Their name derives from the generally left-wing associated term for colleague or ally, however the group decided early on due to their preferences and to differentiate themselves that the group was to be apolitical. The Green Brigade in contrast are avowedly left-wing. Despite the decision to be apolitical, the name of the group remains as “The Comrades” as it has connotations beyond any political boundaries and reflects perfectly on the aims of the group.
Their inaugural match was a league game v Aberdeen at home in season 2009-10. Things couldn’t have been better for the group with many applauding their initial efforts to on singing and create some atmosphere.
As for the group’s aims? Simple, they wish simply to help re-build the atmosphere which at the games (bar European & Old Firm) that has become moribund. No other agenda! The success of the Green Brigade has gathered great attention, and there is room for more groups to assist in the task. The Jungle Bhoys have sadly had minimal impact prior to the formation of “The Comrades” with respect to a singing section and hopefully The Comrades can boost the efforts in the ground.
The group are based in the Jock Stein stand at the opposite end to the Green Brigade. From there, they hope to build a strong group of people in order to create a hub from which others can join in with the rest to create a rousing atmosphere which people will love to talk about with their friends and family long after the match is over. In season 2010, they are based in section 122 as allocated by the club (Green Brigade are over in section 111). In time they were joined by members of the Jungle Bhoys to help bolster numbers, which has made it more a section for all Celtic supporters rather than one group alone.
In truth, at time of writing as much as they have had some limited success with their numbers, it’s lower than hoped. The problem is that the head-start and rapid success of the Green Brigade has attracted people to move over to their section as against joining a start-up section amongst the Comrades. However, numbers will hopefully come. In the early days, the group was joined by the Rude Bhoys in their section but they were offered to move in with the Green Brigade and a number of their members have chosen to do so. The Comrades have generally had a good rapport with the Rude Bhoys.
Some sadly perceive the group as just a ‘watered down version of the Green Brigade’ who are far longer established and have gained a great following but that’s not fair. The Comrades have been going for a shorter period. The singing should not to be consigned to one corner of the ground, and all work to promote the match-day atmosphere across the ground and must surely be supported. There is more than enough room for different groups at the club, and it’s a good issue to have these groups amongst the support helping in the efforts for making the match-day experience special. On the continent, where organised fan participation is longer established, there are usually groups on both ends of the grounds and they work off of each other. Maybe in time that can happen at Celtic Park also.
One element that they have brought in is by employing a “Capo”, this element is quite new to the Celtic supporting experience but is common in matches on the continent. Basically, one person stands with his back to the match for most of the match and orchestrates chants and songs amongst his section of the crowd. This has also been taken up by the Green Brigade who are using it with great success. Hopefully, the Capo can see more of the game than we believe he does. They also have used a drum to get a beat going with the singing, you simply can’t miss it!
As is practical for any group, a large signature banner is mandatory, in order to promote themselves. Their first big banner was a simple one with “Comrades” and a picture of Che Guevera, but after the decision to be apolitical the Che Guevera part was cut. Fair enough, but throwing the political baggage out the window, it was back to the drawing board. You will easily see their main banner in the ground at the back of their section and in time will be a familiar sight for all fans. Add in all the other flags and displays and hopefully it will be a great sight to see at matches.
Sadly there has been some unwanted friction with certain of the stewards, however this is hoped to be ironed out in time. All that can be asked for is some patience and co-operation from all, as we all want what is best for the club and supporters. The Comrades simply wants to make the match day experience something to treasure. If you have any wish to get involved then go over to the section with your pals or by yourself and join in the fun.
The group can be easily contacted on their forum at: http://www.celticcomrades09.proboards.com/index.cgi.