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  • Celtic founded 132 years ago today

    Celtic founded 132 years ago today

    By: Joe Sullivan on 06 Nov, 2019 10:31

  • ‘A football club will be formed for the maintenance of dinner tables for the children and the unemployed.'

    IT was 132 years ago today, on November 6, 1887, that the meeting during which Celtic Football Club was formally constituted took place in St Mary’s Church Hall in East Rose Street, Calton.

    There are many significant dates surrounding the formation of Celtic Football Club, from February 12, 1887 when Hibernian beat Dumbarton 2-1 in the Scottish Cup final until August 21, 1888 when the fledgling club were officially registered with the SFA.

    Falling between these dates in the intervening 555 days are a number of historical events that were crucial in the Celtic calendar – not least being May 28, 1888 when the new club, resplendent in their white shirts with green collars and a Celtic Cross on the breast supplied by Penman Bros of Bridgeton, took to the field for the very first time and defeated Rangers 5-2 with Neil McCallum scoring the first ever Celtic goal.

    Other prominent dates were:

    April, 1887:
    This was when Clyde played Dundee Harp at Barrowfield Park, Bridgeton and a crowd of 4,000 raised money for the Poor Children’s Dinner Table at Sacred Heart School. The match, arranged by Brother Walfrid, would no doubt have had the priest recalling John McFadden’s rallying call of February 12 (see below).

    May 1887:
    Glasgow Charity Cup holders Renton played Scottish Cup holders Hibs for the one-off East End Charity Cup when a massive 12,000 paid in at Barrowfield. The match ended in a draw and the replay was staged in August.

    November 13, 1887:
    The committee leased six acres of land on Dalmarnock Street (Springfield Road, where new apartments are) and work immediately started on what would become one of the most state-of-the-art stadia in the country at the time.

    January 19, 1888:
    The first general monthly meeting was held before a lively attendance at St Mary’s where it was reported that the pitch was finished and that work was due to commence on the stand that week.

    May 8, 1888:
    This was the date of the very first game played at Celtic Park when a crowd of 5,000 turned up for a game between Hibernian and Cowlairs. Even before all this, in September 1886, Hibs had come to Glasgow to play St Peter’s of Partick in a match at Glengarry Park in Bridgeton.

    The park had been named after the area in which Catholic Highlanders settled and, indeed, was the home pitch of Columba, the first youth team formed by Brother Walfrid. A thousand paying customers boosted the coffers of St Mary’s Poor Children’s Dinner Table.

    But the crucial date in all this was Sunday, November 6, 1887, exactly 132 years ago today, for it was then that representatives from the upper echelons of the Irish community in Glasgow, most of whom who had witnessed John McFadden’s speech back in February, gathered at St Mary’s Hall.

    Bodies such as the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Catholic Union, the Irish Foresters, the Home Government Branch of the United Irish League, the St Aloysius Association and the Irish National League as well as local Penny Savings Bank and a Total Abstinence Society were present in some manner but the main objective was the formation of a football team to raise money for the Soup Kitchens of the East End.

    It was at the February 12th post-match celebrations at St Mary’s Hall in East Rose Street in the Calton, organised for the Edinburgh side by the Glasgow Irish, that Hibernian secretary John McFadden urged his West of Scotland compatriots to start their own team.

    They, along with Brother Walfrid and his assistant Brother Dorotheus, had been inspired by John McFadden’s urgings and the Marist priest in particular envisaged the benefits of having a team to represent the community AND raise money for the poor.

    Aside from Hibernian and the aforementioned St Peter’s and Dundee Harp, four other clubs with Irish affiliations took part in that season’s Scottish Cup - Erin Rovers, Carfin Shamrock, Broxburn Shamrock and Vale of Leven Hibs.

    The Edinburgh side stood head and shoulders above all others, though, and seemed untouchable so McFadden could little have imagined that his suggestion would result in the formation of a team that would become the biggest of them all.

    It was John Glass who chaired the meeting 132 years ago today and the Celtic Football and Athletic Club was formally constituted.

    From that historic meeting the first ever Celtic committee was formed with the following members:

    Honorary President, Dr John Conway
    President, John Glass
    Secretary, John O’Hara
    Treasurer, Hugh Darnoch
    Match Secretary, Willie Maley
    Committee: Joseph Nelis, Tom Maley, Michael Cairns, Joe Shaughnessy, Pat Welsh, Daniel Molloy, David Meikleham, John McDonald, William McKillop, John McLaughlin and Joseph McGroary.

    Following somewhat tempestuous meetings between the parishes of St Mary, St Andrew and St Alphonsus during the months prior to the historic November 6 gathering, the baton held by John McFadden was finally taken up and - mainly thanks to the foresight and reasoning of committee member John McLaughlin who, on the club becoming a limited liability company in 1897, became Celtic’s first ever Chairman – Scottish football would never be the same again.


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