Over 10,000 miles away, amongst the sun-kissed streets of New South Wales in Australia, you will find the Sydney Celtic Supporters Club. Set up in 1984, this CSC forms part of a vibrant community of Hoops fans on the other side of the globe. Colin McRobbie, a former committee member of the Supporters Club, gave me an insight into a match day experience in Sydney.
The supporters club show all matches available on Celtic TV to around 70 – 100 members from their base in Cheers Bar. Visitors to Sydney looking to catch the big match are welcome to join the regulars, although you might need to book ahead to make sure there is space, especially for bigger games. You can stay behind after the match and enjoy some live music with plenty of Celtic songs thrown in. The time difference means its difficult to watch the European nights, with 5 a.m. local time kick-off. However, this maybe evens out when you have the option to watch the Glasgow Derby and cup finals from 9 p.m. onwards.
It costs $60 to join the club, which entitles members to a t-shirt, discount in Cheers bar, an invite to the Christmas BBQ, and a reduction on the yearly harbour cruise celebrations. There is also a good range of merchandise on offer for visitors to take home with them. Due to logistics and the huge amount of travelling involved, the club don’t organise any trips to Scotland for matches, but that didn’t stop the members taking in the game the last time we played in Sydney, with a few members following Celtic on every step of their Australian tour.
The Scottish game is beginning to get more coverage from overseas TV stations and the access to Celtic TV means the reliance on making it to the supporters club is not as great as it was before. However, when the big games are on, the club is the only place to watch the match. The obvious benefits of going to the club include catching up with mates and members, but occasionally celebrities may walk through the door too. Jim Kerr enjoyed the hospitality on a visit to Sydney and the two statesmen of Glasgow comedy – Billy Connolly and Kevin Bridges – have also mixed with the fans in Cheers bar to get behind the hoops. Also, with Shane Warne spotted in a Celtic shirt recently, the world famous Australian spin bowler might be looking for somewhere to watch the game.
With European qualifying kicking off so early now, the likelihood of Celtic arranging a tour of Australia is unlikely, but with a big support spread across the country, Colin McRobbie would love to see the boys back in action again in his adopted home. If you look closely you will even find a few shops that stock the Celtic Jersey for those fans looking for a piece of the club.
Born in Glasgow, Colin has an affection for Celtic that goes back to 1971 when he watched footage of Celtic taking on Ajax in the European Cup. Although Celtic did not progress from that match, his close love of the club hasn’t wavered. Going to watch Celtic more regularly in the late ‘70s, Colin loved the heart and desire of the late Tommy Burns, “He is everything you want in a Celtic Player, his skills as well as the person he was.”
A 20,000-mile round trip means catching a Celtic match has proved elusive since moving to Australia 13 years ago. Having come home to visit friends and family in Scotland twice, on both occasions Celtic were away from home and he couldn’t get a ticket. However, a journey planned at Christmas time in 2019 should yield a couple of matches including a Glasgow Derby.
No matter if visiting Glasgow or living back in Sydney, Celtic continues to be a focal point for Colin and members of the Sydney City CSC.
If you are in Sydney during the football season, you can get in contact with Sydney City CSC at: Cheers Bar, 561 George Street, Sydney or on Facebook at: Sydneycitycsc.