How Celtic fans can support the club that gave us James McGrory

When ACSOM was given the absolute honour of selecting a Celtic side to face St Roch’s in their centenary match, no-one could have predicted just how many ex-Celts and celebrity fans would be willing to answer the call.

Scott Brown, Neil Lennon, Charlie Mulgrew and Didier Agathe all agreed to play but unforseen circumstances and other commitments prevented that illustrious group of players from making it on the day (we’ll get them in for the next game).

The Celtic Select side was still a star-studded lineup, though, with a host of former players from the eighties, nineties, and noughties joining talents from the world of music and politics.

Tickets for Sunday’s big match at James McGrory Park sold out in 48 hours, with nearly 30,000 also tuning into the game on A Celtic State of Mind’s YouTube channel:

This game was organised to commemorate the 2020 centenary of St Roch’s, with it being delayed by three years due to the pandemic.

Even though Celtic famously “don’t play friendlies,” there was an air of exhibition about Sunday’s encounter. One of the guest players was none other than ACSOM’s very own Jerry Taylor, who had this to say after the game:

“I think it was a tighter game than many would have expected. For all that the Celtic Select had in talent and experience, St Roch’s had age on their side.

“I’m used to performing in front of a theatre crowd but the atmosphere on Sunday was completely different. As a showman, I was looking forward to playing up to the crowd and putting on a good show. Unfortunately, the ref took that the wrong way and booked me!

“I was really looking forward to playing on the same pitch as Scott McDonald, who performed really well on the day. To play in the same team as all of those ex-Celts was such a privilege and it is an experience that I will never forget.

“It was my dream to be Celtic’s super-sub, coming off the bench to make a few world-class saves before running up the park to score the winning header from a corner. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.”

St Roch’s went into the game arguably the fitter of the two teams, and they had familiarity on their side when you consider that some of the Celtic players hadn’t seen each other in 30 years! The home side won, perhaps fittingly, by 4 goals to 3, but it was the strengthening of the links between the two clubs that was the real

St Roch’s have been described as, “The St Pauli of junior football,” so their appreciation among those of a Celtic persuasion should come as no surprise to most. But the St Roch’s connection goes far deeper than that.

“And they gave us James McGrory…” as the old song goes, and we should be eternally grateful for that. The club were also promised by Celtic Chairman, Sir Robert Kelly, many years later that, “As long as there is a Celtic, there will be a St Roch’s.”

As well as British football’s most prolific goal scorer, many other ex-Celts have turned out for The Candy over the years – Dom Sullivan, Frank and Jim Brogan, Tony McBride and Shanty Ferry to name a few – and Lisbon Lion Willie O’Neill also managed the side for a spell, but the appeal of St Roch’s goes wider than the football.

With the club’s centenary celebrations now complete, one thing that will continue during these times of high anxiety and fear of the unknown, is ‘Roch Talk’. This pivotal community initiative helps those suffering from mental health issues and it takes place every Sunday at James McGrory Park.

If you’ve never been to the Royston Road park, why not go to a game, buy some merchandise, and support the club that gave us James McGrory?


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