our family.

    “For example my Great Granny had eight children and she brought them up herself without my Great Grandfather as he was fighting in the Second World War. So this is a strong tradition in my family, caring and looking after children.”

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