Category Archives: Football

INTERVIEW WITH COMRADE X

Hitting home with the force of a police raid on a late night lock-in at the dodgiest South London boozer Comrade X emerges from the rubble of political failure, X Factor and wall to wall mediocrity to raise a pint of Guinness to the spirit of 1977!
Over the last couple of years it has been our pleasure to make the acquaintance of a good few people, who we are extremely proud to say, have become part of the extended London Celtic Punks family. If you have attended a London Celtic Punks gig over the last few years then I am sure you will have witnessed our auld mucker Comrade X starting off proceedings by kicking up a storm with his own unique brand of acoustic-punk. Best described as “one geezer, one guitar, three chords and the truth” and, my own favourite, “Woody Guthrie meets Oi!” he’s just an ordinary bloke with an acoustic guitar and the truth to tell. That pretty much tells you all you need to know about what he does, but what does he think on the important matters of the day? We asked yer man a few questions over a few pints of stout so read on and find out…
Comrade3

Now Comrade X has been around on the music scene a lot longer than any of us have been so we thought we’d give him a chance to fill us in (not literally!) and give us the benefit of his knowledge. Now there may be a small handful of people reading this who are not aware of your contribution to the world of alternative music so want to enlighten them? What started your interest in music and how long you been playing and what bands you been involved in up to now? I was 14 when the Pistols appeared on Bill Grundy and it just blew me away. Till that point I was wearing tank tops, Oxford Bags and DM’s and fancied myself as a boot boy with an aspiration to be a face on the Shed End at Chelsea. After Grundy I wanted to know more about these punks. I bought New Rose when it came out and that was that – but it was really the first Clash album that shifted everything for me. After that I bought a guitar out of a junk shop in Leatherhead and started rehearsing with my first band Discipline at the Cabin Club down on Longmead Estate in Epsom. That would have been some time in 1977. We had guitars that chopped your fingers off and 5 watt Woolworths’ practice amps – we were dire but a fire had been lit. 

Comrade1Like most Londoners there’s more than just a drop of Celtic blood coursing through your veins. Do you think that has effected or contributed to how you play or why you play or your beliefs? Well, my grandad was from Kilkenny and arrived in Liverpool sometime in the 1890’s before heading to the East End. Of course I never knew him – he was dead by the time my dad was ten years old and he was orphaned and bought up by his older sister. The family name was changed by my grandad and I only know what my dad and his older brothers told me. Grandad sang rebel songs in pubs around Stepney and his favourite was Bold Robert Emmett so I was told. I think there’s a fair drop of that spirit in what I do. What? Singing rebel songs in a pub? I’d say so!!
Having been in bands and played solo yourself which figures or bands do you think have been the important links between the past and the present and folk/celtic/traditional music and punk/rock music? Biggest influence on me is Joe Strummer – his catalogue from the 101ers to the Mescaleros stands the test of time. The Mescaleros picked up some of Joe’s Celtic connections back to his own Scottish roots. He also introduced a lot of us to Woody Guthrie and through that Leadbelly and some of that deep roots Americana which of course all tracks back through the Celtic immigrant trail. I remember seeing the Pogues in their early days and for loads of us with an Irish/punk background lots of bits started dropping into place. Great to see new bands tipping their hat to that pioneering work by the Pogues and the Men They Couldn’t Hang. The Lagan are the tops for me, that might be a Surrey thing, but they are run close by outfits like Matilda’s Scoundrels and Black Water County. Steve Earle deserves a nod here as well – I was lucky enough to get to work with him a few years back. Top fella
 How you find the London Irish scene these days? Obviously the old community has shrunk and the new arrivals seem, to me anyway, not to be interested in Irish music. Maybe I’m reading it wrong. I certainly hope so. Is there still a community out there? So many pubs have closed or changed and communities are much more dissipated. I’m from Epsom where there used to be five big mental hospitals and they were staffed throughout by Irish immigrants working alongside colleagues from across the Commonwealth. My dad worked his way up to managing and inspecting the quality of those NHS services. Those hospitals have all closed but the social clubs in those places were something else. The sense of community was massive. The loss of those big centres of employment has had an inevitable impact.

As I say you’ve been performing for a hell of a long time in bands and now as a solo act but it has been said (and I am in agreement) that being a solo artist is the hardest thing to do. Just yourself on the stage and nowhere to hide. What does it take to be a solo performer. I would say big nuts and a big ego but obviously that’s not right for everyone! Yep, nowhere to hide! That is a bit of a downside but on the upside there’s no one to row with other than yourself and the odd sound man who thinks that every solo artist with a guitar should sound like Cat Stevens.

What bands are you listening to at the moment? Do you follow celtic-punk at all. Any bands out of the scene that you like? I’ve already bigged up The Lagan, Matilda’s Scoundrels and Black Water County but I can add to that Mick O’Toole and of course the old troopers Neck who I’ve know since time began. I pick up loads of stuff from your recommendations from around the globe and I think that the Irish influenced punk/folk scene is healthy as fuck – cant wait to see the Cundeez down in Brixton as well.

Comrade2There’s always been a big debate about celtic-punk and whether or not it is cultural appropriation and politically correct for non-Irish bands singing about the Irish getting pissed and fighting and pubs and what have you. Personally I love it. The idea of the likes of Indonesian or Brazilian bands getting into The Dubliners and The Wolfe Tones after listening to the Dropkick Murphys. I mean its not like The Dubliners ever wrote a song about getting pissed is it? I think its just a case of snobbery but do you think it’s ok? I agree. I’m sick of being told what is and what isn’t acceptable and until everything is narrowed down to a tiny spec. I like covering Holy Spook by the Popes – “…I wrecked my life on whisky, bad wives, taking pills and cursing…”. That’s just the blues mate and it doesn’t belong to anyone. This “cultural appropriation” stuff is just more hand-wringing, liberal bollocks.

Now London Celtic Punks have always had the by-line of ‘Folk Punk Football’ and football is very dear to your heart as we know. Obviously the modern game is shite and the only real football fans are to be found in the lower divisions and non-league. That about right? ha ha – no, you are completely wrong and modern football, as invented by Sky TV, is brilliant! What’s the matter with you?
How long you been going to Sutton United? Do you think supporting a team that has never really won anything has made you a better person? Does learning the value of defeat and pride in losing but trying your hardest teach you something that is missing in the Premiership or even society? I’ve been going to Sutton since the early seventies. My old man took me down there to try and wean me off Chelsea and a career as a hooligan. He wasn’t totally successful but I always kept a link with the U’s. About ten years ago I jacked in the Chelsea season ticket and now it’s Sutton home and away. I love it. I meet loads of old punks who see the connection with those old values in the non league game. Never won anything? We won the bloody league last season! And did I ever tell you about the time we beat Coventry City in the FA Cup? 
As well as football you are heavily involved in promoting trade unionism. The decline of the unions is a terrible thing but what do you think can be done to reverse that trend. My own union is a waste of space and I may as well throw my money down a drain but as a good friend of mine (a Scouser of course!) once said joining a union is like having house insurance you don’t expect the house to burn down tomorrow but what do you do if it does. I got involved in NUPE in the early eighties when I lost my job as a sparky and took a job as hospital porter. Brilliant days and we were solid as a rock before everything was ripped apart and privatised. You’ve got to have that strength in the workplace or you’ve got nothing.
With so much music in your life. What are your happiest memories of playing. The best gig or best people… Tolpuddle main stage last week was one of my best ever gigs. Strummercamp and that night at the Water Rats with you lot, Anto Morra and Pogue Traders is up there as well. The rest is just a blur of fast living. 
Comrade4Right you have hinted at this every now and then on stage so lets get the full unabridged story out of you now. How did you manage to get Neck’s anti-racist single ‘Every Bodies Welcome To The Hooley’ into the national charts? Ha, that really was the wide boys revenge mate. I pulled in favours with every journo I know and got the band on BBC prime time TV and radio and we had people targeting the record shops that used to file returns for the official chart. It was some proper old spivery and I am rightly proud of it.
What’s the immediate future hold for Comrade X. Any gigs/ festivals we should be looking out for you at? What about recordings. Ain’t it time you got something down on disc… or vinyl’s coming back you know? I’ve got a mate up in Luton who has built an analogue studio and I’ll be doing some recording up there in the autumn – some great shows coming up very shortly with you lot and the Veg Bar, The Lagan at the Fighting Cocks and Undercover Festival. And I will be helping my old mate Noel Martin from Menace with his bands 40th anniversary bash at the 100 Club. I’m enjoying myself and you can tune in through the Comrade X Facebook page.
 

Thanks Comrade for taking the time to answer a few questions. It’s a privilege to include you as a member of the London Celtic Punks crew and work with you over the last few years, so here’s to many many more!
CundeezVegBarColour (2)
You can catch Comrade X playing live at our next London Celtic Punks gig later this year on Saturday 3rd September on home territory in South London. He will be supporting Dundee based bagpipe punk band THE CUNDEEz on their London debut gig. All starts at 7-30pm sharp and costs just a fiver on the door. You can check out the Facebook event here to find out all the details of the venue and the other support bands or go to our What’s On- Upcoming Gigs & Events here.
Contact Comrade X

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: GIL SCOTT-HERON- ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ (1974)

The godfather of rap and hip-hop and son of Celtic’s first black player

FREE DOWNLOAD

Gil Heron

Gil Heron 1922-2008

Today we are giving you something well out of our loop as part of the ‘Classic Album Reviews’. Whereas normally we’d give you some out of print folk album from the 30s/40s/50s here’s something a bit more recent (still its forty one years young) and, some would say the very first hip-hop/ rap album. Well, I hear you say, so what? Whats the connection to us? Well it’s a little known fact (though it has appeared here before) that Gil Scott Heron’s old man, Gil Heron was the first black player to play for Celtic. Known as ‘The Black Arrow’ the Jamaican-born Heron played one season, 1951-52, in the hoops and played five games and scored two goals. His son, also Gil, is who we celebrate here though. Known in recent years as the ‘Godfather Of Rap’ he was an articulate voice for change but despite being a well respected composer, musician, author and poet he remains best known for writing and performing the spoken-word track ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. He wrote the song when he was just 21 years old and would go on to perform and release several re-workings of it in his lifetime. He once said

“The revolution takes place in your mind. Once you change your mind and decide that there’s something wrong that you want to effect that’s when the revolution takes place. But first you have to look at things and decide what you can do. ‘Something’s wrong and I have to do something about it. I can effect this change.’ Then you become a revolutionary person. It’s not all about fighting. It’s not all about going to war. It’s about going to war with the problem and deciding you can effect that problem. When you want to make things better you’re a revolutionary”

It was never a hit, which suggests that Gil’s point that attempts at revolution are always suppressed by those in power was completely right! It is said that fans would turn up to his gigs wearing Celtic shirts but the poet-singer was estranged from his father until adulthood. Still it is truly amazing that both father and son were such pioneers in their chosen fields. His own term for himself was ‘bluesologist’, which he defined as

“a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues”

GIL SCOTT-HERON- 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' (1974)

click on the album cover to get your Free Download!

You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
And skip out for beer during commercials
Because the revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
Blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell
General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat hog maws
Confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theater and will not star Natalie Woods
And Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs
The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner
Because the revolution will not be televised, Brother

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
Pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run
Or trying to slide that color TV into a stolen ambulance
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
Or report from 29 districts
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
Brothers on the instant replay
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
Brothers on the instant replay

There will be no pictures of Whitney Young
Being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy Wilkens
Strolling through Watts in a red, black and green
Liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies and Hooter ville Junction
Will no longer be so damned relevant
And women will not care if Dick finally gets down with Jane
On search for tomorrow because black people
Will be in the street looking for a brighter day
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock news
And no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists
And Jackie Onassis blowing her nose
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones
Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink or the Rare Earth
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be right back after a message
About a white tornado, white lightning, or white people
You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom
The tiger in your tank or the giant in your toilet bowl
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised
Will not be televised, will not be televised
The revolution will be no re-run brothers
The revolution will be live

I won’t pretend to be too knowledgeable here so I am just gonna put it out there and give you a bit of history about the guy and the album and impact it had and hopefully you will download it and make up your own minds. That after all is all we ever want.

If the people were to rise to rebellion, there will be no news coverage of the event. That is in a nutshell what Gil is getting at. The years preceding this album America was rocked with scandals and assassinations and political strife that had shaken the very foundations of the state. There was a feeling that revolution was on the cards, though looking back it now seems mad to have thought that. Nevertheless some things did change for the better and music was at the forefront of pushing for that change. Gil was known primarily as a jazz musician though ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is more a collection of Rhythm and Blues and spoken poetry. While it would be hard to say that Gil invented rhyming there are definitely parallels between angry poems like ‘Whitey on the Moon’,

“Taxes takin’ my whole damn check
The junkies make me a nervous wreck
The price of food is goin up
And if all that crap wasn’t enough
A rat done bit my sister nell
With Whitey on the moon”

‘No Knock’ and ‘Brother’ and 1980s onwards hip hop. Poetry doesn’t dominate though and most of the selections illustrate his excellence as a singer, including ‘Home Is Where the Hatred Is’

“A junkie walking through the twilight
I’m on my way home
I left three days ago, but no one seems to know I’m gone
Home is where the hatred is
Home is filled with pain and it,
might not be such a bad idea if I never, never went home again”

‘Did You Hear What They Said?’ and the poignant ‘Save the Children’. One of the less political tracks is ‘Lady Day and John Coltrane’, an R&B classic that articulates how easily jazz can lift a person’s spirits. ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is  not the last word on Scott-Heron’s but it’s certainly one of the best places to start if you’re exploring his work for the first time. Besides influencing contemporary musicians, Gil remained active until his death in 2011. A memoir he had been working on for years up to the time of his death, ‘The Last Holiday’, was published, posthumously in January 2012.

“My father still keeps up with what Celtic are doing. You Scottish folk always mention that my Dad played for Celtic, it’s a blessing from the spirits! Like that’s two things that Scottish folks love the most; music and football and they got one representative from each of those from my family!”

Tracklist
1. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
2. Sex Education – Ghetto Style
3. The Get Out Of The Ghetto Blues
4. No Knock
5. Lady Day And John Coltrane
6. Pieces Of A Man
7. Home Is Where The Hatred Is
8. Brother
9. Save The Children
10. Whitey On The Moon
11. Did You Hear What They Said
12. When You Are Who You Are
13. I Think I’ll Call It Morning
14. A Sign Of The Ages
15. Or Down You Fall
16. The Needle’s Eye
17. The Prisoner

DEDICATED TO ROBERT KING

Robert King

Robert Hillary King, aka Robert King Wilkerson, was part of a trio of American political prisoners collectively known as The Angola Three. Robert became a Celtic supporter through the influence of Gil and recently appeared on worldwide televison wearing the hoops. Robert’s membership in the only prison-recognized chapter of the Black Panther Party, and his work organizing against prison injustices, resulted in his being targeted for retaliation by prison officials. Despite overwhelming evidence exonerating him, prison-snitch testimony alone convicted him and he received a life sentence for the death of a fellow inmate. Robert’s tenacity in proving his innocence came to fruition when a Federal Appeals Court finally found him “probably innocent.” In February 2001, after thirty-one years of imprisonment and twenty-nine continuous years of solitary confinement, King walked out of the gates of Angola Prison a free man. He has spoken at universities, conferences and other venues. He has made appearances on radio and television and addressed members of the European Parliament. He worked hard to win the release of his comrades, the release of all political prisoners, and an end to the new slavery that is the Prison Industrial Complex.

“I may be free from Angola, but Angola will never be free of me!”

find out more about the Angola Three case here.

Part of the ‘Classic Album Reviews’ series (here) where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re use to. Lost gems that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern celtic-punk music. Usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

PUT THE KETTLE ON. HAVE A BREW. WE’RE HOME- FC UNITED

heartfelt congratulations to our footballing comrades FOOTBALL CLUB OF MANCHESTER or better known of course as FC UNITED. Ten years after Malcolm Glazer completed his unwanted hostile takeover of Manchester United, FC United have risen from nowhere to the brink of the Football League. The supporter owned club is truly a part of its community and is an inspiration to us all. Modern Football is shit but their are glimpses every now and then of a better world…

FCUM4

by Jonathan Allsop

FCUM6I reckon Odysseus had it relatively easy. Okay it took the Greek ruler and hero of Homer’s Odyssey ten years to return to his Ithaca home following the Trojan war, battling various cannibals, witches, ghosts and six headed monsters along the way. But it pales a little compared to the story of FC United of Manchester’s ten year journey home. Ten long years it’s taken us but on Friday 29th May 2015 the Northern Premier League champions welcomed the Portugese champions Benfica to the opening of Broadhurst Park, our very own Ithaca. What an epic journey it’s been for those seeking asylum from the Glazer regime, grafting relentlessly to raise the small matter of the £6.3 million needed to build the ground at a time when the economy is on its arse, dodging the slings and arrows of the planning process and coping with other obstacles like having to find another site for the ground after Ten Acres Lane fell through, the judicial review, contractors going out of business and Japanese knotweed. Finally though we’re playing football in Manchester and have our own ground, somewhere to call home. And we moved in one day short of ten years since the public meeting at the Apollo theatre when the idea of FC United was discussed. Odysseus? Pfffftttt. For FC United it all began at a venue named after a Greek god no less.

There must have been around two thousand of us at the Apollo on Ardwick Green on that warm, sunny bank holiday Monday. I’d been to Chester for the weekend and the street stalls flogging t-shirts celebrating the “miracle of Istanbul” had done nothing to improve my mood. May 2005 had been a thoroughly dismal month to be a Manchester United supporter following the hostile takeover by the Glazer family. The rather forlorn looking red wristband on my left wrist said, incorrectly, “not for sale”. Yet somehow I’d convinced myself that all was not lost and that with a concerted “fight from within” we could still send the Glazers packing. The protests, flash mobbing and boycotting of sponsors would have to continue and surely we’d have to boycott games too. It wouldn’t be easy but if any set of fans could do it it had to be us. Love United Hate Glazer. The FC United breakaway club thing sounded like a good idea but it probably wasn’t for me.

FCUM5I’d gone along to the meeting at the Apollo primarily to find out what the plans were for the next stage of the fight to get rid of the Glazers but something changed for me that afternoon and I’m not sure exactly what it was. Maybe it was those ace t-shirts with the fist and the “our club, our rules” motif. I’m always a sucker for a political slogan or two. Maybe it was hearing Kris Stewart from AFC Wimbledon describe forming your own football club as “the best thing you will ever do”. Or maybe it was re-reading the photocopies of that stirring “think about the future” article about FC United that appeared in Red Issue back in February 2005 as the Glazer takeover loomed large.

The meeting got me thinking, like perhaps never before, about what a football club actually is. Is it the team and its players and manager? The football ground itself? The directors and shareholders? Or is it something less tangible than that? What is apparent is that without supporters football is nothing. Take away that passion and noise and colour and all you’re left with is twenty two people kicking a bag of wind around a patch of grass. So, if that’s the case, surely the best way to secure the long-term future of any football club is to entrust the ownership and running of it to the very people without whom it would be nothing; the supporters. Maybe, just maybe, something beautiful could emerge from this wreckage. More than one thousand signatures of support for FC United were received from that meeting. Mine was one of them.

So it was that on a muggy August day I found myself on a bus to Leek heading to FC United of Manchester’s first ever league game against Leek County School Old Boys in the North West Counties League, six divisions below the football league and ten divisions below the Premier League. Me and a mate arrived early to watch United in the lunchtime kick-off versus Everton at Goodison Park in a back street pub. The place was rammed and as more fans drifted in during the first half one of them glanced over at the screen on his way to the bar and said something, not too complimentary, about “the other lot”.

It caught me by surprise and it took me a few seconds to realise that “the other lot” were in fact our red shirted heroes on the telly. As an out-of-towner I’d been spared much of the pain and acrimony of the split in United’s support that summer as groups of mates who’d been going to the match together for years went their separate ways. Emotions ran high and that split in our support in the summer of 2005 was perhaps the single worst aspect of the Glazer takeover, one barely mentioned by the media. For me it was a huge wrench to stop going to United after twenty eight years. The decision mangled my head for weeks but I was relatively lucky, at least I hadn’t suffered the jibes of being a “splitter” or “Judas scum”. The worst that got chucked my way when mentioning FC United, aside from “who are they?” was the old missing-the-point chestnut of “why don’t you go and support another non-league team instead of forming your own?”

Sat in that pub in Leek town centre I still felt like a United supporter and when “we” eventually ran out 2-0 winners that felt like the main event of the day. If FC won as well that would be great, but I wasn’t going to lose any sleep over it. It still felt like a protest. As hundreds of us walked through the rain from the pub to the ground, singing anti-Glazer songs, it wasn’t unlike that pre-match march before the AC Milan match six months before.

FCUMAnd for much of those first two seasons in the North West Counties League it continued to feel like a protest. We carried on singing the songs about Glazer, Gill, Fergie and Rio and what happened on the pitch was, at times, almost incidental, the noise of the crowd often not matching the ebb and flow of the game. At some point though this changed. The third round FA Vase tie against Quorn in December of the second season was undoubtedly a turning point for many as an FC side down to nine men with half an hour of the game to go battled valiantly and unbelievably took the lead with only a few minutes left. The Manchester Road End went bananas. This, all of a sudden, was a football club, our football club not just a protest movement. “We” eventually lost 3-2, cruelly in the last minute of extra time but it was a seminal moment nonetheless.

There have been some great memories on the pitch that have been wonderfully documented by better writers than me elsewhere but some of my proudest moments of the last decade have occurred off the pitch. Pay what you can afford season tickets. The vote to ban Sky and any other pay per view broadcasters from a future ground. The refusal to speak to strike breaking BBC journalists the day after the FA Cup win at Rochdale. The continued principled stance taken against shirt sponsorship. Being recognised as community club of the year in 2011-12. Raising more than two million pounds in community shares. The annual Big Coat Day. The recent vote to choose not to work with any organisations who operate the government’s shameful policy of Workfare. Boycotting the Curzon Ashton game in December 2007 after the kick-off time was moved for television purposes. Becoming the first football club in the country to adopt the Living Wage. The assistance and advice provided to other supporter owned clubs (as AFC Wimbledon did for us). And, of course, the wonderfully irreverent pre-match Course You Can Malcolm nourishing us with music, poetry, comedy, theatre and fairly priced food and ale.

FCUM2On that Friday evening against Benfica, there was a tear in my eye as I stood on that magnificent terrace behind the goal. After years of pound for the ground draws, standing orders for the development fund, sticking loose change in barrels, community shares, crowd funding and the rest we finally have a place to call home. It’s wonderful that something so beautiful and so positive has emerged from the years of protesting and being told to “sit down and shut up” and that “it’ll all be over by Christmas”. Broadhurst Park is a monument to Mancunian defiance and a reward for the assorted oddballs, subversives and “real ale hooligan socialists” who had the courage to stand up and prove that there is a better way for football. It felt apt too that Benfica, with the largest number of supporter members of any football club in the world, were our guests for this special occasion. Like Broadhurst Park, their original Estadio da Luz home was built primarily with funds donated by their fans.

As I tucked into a bottle of Two Hoots in that lovely, make-do-and-mend space beneath the St Mary’s Road End before kick-off I, strangely, found myself thinking back to the summer of 1991 when Manchester United were floated on the Stock Exchange. Arguably the very beginning of a timeline that has brought many of us to Broadhurst Park. It was a few weeks after Rotterdam and having recently shelled out for a season ticket for next season I had to borrow some money from a mate to scrape together the minimum share investment of £190.

Despite the cost, it felt great to buy those fifty shares and have a stake, no matter how small, in the football club I loved. Somewhat naively I thought that this could be the start of something beautiful; a Manchester United owned by its supporters. I didn’t realise at the time that the primary motive for floating the club on the Stock Exchange was to raise money for the redevelopment of the Stretford End, to transform it into an all seater stand following the Taylor Report. It was reckoned that the rebuilding would cost around twelve million pounds with roughly £6.7 million to come from the share issue.

FCUM3That figure is uncannily similar to the cost, twenty four years later, of the entirety of Broadhurst Park. When the Glazers took over in 2005 I got a cheque for my United shares. Unbelievably those shares purchased in 1991 were worth a staggering three thousand pounds by 2005. Usually I’d be delighted to be sent a cheque for that much. But this felt like a kick in the teeth. A recognition that my stake in Manchester United was no longer needed, no longer welcome. A symbolic moment. In that summer of 2005 I gave some of that money to FC United, one of thousands to do so, to allow the club to get through its first season. Since then we’ve all invested our time, our skills and our hard earned cash to get us this far safe in the knowledge that this time no one with a big wallet and a smart-arse business plan can pinch it off us. This is ours. This football club. This ground. It’s ours. It’s been a remarkable ten year footballing odyssey.

re-printed from the excellent blog ‘NOWT MUCH TO SAY’. head over there now by pressing here to find more from a London based politically and footballingly red and founder member and co-owner of FC United of Manchester.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE PROCLAIMERS- ‘Let’s Hear It For The Dogs’ (2015)

not celtic-punk but at least they’re Hibernian!

The Proclaimers - Let’s Hear It For The Dogs (2015)

The Proclaimers have been around now for nearly thirty years and they have built up a massive following across the world, and not just of Scottish exiles and within the Scots diaspora. They first hit the charts with the wonderful ‘Letter From America’ way back in 1987 and they followed this up with a stack of hits that made them popular on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. Being one of the first bands to sing in their natural Scots accents rather than effect an English or American one might have held them back but their powerful songs and their leftfield politics hit a chord where pop, folk, new wave and punk all collide and though their star did wane somewhat they never went away and continued to plug away making their music and occasionaly troubling the charts and appearing on our television screens.

The Proclaimers

Born in Leith in Scotland in 1962 identical twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid played in a host of punk bands at school before forming The Proclaimers. They rose to fame supporting The Housemartins on their UK tour in 1986 and an appearance on famed music show The Tube brought them to a nations attention and with the release of ‘Letter From America’ the rest is history. The brothers are fans of Hibernian Football Club and their 1988 hit ‘Sunshine on Leith’ has become the club anthem. Hibernian were the original Irish team in Scotland, based in Edinburgh, and their is more than a bone of contention on how Celtic who appeared some years later came to be the dominant force for the Scots-Irish. They have been life-long supporters of Scottish independence and donated £10,000 to the Yes campaign and threw all their weight behind the campaign last September and still continue to agitate for Scottish freedom. As the boys explain.

“The lyrics in Letter From America are about the job losses and closures that flow from Scotland not having control over her destiny — that is what happened in the 1980s, and that is why Scotland needs independence now.”

‘Let’s Hear It For The Dogs’ is the boys tenth studio album and from the first track ‘You Built Me Up’ the twins and their band rattle up a great rock’n’roll racket. Accompanied by their live band: Stevie Christie (keyboards), Garry John Kane (bass), Zac Ware (electric guitar) and Clive Jenner (drums) with additional guitars by Sean Genockey and an appearance by the Vulcan String Quartet, The Proclaimers sound as powerful as they havent done in years and producer Dave Eringa (whose past work has included The Who, Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey and The Manic Street Preachers) has done an excellent job capturing them and their differing styles of music but always keeping it within The Proclaimers broader sound.

‘Be With Me’ is another shorter number and Craig and Charlie’s band classic rock is still based around a folkish sound and the electric guitars do not diminish this. ‘In My Home’ has an orchestral sound that no doubt Dave Eringa had more than a wee bit to do with reminiscent as it is of the Manic Street Preachers. With the Independence referendum defeat its hardly suprising that their is a feeling in some of the songs of what might have been. ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ speaks of a love rekindled and of their love for Scotland and nostalgia for their beloved Edinburgh. They ramp it back up to eleven with ‘Then Again’, the shortest track on the album which sticks the boot into both the celebrity culture that allowed people on the television to commit sexual abuse and the untold amount of MP’s and person’s of power who seemingly unhindered got away with literally murder. Witty in a way that does not belittle the serious subject matter. Album standout track ‘What School?’ is a phrase many of us have heard but not in the way that some of you would think. As a kid I went to the only Catholic school in my town and if I ever did hear the words ‘What school do you go to?’ then it might sometimes be a good idea to be on your toes. How the boys bring their love of dogs into this is pure brilliance.

“I know he’s a big Wolves fan, but does he favour rebel songs or marching flute bands?”

Religious bigotry is alive and definitly kicking in the west of Scotland but like their beloved empire is surely on the way out and before long will hopefully be a thing of the past.

‘If I’m Still Around’ has the boys singing of love accompanied by a slow piano before the music builds to a climax. ‘The Other Side (Of Me)’ shows the Proclaimers singing of selfish men that make women cry. A good singalong that will have concert goers shouting along I am sure. ‘Forever Young’ has them rocking out again and has the twins voices working perfectly together. Country music is not unknown to The Proclaimers and the slow and moving ‘Ten Tiny Fingers’ a lovely song about fatherhood has a relaxed country feel to it that lulls you away. The church organ is a welcome touch. ‘Through Him’ is about religion while ‘Rainbows and Happy Regrets’ is set to become another firm fan favourite with the catchy tune and lyrics and its refrain of

“Scotland Forever- Erin Go Bragh”

The last of the albums thirteen tracks is ‘Moral Compass’ and as they sing

“your moral compass is not mine”

Witty, sharp and cutting this is a grand album and even though it contains no real suprises its a solid slice of Proclaimers life that covering subjects from silly to serious that will have you thinking as well as enjoying the music. Forged in Scotland there’s not a single weak song on this record it must be said and the boys continue to go from strength to strength and long may they do so.

The Proclaimers

The Band

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FromTheBand(signed vinyl and CD’s)  Amazon  iTunes

‘THE SPIRIT OF WALFRID’ CELTIC CHARITY COMPILATION ALBUM OUT NOW

For Celtic Supporters By Celtic Supporters

Brother Walfrid

I tell you the Celtic Family never ceases to amaze me. While one bunch of supporters has come to the aid of a Celtic fan arrested unjustly in London recently (here) another has released this compilation album to help out several charities all close to the Celtic heart.

The album has been organised by The Celtic Network on the belief that

“if you run a site for Celtic fans it is important that charity and good works are promoted alongside the football”

There are seventeen songs, some of which have been recorded and/or written specifically for this album, uniquely produced by a set of football supporters and by Celtic supporting bands and artists. The music itself is mostly of the Irish kind and The Celtic Network is hoping to donate £5 from every sale to the nominated charities. The idea of a ‘charity’ album is nothing new, however I think this may be one of the few to be produced by football supporters, so if that is the case this album maybe a wee bit unique. Fortunately The Celtic Network supports both good causes and Celtic supporting bands and artists, which gave a good starting point for this fund raising project.

If you can, please show your support for The Celtic Network and all of the artists who have given their time and effort to produce the album and the wonderful charities who will benefit from your generosity.

Full Track Listing:

  1. Willie Maley – Charlie And The Bhoys
  2. Colours – The Wakes
  3. They Built Paradise – Bible Code Sundays
  4. Viva La Familia Celtic – Billy No’Well
  5. The Midfield Man – Dusty Bhoy
  6. The Immigrants –  Gary Óg and The Exiles
  7. Home From Home – Paddy Ryan
  8. The Spirit of Brother Walfrid – Hutchy
  9. Tell You This – Closure
  10. Inter Milan – Charlie And The Bhoys
  11. The Uncrowned King of Football – The Wakes
  12. Maybe It’s Because I’m An Irish Londoner – Bible Code Sundays
  13. Invisible – Billy No’Well
  14. Here’s To You Tommy – Dusty Bhoy
  15. Freedom – Gary Óg and The Exiles
  16. My Heart Is In Ireland – Paddy Ryan
  17. In Paradise – Hutchy

The good causes to benefit are:

(click on the charity name to go direct to their site)

Band and Artists are:

(click on the band name to go direct to their site)

you can buy the CD or the Download from The Celtic Network web-site here for just £7.50 or £6.

Join The Celtic Network

Facebook  WebSite  Twitter

The Celtic Network ‘for Celtic Supporters, by Celtic supporters’. We aim to provide a free alternative to mainstream media, promote Celtic fans sites and support good causes be it large charities or individuals.

BROTHER WALFRID

“a football club will be formed for the maintenance of dinner tables for the children and the unemployed”

Brother Walfrid4

Andrew Kerins was born on 18th May 1840 to John and Elizabeth Kerins (nee Flynn) in Ballymote, County Sligo in the north-west of Ireland. His parents were poor farmers and devout Catholics. When Andrew was just 5 years of age the Great Famine (Irish: An Gorta Mor) struck Ireland. Lasting for seven years this was a period of mass starvation, disease, death and emigration. During this horrendous time in Irish history more than 1 million people died from disease and starvation and a much larger number emigrated from Ireland to avoid the same fate.

Many of those who left headed straight for the large industrial cities of Britain like London, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The conditions that met them there were often little better that those they had just left behind in Ireland.

Andrew survived the famine. However, coming from a poor family, he would have known hunger and witnessed countless scenes of indescribable pain and suffering, the memories of which would stay with him for his lifetime. Andrew went on to study teaching and in 1864 he joined The Irish Marist Brothers Teaching Order taking the name Brother Walfrid, after Galfrido della Gherardesca, an eighth-centuty saint from Pisa, Italy.

Brother Walfrid3

In the early 1870’s his Order sent him to the East End of Glasgow. There he taught at St. Marys School and the Sacred Heart School where he was appointed headmaster in 1874. In 1884 Brother Walfrid set up the Poor Childrens Dinner Table charity, also known as ‘Penny Dinners’ whereby for a penny (or some bread and ha’penny) a child could get a nourishing meal. To fund his charity Brother Walfrid would arrange exhibition football matches.

On 6th November 1887 Celtic Football Club was formally constituted at a meeting in St. Mary’s church hall in Forbes Street, Carlton, Glasgow, by Brother Walfrid with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the East End of Glasgow by raising money for the charity he had started three years earlier, the ‘Poor Childrens Dinner Table’. A circular was issued declaring that

“the main object of the club was to supply …. funds for the maintenance of the dinner tables for the needy children in the missions of St Mary’s, Sacred Heart and St Michael’s”

In 1893 Brother Walfrid was sent by his Religious Order to London’s East End where he continued organising football matches to support his charity work. This time the beneficiaries were the poor children of Bethnal Green and Bow.

Brother Walfrid died on 17 April 1915 and is buried in the Mount St. Michael Cemetery in Dumfries.

Brother Walfrid

In 2005, a fine sculpture of Brother Walfrid was unveiled outside Celtic Park to commemorate the major part he played in the founding of the club. The chair of the Memorial Committee, Eddie Toner, observed ruefully that modern football has been taken over by many of the values and philosophies that Walfrid would undoubtedly have opposed. The memorial would act “as a humble reminder of the club’s origins”.

For more On Brother Walfrid visit this recommended web site here.

REMEMBERING ATHLETIC BILBAO SUPPORTER INIGO CABACAS KILLED BY POLICE IN 2012- STILL WAITING FOR JUSTICE!

THREE YEARS WITHOUT JUSTICE

by Diarmuid Breatnach

Inigo Cabacas, photographed with the Basque hermitage Gaztalugatxe, on the Biscay coast, in the background.

Inigo Cabacas, photographed with the Basque hermitage Gaztalugatxe, on the Biscay coast, in the background.

Most Basques and especially supporters of their most popular football team, Athletic Bilbao (1), were very happy in the early evening of 5th April 2012. Their team had beaten a football giant in the UEFA cup twice and another premier European team once. The fans were expecting Athletic to win or at least draw again that evening, in which case Athletic Bilbao were through to the second leg of the quarter-finals. They had no idea that the evening would end with a police riot squad firing rubber bullets into a festive crowd, causing the death of a young fan.

The high expectations of that evening in Bilbao were the result of a run of wins for the Athletic team. On March 8th 2012, Athletic Bilbao beat Manchester United 3-2 on their own ground, at Old Trafford.

Bilbao3One needs to know a few population statistics to understand what an achievement that was. Manchester United are a team on the world stage, based in a city with a population of 2.55 million – that is not far from the population for the entire Basque Country. In addition, Manchester United’s players are drawn from around the world; Athletic recruits only Basque players from a total population of the Basque Country of less than 3 million.

A week after their win in the northern England city, on March 13th, Athletic faced Manchester United again, this time on the Basque team’s home ground, San Mames, in Bilbao. Manchester Utd. were beaten 2-1 and it seemed that the Basque lions (2) were unstoppable.

These wins created a huge interest in the next game, which was with FC Schalke 04 on March 29th at the German team’s home ground. Schalke plays in the top tier of the German football league and have won many championships including one UEFA League. With around 130,000 members, Schalke 04 is the third-largest sports club in the world in terms of membership, behind their compatriot rival FC Bayern Munich and Portuguese club SL Benfica.

Athletic Bilbao is not a sports conglomerate – it is a football club which is owned by its 40,000 members (remember, this is a small country – that’s nearly 1.5% of the whole population! It’s also around 11% of the population of their home base, Bilbao). The management board is elected by the membership.

At Schalke 04’s home ground on March 29th, the Bilbaino team beat them 2-4. The interest was therefore at fever-pitch for Athletic’s return match with the German team at Athletic’s home ground, San Mames on 5th April. The result was a 2-2 draw but Athletic were ahead 6-4 on aggregate and the fans were delighted. Bilbao was, as they say, buzzing.

Bilbao6After matches, young fans especially go to different pubs around town. Inigo Cabacas and many others went to an Herriko Taberna (a ‘Peoples’ Tavern, i.e. one managed by theAbertzale [Basque pro-Independence] Left) which is located in an small ‘square’ with planters, connected by alley with Licenciado Poza street. This small ‘square’ is off the María Díaz de Haro street near the stadium; it runs parallell with the San Mames street itself, an area of bars well-known as a destination for fans after a game at the stadium.

The Herriko is too small to accommodate all those who gathered there but that was no problem for the area outside took the overspill. Early in the evening a few people were seen scuffling there and the rest of the crowd around them told them to knock it off, this was a time for celebration, etc. The scuffle ended and the festivities continued.

Some time later, a van load of police arrived. These were the Ertzaintza, a Basque Police force of 7,500 created in 1982 which has had numerous clashes with Basque strike picketsand with the Abertzale (pro-Independence) Left. Supporters of the Abertzale Left and many others refer to the Ertzaintza as ‘zipayos (i.e. ‘sepoys’, local soldiers recruited by colonial occupiers). The Ertzaintza are responsible to the Basque Autonomous Region Government(CAV), a semi-autonomous entity covering three of the four southern Basque provinces.

Basque Police, the Ertzaintza, face a 'Solidarity Wall' built to defend Basque comrades the police have come to arrest in Donosti/San Sebastian some years ago.

Basque Police, the Ertzaintza, face a ‘Solidarity Wall’ built to defend Basque comrades the police have come to arrest in Donosti/San Sebastian some years ago.

Some of the youth perceive the arrival of the masked and helmeted police as a provocation and begin to throw bottles at the van.

The police officer in charge of those in the van asks for reinforcements and these are sent. The police emerge from their vans and begin to fire rubber bullets (3) at the crowd at quite close range (the ‘square’ is less than 45 metres at its furthest from the street) and everyone scatters except for a small group who are throwing bottles at the police but even they eventually dive for cover. People are sheltering in doorways, huddled up against the walls on each side of the “square”. Some are inside the pub wondering what is going on. A local shop-manager has raised the shutter over his doorway and people crowd in there. Some people are sheltering behind the wooden planters that are in a line down the centre of the narrow square.

After some time three young men walk towards the police with their hands in the air, asking them to stop firing rubber bullets; the police strike them with batons. Meanwhile it comes to the attention of some in the crowd nearby that a person is lying on the ground, apparently unconscious with blood coming from his ear and the rear of his head. People go to his aid and one of his friends recognises Inigo Cabacas. He gets his mobile phone and rushes towards the police telling them that someone has been seriously injured and to call an ambulance. A police officer tells him to drop the mobile. Inigo’s friend repeats his urgent request and the police officer tells him again to drop the mobile and hits him with a truncheon. The man drops his mobile and retreats from the police.

The police advance into the area and reach the injured man who has some people around him; a women is rendering first aid.  A policeman tells her to move away.  She tells him the man needs and ambulance and that she is applying pressure to stop the bleeding.  He says he wants to see for himself and pulls at her arm but after awhile desists and goes away.

Eventually an ambulance arrives and takes Inigo Cabacas, still unconscious, to hospital, where he lies in a coma.

(video of the scene of the incident and interviews with friends and witnesses with English subtitles)

The news runs through a city, a shock in the midst of its celebrations and soon afterwards throughout the Basque Country. The first official reaction is given by the Interior Minister of the Basque Autonomous Regional Government, who declares to the press that the Ertzaintza acted properly and in line with their procedures, although he regrets the unfortunate death of they young man. He also repeats the first line of defence given by the Ertzaintza, that they were called to help someone injured in a fight and that the crowd was preventing the ambulance in attendance from rendering assistance to the injured.

When eye-witnesses give their version and the reporters of some newpapers begin to gather information, it becomes clear that the Minister could not possibly have investigated the incident in the time available. Furthermore, it emerges that no ambulance attended until after the incident with the police and that it appears that no call for one had been made earlier. Furthermore, according to the woman who attended to Inigo at the scene, the ambulance paramedic told her, when she complained at their delay in arriving, that the police had delayed their entrance. Under a storm of criticism from civil society and from the Abertzale Left party, EH Bildu, the Minister promises a full investigation.

Inigo Cabacas dies after three days without having recovered consciousness.

Some time later, a recording of the police communications on the night is made available by GARA, a pro-Independence Basque daily newspaper. The following becomes clear from the recording:

* The Controller at Ertzaintza HQ calls a police van leader and directs him to attend the Herriko, saying that a fight has occurred there and that someone is injured.

* The van leader reports that they have arrived and that some are throwing bottles at them, that they require reinforcements.  No mention of ambulance.

* The Controller confirms reinforcements are being sent.

* Reinforcements arrive. One of the van leaders now reports that nothing is happening, everything is ok.

* The Controller replies that he wants the police to go in and take possession of the area and make any arrests necessary. He emphasises that he wants to be understood clearly, that they are to “go into the Herriko with everything we have”, to take control of the area “and then everything will be ok.”

* The van leader replies that the order is understood and soon shots are heard (the firing of rubber bullets).

The family employs a solicitor. A judge is appointed to carry out the investigation but is required to do so along with her other duties. Immediately, the police investigation ceases (according to the family’s lawyer, the file contains just three pages), using the excuse of the judicial investigation.

Bilbao2A number of legal applications are made, e.g. for all the police at the incident to be obliged to make a statement, for all police who fired a rubber bullet gun to be identified, for the Controller to be obliged to make a statement, but all are refused by a judge, giving a number of reasons (4). Little is established over the following three years, except that three police voluntarily admit to having fired rubber bullets and the identity of the Controller on the evening becomes widely known. There is widespread outrage when the senior officer on duty the day of Inigo’s death is appointed Chief of the Ertzaintza. At a recent press conference, the Cabacas family’s lawyer, Jone Goirizelaia, announced that they had possibly identified the officer who had fired the fatal shot.

It emerged during the campaign by supporters of the Cabacas family that no recognised procedure was followed by the police with regard to the incident: debriefing statements were not taken from each of the police participants, guns were not examined to identify which had been fired, no inventory was taken of the number of rubber bullets fired. No attempt was made to contact witnesses after the event to gain a picture of what had occurred. Indeed, some witnesses who approached the police station to give statements were told to go away (see video link posted earlier in this article). It further appears that the Ertzaintza have been issued with no specific operational instructions with regard to the firing of rubber bullets.

According to some sources, the rubber bullets should only be fired at knee-height and at no less than 50 metres from the target. The ‘square’ is, according to locals, less than 45 metres at its furthest from the street and therefore the police from the moment they began firing, were in serious breach of the minimum distance requirements. In addition, the Ertzaintza have frequently been seen aiming their rubber bullet guns at protesters’ faces from as little as a metre or two and also firing from the shoulder with the muzzle parallel to the ground, i.e. directed at head or chest-height of the target. Also, the rubber-coated steel balls bounce uncontrollably.

Rubber bullets against Palestinians

PalestineRubber bullets are regularly fired by the Israeli army at Palestinians. A Palestinian source reports: “Israeli professor Michael Krausz and colleagues at the Rambam Medical Centre in Haifa analysed the medical records of 595 casualties admitted to hospital during the October 2000 protests by Palestinians living inside Israel (typically described as “Israeli Arabs” by the media). Of those, 152 were found to have been injured by rubber-coated metal bullets. Injuries were distributed randomly across their bodies but were most common on the patients’ arms and legs, and on their head, neck and face.

“The doctors said their findings dismissed the theory that “rubber bullets” were safe.Rubber-coated metal bullets with some of their rubber coating removed, revealing their hard steel core. Fired at speeds of what must be several hundred feet a second, these are munitions that cause enough damage that their manufacturers feel compelled to describe them as only ‘less lethal’.

“Writing in the Lancet, they said firing the bullets at civilians made it ‘impossible to avoid severe injuries to vulnerable body regions such as the head, neck and upper torso, leading to substantial mortality, morbidity and disability.’ They added: ‘We reported a substantial number of severe injuries and fatalities inflicted by use of rubber bullets ….. This type of ammunition should therefore not be considered a safe method of crowd control. “The study, ‘Blunt and penetrating injuries caused by rubber bullets during the Israeli-Arab conflict in October, 2000: a retrospective study’ (The Lancet, Volume 359, Issue 9320, Page 1795), also highlighted previous research which suggested that even plastic bullets may not be safe and may cause more severe head injuries.” (Sourced at http://electronicintifada.net/content/misleading-terminology-rubber-bullets/4000)

Rubber bullets against the Irish

IrelandSeventeen people were killed in the Six Counties (‘Northern Ireland’) by rubber and plastic bullets fired by British soldiers (11) and colonial police (6) during the 30 Years War. A number of people were also blinded. (http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/violence/rubberplasticbullet.htm

It emerged in 2013 during a compensation case taken by a Derry man blinded in 1972 that the authorities knew that the missiles were potentially lethal even before they issued them.(http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/jun/11/mod-rubber-bullets-lethal-records) It is clear also from a wealth of evidence that the missiles were regularly fired by soldiers and police not only at close range but also aimed at chest or head. In addition, a deadly ‘game’ was played by some British soldiers. Knowing that rubber and plastic bullets were collected by children as mementoes and objects to sell to tourists, soldiers would fire some into an open area and wait for children to run forward to collect them, then see if they could hit the children with subsequent rounds.

Rubber bullets in the Spanish state

Basque-CatalanThe Spanish state continues to allow its police forces to carry and to fire rubber-coated metal bullets, in particular at protesting Basques and Catalans. Recently, the EU expressed concern at Spanish police firing at migrants attempting to swim into the Spanish state from Morocco, an occasion when 11 of the migrants drowned. But no international protest criticises them for firing potentially lethal missiles at their own citizens. Police in the Spanish state enjoy impunity and none more so than in the Basque and Catalan countries as well as with regard to African migrants. This week, a motion was put to the Basque Parliament to ban the use of rubber bullets in the area under its control (CAV). Instead a proposal was accepted to “restrict” the use of the missiles to “situations of grave danger” to the police, and to “definitely seek a replacement” for them. The Spanish right-wing PP, the liberal Spanish unionist UPyD, along with the PNV (Basque Nationalists), currently in power, voted for it, along with the Basque version of the Spanish social-democrats, the PSE. The only party to vote against the amendment was EH Bildu, party of the Abertzale (pro-Independence) Left; they had proposed the original motion, seeking a total ban and the removal of the missiles.

Bilbao5

the parents and friends of Inigo Cabacas confront spokesperson of the Basque Nationalist Party after attempt to ban rubber bullets fails

Among those in the public gallery at the discussion were the parents of Inigo Cabacas. Afterwards, in the corridor outside, they confronted the spokesperson of the PNV, Joseba Egibar.During the exchange, another PNV parliamentarian, Luke Uribe-Etxebarria, tried to prevent its filming by the Basque TV station ETB. That attempt will be the subject of a complaint to the President of the Parliament by EH Bildu; they view it as particularly serious since Uribe-Etxebarria is also on the management board of the TV station and the filming was taking place in areas open to the public.

“I’m never coming to this Parliament again… I feel cheated,” said Manue Cabacas, father of the deceased, speaking about the majority decision. “My son is dead… I only wanted to ensure that it would never happen to anyone else …”

"No one dies, if we don't forget them"

“No one dies, if we don’t forget them”

On the third anniversary of the killing of Inigo “Pitu” Cabacas, among many commemorative vents in the Basque Country, 10 minutes’ silence was observed in the San Mames stadium. Alongside Inigo Cabacas; many are also remembering Aitor Zabaleta, fan of the Real Sociedad team, murdered in Madrid in 1998 by fascist ultras of Club Atletico Madrid.  Many Basques around the world will be conscious of the three years that have passed since Inigo’s killing without anyone being even charged in connection with his death or any noticeable change, whether in Basque police behaviour, procedure or their use of rubber-coated steel projectiles.  A change of political control of the Basque Regional Government from the social-democratice party of Patxi Lopez to the Basque Nationalist Party . (PNV) of Urkullu has had no effect.

It is true that for ordinary people, in capitalist society, the wheels of justice move very slowly; in this case it is hard to see that they are moving at all.

Footnotes
Bilbao1
1 Based in Bilbao, it is the most popular and most successful (two things that often go together) but not the only football team; there are also Real Sociedad, based in Donosti/San Sebastian and Osasuna, based in Iruña/ Pamplona.
2  A roaring lion is the emblem of the team, arising from the legend of St. Mames, to whom the local church is dedicated and which gives its name to the area, street and stadium. English-language football commentators persisted in calling the team “the Spanish lions” or ‘the Spanish cavaliers’ (??!), in total ignorance, one hopes, of quite how insultingly that would be perceived by the players and their fans. The Basque Country is not even politico-geographically Spain, it is divided between the Spanish and French states. And Bilbao Athletic is most certainly not, nor has it ever been, a Spanish team. When the Spanish King attends finals or semi-finals between Barcelona and Athletic in, yes, a Spanish football league, and the Spanish national anthem is played, the stadium fills with howls of derision, hoots and whistles from the supporters of both teams.
3  These are about the size of a tennis ball, perhaps a little smaller, of steel and coated in rubber.
4  E.g., the Controller could not be held responsible for the shooting by the police; individual police would have to be accused of firing the fatal shot if they were to be obliged to make a statement …

Rebel Breeze

many thanks to Diarmuid Breatnach for allowing us to reprint his article. It first appeared in the wonderful Irish blog ‘Rebel Breeze, always thought provoking and entertaining. Click here to go and have a look. Go on then…go and have a look.

*if you live in or around Dublin there will be a commemorative event on Tuesday 28thApril, on the day of a Basque derby, Bilbao Athletic v. Real Sociedad. They plan to hold a protest picket at the O’Connell Monument in Dublin’s O’Connell Street at 7pm for a short while and afterwards to go to watch the Basque derby (kick-off at 9pm) at the Living Room bar, Cathal Brugha St. Facebook event page here.

FC ST.PAULI! A FOOTBALL SPECIAL OR SPECIAL FOOTBALL?

special guest post on FC St Pauli from the editor of the fantastic ‘This Drinking Life’ web-zine.

by Rob Nesbit

the football club that’s often described as the most left-wing team in the world

St. Pauli

since 1910

Fußball-Club St. Pauli was founded on the 15th of May 1910, based in the lively St Pauli quarter of Hamburg, an area known for its docks, its left-wing activism and for the infamous neon-lit strip clubs of the ‘Reeperbahn’, Europe’s largest red light district. Nicknamed the ‘Brothel of the League’, the club represents the dockers, punks, prostitutes, anarchists, and all the rest who live and toil in the city’s working-class St Pauli enclave.

The club is widely recognised for its distinctive left-wing culture and has a large popular following as one of the country’s ‘Kult’ clubs.

St Pauli 2014

Essex Bhoys at St PauliThe History Bit

THE History Bit

Before the Eighties, St Pauli was just your regular lower-league club averaging crowds of less than 2000, and living in the shadows of their hated neighbours, HSV Hamburg.  It was in the mid-1980s that St. Pauli’s conversion from a traditional club into a ‘Kult’ club began.

With Nazis and hooligans ruling the terraces all over Germany, St Pauli was seen as an alternative.  Through the local dockyard losing workers and the district falling into dereliction, squatters, artists, anarchists, prostitutes, students, punks and other alternative types all flocked into the district to fill the void. And they started going to the football!

FC St Pauli suddenly became swamped, with the terraces of their old dilapidated Millerntor Stadium full of the disenfranchised roaring out anti-fascist and anti-capitalist chants. But unlike other teams, St Pauli embraced them reveling in its new found ‘underdog’ status. By the late 1990s they were frequently selling out their entire 20,000-capacity ground.

Skull And Crossbones

St Pauli 20014

St Pauli v Celtic 2014

The Skull and Crossbones (the Jolly Roger flag) is a symbol which had long been associated with the district of St Pauli on account of legendary pirate Klaus Störtebeker and his statue. It became the club’s unofficial emblem.

The emblem first appearing after a few squatters from the docks brought it onto the terraces. The idea stuck and now it’s very closely connected to the club and the area.

You will see the emblem pretty much everywhere in the district, from every corner and on every street. So it’s no surprise to learn that the German media like to call the club the ‘Die Freibeuter der Liga’ (‘Buccaneers of the League’).

The Team

For a team with such a huge following, their on the field exploits are nothing to write home about. With a virtually empty trophy cabinet and a team that’s regularly seen mid table in Germany’s Bundesliga 2, it’s quite amazing that they have such support at all.

St PauliA stint in the top tier in 2002, saw them finish a distant last after winning only a handful of games and the resulting relegation nearly bankrupt the club.

That relegation led to another worse demotion down into the less-lucrative Regionaliga Nord (III), where they remained for four years. These two relegations, back to back, almost killed St. Pauli.

With the club almost bankrupt, the supporters began its fund-raising activities. They printed t-shirts with the club’s crest surrounded by the word Retter (rescuer) with well over a 100,000 sold. They also organized a benefit match against perennial German champions, Bayern Munich, and staged fundraising events such as ‘Drink for St Pauli’, with local publicans donating 50 per cent from each beer sold. Their efforts to save the club worked and also furthered strengthened the bond between club and fan. The club could not survive without its special fans.

In 2007, St. Pauli were promoted back to the 2. Bundesliga and in 2010, FC St. Pauli clinched promotion to the 1.Bundesliga, made even sweeter given that 2010 was the club’s centenary. But that also didn’t last too long, and for the 2013–14 season they were again playing back in 2. Bundesliga.

A Quandary

St Pauli

One reason for their lack of on field success is that St Pauli sees itself as something more than just a football team. It has certain responsibilities to its fans and to the ethos of the club. Lucrative player contracts and huge corporate revenue streams are frowned upon, with many fans preferring to remain a small club that can be run within their control rather than a large one beholden to forces outside their neighborhood. They are very unusual in that many of their fans didn’t get too irate when they were relegated. For most St. Pauli fans only one thing is important: to remain as true to its progressive principles as possible. St. Pauli is a way of life, and just like in life, you have your ups and downs. Win, lose or draw, there will always be a St Pauli to support.

Still though it can be a challenge. This leaves the club with an obvious financial disadvantage. On the one hand staying loyal to your roots and culture while on the other hand be competitive as a professional sports club and trying to hit the heady heights of top class football. It’s a hard balance. Small reforms had to be made, if anything to save the club from going bust again. There are now VIP seats at the stadium, and the club shop sells as much expensive merchandise as any club on match days. But the soul of the club is still intact with some of the alternative fans from the Eighties now running the club and occupying senior positions on the board. The club is in safe hands.

The Millerntor

St Pauli

The home venue of FC St Pauli is the Millerntor- Stadium, in the heart of the St Pauli district. The very old style stadium has a capacity of 29,000 with the club getting higher attendances than most Bundesliga 2 teams. The stands are basic, with a concrete and unaesthetic feel. It gets as real as this, it’s not the Emirates or the new Wembley. Supporters, like in a lot of clubs in Germany, have standing room only areas, beer is allowed onto the terraces, and shouting obscenities at the ref is expected! This is a throwback to the good old days of football: beer (Astra, naturally), football and dodgy haircuts (that would be the punks!).

‘Hells Bells’ by AC/DC, greets the teams on their arrival onto the pitch and every home goal is celebrated with ‘Song 2’ by Blur.

After consultation with the fans, it was decided that the club would never sell the naming rights of their stadium. Take note Mike Ashley and his ‘SportsDirect.com@StJamesPark’.

It’s also important to stress that St. Pauli have more season ticket holders than many Bundesliga teams, proving that fans can be loyal if their wishes are respected, even when the team is not a success on the pitch.

But What About The Fans

St Pauli 2014

St Pauli V Celtic 2014

Visitors to St. Pauli are assured of having a good time, as long as they share the same ethos of the club and its supporters.

Most supporters have a politically left-wing stance and regard themselves as anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-homophobic and anti-sexist, and this has brought them into conflict with neo-Nazis and hooligans at away games, and also the boys in blue on occasion.

The fans have also been active. They organise charity events, protest on local issues, and have also set up the Alerta anti-fascist network, a collection of football supporter groups from all over Europe.The club has also taken the step to incorporate a set of Fundamental Principles (Leitlinien) to decree how the club is to be run. The Leitlinien not only reflects what happens on the pitch, but also takes into account their social and political responsibility in relation to the district and the people who live there.

One recent report estimated that the team has roughly 11 million fans throughout Germany and the wider world, making the club one of the most widely recognised Bundesliga sides out there. The club boasts roughly 600 worldwide supporters’ groups’, and that support seems to be growing all the time.

The Bars

The Jolly Roger

The Jolly Roger

The Jolly Roger

the legendary supporter’s-owned bar near the stadium.  Founded by St. Pauli Fans for St. Pauli Fans. It’s a non-profit enterprise with all monies going into supporters projects. It’s located at Budapester Straße across the road from the Millerntor stadium and a 5 minutes’ walk (or 10 depending on how many Astra’s consumed) from the Reeperbahn.

Not so sure of the opening times, but when I was there there was a little crowd waiting for it to open at 8.00 in the morning. But don’t worry the small shop beside sells the Astra Red Light which was 6.0% vol. for 2 euros (3 Euros in the JR!), and you can easily sit outside on the bench awaiting for it to open.

Really liked the bar, the staff were ultra-friendly, and the bar had a nice chilled out vibe going on. Around match time the bar is the place to be, before and after the game, and at night it can get very crowded.

St Pauli Eck

St Pauli Eck

St. Pauli Eck

Simon-von-Utrechtstr. 87

20359 Hamburg, St.Pauli

A small place, very easy to pass, but when I was there I had a great time, lots of singing, some very generous locals who bought me a few schnapps, and the landlady, who appeared to be a little gruff, but was in fact very cool, and gave me a few old style St Pauli stickers. Friendly and convivial.

Shebeen

Hein-Hoyer-Str. 78

20359 Hamburg, St.Pauli

Another top class bar, really enjoyed my few days of drinking in this establishment. The staff were really chilled, great fun, and always up for a bit of a talk, some even hanging round after their work shift. Plays some good music and the owner is very friendly and chatty. Recommended.

St Pauli Teddy

for more London based St Pauli stuff then check out our good mates at the London St Pauli Supporters Club. They have a web site here and a lively  facebook group here. Theres also supporters clubs in Yorkshire and Brighton.

THIS DRINKING LIFE is a web zine dedicated to that most beautiful of things alcohol. Be sure to drop by but be warned they have no room for misery guts over there…

ALBUM REVIEW: STEVE WHITE AND THE PROTEST FAMILY- ‘This Band Is Sick’ (2014)

The world’s favourite east London semi-acoustic singalong political folk punk group

Steve White And The Protest Family- 'This Band Is Sick' (2014)

Similar to them Tories who end up investigating companies that they have in fact got £100,000 worth of shares in, I feel I must own up to something before my review begins. Arriving in London 24 years ago I did my best to follow my home team but it just wasn’t enough for this football addict so I began to cast my net out for someone else to go to watch. Without going into all the details (but it did all start with free tickets!!!) I began going to see Leyton Orient. Back then they were in Division Three and in the years since they’ve had a couple of promotions and relegation’s but have never risen above that third tier of english footy. Standing on the terraces back then I never imagined that eventually they would become my first team, eclipsing both my home team and Celtic. There’s been ups and down. Few more of one than the other but that’s football for you. We can’t all support Chelsea or Manchester City. One of the many things that drew me to Orient was the supporters (I save the term ‘fans’ for yer barstoolers or schoolkids who support teams hundreds of miles away from them that they’ll never get to see). On the terraces back then were people from all over England in the same boat as me. Miles from home and washed up at the at a not so wee ground in London E10. Punks, hippies and metallers were dotted about the ground as were lefties everywhere. Once I said hello to a young lad wearing a James Connolly t-shirt. That’s how I was sucked in and the O’s are a part of me now…

Steve White And The Protest familySo why the hell am I waxing on about a lower league football team that can’t even get 5,000 in to watch them when they were (briefly) top of the league? Well the reason my friends is Steve White And The Protest Family. A quick glance at the band logo will give some of you the answer. These boys are full on Leyton Orient supporters and can be found propping up the bar in the Supporters Club at the ground before and after O’s games and even away games too, though whether or not they went to Bradford City that time I do not know. Meeting Steve many times and having checked out their videos I determined to draw them into London Celtic Punks orbit. We booked them for a couple of gigs and they went down a storm with their distinctive brand of English folk-punk and socialist and football anthems.

The bands official beginning was at Tommy Flynn’s in Camden on the 3rd December 2009 and ‘This Band Is Sick’ is their third release after a live album ‘One Night In Walthamstow’ recorded in 2010 at the Rose And Crown the day after the 2010 general election. With the Tories about to wage war on the working classes and finish off what Thatcher had started its a great record full of bile and humour and anger. Sadly they’ve been proved right about everything they predicted…

‘One Night’ was followed by the studio mini-album  ‘Drums Ruin Everything’ from 2012. ‘Drums Ruin Everything’ gets it title because they don’t and never have had a drummer. Eight tracks that set the style for this new album. Football, politics, football, politics and politics. All done with lashings of humour and personality. To download either album click on the links below the respective album covers above. Its £1 for both and one of them is free!!!

The band consists of Steve- Guitar, Irish bouzouki, harmonica, vocals, Doug- Bass, vocals, Russ- Banjo, vocals, Funky Lol- Mandolin, guitars, violin, piano, vocals. Though you’d never really be sure as they have people guesting for them regularly and even though there’s officially only four members I’ve seen them play with more than double that!

L-R: Steve, Doug, Russ, Funky Lol

L-R: Steve, Doug, Russ, Funky Lol

So now I’ve come clean on my connection to the band I cannot be accused of bias when I tell you that ‘This Band Is Sick’ is the proverbial bee’s knees! It kicks off, literally, with ‘No Pasaran In E17’ which tells the story of the far-right English Defence League’s ill fated trip to Walthamstow to hold a demonstration. The vast majority of EDL members made the sensible decision to bottle it and never come but those that did were met with a huge force of locals determined to prevent them from marching and they were harried and harassed at every turn and afterwards slunk off back to where they came from having had been well and truly embarrassed. As with all the following tracks the vocals are extremely clear and as east London (or should that be “east east east London”?) as you can get with the bands up front and forthright views.

“you can stick your racist hatred up your arse”

Acoustic guitar and mandolin lead the music but really its Steve voice that really dominates proceedings. ‘Do Something About It’ name checks the bands influences and is a plea for the left to stop its sectarianism and work together. A lovely thought but something the left is incapable of doing unfortunately. Who knows what we could achieve if we were united and all worked as equals together. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians is the phrase that fits the Brit Left perfectly with all the various groups and sects putting themselves above the class they pretend to serve. ‘Home Rule For Awesomestow’ brings in the harmonica and is lovely wee ditty about the home of the band, even bigging up their local Labour MP. ‘Ecstasy Death Girl’ proves the band can do serious with Lol taking over vocal duties for the story of a young lass who had died and the medias portrayal of her death and the prejudices they hold against the working classes in general. Quite rightly the song tells us not to buy the Daily Mail and ends with the sad and poignant line “poor Isabelle”.  Two whispered words more poignant than the 100’s of acres of news coverage the Daily Mail printed on the subject. Electric guitars pop in ‘Smash It Up (And Start Again)’ a song that tries to tell explain what we’ll do when the revolution comes. ‘Bad Day For Bojo’ is about the RMT, unions and everyone’s least favourite Eton boy (after Frank Turner that is!). A upbeat tune it’s banjo led and a real toe tapper. ‘Funky Lol’s Picket Line’ is about the necessity of NEVER crossing picket lines…EVER! ‘Never Mind Your Bollocks’ is that unusual song subject of testicular cancer and extolling the virtues of

“having a quick feel it aint worth ignoring”

‘(When An) Anarchist (Helps You Across The Road)’ begins with loud punky guitars and soon racks up the volume with a typical Family tune and lyrics. The stand out track of the album for me. Very funny with brilliant lyrics and music. Next is ‘Which Side Are You On?’, a song readers of this blog will be most familiar with due to the likes of The Dropkick Murphys and Billy Bragg , among others, covering it over the years. Written back in 1931 by Florence Reece and made most popular by the late and great Pete Seeger its a song bursting with both class hatred and class pride.  Steve’s updated lyrics are in the tradition of those mentioned and are a welcome addition to the song’s grand history

“I’m on the side of the unions,

on the side of the strikers

On the side of the bloggers,

the protest song writers

On the side of the disabled,

fighting against ATOS

On the side of the worker,

not the side of the boss

I’m on the side of the sick,

the benefits claimants

The folk who can’t make their Wonga repayments

I’m on the side of the kids on zero hours contracts

On the side of council workers who had their jobs axed

On the side of Uncut,

I’m on the side of Occupy

It’s rich versus poor if you just open your eyes

I hear people say a change is gonna come

So ask yourself which side are you on”

The final track (and hidden track- sorry for spoiling the surprise!) is The Family’s legendary anthem ‘Brisbane Road’. A story of love, unrequited love, hatred, dreams, dashed dreams and football. Yeah Brisbane Road is of course the home of Leyton Orient and close your eyes and a listen to this song will whisk you over to East London at 2-45pm running across Coronation Gardens. Whether its the drinks with no lids or getting The Orientear fanzine and a pint in the South Stand Bar at half-time and then missing the first five minutes of the second half but its that thing of praying to hear Status Quo at quarter to five that brings a smile to this face.

Twelve tracks in all and only a few seconds short of forty minutes. ‘This Band Is Sick’ may not have instant appeal for many of our European readers but you’d be wise to give it a chance. The lyrics are multi-layered in the same way Half Man Half Biscuit’s are in that you may listen as close as you can to the words but you’ll always discover a line you never heard before that will raise a smile or two. Shame the CD comes in a pretty basic cardboard cover but thats a small gripe as i already mentioned there’s no need for the lyrics as its very easy to understand Steve even when he really gets going! The album is released today so hightail it over to their Bandcamp page (link below) and get ‘This Band Is Sick’ as this band may be sick but they are fecking brilliant too!

here’s the recently released double-A side with Graham Larkbey And The Escapers. It’s all free but limited to 200 copies so when their gone contact the band…

Contact The Band

Facebook  Bandcamp  Reverbnation

Buy The Album (released 13th October 2014)

Physical copies from FourDogsMusic  Bookmarks and the Leyton Orient Supporters Club!

Download from Bandcamp

here’s the band recorded just a couple of weeks ago with some John Otway at the end you lucky things!

BOOK REVIEW: PARADISE ROAD by STEPHEN O’DONNELL

review by Bedford Falls

Paradise Road by Stephen O'Donnell

The last couple of years have given rise to the power of football fans on the internet, and the bampot blogger in particular. Celtic fans have led the way here, having long since established a plethora of quality sites which cater for every facet of the club’s diverse support.

In the last 6 months it feels as is there has been a rush to bring out books on all things Celtic too. From highbrow quality journalists getting in on the act to self-financed and self-published efforts: as you can imagine the quality varies. However, we have to celebrate Celtic fans looking to add to our rich heritage with books which put the club at the focal point of the story.

In Stephen O’Donnell’s Paradise Road (which I keep bloody thinking of as Paradise Lost) we have a fine addition to the growing canon of literature celebrating Celtic’s rich past.

The story follows erstwhile Scottish football prospect Kevin McGarry on his journey through life – so familiar to man -, as he grows from a banter-loving teenager to the sudden realisation of being a directionless 30-something with but one constant in his life: Celtic. But through the chronologically delivered narratives we learn that Celtic has been anything but constant itself.

Anyone who started supporting Celtic in the mid-80s has evolved with the club. Its metamorphic change from a dying institution in a ramshackle stadium to a pristine business with £££s dominating the fans’ mind more than the fare on the pitch at times has been remarkable. People of this vintage will feel a particularly close affinity with O’Donnell’s central character.

The Kirkintilloch lad narrates to us stories of his ‘best years’, inevitably with Celtic’s travails always providing the canvass on which his life is drawn out. There are stories of girls dumped for football, girls met because of football and him being dumped by a girl because of football. You get the gist.

new LONDON CELTIC PUNKS stickers available from  http://30492shop.moonfruit.com/shop/4580412915/stickers/6838693

new LONDON CELTIC PUNKS stickers available from
http://30492shop.moonfruit.com/shop/4580412915/stickers/6838693

Paradise Road is to all intents and purposes a collection of witty anecdotes weaved together into a fine novel. The timeline is mid-80s to present day (almost). Through this period we see McGarry grow frustrated with the commercialism of the game. His yearning for the camaraderie of the smoke-filled bus to the match, or terracing, or smuggling booze into the game marks him out as a whimsy character always craving something that he can’t quite get. McGarry wants emancipation; he just needs to find out what it is he needs to break free from.

And thus it becomes clear that Paradise Road is a character novel based around Celtic, not the other way round. McGarry’s journey could easily be told against the backdrop of an obsession with music, for example.

What makes it relevant to us as Celtic fans is how O’Donnell skilfully explores the changing political and economic landscape that accompanied Celtic’s own rebirth following McCann’s takeover. McGarry is an observant narrator often going on tangential rambles about one thing or another. These breaks add a richness and intelligence to a novel with a fair few laughs at the crude end of the scale too.

There are also breaks from McGarry’s first person narrative. In a style very reminiscent of Irvine Welsh, O’Donnell treats us to stories as seen through the eyes of characters close his main man and he brings the central threads together in a closing chapter in the beautiful city of Prague.

Paradise Road is a fantastic read. The short, sharp chapters make it easy to devour and the affinity most Celtic fans will feel with Kevin McGarry is palpable. But this is not a book about Celtic fan, Kevin McGarry. This is a book about Kevin McGarry, Celtic fan. The difference is small but the impact is great. Well worth a read.

Buy The Book

Link to the ebook on Amazon: http://ow.ly/iXozn

Link to the paperback on Amazon: http://ow.ly/iXoYr

30492-LONDON CELTIC PUNK’S TOP TWENTY CELTIC-PUNK ALBUM’s OF ALL TIME‏

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!

Where We Going?

Today we celebrate the blog’s first anniversary so, in a case of obvious self-indulgence, we thought we’d share with you our TOP TWENTY CELTIC-PUNK ALBUM’s OF ALL TIME. The last year has flown by and, even better, feedback for the site seems to have been universally good. As long we’re appreciated it’s all well worth doing. The celtic-punk scene has gone from strength to strength over the last twelve months and hopefully we’ve helped toward that in a small way. Big thanx to all who sent in stuff for review and also to our wee gang of reviewers and contributors.

Now before we get going thought I’d chuck in a couple of things. We’ve only chosen one album per band as let’s face it otherwise it would be dominated by 3, maybe 4, bands at best. There’s no time limit on it although it does tend to be the older rather than the newer albums chosen and their picked not just on music on the albums themselves but sometimes on the circumstances around hearing them for the first time, which I’m sure your all dying to hear!

 NUMBER 20

SAINT BUSHMILLS CHOIR- ‘S/T’ (2004)

Saint Bushmill's ChoirAttending the Anarchist Bookfair back in 2004 an old mate Booksie sez get yourself to the Active stall and get this album. So off I trot and I find it and its got a lovely celtic design on the front and a even lovelier Irish tricolour on the back. Not the sort of thing you’d expect to find at a Anarchist event! The song titles were all known to me and mostly Dubliners songs. Problem is its the last one so I have to buy it and lump it around for the rest of the day, and night!, trying not to lose it/break it/cover it in Skol Super. Any road I gets it home and play it and its f’king brilliant. Extremely well played Irish folk punk with great left politics and the only Anarchist celtic-punk song I’ve ever heard. I find out later that Saint Bushmills Choir are a kind of punk-crusty supergroup and that’s why the label Profane Existence released it. I did wonder why as everything I’d ever heard from the label before was an unlistenable racket! And it’s on very nice green vinyl!

 NUMBER 19

THE GENTLEMEN- ‘Stick To Your Guns’ (2009)

The GentlemenFirst time I came across these was a video on YouTube of them at a West Virginia American Football game racing around with a Irish flag to ‘Country Roads’ so when their album popped up on the now defunct Paddy Punx web-site i downloaded it immediately. For such a young band they really were very very good but nothing has been heard from them in a long time and there’s not much to be found on them on the internet either. Aggressive celtic-punk but plenty of emphasis on traditional instruments too. ‘War Time In North London’ and ‘Under The Rowan Tree’ show their style at either end of the celtic-punk spectrum.

 NUMBER 18

CHARM CITY SAINTS- ‘Hooligans And Saints’ (2009)

Charm City SaintsEmerging from the seedy punk rock clubs of Baltimore the Charm City Saints were one of a bunch of American celtic-punk bands inspired by the Dropkick Murphys. The LP begins with ‘Egans Polka’ which wouldn’t be out of place on one of your nanna’s records before blasting into the blistering ‘Night Paddy Murphy Died’. Catchy hooks and fist in the air choruses ensure the LP whizzes past as fast as anything. Blue-collar working class Irish American pride aplenty! Chuck in a couple of rebel songs and more trad punked up to 11 and you got yerself a classic of American celtic-punk. Far from the polish of the Murphys and the Mollys and all the better for it.

 NUMBER 17

KEVIN FLYNN AND THE AVONDALE RAMBLERS- Live At the Double Door 09-15-09

Kevin Flynn And The Avondale RamblersTill they released ‘Broken Pavements Of Avondale’ last year all anyone had of these was a couple of EP’s and this fantastic live album, which consists only of the songs on the EP’s. Once again I came across it on the Paddy Punx blog and despite the name sounding like a old fogies band i thought i’d take a chance, and boy was i was not disappointed. I’m not normally a fan of live recordings but this is one of those rare occasions where the sound and music is immaculate. The bands mix of celtic-Irish-Americana and Chicago folklore plus solid working class roots and politics really hit the spot with me. Great sense of humour, as evident on crowd favourite ‘You Don’t Want Me’.

We reviewed their new album earlier this year here.

NUMBER 16

BETWEEN THE WARS- ‘Carried Away’ (2010)

Between The WarsMelbourne based celtic-folk-punk band who have now sadly broken up. They’ve left us a discography of great records of which this, for me, is the pick of the crop. Great story-telling from lead singer Jay with dark and light themes battling it out with understated humour! A few trad songs ‘Ride On’ and ‘Come Out Ye Black And Tans’ are in turn beautiful and uplifting but its when Between the Wars play their own songs they come into their own. ‘Ciaran’ about the love of a father for his son and the son for his father is heart achingly good while ‘Superherosong’ and ‘You Were The One’ raise the roof with that distinct Aussie celtic-punk sound but with a tinge of country.

Plenty more on the blog including a review of their last LP here and a interview with Jay, the lead singer, here.

NUMBER 15

CRAIC HAUS- ‘Whose Yer Paddy Now?’ (2009)

Craic HausNow this was a first for me and for anyone else whose ever come across Craic Haus too I bet. What you get is a album of ‘shamrockabilly’ that’s right 12 songs of celtic-rock’n’roll. They ought to be Imelda May’s backing band truth be told. Mostly self-penned titles like ‘Bottom Of A Guinness’ and ‘Shilleagh Bop’ show the bands great sense of humour plus theirs two incredible covers of The Wild Rover and Danny Boy with the original words but to the tune of something equally as famous. Hard to explain. Great production too and quite incredible work considering that their only a trio!

 NUMBER 14

THE MEN THEY COULDNT HANG- ‘How Green Is The Valley’ (1986)

The Men They Couldn't HangThe day this came out I legged it back with the LP under me arm to me Nanna’s house in town. She had an old record player encased in a big massive cabinet about 5 foot long. The sound that came out was crystal clear but it was only ever use to playing country’n’western so how was it gonna handle ‘The Men’? Putting it on and the first song ‘Gold Strike’ came out and the guitar and mandolin giving it the impression of a folky LP she relaxed and then nearly fainted as it kicked into ‘Gold Rush’ a punky folky celt rocker. Things got worse for her as anti-fascist anthem ‘Ghosts Of Cable Street’ advocated hitting fascists and then miners strike song ‘Shirt Of Blue’ advocated attacking the police…she also found some of the language appalling!! Looking back it was nowhere near as punk as I thought it was at the time but The Men are still rocking out and recently celebrated their 30th anniversary with a grand sell-out big London gig. Definitely one of the early pioneers of the celtic-punk scene.

 NUMBER 13

JASPER COAL- ‘Thousand Feet Closer To Hell’ (2010)

Jasper CoalMy dad was a coal-miner and so was his dad and his granddad too so coal-mining is in my blood you could say. Another album I came across via the Paddy Punx blog and it had a massive impact on me. Coming from the coalfields of Alabama these Irish-American lads sing a variety of mostly old standards and a few of their own songs. With very strong vocals and a banjo leading the way its a incredibly ‘full’ LP despite being acoustic and having no drums just the bodhran keeping the beat. Its also notable for having a song, O Caide Sin, in gaelic too.

 NUMBER 12

FLATFOOT 56- ‘Jungle Of The Mid West Sea’ (2007)

Flatfoot 56Saw these the night after the only time I ever saw Blood Or Whiskey. Can’t remember how I came across it as the London celtic-punk scene was non-existent back then, but I did, and it was a weekend that went onto change my life forever! At the BorW gig I made a great friend without whom I doubt the whole London Celtic Punks thing would even exist and the following day at Flatfoot 56 i had my first date with the lady that was to become my future wife! The gig itself was outstanding. Fuck all people in a tiny wee cellar venue but great sound and those that were there were a enthusiastic lot. First on and all over before 9pm, we legged it when they finished playing and the rest is history. A short while after I got the album off another pal with ‘Knuckles Up’ on the same CD. I played it so damn much i cannot bear to put it on anymore but if it comes up on my I-Pod shuffle then i’m instantly reminded of why i love it!

There’s a review of the album of the Flatfoot 56 off-shoot 6’10 here.

 NUMBER 11

BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS- ‘Boots Or No Boots’ (2010)

The Bible Code SundaysThe Bible Code’s are to London what The Tossers are to Chicago or The Murphy’s are to Boston. Probably more celtic-rock than punk they gig relentlessly across London and have a massive and loyal fan base. Reading about them in The Irish Post every week I first saw them play at one of their fortnightly resident shows in London’s west end. Starting off with their own stuff and then returning after a break to play ‘Irish-ed’ up pop hits they certainly had the crowd in the palm of their hands. I got the album that night and bugger me but on listening to it it seemed like it was auto-biographical!! The perfect album for the second- generation Irishman. ‘Maybe Its Because I’m A Irish Londoner’ is by far the fans stand out track but i prefer ‘Paddy Devil’ telling the story of the evil influence that makes us go on the lash instead of staying in and behaving ourselves…

 NUMBER 10

SHANE MacGOWAN AND THE POPES- ‘Crock Of Gold’ (1997)

Shane MacGowan And The PopesWith Shane kicked out of The Pogues and supposedly spiraling off into oblivion he shocked us all by teaming up with County Holloway celtic-rockers The Popes. Their first album together was ‘The Snake’ and was only so-so i thought but this album was something else. Freed from the confines of The Pogues Shane could let his pen do the talking. He calls it the Pogues fifth album. He doesn’t count anything The Pogues did after ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’. While hinting at nationalism with The Pogues for years this LP is defiantly pro-republican with stories of “burning London to the ground” and shooting coppers and soldiers. Received with glee by his fans and horror by the middle-class press both here and in Ireland. Dominated by jigs and reels The Popes prove themselves able to fill The Pogues shoes and even fit in a reggae song reminiscent of The Clash.

“The years they go by quickly/ I know I can’t remain here/ Where each day brings me closer/ To that final misery/ My kids will never scrape shit ’round here/ And I won’t die crying in a pint of beer/ I’m going back to Ireland/ And me Mother Mo Chroi.”

More on Shane from the blog here and The Popes here.

 NUMBER 9

BLOOD OR WHISKEY- ‘Cashed Out On Culture’ (2005)

Blood Or WhiskeyStraddling the celtic-punk fence nicely between the Molly’s folk and the Murphy’s punk is Ireland’s Blood Or Whiskey. This is their third album and they’re best one yet. Fourteen tracks of pure Irish folk ska punk. This was the first recording’s with new singer Dugs taking over from Barney and guest vocals from Cait O’Riordan of The Pogues add that special touch. Blood Or Whiskey have a instantly recognizable sound but don’t be thinking they’re stuck in a rut as they stand out in the celtic punk scene as a constantly evolving band. They are also the only band actually from a celtic nation on our list. ‘They Say No’ ends the album and is the standout track with all the BorW elements coming together perfectly!

This years new album from Blood Or Whiskey was reviewed on the blog earlier in the year, read it here.

 NUMBER 8

THE MAHONES- ‘Irish Punk Collection’ (2007)

The MahonesCatchy and upbeat this is the must have album of Irish-Canadian band The Mahones. They’ve been around for twenty years and are one of the innovators and movers and shakers of the celtic-punk world. Their is plenty here for all fans of celtic or punk music and the songs flow seamlessly from raucous punk to reflective ballad with ease. Dublin born singer Finny leads The Mahones and they are easily the hardest working band in the scene. ‘Queen And Tequila’ and ‘Drunken Lazy Bastard’ are still solid staples of the bands live set. Fourteen tracks and well over a hour long  and not a single bad track. Scruffy from the Dropkicks pops up to show exactly how widely regarded The Mahones are.

NUMBER 7

DROPKICK MURPHYS- ‘Do Or Die’ (1998)

Dropkick MurphysSeems like an age ago now (and it bloody is too) that a old skinhead mate from Belfast put me onto these and I got to see them on their first London gig before I’d actually heard anything by them. To say they blew me away is a understatement and my love affair with them only got worse on hearing this album. Yeah the Pogues and The Men They Couldn’t Hang were there first but the Dropkicks were a proper punk band. Our families all liked what passed for celtic-punk before this lot but the Dropkick Murphys? NO FACKING WAY! My mams heard them and thinks there awful racket! I use to call this album ‘celtic-Oi!’ and if you’re a recent convert to the DKM’s there’s not a lot of what passes for the band now. For a start Mike McColgan, from the Street Dogs, was the bands original singer and there’s very little celtic tunes and no instruments but plenty of references in the lyrics for those of us looking for them. By the time Finnegans Wake came on that was it for me!

 NUMBER 6

FLOGGING MOLLY- ‘Drunken Lullabies’ (2002)

Flogging MollyTheir second album and easily their best yet. After ‘Swagger’ the band realised they didn’t need a new approach. Slow songs, fast songs and combinations of both was good enough to last them right up until their last album ‘Speed Of Darkness’ when they changed it around a bit. Formed in a LA pub by Dublin native Dave King their sound is as authentic as it comes. Full on Irish folk played with the spirit of punk that captured the imagination of untold numbers of punk rock kids across the globe. Despite their success it’s as a live band Flogging Molly are at their best and they’ve released a handful of excellent live releases. The title track and the heart aching ‘The Sun Never Shines (On Closed Doors)’ show them at their fast and slow best. Listen side by side with the Murphy’s and you’ll see these are the celtic side of celtic-punk while the Murphy’s are more punk but both compliment each other enormously.

 NUMBER 5

THE TOSSERS- ‘The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death’ (2005)

The TossersA mate worked in Reckless Records in the West End and one day down the pub he announced to me “you like all that Irish folk shit, here have these” and presented me with a 1960’s LP of rebel songs, a Wolfe Tones CD and this by The Tossers. Maybe not their best album (I actually prefer ‘Emerald City’) but this has The Tossers greatest song ‘Good Mornin Da’ and a host of other Chicago South Side Irish folk-punk classics. Older than the Murphy’s and the Molly’s they well deserve their place at the top table of celtic-punk. More like the Pogues than the before mentioned bands they have The Pogues knack of playing lengthy songs that don’t bore the arse off you or go off into decadent meandering and keep your interest till the end! Saw them play once in London and they were every bit as good as i thought they would be.

You can find a review of the excellent new album from The Tossers, ‘Emerald City, here.

 NUMBER 4

CUTTHROAT SHAMROCK- ‘Dark Luck’ (2011)

Cutthroat ShamrockComing from the hills of Tennessee they mix Irish and Scots folk with their native Appalachian music. Dark themes abound on this all the way through and the vocals and music really capture the emotions of the lyrics.  Completely acoustic with superb banjo playing to the fore they would in fact go down well absolutely anywhere and with anyone I’d say. ‘Rich Insteada Pretty’ is a brief interlude of humour before ‘Dark Hallow’ takes us back to some more misery. A superb album with all the best bits of celtic-punk but with enough of Cutthroat Shamrock’s own definitive stamp to single them out as real innovators of the scene. ‘Fly Away’ would easily make my Top Ten Songs of all time.

 NUMBER 3

THE POGUES- ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’ (1988)

The PoguesYou simply cannot underestimate the influence The Pogues had on this nation when they came racing out of the blocks in the mid-80’s. To put it simply the amount of Irish born people in Britain was massive but few of their offspring felt in anyway Irish. Hardly surprising when the rest of the nation was stacked up against them and to be Irish meant to be either a bomber or be thick or an alkie or feckless or violent or many other number of racist epitaphs. Who then could find pride in those roots when it was something we ought to be ashamed of? Well The Pogues could. Their first two albums were met with amazement and relief that we could actually be proud of our backgrounds and shout it out as well. By the time of this their third album The Pogues had started to agitate and their song ‘The Birmingham 6’, while only reinforcing what our families had already told us, brought the issue of the many innocent Irish jailed in Britain to a wider audience. That to be in possession of an Irish accent could land you in jail for a very long time. This is the record that saw them move away from being a band only Irish people could like and includes their mega-mega hit ‘Fairytale Of New York’. Though I cant stand ‘Fiesta’ the rest are pure brilliance and Shane’s lyrics are sublime. I especially loved the Tipperary themed ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon’. But even despite all of Shane’s brilliance its the late Phil Chevron song ‘Thousands Are Sailing’ that stands out and gets you on every single level. Possibly the best song about Irish emigration of all time…and that’s a pretty congested subject. More from us on The Pogues here.

 NUMBER 2

NECK- ‘Sod `Em & Begorrah!’ (2005)

NeckNeck have been a solid fixture on the London punk scene for donkeys years now and this LP is their masterpiece. All 12 tracks are fully imbibed with the spirit of the two London bands that have inspired them the most- The Pogues and The Clash. I’ve been a major fan of Neck since the very beginning and no matter how often I’ve seen them play they never fail to give it their all and put on a great show. Lead singer and lyricist Leeson is up there with yer Shane’s and yer Christy’s and your Luke’s in the songwriting stakes and portrays perfectly what it feels to be a, so called, ‘plastic paddy’ or as Neck put it, much better, ‘PLASTIC AND PROUD’. The album has two expertly played trad songs and the rest are pure self-penned celtic-punk Neck classics. As impossible as it is to pick out a standout track, ‘Blood On The Streets’ about the racist murders of two young men in Ireland and London deserves a nod. The CD comes with a huge booklet with the lyrics and background story to each song which alone makes this a must have. More from us on Neck here.

NUMBER 1

THE RUMJACKS- ‘Gangs Of New Holland’ (2010)

The Rumjacks

Bejaysus I really wish I had heard this when I was a young gun, i would have definitely picked up a mandolin instead of untold tinnies and done something with me life! From start to finish this debut album from Sydney, Australia’s The Rumjacks kicks you squarely in the teeth. Whether its the full on celtic-punk rock of ‘Green Ginger Wine’ or the sadness of, nearly a ballad, ‘Bar The Door Casey’ The Rumjacks blue-collar stories of working class immigrant life really hits home. It isn’t without humour mind, check out their enormous (5,500,000 hits and counting!) internet hit ‘An Irish Pub’ which puts the boot firmly into fake plastic Irish pubs. The band is a mix of Scottish immigrants and others from descended from the various celtic nations which gives them a very definite authentic feel. This knocked the flaming socks off me when I first heard it and its still doing it now. Australian celtic-punk bands rule the planet and The Rumjacks rule Australian celtic-punk…that should tell you all you need to know. Plenty more on The Rumjacks here and the wonderful world of Aussie celtic-punk here.

well there you have it. hope you liked and if you like feel free to leave a comment below if you agree or disagree…maybe even leave your best ofs!

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TRIBUTE TO GIL HERON- MICHAEL MARRA AND THE HAZEY JANES

Gil Heron 1922-2008

Gil Heron was a Jamaican professional footballer. He was the first black player to play for Celtic, and was the father of poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron. He was spotted by a scout from Celtic while the club was on tour in North America, and he signed for the club in 1951 after being invited over for a trial. He went on to score on his debut, in a League Cup tie against Morton that Celtic won 2-0. Heron only played five first-team matches in all, scoring twice. He passed away in Detroit of a heart attack on 27 November 2008.

When Duke was in the Lebanon
Groovin’ for the human race
Gil flew high in the western sky
On a mission full of style and grace
From Jamaica to the Kingston Bridge
He was inclined to roam
Drawn to the flame of the beautiful game
Here was a brother who would not stay home

Higher, raise the bar higher
He made his way across the sea
So that all men could brothers be

When Miles was on the jukebox
And Monk was on the air
Gil crossed the ocean to the other side
To play for Celtic with a noble stride
The arrow flew, he’s flying yet
His aim is true so we don’t forget
What it means when his name we hear
The hopes and dreams of every pioneer

Higher, raise the bar higher
He made his way across the sea
So that all men could brothers be

Written by Michael Marra

Michael Marra was a singer-songwriter and musician from Dundee, Scotland. Known as the Bard of Dundee, Marra was a solo performer mainly known as a songwriter, he also worked extensively in theatre, radio and television. His songwriting was rooted in Scottish life and he found an audience within and beyond the folk music scene. Sadly he passed away in October 2012 after he collaborated with fellow Dundee indie band The Hazey Janes on a six track EP called ‘Houseroom’. Michael was the father of two band members of the Hazey Janes.

Buy The EP

MusicScotland

Contacts

Michael Marra WebSite

The Hazey Janes WebSite

superb article from The Shamrock here entitled ‘The Noble Stride- Celtic And The Pioneering Herons’.

MAY 10TH NATIONAL FAMINE MEMORIAL DAY

Celtic FC

Tomorrow Celtic Football Club take to the field against Dundee United and afterwards will collect the Premier League trophy with the National Famine Memorial Day logo on their shirts.

Without a doubt the ‘famine’ transformed Ireland changing the island forever. The impact on the people and the legacy of emigration, loss and decline of the Irish language are still with us today.

Famines are generally thought of as periods where there is not enough food. The result is starvation, economic breakdown and chaos, sometimes leading to total disintegration of the social fabric.

From 1845 through to 1852, Ireland, whose poor existed on a diet almost entirely based on the potato, experienced a potato crop failure that caused unbelievable hardship and wiped from the country over one million dead and over three million forced to flee for their lives. Many never even reached their destination before the effects of the ‘famine’ overtook them. The incredible fact is though that Ireland continued to produce plenty of food during this period. However, it was all exported. Exporting food was far more profitable for our colonial ‘masters’ than making it available to the starving and dying.

If we look into this topic just a little, you have to conclude that the suffering of our ancestors was caused by something far more horrible than crop failure. Indeed, the policy response to the crop failure was so horrific, that respected historian Tim Pat Coogan terms it ‘genocide’. An deliberate attempt was made to wipe the Irish Catholic off the island of Ireland.

http://www.timpatcoogan.com/books/famine_plot.htm

So, why use the word ‘famine’? The reason is simple: The Irish government; academics and a host of other entities use that label, and as such, it refers to the horrors suffered by the Irish during the years 1844-1851. So, while famine is not correct, most know what the label refers to.

I think the greater problem we face is indifference of the Irish diaspora. There are seventy, perhaps eighty million people worldwide who trace their roots back to Ireland. The vast majority of these people have little knowledge of the horrors and ignore it. ‘Long ago and far away’. We want ALL of them to acknowledge the horrors of the 1840’s.

Pause for one minute on Commemoration Day, May 10, and spare a thought or a prayer for not just those poor souls lost at home but also those spread out across the globe.

Those that forget the past have no right to the future…

special thanks to Terrance Seán O’Dwyer for help with the article

Further Reading:

Let Ireland Remember

Irish National Famine Memorial Day

but the most extensive resource on Facebook about this period is to be found at

Irish Holocaust –Not Famine: The Push To Educate In Facts

it really is an excellent site and i cannot recommend it enough and i would urge all of you there with haste.

FROM OPPRESSION TO CELEBRATION- THE POGUES TO THE DROPKICK MURPHYS AND CELTIC PUNK

AGAINST MODERN FOOTBALL - AGAINST MODERN MUSIC

The history of all of the various celtic nations is one made up of oppression, intimidation and emigration. Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Cornwall, Brittany (north west France), Asturias (north west Spain), Galicia (north west Spain) have all been for generations occupied by foreign countries who have tried everything to crush the culture, language and spirit of their people.

But first lets go back in time to the 17th century when the English invaded Ireland. The Irish rebelled against them but are finally subjected after many wars and battles and atrocities are committed. They never fully integrate into the English system of government in the same way the Scots and Welsh did, and rebellions carried on and with every generation their have been major uprisings against English rule.

Music was a continual form of expression which made it very important to the culture of the Celts. With the prohibition of native languages and songs just speaking or singing could see you exiled or worse.  Misrule and a deliberate policy of starvation forced millions to emigrate away from Ireland while at least another million died while hundreds of tons of food a day was shipped out, under British Army guard, to England. In Scotland the forced clearances for land to give to rich barons to exploit for cattle and sheep farming sent tens of thousands of Scots to a new life in Canada. Other celts, for example many Cornish left when the tin mining industry went into decline, emigrate to the Americas in the 19th and 20th centuries and right up to the present day it remains high. Why the Americas? Despite those early settlers facing exactly the same kind of oppression, racism and bigotry that they had escaped from, it gave the little guy a new beginning. A sense that anyone could make it in this new world with hard graft and a little luck…plus it was away from the Empire that had held them down for so long, and even in the Irish case even tried to murder them!  Later revolts in Ireland established a republic separate from England, yet the north is still in English control. This was never accepted by all and so began a bloody war to unite Ireland that continues to this day.

Just like the original Irish music pub sessions didn’t originate in Ireland neither did celtic punk. The Pogues formed in post ’77 era London during the ‘troubles’. Bombs going off in the streets of England and shootings were common, anti-Irish racism was a fact of life for many. Many Irish lived together in the same areas of London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham etc., creating, for want of a better word ‘ghettos’ where Irish life carried on despite being in a foreign and unwelcoming land. Punk music started by posh art school kids rebelling against their parents soon spread out to the working class communities and the 2nd and 3rd generation Irish youth of those communities were no different from their english counterparts in lapping it up. The idea of fighting against authority made celtic music highly compatible with punk. Many of those original english punk bands had Irish members but punk bands in Ireland didn’t want to sound Irish they were just trying to sound punk (i.e. Radiators From Space, Stiff Little Fingers). Punk music was able to gain popularity from the people with celtic roots because it represented something unique to their heritage. Punk reminded them of what it is to be celtic to stand against authority, independent and defiant.

The Pogues were the original celtic-punk band. Made up of 2nd generation Irish, Irish and English members they were the first to combine the two genres of punk and traditional Irish music together creating a totally new sound. They had plenty of plaudits and recognition and even managed to break out of the ‘Irish scene’ and became a genuinely popular band here in Europe and the USA. Shane MacGowan, their iconic lead singer and writer of the critically acclaimed Fairytale of New York, is now considered one of the best songwriters of his generation! At the time though many folk ‘traditionalists’ scoffed at them as being just a bunch of ignorant English pissheads out to ruin Irish music but this was before anyone realised there was about to be a massive outpouring of ‘Irish pride’ from thousands upon thousands of second and third generation Irish from outside the isle of Ireland. The Pogues spearheaded this and along with Celtic F.C and the Irish football team (itself packed to the rafters with 2nd and 3rd generation Irish players) came to represent us in our Irishness. The thing the traditionalists didn’t understand was that even though we were into modern music we’d grown up listening to The Wolfe Tones, Dubliners, Clancy Brothers etc., (even Country’n’Irish!) as children so a band like the Pogues coming along wasn’t a shock to us but the folk establishment sure as hell didn’t like it!

Jump to today and its the Dropkick Murphys who are the worlds celtic-punks most popular and famous band. They started off as a Oi!/punk band with no Irish/celtic music only some Irish imagery on their record sleeves and merchandise. They kind of, in their own words, “started out as a joke” and didn’t seek out acclaim, but they rapidly grew in popularity due in no small part to the many, many people in the US who have celtic heritage and celebrate it. Over the years they’ve adapted Irish music and instruments and songs into the mix to create today’s celtic-punk. The Dropkick’s represent what it is to be celtic/Irish in modern day America (being working class, the fight against oppression, overcoming adversity, toughness, family bonds, religion/ Catholicism etc.,) but overall its still The Pogues that best embody celtic-punk. They were the first band of the scene and their music and lyrics are closer to the source. The Dropkick Murphys put more of an Irish-American spin on their songs, The Pogues are more about the history therefore, especially to those of us outside North America, the songs of The Pogues are more authentic with more Irish themes and fewer American ones.

The globalization of celtic music through emigration, in which oppression and poverty were the main reasons people left, has spread the influence of celtic music across the globe, even outside of the usual haunts of the Americas, Australia, NZ and here. Celtic-punk bands exist in pretty much every country where a son or daughter of a celt has set foot. It has also spread to the land of origin of the other celtic nations, with very healthy scenes in Brittany and Galicia helping to rejuvenate the native languages. Use of traditional instruments- fiddle, tin whistle, banjo, accordion, bagpipes is higher now than it has been in decades, again due in no small part to the popularity of celtic-punk.

Celtic-punk reflects the heritage of celtic people and the fight against oppression. It embodies the history of what it is to be celtic and what it is to overcome hardships and to finally come out on top.

It is where we come from but don’t you worry this is no exclusive club… everybody’s welcome to the hooley.

This isn’t meant as an introduction to celtic-punk or even a potted history it’s just one man’s small attempt to unravel what it is that makes the music so appealing to himself and countless others. If you agree or disagree we’d love to hear your comments…

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