Super Bowl? What’s the Super Bowl compared to a match-up between Glasgow’s legendary Celtic Football Club and the Rangers? Now, that’s super.
OK, so it’s the Sevco Rangers, not quite the Rangers team that has been Celtic’s nemesis since the dawn of time, but no matter. It’s a big deal. And if you don’t think so, show up at the Plough and Stars in Old City on Sunday, February 1, at 8:30 in the morning. The game will start at 1:30 in Scotland, so Celtic fans will be up early.
And thanks to the ardent Philly fan group, the 2nd Street Plough Bhoys CSC, there will be a lot of them. A lot, as in hundreds. And not just on Sunday, when the game will be displayed on a giant screen, but the whole weekend, in an event billed as the East Coast Celtic Supporters’ Féile. Féile is a Gaelic word meaning “festival,” but in this case the word seems somehow insufficient.
“This place will be bouncing from Friday through the whole weekend,” said Seamus Cummins, Plough Bhoys spokesman, chatting over beers at the Plough last Sunday along with several other members of the club. “This is our second year. Last year, we had 300, and they came from everywhere. This place was rocking.”
Fellow Plough Bhoy Mairtin O’Braidaigh still seems surprised at that year’s turnout. “We thought we’d bring in people from New York,” he said. Somehow or other members of clubs from around the country came. And from out of the country, too, including Scotland. “We had people drive down from Canada. They left at 4 a.m., and arrived here at 6 p.m. Some people, we didn’t even know were coming. They just came.”
Some of those who joined in the Celtic mania didn’t know that’s what they were joining. Plough Bhoy William “Fitz” Fitzgerald remembers. “People came in off the street, and they were just having a great time. There was just laughter all the time.”
Cummins expects even more fans this time around.
“We expect people to come from Ontario,” he said, “and Detroit, Athens, Ga., the Bronx, Boston, North Jersey, D.C., South Carolina, and Ohio. There will be people who will cross the Atlantic. We call it the Celtic family … and it really is a family.”
One of the highlights of this year, he said, is the premiere of “The Asterisk Years,” a film by author Paul Larkin, documenting the alleged decade-long financial shenanigans by the Rangers organization that many insist cheated Celtic out of titles.
(Highlights of the weekend’s schedule is below.)
The Plough Bhoys are thrilled that this year’s Féile just happens to coincide with a Celtic-Rangers match-up.
“We set this date back in June or July,” Cummins said with something approaching glee in his voice. “We thought the game was going to be against Kilmarnock, just a regular game. But the stars aligned, and we drew our ancient rival. This will be the first time we’ve played a team named the Rangers in three years. We should give them a right hammering. That’ll really kick the party into overdrive.”
Some party it will be.
And, oh, yeah, if you’re interested, there’s some inconsequential little American football game later in the day.
Friday, January 30
4-6 p.m. – The welcoming of the Celtic Family. Celtic Supporters from all over North America will begin to arrive for the Féile weekend. Please bring your club’s banner to be proudly hung in the pub.
7 p.m. – Live Irish/Celtic Music by Jamison’s, John O’Callaghan
Saturday, January 31
11 a.m. – Blessing of the Celtic Family at the National An Gorta Mor Memorial by Father Edward Bradley
1 p.m. – The USA Premier of Paul Larkin’s, “The Asterisk Years”
2:30 p.m. – Q&A Following the film by Paul Larkin, Hosted by Graham Wilson of the The Beyond The Waves Celtic Show
4-7 p.m. – Live Irish/Celtic Music by Ardboe, County Tyrone’s own, Raymond Coleman
7-10 p.m. – Live Irish/Celtic Music by The Bogside Rogues
Sunday, February 1
8:30 a.m. – The first-ever meeting between Celtic & The *Rangers 2012 in the League Cup Semi-Final
12 p.m. until Kick off of Super Bowl XLIX – Traditional Irish Music Session
Keep up to date on Twitter, official hash tag #celticphillyfeile15