When your first memory of watching Celtic on the TV goes back to the early ‘90s at a time when our old city rivals were winning title after title, you might be forgiven for turning your attention to another club. Even more so when you’ve lived in London all your life and the local teams are beginning to capitalise on the influx of cash from Sky TV. Thankfully Tom Gallahue, Chairman of the Hayes Bhoys Celtic Supporters Club, was able see past the big money in the EPL, building on his love of Celtic and being part of a thriving cultural community of Celtic fans in Hayes, near Heathrow airport.
Before wall-to-wall coverage of matches, Tom’s first memory of Celtic was “watching results on Ceefax and buying club magazine The Celtic View after mass on a Sunday.” This was before he started to enjoy the matches live at the clubs in Shepard’s Bush and other Irish areas in London, but these trips around London only inspired him to get a venue set up closer to home.
The Hayes Bhoys began life as the Bobby Murdoch Celtic Supporters Club back on 15 May 2001, but, due to a number of changes at the club, the name has transformed simply to the Hayes Bhoys. They don’t follow the usual club structure, and have no membership fees. This allows regulars and visitors to turn up at Captain Morgans in Hayes to watch all the Celtic matches, and, with thousands through the doors over the last 18 years, this arrangement suits everyone. As there are no overheads, the fans in the bar make donations to the club’s chosen charity throughout the season.
Being close to Heathrow Airport means there are regular trips to Glasgow and beyond to catch Celtic matches. Although the club regulars make their own way to Glasgow, they will always stay in the same hotel uniting under the Hayes Bhoys banner which has International Brigades’ member Bob Doyle proudly displayed in the centre of the flag.
For Tom Gallahue, it’s a far cry from his days as a youngster when his dad wouldn’t let him have a Celtic top: “Being Irish in the ‘80s in London – with bombs going off – my dad had a no colours rule, because if something happens you’ll get the blame.” But like the very history under which Celtic were founded, the politics and culture play an important part of this supporters clubs’ identity too. Tom put it perfectly when he said, “Celtic is the whole package: The music, the culture and the politics. I’ve met some amazing people through the years because of Celtic.”
Tom explained, “We are really fortunate to have some very talented musicians within our ranks at the club, including the founding member of The London Celtic Punks group. We’ve also had regular visits from The Bible Code Sundays and The Wakes,” so you might just catch some traditional Irish music with a twist if you pop in for a match. You can also pick up merchandise when you’re visiting with t-shirts, polos and badges available to order on match days.
The club has welcomed visitors from all walks of life – our greatest ever captain Billy McNeill and fellow Lion Tommy Gemmell were both guests at a special (Tommy) Burns supper. Ex-Celt Niall McGinn and ex-St Pauli player Marcel Egar watched a match or two during their time at Brentford, with Peaky Blinders’ Packy Lee playing another great supporting role.
The club chairman continued about his affection for Celtic: “Taking your children to their first match; it’s a gift that was passed to me and now I’ve been able to pass that on to my kids. Yeah, Celtic are a club and squad of players – but it’s also the people you meet.”
London is a mega city served by a number of different Celtic supporters clubs, so if you find yourself near the Heathrow area you will always be made welcome by the regulars at the Hayes Celtic Supporters Club.
Location – Captain Morgans, Clayton Road, Hayes. (Two minutes’ walk from Hayes station)
Twitter – @hayesbhoys
Facebook – The Hayes Bhoys CSC
Martin DonaldsonListen to the award-winning A Celtic State of Mind podcast