This week’s edition of the Green and White of Govan stays firmly focussed on the true heroes of the game.
These are the ones who sacrifice the wage and very often even the wife whilst brazenly disregarding the harshest of weather which is to be experienced following Celtic to the outer reaches of Europe or, even worse, to Pittodrie on a Friday night!
And all of this being done in the good name of Celtic.
These are the supporters who, come hail or shine, home or away, are a mere bus length behind the official chartered flight or luxury coach of the first team.
Brighton CSC – The Winey Bus
The fan focus for this week stays with the supporters buses and will shed light on another of the once 15 strong fleet of Celtic buses which made their pilgrimage to Paradise from the green and white parish of Govan.
Specifically, this edition pays a long overdue and much deserved homage to the undisputed longest running Celtic supporters bus from the greater Govan area, the Brighton Bus.
Originally a ‘Winey Bus’ as it spent most of its time setting off from the Albion Way pub which was the choice of boozer for the Wine Alley punter more often than not.
It should also be known that the Albion was a mere 2 minute saunter from the confines of Rangers’ home, Ibrox stadium, where Broomloan Rd met Woodville St.
The pub was eventually tore apart, brick by brick like the rest of the Winey which went before it, leaving behind only memories and occasionally recognisable street corners where once existed an entire neighbourhood which played host to generations of Winey families like the Monaghans, the Mulcahys or the Cleary’s to name but a few.
Despite this however, the Brighton bus continued on and to this very day ensures that a number of 30 – 40 folk, man and woman alike, make it to the Celtic games as part of the Brighton CSC.
The Original Bus:
60 Years and Counting
Running efficiently since 1958/59 season and taking its name from nearby Brighton Street, the Brighton bus should be regarded as the original bus from the greater Govan area in the sense that it has ran for 60 years without interruption despite some lean and often challenging times.
This is due in no small part to those associated with the bus at an organisation level through the decades, the real troops and lieutenants of the bus.
Men such as Pat Parker (President) Jimmy Hynds, Davie McArthur, Mick Mulcahy, John Mills, Matt Mckenna and one time bus convenor Stevie Monaghan amongst others of which there are too many to mention here in this short piece.
The current President, a man comfortably into his eighth decade, Pat Parker, along with close friend Pat McBarron, are two behemoths of the Brighton bus who were present in its first year and remain actively involved to this day.
Their continued presence adds significant weight to the ‘original’ tag which is associated with the Brighton.
Add to this that both these individuals were physically present at the infamous game against Falkirk in Feb 1953 when Falls Rd born Charlie Tully scored not once, but twice, in non fluke style once after the other direct from a corner kick. As both Pats let me know, they were at the corner flag section of the support when Tully managed this feat of brilliance and flair.
It just doesn’t get much more original than that.
Additionally, one of the members of the bus has also shown me a piece of official Celtic FC history in the shape of an original ‘Brake Club’ supporters banner dating from 1913.
The Brake Club was essentially the supporters club in horse and cart format before cars and buses took over.
I will make much more of the above banner in the next edition of the Green and White of Govan as there is a phenomenal footballing and political context to this banner which must be discussed in greater depth in order for its significance to be fully understood.
As for now, it resides cosily with a Brighton bus man.
Talk about originality – I wonder how many supporters buses of any team can boast of such memorabilia.
The Bold Brighton
The Brighton bus can also boast of a core of pure steel in the sense that, given their recent circumstances, many a bus would long since have folded.
For example, for as long as most can remember, if there exists a Celtic supporters bus then, naturally, there exists a starting off point for the bus which is almost always to be found outside of a local pub.
The Brighton, since the previously mentioned demise of the Albion Way, no longer has this normality and instead leaves for the games from Crossloan Rd some 50 yards outside of the Fairfield Working Mens Club.
It says something of the character and determined longevity of the Brighton bus and their people that it still runs efficiently and successfully even when it has no pub based ‘home’ to speak of.
Without such a solid base there is no set venue for the CSC oriented fundraising nights to exist, no bar for the local punters to prop up who may then, over the course of time, become part of the bus culture or future committee.
No miracle is happening here however, the fact that the Brighton continues to successfully plough on without a pub based home should be viewed, fittingly, as a sign of the indefatigable character of the bold Brighton.
Brighton Bus Tales:
The Bhoy Who Cried Wolf in Seville
One of the pure joys of spending time researching Govan based supporters buses and getting to know the real characters behind them is that some of the fan anecdotes are of the top drawer variety.
This next one is no exception.
Men of the Brighton told me that in Seville where the Brighton presence was strong, despite the obvious carnival style atmosphere and undiluted dreamscape that was the centre of Seville, one severe drawback was the lack of cold beer available.
An obvious annoyance to any Glaswegian never mind one who is in the throes of Celtic induced ecstasy whilst in the Seville heat.
One of the youngsters present however, all 9 years of him to be exact, appeared to have the answer as he yelped, on more than one occasion, that he could,
‘get ye’se cauld booze nae borra!’
Despite such pleas, they were verballed away by the men of the bus who viewed it, understandably, as a battle cry for attention by a ‘wee guy’ trying to become a ‘big man’.
After several more interruptions from the youngster, he was suddenly given the attention he so desired and stated that if they gave him money, he would load up a cargo of booze from the nearby McDonalds.
Cue the slight pause, then loud laughter from the Brighton men who found this to be a funny rather than anything else.
‘Big Macs and fries maybe wee man, but we aw know McDonalds disny sell booze…’
Or so the prevailing wisdom went.
Twenty minutes later however and no one was laughing as, sure as Seville was scorching in brilliant heat, the ‘wee guy’ cut the figure of the big man as he shuffled forward with a couple of ice cold 6 packs plus a few obligatory chicken nuggets for good measure!
After a brief pause the now cult hero of a child was beset by booze requests and was rapidly chaperoned to and fro the alcoholic mecca which McDonalds was to temporarily become.
A Brighton legend was thus made!
The Winey ‘Lap of Honour’
Perhaps the greatest anecdote born of the Brighton bus culture however is of one that involved the silverware won by Celtic in 1965 which came after a period of relative non success.
An anecdote that, as well as being funny and celebratory of the Celtic, also highlights the tremendous sense of community that the Brighton bus encapsulated in relation to the now gone Wine Alley scheme.
As some of the Brighton men told me, in ‘65 they were young Winey kids who were lucky enough to witness the Bus on it’s approach up Broomloan Rd before it turned into the Winey where it would eventually do several ‘laps of honour’ around the scheme.
Imagine the scene:
A slow moving 52 seater bus packed to the gunnels with Winey and Govan Tims as large crowds of local folk gather around the streets and celebrate from their windows and closes whilst others rush from their back courts to join in.
One of the Brighton men who was a boy at the time, Davie McArthur, stated that it was because of such communal spirit and genuinely happy times that,
‘Young boys like us, who had known about the bus since we were weans…we actually ended up growing up on the bus…’
These types of buses, simply put, are pure community.
As much as Celtic have long been associated with the ‘more than a club’ tagline, it is stories and quotes such as those shown above which highlight that CSCs like the Brighton are perhaps actually more than merely a bus.
Additionally, the Brighton bus proves itself to be more than just a ‘supporters bus’ in the cultural sense also.
For example, it was always, and to a large extent still is, a rallying point for members who still identify as part of the Tim aligned community specific to the Wine Alley area of greater Govan.
For as much as the Brighton plays host to 30-40 physical Tim souls on that bus each week, there is also a spirit of the now gone Wine Alley community which is kept alive within it also.
Celtic FC has a long, unbroken and proud history when it comes to its community focussed fan and supporters club culture and it’s buses such as the Brighton, in its 60th year, which helps to create and sustain this.
In the current days of social media or forum based fan analysis set against the backdrop of digital TV subscription packages then it can seriously be argued that the still thriving bus culture of our CSCs is something of a minor miracle.
Although the fan bus culture may be more of an endangered species today than at any other point in its history, it will never ever die out and will always have a pivotal role to play in the communal based support of the team.
So, here’s to one of these excellent buses, the Brighton, which has been both keeping the faith and celebrating the Winey community in its Tim context since 1958/59.
Here’s to the next 60 years Bhoys!
Thanks for reading folks.
– The Emerald Celtic Banner from Govan (1913)
– The Glasgow Irish and political context in 1913-16