The Clover Collection

When I was on a recent History Bhoys Abroad podcast, one of the things I was asked was to choose my three more subtle important Celtic games. Games that stand out for me as being significant, but often overlooked.

Two of them were under Martin O’Neill. One was a game against Dundee that set up clinching the title in 2000/01, and one was a draw against Hearts that kept our unbeaten run going in my favourite season of 2003/04.

But the third had very little to do with what Ronny Deila’s Celtic were doing on the park against Kilmarnock.

Two years ago, a number of Celtic fan groups came together under the banner of Walfrid’s Legacy. 100 years on from his death, the idea was to once again help out those who were in need by running a foodbank drive – one that would help stock up not just the local Glasgow North-East Foodbank, but to stock up many others in the surrounding areas. If they could get transport to Celtic Park, they were going back with a full car!

I had been intending to go along to the game, but when I dropped off my bags I ended up hanging around to help for a bit. “For a bit” soon turned into helping out instead of going to the game, and I’m glad I did because I saw some of the best of what Celtic has to offer. If we’re more than a club, this was the night I truly saw what that meant. Not just coins but notes being stuffed into buckets, more filled bags than transport to take it away, and plenty of hands to help organise it all along the way.

An estimated £30,000 worth of food and a further £3,000 worth in cash donations was collected that night, a phenomenal amount I’m sure you’ll all agree.

I wrote a long blog about it on my own blog afterwards if you’re interested in the details, but now is not the time to dwell on the past. Two years on, society is no closer to no longer needing foodbanks than it was then, and that’s a disgrace that needs long term focus aimed at all our levels of government.

But in the short term, with the full backing of the Celtic FC Foundation and in conjunction with Glasgow North East Foodbank and Calton Parkhead Church of Scotland, the upcoming Kilmarnock game will give us the opportunity to help the foodbanks once again.

Just as was the case two years ago, the Kerrydale Clover will be the focus of the foodbank collection. One remarkable image that will live with me forever from Walfrid’s Legacy was walking back round from bucket collecting at the Jock Stein stand to find that clover virtually full of bags, and I for one would love to see that happen again.

The collection will benefit a number of foodbanks local to Glasgow and the surrounding area, including Airdrie, Carluke, Coatbridge, Drumchapel and Renfrewshire. With a 3pm kick off against Kilmarnock, the collection starts at 12 and will be there right up until kick off.

And then if it’s anything like two years ago, the duration of the game will see a lot of organising and loading of vans! These foodbank collections don’t just organise themselves you know! Some people donate items, others donate their time and their resources to help make the collections run smoothly.

That aspect should not be underestimated. Transport, storage, leaflets, posters, bags for life, all of these things are needed to help spread the word and make the logistics of a collection work.

And it’s in that area that the people involved with this collection would like to improve for future endeavours. For as great as it is to help out the local area, the Celtic support are far wider spread than the west of Scotland. For a 3pm Saturday game, you can bet a large contingent will come over from Ireland and they’ll be contributing to the collection like everyone else. So wouldn’t it be great if they could return with some of the collection? After all, Ireland has its issues with poverty just as Scotland does.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t the resource to do that at the moment. Storage is a major issue, and while the church does its bit there’s a limit to what they can achieve. However, thanks to the assistance of the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs, there are plans to separately purchase items locally once they’re safely back home.

Clearly there is always room for improvement with events like these, and those involved will continue to strive for that. But they need help to do it. As I said, the success of these events is down to the donation of resources as much as it is the donation of food. The plans for Ireland are a great addition, but it would be great to see more progress made there in time.

Hopefully while all this is going on, just like two years ago, it will be a resounding victory for Celtic! Although this time it would be nice if we didn’t have to come from behind to do it!

As we were being held by Partick Thistle on Wednesday night, Kilmarnock were playing out a goalless draw at home. The gap between them remains at four points, and with just two games left before the split it means Kilmarnock will have to take something at Celtic Park to have any chance of making the top six.

What team we’ll see out on the park remains to be seen, but they’ll be keen not to drop points in two consecutive matches, even if the title has been wrapped up already. I’m sure Brendan Rodgers will have seen things on Wednesday night that need worked on.

But as much as I obviously hope Celtic win, just like two years ago I’m even more interested in success outside the ground.

So if you’re going along the game, please consider what you can donate. The main collection point is at the Kerrydale Clover next to the Celtic Way, but there are further collection points at either end of Janefield Street. Everything is welcome, including simply financial donations, but the following list is what’s really needed.

  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned custard/rice
  • Pasta sauces
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Cereals
  • Tinned fish
  • Tinned vegetables
  • UHT milk
  • UHT juice
  • Sugar – 500g
  • Toiletries (Unisex)
  • Larger sized nappies/wipes

And if you can think of any other way to contribute to future collections, or perhaps you are considering plans to help benefit foodbanks in your local area far from Glasgow, then please get in touch with the Celtic FC Foundation. I’m sure they’ll be only too happy to help out where possible.

With Walfrid’s anniversary once again on the horizon, this looks like it may well become an annual event. How successful and widespread that will be, will be up to us as Celtic fans the world over.

Krys (Twitter @krys1888)

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