The Hum of Undeserved Support

While the Celtic support is getting rave reviews wherever it goes in Europe and the Green Brigade have brought a proper Ultras atmosphere to Celtic Park, are fans now reacting less to what actually happens on the pitch and is it really helping the team? Graeme McKay questions if rather than always being supportive maybe this Celtic support also needs to show some tough love.


Celtic fans

Despite the fact that I was pretty buckled on Augustiner, I knew it was coming. It can be almost sensed in the air, like a thunderstorm or a ‘but’ that follows a pregnant pause. The supporters in the top corner of the Allianz Arena collectively filled their lungs and began that dirge – over and fucking over. We were being ragdolled up and down the pitch, but at least we had the party; the ‘sing song’. Coming away from Munich, it felt like the Tartan Armification of the Celtic support was complete.

The Green Brigade have brought amazing things to Celtic Park. They made the turgid football of the Strachan, Mowbray and Lennon years at least a bit melodic and they have done countless acts of charity, as well as reaffirm Celtic fans on a global scale, so much so that I am often approached by Germans who want to tell me how well we are respected around the world. However, an unfortunate by-product of the Green Brigade years is that the fans in general are much less reactionary to what is happening on the park.

I first noticed this phenomenon not at a Celtic game, but in the Max-Morlock-Stadion in Nürnberg. The ultras bounced and sang non-stop and the rest of the crowd gave a mild applause whenever something good happened in the match; this applause was mirrored with a slight grumble when things went against Der Club. It got to the stage where the noise made by the Nürnberg fans was so constant and unchanging that it was quickly habituated. The hum coming from a small section of the crowd became like the car alarm outside that we soon forget is blaring.

Working from the perhaps shaky belief that supporters can have an influence as to what happens on the field, it would surely mean that a hum so easily habituated would not be entirely useful? I am reminded of the truly inspiring atmospheres at Celtic Park and most, for me, came pre-Green Brigade. They came with genuine roars of excitement and determination at games, such as taking Valencia to extra-time in the UEFA Cup. It was spontaneous, it was guttural and it was emotional. It was lifting the atmosphere up all of the notches in the hope that the players on the park would react.

As Celtic fans, I feel like we have a mild obsession with our image. We delight in being the good guys; the supporters that make a mess, have a party, but don’t cause a riot; the fans that support over and over; the anti-Rangers. And this can lead to circumstances where our band is playing as the boat sinks.

Celtic showed nothing in Munich. It was toothless and meek and Kieran Tierney was perhaps the only player to come out of it looking like a footballer. It was an utterly embarrassing performance from a side that looked as if they didn’t care; a team that looked as if they were just there to make up the numbers. So why should the supporters be any different? If the players don’t believe they can compete, then perhaps some fans are right in just looking to draw the best cities for a bevy.

But for me, as someone that was sitting with the home fans in Munich, the team didn’t deserve an ‘Over and Over’. We will be faithful through and through, but sometimes the players should know that we don’t think their performance was good enough for the Celtic badge. Sometimes we should be telling them that we still have faith, but that they need to get their shit together.

A tinge of embarrassment came over me as I was leaving the game and a Bayern fan asked to swap shirts. He told me that we had the best fans in the world and I felt for that one moment like a girl had just told me that she liked my personality. I do think we have the best fans in the world, but I think those fans need to ‘manage’ the team a little bit better. I think we need to know when to put the arm round a player’s shoulder, but also when to throw a tea cup at his face. Some defeats in our history deserve the aforementioned dirge, most don’t.

To paraphrase Roy Keane: let’s not kid ourselves, we are a financially small club, we’re up against it, but let’s not just go along for the sing-song every now and again. Oh, and the second I see someone pouring Radox in a fountain, I’m going to start throwing punches.

Graeme is a Celtic fan living in Bayern. He was the original bum on seat 1, row S, section 113 and stayed there for 11 seasons. He now contents himself with Celtic TV. He was one half of History Bhoys Abroad and has a background in journalism. Tom Rogic completes him. He can be found on twitter under @PodestrianG

'The Hum of Undeserved Support' have 1 comment

  1. February 11, 2018 @ 5:25 pm Joe

    Have to agree with all of this. I love the Green Brigade for the noise and colour at the league games, the tifos they have produced in Europe have also been superb. However in Europe at Celtic Park the atmosphere has became rather flat. The noise in the stands does not reflect the football on the pitch. In years gone by the opposition would gave been greeted with a cacophony off boos every time they touched the ball or spontaneous song would have erupted and spread all over the ground to spur the team on, usually in relation to events on the park.*

    Now we look to the Green Brigade for direction and if they want to sing the lonesome boatman or about Calum McGregor or Stuart Armstrong then that’s what the rest of the 60000 fans will listen to them sing. Worse still it can be a new song or chant nobody knows other than a select few. I don’t think it inspires on the field. Its got to the stage that the rest of the stadium sit on their hands and wait for green brigade to sing something and may occasionally join in. This in itself is not the fault of the Green Brigade but I think a natural symptom of any club having ultras or a singing section. I think there is a responsibility from the Green Brigade to lead the singing on European nights so that the majority are joining in and to give support to songs started elsewhere in the stadium.

    For those who would ask why as a season ticket holder attending the games why I could affect the atmosphere myself by starting a song or chant or cheer or boo. Try it yourself against Zenit and see who joins in, people look at you like you’ve lost it. Again I think a symptom of a singing section.

    To reiterate I do enjoy what the Green Brigade bring I just think there’s room for improvement.

    *I am aware events in the park at home in Europe recently haven’t been too inspiring but I think my point still stands ?


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