……our 30th anniversary story.
So where did we come from? How did we manage to get through university?
Paul Reilly tells of our equally remarkable, if not a little drink-sodden, story.
A week later the Club was born at the old Heriot-Watt Student Union in Grindlay Street. A second bus went to the successful home leg, where a Charlie Nicholas goal saw the Hoops through to a Final which they would eventually lose against the old Rangers in, wait for it, dubious circumstances. Plus ca Change, eh? A match postponement the day before, a rearranged early morning bar opening, a bus arriving late, two punters lost, four pee stops on the way, and parking in the home supporters car park by mistake. Only the Heriot-Watt University Celtic Supporters Club could start this way. But it did, with a trip to the League Cup Semi-Final at Pittodrie on 10 February 1984. Two young Heriot-Watt Town Planning students felt it would be a great idea to run a bus and niaively canvassed for fellow Tims by way of posters throughout the two campuses. Having nearly been thrown out by their landlady following a deluge of phone calls, that first fateful trip took 53 eager but, to be honest, pretty pished Celtic supporters (well, 50 actually, plus two Aberdeen supporters and a Partick Thistle supporter) all the way up the east coast to windswept Pittodrie – and an awful goalless draw.
The Club grew quickly form its humble beginnings, having joined the Celtic Supporters Association in that first season and thus securing tickets for away games in the days when season ticket holders were confined to a small band of comfy leather seats in the old main stand. That first season saw our first “luxury” trip – an overnight stay in a Transit Van in Blackpool on the way to the Lou Macari Testimonial in Manchester. Many more trips have followed since then – all over Scotland, England and Europe, and even some end-of season “mystery tours” to avoid Hun Cup Finals – which used to be an all-too-common occurrence.
Since then, the Club has seen many Scots, Irish and English fans through its doors, most of whom were already supporters, but many others had either only heard of Celtic even fleetingly. These came from Wales, France, Kurdistan, Kashmir, Egypt, Nigeria, America, Sweden and even Orkney and Shetland.
The Club has always been known for organising events beyond its core of travel to matches, such as theatre trips, pantomime trips (honest!), brewery tours, “behind the scenes” Trips to Celtic Park, race nights, quiz nights and debates, including a very successful public meeting in Teviot Row Union during the McCann revolution era. A previous favourite before these days of strict limits on away tickets was our “pre-match reception” for other supporter’s clubs, which was basically just a chance for some cheap drink in the student unions before games at Easter Road and Tynecastle. Perhaps our finest event was, the Tommy Burns Supper, which you can read about elsewhere. The Supper always had good causes at its heart, having raised thousands of pounds over the years for various causes. It is this charitable heart that which has led the Club this year to adopt an official cause of its own, Casa Alianza, and it is hoped that the relationship between the Club and this worthy organisation will bear fruit in many different ways, both collectively and individually, in coming years. Perhaps to show that HWEUCSC isn’t always fascinated with drinking, we have been successful over the years on the football field. In our second year, eleven barely sober volunteers reached the final of the Intra-Mural tournament at Edinburgh University, and our previous annual “Jobby in a Box” Award (which now needs to be revitalised, if you know what I mean).
HWEUCSC will reach a remarkable if unlikely 30th birthday in 2014 with special celebrations in that year, that involved past, present, deceased and barely alive members. Now we have the next anniversary to plan, or maybe disorganise, for in 2019 so until then enjoy your time in the mayhem that is our wonderful (if not a little tipsy) Supporters‟ Club!