Published on Saturday 14th May, 2011 by Celtic Trust
The Celtic Trust were guests last night as the Celtic Supporters' Association held their annual rally at Celtic Park and, in those time-honoured words, a good time was had by all.
A crowd of over 500 assembled in the Kerrydale Suite for an evening of eating, drinking, singing, dancing and just coming together in what has been a very difficult year and which is not over yet! Following an introduction by the President, John Andrews and the General Secretary, Joe O'Rourke, the Club Chairman took the unusual step of asking to say a few words. He used this opportunity to comment on the incredible events of this year, the difficulties we have faced, the criticisms we have received for simply standing up for ourselves and asking to be treated fairly and, most importantly, the utterly disgraceful and criminal treatment of our manager. Neil Lennon was not at the Rally but he sent his best wishes both via the programme and via the Chairman John Reid talked about the reasons why Neil Lennon is being targeted, reasons that we are all familiar with: he is a Irish Catholic who played for and now manages Celtic FC, a club open to all but synonymous with the Irish diaspora in Scotland. In a masterful display which we all know he is capable of, he dispelled the myths and placed the blame on the bigots and the racists. This is not about football and it is not about Neil Lennon's character or behaviour, it is about the fact that there are people who still want the croppies to lie down. Understandably, this was met by approval by many present including the Trust. The Celtic Trust is no friend of John Reid and we are still opposed to his Chairmanship but we agree with every word he said and our only criticism, and it is not a small one, is that he should be saying this more publically instead of in the safe surroundings of a room full of Celtic supporters.
The main charitable beneficiary of the evening was to be the Good Child Foundation which has been taken to the hearts of Celtic supporters following the murder of young Reamonn Gormley. Mr and Mrs Gormley were there to receive an award of a portrait of Reamonn by the increasingly popular artist George Smith which was presented by the Chief Executive, Peter Lawwell. Shortly before this, in a video presentation from Thailand, a representative from the school in which Reamonn spent his gap year, told of the affection in which his memory is held there and how they now feel a close connection to the world wide Celtic family through Reamonn's influence and because of the way in which their school has been taken to the hearts of Celtic fans everywhere. Mr Gorlmley accepted the presentation and talked of their terrible loss but also of the comfort they have drawn from the Celtic family and also from the wonderful legacy which Reamonn, in many ways just an ordinary teenager, has left.
The Guest of Honour this year was ex-Captain Tom Boyd who had been given this honour some years ago but who did not get the evening he deserved because the event had to be abandoned when a member of the CSA took seriously ill and subsequently died during the evening. It was felt that he deserved to be honoured a second time and last night we were finally given the opportunity to pay tribute to one of Celtic's favourite sons. Mention was made of the highlights of his playing career (which are not few in number) and also the fact that these days, together with his father and his son, he is seen at every game, home and away, still following Celtic and still one of us. Tommy was given a portrait by George Smith, and in an emotional acceptance speech he dedicated it to Neil Lennon as a tribute to the man's strength and in solidarity with him during this exceptionally difficult time.
Player of the Year, as voted by all the member clubs of the Association, was Emilio Izaguirre, who was there to accept his portrait but who, unfortunately ,had to leave shortly thereafter as he had received word that one of his children was unwell. However, he did have time to say, albeit in very few words given the limitations of his English that he was very pleased to have received this award and that he loved playing for Celtic. He ended in 'Hail Hail' and very kindly took some time to give autographs and have photos taken before leaving to be with his family.
The large crowd were then entertained by the comedian Pat Rollink, music from Green Velvet and from the First Lady of Celtic, Patricia Ferns. It was a fantastic night and an all too infrequent opportunity to come together and have a few laughs - and a few tears - as the season draws to a close. We were very pleased to have been invited, as we are every year, and we thank the CSA for their fantastic hospitality. Sunday will be what it will be, but come what may, we're Celtic supporters, faithful through and through.