• Matt Olsen

An Old Firm derby with the Celtic fans adoring Ange's reign down under

For the Perth Celtic Supporters Club, the latest Old Firm derby in Scotland, the second under Ange Postecoglou, was moved from a kick-off time at around 8pm locally to 3:45am.


Therefore, the events which unfolded yesterday morning were nothing short of memorable and heartwarming, as Celtic thrust into a 3-0 victory over their fierce rivals Rangers.


Front Page Football caught up with Brian Doherty of Perth CSC before watching the game alongside some undeterred Celtic supporters who were in for an unforgettable few hours.

Doherty, an Australian citizen, first discussed how he began to follow Celtic.


"I grew up under [the] influence from my family, who were supporters of Belfast Celtic if you know what happened with them," he said, referring to the brutal 1949 dissolution of the club.


"My parents and uncles were big fans of them upon the team dissolving, and they moved to support Glasgow Celtic. They came over on cattle boats to watch them play."


Inspiring enough was the response, given the mood in the pub at this time. With it being derby day, Doherty touched on the culture of the club and Celtic's catholic heritage.


"Honestly, the club is all about social values, helping the poor especially; that's what we were founded on," he added.


"All this about Catholicism, you won't hear any of it with us; it's a thing of the past. We help the poor, spread [the] message of anti-racism and [instil] other progressive values that the club has. Even our fan group is donating to the poor."


The social values are worth exploring, as no doubt Celtic, like many others, explore charitable means. But their manager now binds the Australian community with Celtic by being an immigrant to Australia himself.


Inclusion and diversity are elements that many members of Perth CSC take pride in showcasing. The conversation with Doherty then segued to Postecoglou and the style of play at the club.


"The Lisbon Lions, a legendary Champions League-winning side of 1966, played such an open, attacking style. It's the Glasgow Celtic way, we sing about it, and as an Aussie fanbase, we knew that's what Ange would offer. We all knew what would happen," Doherty said.


The Lisbon Lions are a legendary team; there is no denial of fact on that. Doherty's comparisons with Celtic sides of the past and his praise for Ange was fascinating.


He's certainly a man intent on this club staying at the top, where they belong, but who did Doherty idolise whilst following Celtic for the best part of 40 years?


"Paul McStay and Henrik Larsson were the heroes for me. Henrik was an international player that was an easy favourite. McStay was a one-club man who could have gone on to better things but was Celtic through and through," he said.


McStay made over 500 appearances for the club. It remained the only club he ever played for, which is certainly unheard of in the modern era of football.


As kick-off edged closer, we needed to chat about one last thing; Rangers and the match ahead. This discussion was where the consensus was pretty evident.


"The Old Firm does not exist anymore; this club was founded in 2012. Rangers are born from hatred of us; they're all about sectarianism and these stereotypes, which is why their fans started supporting them," Doherty added.


"For us, we've moved on. We value social values, and things like religion won't matter. They first signed a Catholic in 1989. That's fucked up, and for us, that's the difference."


And his thoughts pre-match?


"The current state of the clubs is dead even, and anything will happen this morning, form goes out the window. I had a bet on 3-0, but that's just the bravado. It will be an even game," he said.

Celtic took the game to Rangers almost immediately and never looked back. (Getty Images)


Little did Doherty know just how correct that would turn out.


The onslaught started with a quickfire goal from Reo Hatate after just 5 minutes, sending the 70 odd fans in Perth into absolute raptures. Before we knew it, more would come.


Hatate scored again in the 42nd, after what should be noted as a dominant period from Celtic, orchestrated by the collective's quick passing and accurate shooting, and notably the Japanese midfielder.


This dominance was topped off in the 44th minute, as Israeli star Liel Abada scored a third just before halftime.

Once halftime came, and I took in the environment around the pub, I noticed something happening.


It was bizarre. At 3-0 against the old enemy, all the fans had their drinks set in, perhaps having then realised the gravity of the situation.


But some people wanted to wish you a blessing and talk about their links to God, Ireland, and Irish culture.


Songs began being sung around the venue about the Irish culture, including the republic's anthem; A Soldiers Song. The Perth Celtic fans did this singing alongside other cultural references to wartime Ireland and Great Britain.


That’s perhaps what’s so beautiful about Celtic and its fans. Most of them involved in Perth CSC care little for social politics and religion.


But as their biggest passion in life, the club brings them closer to the reality of who they are and how they should celebrate their place in the world.


Whilst Doherty and others may believe that this club stands for progressive values and that sectarianism is a thing of the past, the vibe in the pub after 45 minutes told me a very different story.


The reality is that it is probably a delicate blend of both, and there is no better example of this than Ange Postecoglou himself.


"I have strong values. I'm not just about football, but life in general. All [of] those values are deeply rooted in what my father passed on to me," Postecoglou said in his first press conference at Celtic.


"We were immigrants to a foreign land, we didn't know the language, we didn't know a soul, yet my father forged a life and an opportunity for me. Now 55 years later, I'm halfway around the world living my dream."


That is what Celtic means, and the way it is unfolding, the philosophy of gratefulness and honour may lift them to their eighth title of the Scottish Premiership's modern era.


Celtic and Ange Postecoglou may still be chasing the Scottish Premiership title, but they already claimed one trophy this season, which you can read more about by clicking here.