Saint Anthonys can also boast supplying Celtic with a number of their most famous players. In the halcyon days of Scottish football senior clubs would send a plethora of scouts around the West of Scotland to look out for the next star player. Given their Catholic roots Celtic always had a fine relationship with both Saint Anthonys and Saint Rochs, who were born of the large Catholic populations in both Govan and the Garngad respectively. At one point the Ants were regarded as a nursery club for Celtic for supplying players on a regular basis.
In the 1920’s the Ants provided Celtic with the clown prince of the time Tommy McInally, who has been likened to a previous version of Bertie Auld, and the prolific goalscorer Jimmy McColl. The quaintly named Seton Airlie and Matt Lynch joined up at Parkhead also during the 1930’s but perhaps the most famous player to have come from the Ants was Bobby Evans. Bobby was one of Celtic’s finest servants with an illustrious career for club and country but it was from Saint Anthonys juniors that he arrived at Parkhead. A huge favourite with the Celtic faithful, Bobby was arguably Celtic’s greatest player of the decade during the 1950’s. The Ants continued to supply many players during the years, the last notable one being Willie O’Neill in the early 1960’s who played a major part in the success of the early Jock Stein years.
The Ants social club at the corner of Helen Street and Edmiston Drive is still fondly remembered by Celtic supporters who enjoyed hospitality (cheap drink) in the club before the short walk to Ibrox before Old Firm games. Celtic supporters’ buses traditionally park all the way down Helen Street and the huge throng of fans clad in green marching past after an Ibrox victory was always a joy to behold and still is to this day, although the visiting Celtic support has been reduced to a mere 7,000 when it was around 40,000 strong in the late 60’s when the pre-all seated Ibrox could still house over 90,000 for an Old Firm match. The Moore Park ground was also notorious for the huge graffiti inside it which said ‘This is Feenyin alley’, a reference to the predominately Catholic Moore Park housing scheme in Govan, more commonly known as Wine Alley, where spelling was obviously not a notable strong point.
Over the years Saint Anthonys have fought out their own little version of the Old Firm derby in Govan where the Ants (the Fancy Pants) play Benburb, commonly known as the ‘Bens’ (the Chooky Hens). St.Anthonys resplendent in their hoops and Benburb always in their Royal blue and white. In later years the Ants were in the public eye again with Tommy Sheridan the noted Socialist MSP turning out for them whilst holding his seat in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.
In 2002 Saint Anthonys celebrated their centenary year and by this time they had moved from their old ground to a fine new home named McKenna Park, on the site of the old 50 pitches football parks in Sheildhall, adjacent to the slip road for the Clyde Tunnel. Despite writing to Celtic to request that the Celts send a token team for their centenary celebrations the Saint Anthonys committee received no satisfaction. Celtic, the club that had benefited from borrowing the Ants’ jerseys would not help their little cousins in their time of need. The best they got at that time was a mention in articles in the Celtic View as Celtic celebrated their ‘100 years of the hoops’ in late 2003.
If anyone from within the hallowed corridors of Celtic Park should read this then let them realise that it is not too late for them to assist and show a tiny amount of appreciation for that junior team inadvertently playing a huge role in our great club’s history. To even send a youth side would be greatly appreciated by the good people who continue to run Saint Anthonys in these difficult times for junior football. Surely it is the least we could do ?
And remember, the next time you pull on that world famous green and white hoped jersey, that it originates from, of all places, a wee corner of Govan.
C’mon the Ants !