For Celtic fans, Al Jazeera doc is a massive opportunity

By Euan Davidson

February 12, 2021

Celtic fans can be forgiven for feeling a bit lost this year.

Sometimes, the club make such odd decisions, so contrary to what supporters want. We’re a traditionally working-class outfit, but the board charge incredible amounts to watch the team. When fans are campaigning for root-and-branch change at the club and its culture, we are offered a chocolate bar.

Unless you’re a season ticket holder, actually watching matches has been a bizarre, herculean task. And even if you do hold a ticket book, it’s a farce.

So, the opportunity for the fans to be celebrated in some way after a season like this? Hugely welcome, we’re sure. Step forward, Al Jazeera [Daily Record].

The broadcaster, through filmmaker Jamie Doran, are showcasing the history of the Celtic support, and the political causes that mean so much to them. Fans will be hoping for an unflinching, realistic portrayal of what’s important to those who follow Celtic.

The club has won many supporters in the Middle East, after repeatedly demonstrating for rights for Palestinians. Other political items will feature, given that filming took place largely in Belfast, and before the 2019 win over Lazio. On the latter occasion, there was vast anti-fascist demonstration to greet our Europa League opponents.

Celtic fans and Christopher Jullien bask in defeat over Lazio / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

For Celtic fans; an opportunity to be heard

In a strange season like the one we’re seeing, Celtic fans haven’t been heard beyond the shaky walls of social media. Yes, there have been protests outside Celtic Park, but that’s largely because supporters haven’t been allowed inside the ground.

There’s a prevailing sense that the latter would’ve made the former redundant.

So to have a big-name broadcaster documenting the passionate Celtic support, and the causes they care about most, is a genuine opportunity. Our reputation has taken a hammering this year. Any chance to highlight the good things about the Celtic support is a welcome one.

Jamie Doran explained:

“Before making this film, I had been unaware that it was illegal for decades to fly the Irish tricolour in the North [of Ireland].

“The ethos of highlighting the cause of the oppressed that runs through the veins of Celtic fans stems from those roots.

“And however much the current board at Celtic might object to the following comment, the reality is that this is not a football club, it is a ‘movement’.”

A “movement” indeed. For, while the Celtic board may not like it, this football club is a political one. While the club have been dragged from some of its roots by the rampant capitalism of modern football, there is still a passionate fan-base, alert to social and political causes worldwide.

So, we wait in anticipation for Al Jazeera’s documentary. Certainly, we have struggled through myriad problems this season, as supporters. But if we can be cast in a good light to the international community, then it’ll be a tonic after systematic alienation from the decision makers at Celtic Football Club.

ELSEWHERE: Eyes on the prize, Celtic.