I’m likely going to get slated for this, but here goes.
While living in America many folk asked me about my “soccer team”, they would ask:
"Who do you support?"
"Why do you support them?"
"Isn’t there a lot of trouble between them?"
"Why don’t you like them?"
"Who the HELL are the Harry Wraggs?"
"Oh, I’ve never heard of them before!"
(When I say support, I’m actually translating – American's tend to ask "who do you root for?’" – because that’s no weird)
Sometimes it was good to wind folk up and maybe over exaggerate some myths but other times, when I was being sincere in my responses, people just didn’t get it.
So I have devised a way in which I think I can make the global populace understand how football in Glasgow works. It may even be an indication of the team that you would support (or for the Americans out there – root for!), if you were visiting our 'dear green place'.
THE THOUGHT PROCESS
This idea came to me while I was watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (great movie, I would highly recommend it) and playing Harry Potter trivial pursuit with my Mum – as you do! We all have something we geek out on, so don’t judge.
My Mother has never watched anything Hobbit or Lord of the Rings related so I spent most of my time explaining that there are Dwarves, Orcs, Hobbits, Elves and Men.
Now while I was explaining all the ins and outs of who's bad and who's good, who desires what, who likes who, and why do we not like them – it got me thinking.
Similar to The Hobbit, the Harry Potter franchise and its characters, belong to a distinct group. In the world of Harry Potter, students belong to a house. There are 4 different house groups at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, namely: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin.
Students at Hogwarts are placed into a house by the sorting hat; now the important thing here is that the sorting hat doesn’t select students based on the qualities they possess, but by the qualities they admire.
I may have lost some of you, but I promise I’ll turn this around.
Like the Hogwarts houses there are 4 main football clubs in Glasgow. And each one possesses its own unique qualities and values. We have Celtic, Partick Thistle, Queens Park and Rangers. And believe me, they all share a commonality with a Hogwarts House.
GLASGOW, FOOTBALL AND MY HOGWARTS HOUSE THEORY
CELTIC FOOTBALL CLUB - GRYFFINDOR HOUSE
Brave, daring and the lion mascot kind of helps too; Celtic shares an affinity with Gryffindor house.
Not only is it the house everybody wants to be in, but it’s the house (that in the movies at least) seems to always win. That's a common theme if I've ever heard one.
PLEASE NOTE THE BLOG IS CALLED CELTIC UNITED SO THERE WILL BE SOME BIAS HERE.
“And Celtic *coughs*, I mean Gryffindor lift the house cup!” – Professor Dumbledore, The Great Hall, 1991
In 1967 Celtic took Europe by storm, playing “pure, beautiful, inventive football”, they came back to Glasgow as heroes becoming the first British team to lift the European Cup. It was bold and fearless.
Celtic had done what no British football club had done before and they did it with a team that consisted of 11 men who lived within 30 miles from their home ground (Parkhead).
Celtic Football Club is recognised as a strong representation of Glasgow's, and widely Scotland’s, Irish community. The club itself was founded in 1888 to serve the purpose of providing charity to the Irish immigrants who set up new homes in Glasgow’s East End. As history will tell you the Irish community is one which serves as a minority in Scotland, and the new immigrants were met with hostility and aversion.
Courage in the face of hardship, poverty, exclusion, bigotry and prejudice is the quality which best describes Celtic Football Club. And as such, it is simple to sort Celtic into Gryffindor house, a house which wholeheartedly supported the inclusion of muggle-born students at Hogwarts School.
SIDE NOTE: A 'muggle-born', or a 'mud-blood', are words that refers to a witch or wizard who is born to two non-magical parents. Also note that these are derogatory terms used in the Wizarding World. Mud-bloods and muggle-borns are deemed to be lesser than a 'pure-blood', which is a term for a witch or wizard who claims to have no muggle-borns in their family tree. I realise if you're no a fan of the franchise then this is probably a lot of information to digest but it is relevant to Celtic's origins as a club who stood for the Irish 'outcasts' in Glasgow.
Comparisons can be drawn between the muggle-born community in the Wizarding World and the Irish immigrant community who made an attempt to integrate into Scottish society in the late 19th century as both were met with strong opposition.
(In the Wizarding World a giant snake - Basilisk - was sent to petrify them. In Glasgow posters were plastered over the walls of most work places stating 'No Irish Need Apply'.)
PARTICK THISTLE - HUFFLEPUFF HOUSE
This one’s easy.
Partick Thistle would, without doubt, be sorted into Hufflepuff house.
“You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true,
And unafraid of toil.”
The Jags haven’t won a major trophy in 47 years; last wining the League Cup in 1971.
To be a Thistle supporter requires patience, resilience, think skin, stickability and a sense of humour. Anyone lacking these qualities should never aspire to be a Thistle fan.
The traits of a Hufflepuff are simple: be hardworking, friendly, honest, and loyal. Take a jaunt to Firhill and you will find this in abundance.
Thistle fans will be there lose, draw or lose. I’m joking! There are some occasions when Thistle win. But the unpredictability of the club is what makes the supporters come back for more. One week Thistle will lose heavily to a team sitting bottom of the table, and the following week they’ll beat the league leaders.
Or the classic; they’ll hammer a team 5-0 one week, then the following week lose by the same scoreline to the same team. But who cares!? Regardless of the score line, no matter where they finish in the league and if they never win a trophy again; those loyal, cheerful, patient and dogged Thistle supporters will always be there to cheer on the mighty Harry Wraggs (Jags)!
QUEENS PARK - RAVENCLAW HOUSE
This one is even easier.
“Intelligent? Knowledgeable? Witty? …. You must be a Ravenclaw.”
Indeed, there is only one house sufficient enough to host The Spiders.
They are the pioneers of the Scottish game, indeed the global game as we know it! Inventors of the cross-bar, the free-kick and the half-time break (which ipso facto created the perfect opportunity for a half-time pie and bovril). AND THAT'S WHY WE LOVE YOU QPFC!!
Innovators of the passing game, they had a huge impact on the technical movement, style and science behind our beautiful game.
Easy one for the auld sorting hat.
RANGERS FOOTBALL CLUB - SLYTHERIN HOUSE
“Those cunning folk use any means, to achieve their ends.", said the Sorting Hat.
Indeed, the wee bunnet was right! They did try everything. "Got themselves locked up in Azkaban for it" (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban reference for you there).
No look, nobody went to jail but Rangers did get sent down to the third division for financial doping.
Students from Slytherin are known for three main traits: cunning, resourcefulness and ambition. The ambition shines through among Rangers supporters in that they willed their team on to make it back to the top division with three promotions in just four years. Ambition is also highlighted in the Rangers supporters claim that they are the most successful club in the world having secured 54 domestic league titles (a feat that the old club achieved).
I spoke earlier about muggle-borns, mud bloods and pure-bloods. Well Slytherin's founder Salazar Slytherin valued and favoured pure-blood students above all else. In fact a muggle-born student representing Slytherin House is considered to be pretty rare.
The comparison to be drawn here is that it has been well documented that Rangers Football Club had for many years operated an unwritten rule whereby the club would not sign any player who was known to be a Catholic. Not only were the club not signing Catholic players but if players of the Protestant faith had been found to have married a Catholic then life at Ibrox, the club's stadium, would be made awkward for them and many players left under the hostile conditions.
This seedy and common practice used up until the 1980s really draws comparisons to Slytherin's high value of pure-blood students and exclusion of muggle-born students.
And there you have it folks my Hogwarts House Theory, that will probably land me in the looney bin for even attempting to draw comparisons between our national pastime and children's fiction.
Write some comments below and let me know what you think.
Also I reckon J. K. Rowling has spent some time on the terrace, so if we can get this wee article to her that would be magical! Or it could be a terrible nightmare in which the greatest writer of our generation rips my work to shreds.
Supporter of Glasgow Celtic, member of United Glasgow FC and a keen writer.
"The day that I decided, you're the best team I ever seen"