When planning a round trip approaching 600 miles, the members of the Pride of Erin CSC in Nottingham need to make sure they are up at the crack of dawn to make their way to Paradise for a match. The 5 a.m. start would be enough to put off many fans from attending a match, but the Pride of Erin bus faithfully makes the regular pilgrimage to watch their beloved Celtic.
From their base at The Greyfriars Social Club in Nottingham, the mini bus driver Michael Dickson is usually first there, waiting on the club members to arrive. With up to 40 members making the trip to Glasgow, he is eager to get a head start on the road to Paradise. The road to Glasgow from the social club is well tread with the supporters club making the return journey to watch Celtic for the last 17 years.
The Greyfriars Social Club is the perfect venue to kick off the journey, however, for fans not travelling or when the bus is not making the trip to Glasgow the match is usually shown on the club TVs, with bigger games being shown in the main hall with its pull down screen.
The venue is also used for gigs, regularly welcoming the likes of Shebeen, Gary Óg, The Irish Brigade and The Wolfe Tones (who sold out their night in just over a day). As well as bands playing, the club has also welcomed ex-Nottingham Forest and Ireland player Andy Reid, current Celtic manager Neil Lennon and Saw Doctors’ front man Davy Carton to watch Celtic matches.
Michael Dickson went on to explain about his love of Celtic and what makes him go those extra miles to watch his team: “My dad wasn’t really a football fan, so I suppose I have my grandfather to thank for instilling the love of Celtic in my veins. I remember receiving a Celtic jersey as a gift back in 1971, it might have weighed a ton, but I was the proudest boy in Hong Kong, wearing it pretty much everywhere I went.”
Michael explained that living overseas back then meant watching Celtic was more difficult: “The first memory I have of seeing Celtic was when we lost to Burnley in the old Texaco Cup in 1978.” Thankfully that result never tempered that identity Michael feels as a Celtic fan: “The most important thing after family. It’s what we stand for & believe in – a club open to all.”
Perhaps fittingly, the man who drives the supporters bus to Glasgow’s all-time favourite player is Paul McStay – the driving force at the heart of the Celtic midfield his entire career and, of course, a crucial part of the legendary double-winning centenary team in 1988.
The members of the Pride of Erin supporters bus are sure to give you a warm welcome should you be looking for a place to watch the Celtic match the next time you find yourself in Nottingham on match day. You can maybe even pick up a club t-shirt or pin badge to remember your visit.
Club name – Pride of Erin CSC
Location – The Greyfriars Social Club, Gordon Road, Thorneywood, Nottingham, NG3 2LG
Twitter – @poecsc
Facebook – Pride of Erin CSC Nottingham
Merchandise – www.prideoferincsc.bigcartel.com
Martin DonaldsonListen to the award-winning A Celtic State of Mind podcast