The Rare Aul’ Times
“Ye see, it wisnae just a bus fulla Celic fans, it was a community. A real community. Ah mean, ye actually grew up oan that bus.”
Above is a quote from a seasoned Tim from the unfairly labelled Wine Alley (Moorpark) area, once of greater Govan, just off Broomloan Road.
Now home to a business park, the Winey was a working class scheme designed by urban planners with little to no regard for those cut from the labouring class cloth. It was known as a rehousing scheme according to sociologist and public housing expert, Seán Damer, who writes extensively about working class housing in his excellent book, ‘Scheming’ (2018).
These public housing schemes which began from 1925 came in three varieties:
‘Rehousing’ schemes, such as the Winey and Blackhill, was for those still trapped in Victorian overcrowded slum areas like the Gorbals.
‘Intermediate’ schemes, like West Drumoyne (South of Shieldhall Road), were the in-between housing schemes which included some labourers and some skilled workers.
‘Ordinary’ schemes, like Mosspark, Riddrie and Drumoyne. These were actually extra ordinary and elite level housing which few actual working class folk could afford. So the housing went to councillors, managers and white collar workers generally.
Drumoyne, from the Bowling Club, c1930 (Vrtual Mitchell)
Working class Catholics and Tims a plenty were noticeable by their absence in the early life of the elite housing schemes although this was not because they were excluded by an anti Catholic tenanting policy by the Council. The Tims were routinely excluded from many skilled industries and thus didn’t have the wage to afford such housing and rents as historians like Billy Kennefick have previously noted. Consequently, the number of Irish migrants or their Scots born children such as the Glasgow Irish, were found in higher numbers in the poorer of these housing schemes.
However, the residents of these ordinary schemes were not too bothered by the absence of Catholics, as Damer’s research uncovers when he spoke to an original tenant of the Mosspark scheme,
“Mr. R (original Mosspark resident): The members of the Bowling Club before the war were elderly men, all good businessmen, all good types for the Club…There was only one Catholic in the club until well after the war. That’s what spoiled Mosspark”
‘Clearly, this member is making the risible proposition that the presence of Catholics was responsible for the decline and fall of Mosspark’
(S. Damer, ‘Scheming’, Edinburgh, 2018, pg. 22)
Therefore it can be argued that plenty of 20thC Tims have come from the more harsher of social backgrounds, whether through economic exclusion or indirect and unintentional social housing ‘apartheid’.
‘Wine Alley’ Tims and the CSC Bus Culture
One of the tragedies of the rehousing schemes was the harsh and needless application of derogatory labels attached to them, typically by the media or ignorant others. The Wine Alley is one such example. Indeed, there are far too many who think they know all about the Winey’s and the Blackhill’s of this dear green place but they actually know little beyond what the negative label suggests.
Bastardising publications by the printed media (particularly the Govan Press of the 1930s) and the skewed views of former police chiefs and Glaswegian gossips alike, meant that the blackest of black marks would remain firmly, yet unfairly, attached to the Winey until it’s eventual demolition over a generation ago.
From the Tim perspective, ignorance regarding the Winey usually manifests itself in the form of many a good Tim thinking that the Wee Broomloan Road scheme was a blue nose den given its proximity to Ibrox stadium which was only yards away.
Image of the Winey, 1971 – Private collection digitised from S. Damer’s earlier research within the area (1971)
In its heyday however, the Winey actually boasted one dedicated Celtic supporters bus, a Republican Flute Band (Govan Shamrock aka the Shammy Army) and a number of Tim families such as the Monaghan’s, Mulcahy’s and the Coyne family – indeed it was the Winey that produced future Celtic and ROI striker Tommy Coyne.
The opening quote tells us just how significant the Celtic bus culture was to the thousands of fans who frequented it over the years. This is true of the Winey bus as much as it was, and still is, for many of the Tim buses UK and Ireland wide. And how we have missed it this year. The sad and empty terracing of stadia serve as a stark reminder of just how significant the fans are for our beautiful game.
The infamous CSC bus of the Winey – the Govan Brighton bus (1958) – became famed for its lap of honour around the Broomloan Rd scheme whenever Celtic won a Cup or clinched the title. A toot, toot followed by a Hail Hail from those within the bus and those doing the windae ‘hing from the tenements.
The Bus and The Community
Although the quote provides a personal viewpoint, it speaks for thousands of Celtic bus regulars with the talk of community and ‘growing up’ on the bus. The supporters bus taught the young Tim about the norms and values of what it meant to be part of their particular branch of the Celtic troop – pure culture and socialisation as much as it was anything else. And it will all be once again, as a post Covid world slowly opens back up.
When I carried out some oral history of the CSC bus culture of Govan, I found out that some of the buses were more political than others. Some were ‘dry’ whilst others flowed like the Nile with El D et al. Some were mini-vans masquerading as buses whilst others were coaches with all the mod-cons. Indeed, at the turn of the 20thC it was the horse drawn Brake Club that was the forerunner of the bus, as Iain McCallum has extensively written about in the latest instalment of his Glasgow Irish series of books.
From the late 19thC to the present day, the coaches have differed in many ways but they were all a common vehicle for solidarity and pure Tim community nonetheless. The one ever-constant about all of their shared experiences of ‘being on the bus’ was clear however: it was the undeniable sense of belonging. A belonging to a proud and for so long a censored and diluted community within Scotland. Tims who bled green and were proud of their teams Irish roots.
For these folk – the Glasgow Irish – the fixtures may have been away, but the bus always felt like home.
*This article is an updated version of the article produced for the Alternative View Fanzine (Jan 2021)