Belfast Celtic rebirth would be a dream come true

Jordan O'Donnell and Conor Morgan play at the mural in honour of Belfast Celtic unveiled at the junction of St James'­ Road and St Catherine'­s Road to mark the 60th anniversary of the club's demise.
Ryan McCann

SIXTY-SIX years after the club played its last game, there is still an insatiable desire for Belfast Celtic to be re-established within the Falls Road area.

Twitter and Facebook went into overdrive last weekend as a 16-page supplement appeared in last Saturday’s Irish News.

Fans shared their memories and visions for the Grand Old Team and with such a strong following among young people, Barry Flynn – author of Political Football: The Life and Death of Belfast Celtic – believes a rebirth of Belfast Celtic is a possibility and described the ideas as a ‘dream come true’.

“There is that hunger there for Belfast Celtic to be brought back to the West Belfast community,” he said.

“People don’t realise what was taken away from them in 1949. My personal view is that the Irish League has never really recovered from it.

“If the right people were interested and the money was available to get a site in the Falls, I know they could make a success story of it as they progressed through the Divisions.

“You look at what happened to Derry City. In 1985, they were out of football for 15 years because of the Troubles but they have been rejuvenated since then and now they are central to the community again.

“It’s part of the fabric. It would be a dream come true and it would re-ignite the story within the area.”

Martin Flynn, a committee member of the Belfast Celtic Society, was encouraged by the social media response and believes the supplement introduced a new generation of football fans to the history of the Celts.

“Our society is 10 years old and the message has been brought to more and more young people over the years,” said Flynn.

“We have the Belfast Celtic Cup now. The first tournament was held last November and it was a huge success.

“A junior football team has also been established in West Belfast called Belfast Celtic Young Men. They came to us and asked us can they use the name.

“They are all kids. The guy that runs after them is only 23 or 24 so it just goes to show you that the stories and legacy has trickled down to the younger generations. “We have about 5,000 followers on Twitter and that’s not Jimmy Donnelly’s mates,” he laughed.

On the future of Belfast Celtic, Flynn said:

“Who knows?

“We know there are still a lot of people that feel they have a connection to the club.

“We don’t have a ground anymore but for us, it’s more about keeping the name alive now and our museum is a living manifestation of that great era.

“It’s a sad story but in many ways, there’s a lot to celebrate.”


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