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Did any Gersnetters ever play against Celtic Boys' Club?


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In light of this week's decision by Lord Arthurson to allow the survivors of sexual abuse to continue their Class Action against Celtic FC, I wondered if any Gersnetters ever played against Celtic Boys' Club? I have respect for the work undertaken by the Spotlight team and acknowledge the real courage shown by Gordon Woods and the Gray family. The continuing actions are the epitome of a deliberately cast aside grouping fighting to take the initiative against the Establishment. The Club, both print and broadcast media and, the Scottish Government chose to ignore decades of pain, anguish and, serious mental health concerns that in some cases have culminated in suicide.

 

We know there have been multiple appearances in court, dozens of convictions four criminal trials pending and, six Club perpetrators as a result of conviction have served/are serving custodial sentences. Further, a Class Action is now pending. We know Celtic disbanded Celtic Boys Club a decade past and set up a new official Youth Club, St Patricks. Celtic claimed the near half century old Celtic Boys' Club was a separate entity. We know that key designations in several organisations have deliberately run interference in both investigation and reporting. The Establishment is powerful.

 

The reason for this posting is connected to the Barcelona Bound thread on Rangers Chat. Frequently, I mention my own experiences of Schools - Youth - Amateur football in the late 60s/early 70s. Like a lot of my age group, I played organised football at my Primary School, the Cubs/Scouts, local Boys' Club, Secondary School and, in my teenage years graduated to Amateur football officially connected to a senior Club's Youth development. I was at Uddingston Amateurs for two years organised by former Hamilton acas Keeper for a decade, Billy Lamont(went on to manage Partick Thistle, Falkirk, Alloa, .... etc). I moved to Fir Park Boys' Club for just over three years; under the tutelage of Joe Wark and Billy Campbell.

 

In nearly six years, I took the field against Celtic Boys' Club on a least a dozen and a half occasions. I think we secured a couple of draws, mostly we were deservedly defeated by at least two or three goals. There were two league games each season and ultimately progression in the cups was dependent upon when you drew Celtic Boys' Club. We made a couple of finals. Whatever the circumstance, the experience was always similar. We turned up with 13-14 players, eleven started and there were two Substitutes. When CBC trapped, it was unique.

 

Seriously, there could be nearly three dozen lads; all replete in badged dark green blazers, white shirts and club necktie. Grey flannels and polished shoes accompanied combed hair. To complete the full automaton look, all carried the green with white piping flight bag holding their kit. 'CBC' was stencilled across every bag. It was intimidating, like us they could only strip(no attempts at humour please) 13 players. There were 20 lads standing on the side of the pitch, the majority of whom could have easily walked into our team. Celtic Boys' club were attracting such numbers at all age group levels in 1972, only six years after foundation.

 

The popularity of the club was such that it was replicated in several of the countries regions ie CBC East was in Edinburgh, CBC North in Aberdeen, .... etc. In the early days, if you wanted to read a match report of your game against the club; you could pick up a copy of the Celtic View(official newspaper of Celtic FC) Edited by Jack McGinn and there was a match report on each game played by each age grouping. The London Road Celtic Supporters Association is a three storey building, each floor has wrap around glass. Until a decade ago, you could not see inside the windows because each window ledge was adorned with all the silverware secured by CBC. Celtic Boys' Club was accepted and celebrated by all Celtic supporters.

 

I can talk about one player, a truly fantastic midfielder I faced regularly in both schools and Boys Amateur football. I was fortunate to play several games in the same team, both representing Lanarkshire School Boys. He was over a year younger but regularly played in the grouping above, he was easily the best player I ever shared a pitch with. John McCluskey was the younger brother of George, he signed for Celtic in 1972, aged 13 years. He testified in court against Jim Torbett in his 1996 trial. John, or as we knew him, 'Friar' because of his pudding bowl haircut; was the outstanding player at Wembley in the 1975 English Schoolboys versus Scottish Schoolboys fixture. We won 3-5(not to be confused with the Paul McStay, John Robertson, Paul Rideout, .... etc game of a few years later when we won 4-5) and John scored two. 

 

Friar was a genial lad, always chatted away during games and, did not hesitate to congratulate team mate or opposition. He blamed his Mother for his hairstyle, he claimed she insisted on cutting his locks. Rewards were big at CBC, semi-finals were hosted by a Junior club, finals were taken to a senior ground. We got skelped at Thorniewood United's park in Tannochside and coming off the pitch chatting with Friar, I was jealous when he informed me he was off in a couple of weeks on a CBC Scandinavian tour for several days. The next time I faced John was several weeks later, in a schools match and we defeated Holy Cross, Hamilton 3-0. Friar had changed, he was barking at his own team mates. Swearing and blaming lesser players. Holy Cross Coach, former Celt, John Cushley subbed him at half-time.

 

The last time I played against him was a final at Cliftonhill, home of Albion Rovers. The paragraph where I described the host of automatons trapping and hoping was again apparent and easily matched by a larger horde of CBC officials, all similarly attired. Friar was sullen and uncommunicative, we put it down to BillyBigBaws, he was on his way. Frank Cairney was top man, he lived locally and was well known. After the match, he entered the CBC dressing room with a chromed tape recorder. There were several dozen lads and officials in the dressing room and out in the corridor bouncing to the Celtic Song and Irish rebel tunes. Frank had made a tape.

 

I went to Uni' and Friar made his debut for Celtic aged 16 years in the European Cup tie against Luxembourg side, Jeunesse Esch. It was to be his only game, suffering a horrific knee injury in a reserve fixture the next season. The injury finished his career. Five years later I met John on Cadzow Street, Hamilton. I was home on leave and he had just finished a shift, he was a Labourer for Hamilton District Council. We chatted for a few minutes, promising to get together for a few pints. I have not seen John since. Thinking about it, the last time I talked to John, he was 14 and I was 15.

 

I read the Daily Record's reporting of Torbett's first trial. Both John McCluskey and Allan Brazil were most courageous. I realised from John's testimony, the Scandinavian tour that provoked my green monster was the beginning of his misery with Torbett. These guys, the Cairneys, the Torbetts, .... etc all gravitate into areas where they get access. Then, they strictly adhere to the principles of defence - all round defence, mutual support, depth, camouflage, concealment, administration, ..... etc. Even to this day, Celtic, the majority of the media and, the Scottish Government continue to adhere. It's a continuing, co-ordinated, multi-layered defence.

 

If any Gersnetters have played against CBC, please share your memories but be careful. Keep it general, do not mention specific players by name. My referrals to John McCluskey are in the public domaine because he testified. The work of Spotlight must be respected.

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Yeah, played against them a few times.

 

One time stuck in my mind was at Strathclyde Park where I played for Dundee Utd against them in a 0-0 draw in a howling gale.  At that point (circa 1992/93) a Scottish Youth League was being developed.  Dundee Utd were going to be represented by Helenvale (who I believe also played in that area). Not sure if they had any formal/legal ties to the club but if they did then CBC certainly would have had the same to Celtic.

 

I declined to play for Helenvale as the travelling was going to be too difficult (from bright, leafy East Lothian to deepest, darkest Lanarkshire and back would have taken hours if my Dad couldn't drive me) so decided to stay with Hutchie Vale for another season to also look after my school interests.  Kenny Cameron phoned me up within a few weeks to release me from Utd.  Very nice... ;)

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I remember watching they're boys playing our boys and both sets of parents behaved like the lowest form of life known to man 

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