Meet The Founder Of Ladies Recreational Football

This post was originally meant to come up on Monday, but as anyone who follows me on Instagram might have noticed, I broke my thumb during football practice a week ago and had to have surgery on Tuesday. This has greatly decreased my ability to write and, to be honest, the first few days I’ve just been taking it easy and enjoyed being taken care of. But now I’m here! Arm in a cast but otherwise good.

This time I’ve been chatting with Kirsten Sinclair. She is the founder of Ladies Recreational Football, a club that gets together on Tuesday evenings (19:00-20:00) at Glasgow Green, where they play football and enjoy the company. They also organise other events, for example they’ll be hosting a 5 a side football tournament on June 9 with an event at the Women’s Library afterwards. For more information, check out their Facebook page! So make sure to save the date for a Saturday full of football and fun.

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– How did the Ladies Recreational Football start?

Kirsten: Probably about 2009, I was in Edinburgh with a group of friends. We were just having a kick about in the park, it was coming up to winter and they said ‘oh, we’re just gonna have to wait now until spring’ and I said ‘well, that’s a shame. Why don’t we try and get like a sports centre’ but the trouble with that is, you wouldn’t get the same numbers every week. So, at the time, I was in touch with LGBT health and they had some funding, so I asked them if it was possible to set up a women’s recreational football group in Edinburgh, to begin with. So they gave us some funding, just to pay for a pitch for a couple of months, and then I applied towards for all. We managed to get a grant that kept it going. So that’s the Amazing Gracies in Edinburgh. I was with them for about three years and then I got the chance to go and work in Australia, so I left the Gracies.

But when I came back, I thought ‘I wonder if there’s something in Glasgow’ and I couldn’t find anything apart from United Glasgow and I thought that, I know they’ve got the drop in, it still seemed to be geared towards putting people towards a league side, and I thought ‘there’s maybe still a gap for people that just are a bit less confident’ so that was really the reason for setting up this recreational football. So in July [last year] I did a survey and people said yes, I must’ve had about 40 people saying that they would be up for it, and I just asked them where they would like to play. And that was it! So I booked it, promoted it like mad, and LEAP Sports were brilliant with the promotion as well as the Women’s library and the libraries, I just went around and did leaflets and a Facebook campaign. On the first night, we were really lucky because 14 folks came along, and it’s been going since! So we just gradually tried to, try the Thursday night, try Sundays, try to get friendlies, keep in touch with United Glasgow for any friendlies with them and tournaments. It has just been great, it’s a lovely group of women and it’s just a laugh, that’s the main thing about it. It takes the emphasis away from having any kind of competitive ability, it’s just about coming out and having a bit of fun. Then if you want you can come for a coffee or a pint after it.

– And you have walking football as well?

K: That’s right. Walking football I do in Edinburgh at the moment and I’ve been trying to get the numbers for it in Glasgow but without success. I just keep offering it and maybe more women will come. I’m doing a tournament on the 9th of June at Glasgow Green, with start 12pm, and again it’s just to try and get people along that might be thinking about walking football or ordinary football, and trying to give them a taste of them both, so maybe we can get a few more folks up for it.

It has just been great, it’s a lovely group of women and it’s just a laugh, that’s the main thing about it

Picture-What drives you? What made you take that initiative to start the club?

K: That’s a really good question … because I used to love football when I was wee, and I was lucky having a brother, because I used to play with my brother. And we didn’t really have the opportunities for girls and women playing football at school and hardly any clubs. If you did join a club you had to make a commitment, and you had to be a certain level – and I just love playing! And I thought – remember that kick about in the park, it was the first time I’d had a kick about for years, and I just thought that there must be more that would enjoy that. I just loved it, and when the Grace’s took off and there was the chance to try it here in Glasgow I just thought ‘I’ll see’ and it’s just great playing it again. So I think it’s a bit of both it’s just loving playing football, and seeing folk coming out that are not very confident, and they’ve all got a talent. That’s the main thing about it.

– How has the response been?

K: There’s been a couple of comments about how it’s really really good, mental health-wise because, especially for people that might’ve had a rotten day at work, because they find it all absorbing, they can only concentrate for that hour on football and it’s enough to give them a break, from maybe a bad day at work. But it’s also, people have said, it’s been lovely to come out and have a game, have something in common with people straight away, and then gradually get to know them over the weeks, playing in a team. That’s been the good thing of the friendlies and the tournaments, just making friends and being on the social side.

– What kind of people is it that shows up to the practice?

K: All kinds! All ages, we’ve had Liz, that played tonight, her daughters came along, they were about 18 at the time. We’ve had another woman whose mum played! She’s about 65 years old and she had a brilliant game I saw. All ages, we see, there’s a bunch of regulars but it’s good because you get new faces too and it’s lovely to see new folks coming along. United Glasgow have been great with the drop in because I think some folks have been coming from there when they can. It’s just great if we can give people the opportunity to come and play football, that’s really good.

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– What’s the atmosphere like?

K: I would say it’s really fun, because Sirri from LEAP Sports came to do an interview too and just to take some film footage, and while she was doing it, she said ‘you are the only pitch where people are just laughing!’. She could hear the guys around the boot and they were all quite serious, but she said it’s really nice just seeing people just killing themselves laughing, so it’s good.

– Do you feel that it fills a need for the people showing up?

K: Yeah, I think it’s important for me to have an inclusive, friendly environment. For somebody brave enough to come along for the first time, many people would take it for granted, that they would just do that, they would show up and they would go. For other people I think it’s quite a tough thing to do, so it was really important from the word go just to make them feel welcome and hopefully that’s what the club does. If you identify as a woman, you’re more than welcome to come along whenever you can.

– What does football give you?

(silence)

K: I think I’d have to say a big smile, because every time I come along and I may be tired or fed up,  I always come away smiling, feeling a bit better than when I started. That’s the social side, definitely.

Meet The Co-Founder Of Proud Huddle Celtic Supporter Club

We’re back with another interview for the Glasgow Series! This time we’ll delve deeper into Lindsay Hamilton’s involvement with the founding of Proud Huddle CSC, Celtics first and only LGBT supporter club. We will cover everything, from how it all got started with a mysterious email to the importance of visibility and how the supporters club has been taken on by other supporters. Lindsay also has her own website and blog – check it out!

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– When was Proud Huddle CSC founded and how did it come about?

L: The first meeting we had was in January 2018, and it was a bit random how it all got started. I basically got sent – not an anonymous email but – an email to which I was like ‘what the hell is this?’, straight to my email account, but to multiple people, maybe eight people in the original email list. It was really brief: ‘Hi there, just getting in touch to see if you would be interested to start up an LGBT supporters club for Celtic?’. The name of the sender was Sirri Topping from LEAP Sports and I know Sirri very, very well.

I’ll be honest, right, and I’ve said this to the guys, I told them at the meeting ‘do we really need this [LGBT supporters group]?’ And I know that’s really odd to hear from a founding member, but I’ve never – I’ve had one instant my whole time that I’ve felt unsafe, not unsafe but a bit funny feeling, along the lines of ‘ugh I don’t like this’. We all eventually met up at LEAP Sports and we all sort of gave our own experiences and no one felt really threatened or offended or anything, so I think the whole point of the group – what my conclusion is of why we have to set up is just purely visibility. There was a campaign, Glasgow City brought it about, I don’t know if it was last year or the season before. They launched their own campaign, I think they had in on the back of their shirts, and it said ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ and they were basically fighting against the fact that they don’t get media coverage or not as much as they should and they could get. I took this to the meeting and that was my idea like ‘you know what, I’ve never felt unsafe or unwelcome in anything to do with Celtic, that’s my honest to God opinion, but you can’t be what you can’t see’.

How crackin’ would it be if we did have a section or something and a young kid is seeing a rainbow flag flying and they would know that it’s alright. That’s how I felt. Last year I went to my first pride march with United Glasgow and on that day we [Celtic] played Kilmarnock, so me and Steph missed the fucking game (laughter) cause we both went to this march. We came to Merchant City after the march and we walked to a pub and me and Steph were doing the ‘who scored?’ (laugh) and the game was at Kilmarnock that day, at Rugby Park, the day of Glasgow’s pride march, and the Celtic supporters flew a rainbow flag and had a big banner with a rainbow flag that said ‘a club open to all’, one of the club’s motto’s sort of thing and I was nearly sitting in tears, like ‘oh my god this is brilliant’ and not just because it’s my club but because it’s a football club.

I was so inspired, thinking how that’s really touching. That’s why, when we got sent the email, I thought ‘do we need it?’ There’s acceptance on the stands. Otherwise, that banner would’ve not been there, at an away game as well. And I think we all just came to the conclusion we don’t feel unsafe or unwelcome or anything like that. It’s just about visibility. If I, when I was younger, had known there was an LGBT Celtic supporters club, not even joining it, just to know that it was there, I would’ve been more relaxed and at ease. I think that’s what it’s all about. If we can manage to make people feel a little more comfortable that’s a win, 100%.

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Proud Huddle has given me a tribe, a group of people that I can relate to. We’re all Celtic mad, but we also align to this LGBT stuff and we can all understand one another. It’s so nice to have Proud Huddle, which is everybody – you don’t have to be LGBT to join, of course – it’s just nice to know that that group is there and that’s what it’s for specifically. I wrote an article for LEAP sports, sort of like a press release for the group, and I’ll never top this bit of writing so I’ll just repeat it again (laughter). The way I described it was the meeting was basically just like-minded strangers becoming friends – something along those lines. We were literally all strangers that got emailed an anonymous email at the same time and I was like ‘what, why have I been chosen for this’ and we are all different ages and genders, sexualities, different work, it’s just nice, like-minded people becoming pals. That’s all it is and if that’s all there will ever be I will be pretty pleased.

– What is the group doing to reach out to people and let everyone know that you exist?

L: That’s what we’re working on just now. We do have a large following on Facebook, which I never really checked until the other night. I think we have a 170 odd folk, which I thought was mad. In a couple of weeks time, we’re hoping to have a meeting with Celtic supporter liaison officer, his name is John Paul Taylor. I had to write our constitution first and then we’ll sit with him and we’re going to be quite demanding and say how can you help us, how can you get us out there, what can the club do? And what can we do? Because, I don’t know if every Scottish team has, I don’t think they have, but there’s a Scottish LGBT charter, that the clubs have signed up to. Both Celtic and Rangers have signed up to it, Partick Thistle as well. LEAP sports, who put us all together, are doing a Festival Fortnight in June and we’ve been asked to come up with some events. So we’re hoping to do a quiz, and in that way, we can hopefully reach out to people. In terms of promotion things that’s like all the stuff that’s coming up this year.

… there’s a fine line between just tolerance towards someone else and acceptance, and that is a difference

​- What has the reception for the supporters group been like?L: It’s been good! 16 people came to our first meeting in the pub, as we were watching our first game together. I thought no one would show up but then all these people started bursting through the door and I was like ‘fuck guys, what have we done!’ (laughter). We’ve actually created something here! The reception for the first night was great, and people were so pleased that we came up with this.

I think we are a very accepting group of fans, and I don’t mean that to be bias, I think that’s just the nature of the club, that’s the way it’s always been, that the motto, it’s ‘a club open to all’ that’s just the way it is, and if you’re not like that, fuck off. That’s legit how I’ve heard many a Celtic fan talk but I think there’s a fine line with that motto between just tolerance towards someone else and acceptance, and that is a difference. I think that’s as well the path we’re trying to get people to cross. I wrote specifically in our constitution that we are not a club about tolerance, rather this is about acceptance. Because I’m fed up with people just being – they wouldn’t do you any harm, talking about sexuality, race, gender, but a lot of people have an attitude of ‘just don’t bother with them, it’s fine’.

In terms of the reception, there are three main things – first, the people who turned up to the meeting and were really positive about it. One thing that stuck in my mind was ‘there’s a space for me, there’s a place that I can go’, they just kept saying thank you. Secondly, there was some negative response on fan forums and social media but it was more questioning ‘why is this needed?’. Thirdly, there’s the clubs association with the Catholicism. That’s one thing that I’m still a bit ‘could this come up in conversation?’. Not from the club directly maybe, but certainly by supporters. I would hope that it wouldn’t, but when you think about it – would that come into someone’s mind? Would that be part of the club’s nature to be – not not supporters but maybe keep it a bit at an arm’s length? Or keep it a bit under the radar, you know what I mean? I couldn’t tell you what the reception is, because I haven’t had that dialogue yet.

If you are interested to get involved with Proud Huddle in anyway or just like to get in contact with them, they can be reached via email at proudhuddlecsc@outlook.com. They have a Facebook page called Proud Huddle C.S.C as well as a Twitter under the handle @CelticCSCPride. Follow them there to make sure not to miss any of the upcoming events!

Meet Lindsay Hamilton

Blog7The Glasgow Series are back! Two Mondays every month there will (hopefully) be a new interview out, and this time I’ve had the chance to talk to Lindsay Hamilton, a team mate of mine in United Glasgow. Lindsay is a devoted Celtic supporter and a writer, with a lot of strings to her bow. She was one of the founding members of Proud Huddle CSC, which is the first and only LGBTQI+ Celtic Football Club supporters group, and is also in the progress of launching her own football tour business. In this first interview we’ll talk about her relationship to football and in the second interview, coming out on Thursday 17/5 we’ll dig deeper into her work with Proud Huddle.

-How did you get into football?

Lindsay: Exactly the same way as any of my male friends. There was the whole family of us, my dad, my uncle, my brother, my cousin and my auntie. I don’t remember my first game, it pains me to this day that I don’t remember it, I don’t know who they were playing, but it was brilliant and yeah, I just kept going from then.

-How old where you, more or less?

L: I think I was seven for my first game, and started to go on a regular basis when I was eight, like going every week. Because in that time it was paper tickets, old season books that we had. You just ripped a ticket out and you could give it to someone, so my dad who is a bus driver used to get the crappy shifts and missed quite a lot of games, so he just ripped his ticket out, gave it to me, then my auntie and uncle would take me to the games, and I – kid you not – I’m small now but I was really small then and they used to sit me on their lap because they didn’t want me to sit on my own, so I just sat there on their knees, just pure crushed over watching the game.

I don’t know when I got my season ticket, I would guess 14, but I actually don’t know – but I was on the waiting list for a lifetime to get an actual ticket (laugh). But bear in mind, when I just started going, Henrik Larsson was still there, we got to the UEFA cup, so everybody were going to these games. And then there was a point where Scottish football kind of plateaued a little bit, it was all when TV started taking over – this is a pure tangent – but TV came in, and all the games started changing times and all this, it just wasn’t part of a routine anymore, you had to change your whole routine about football, and it just didn’t work, so that’s when a lot of people were saying that they couldn’t keep their season ticket on because they were going to miss x amount of games this season, because they’re all getting moved around for the TV, so that was my chance to scoop in.

-How has being a season ticket holder ‘helped’ you in your fandom, so to say? Being able to actually, physically see them week in and week out.

L: Yeah it’s just being there, innit? That’s what it’s all about. You can say you were there when Callum McGregor scored the goal against Zenit or one of the moments stuck in my head like I was there the night Nakamura scored a free kick against Manchester United, it’s just all the wee moments, I was there for that. That’s what it’s all about and that’s how you connect, it doesn’t matter what age they are, what gender they are or what sexuality they are. If you’re a Celtic fan that’s how you connect, if you’re a whatever-fan, that’s your little stories about your club, that keep everyone talking. It’s just how it works. I think that’s what it gave me, it’s just like I was there, and I was always there. People start know your face and when I wasn’t there they would be ‘where’s the wee lassie?’. That was it. They don’t know my name – I don’t know their name, but that’s not the point. I still sit in Parkhead now and the only guy I know next to me, his name’s John, and that’s it. But I know everyone else’s faces and I talk to them. I don’t know their name but I don’t need to. The whole point is that we’re there for one reason – because we want Celtic to win (laughter).

I went to Boston, came back in November, and I honestly think that United Glasgow brought me back

​-How was it growing up in a sports crazy family?L: Busy! There was a reason my parents needed two cars in the house. My brother went and did karate and I was just football daft. I just always wanted to play. I remember watching my dad, that’s where it came from. Every Friday night he plays 5 a side – he’s 54 or something and he still plays, that’s mental! But that will be me at 54, I would put my money on that. Even my nana, she played bowls and I used to go and watch her as well. She used to take me to nursery and afterwards she played bowls in the chapel hall. They were a group of young pensioners and sometimes they’d let me throw a ball and I thought it was brilliant. My mum just used to run a lot, and she used to do the daft fitness videos that every mom did.

-How do you think that has affected your career choice, seeing as you work at the Scottish Football Museum now and working on getting your football tour business on its feet?

L: I don’t know man, because I think I’ve always loved sports, I don’t know where it came from.

-But why turn it into a career? It’s a big step from just a hobby.

L: True, I’ve never thought about that. I think that goes into another part of my family life which is that we’re very working class, but we’re not, because of my mum. She’s a grafter. She worked in an office from a young age and worked her way up, it’s a pure rags to riches story – she’s now manager of that department. That woman is my aim in life. I do want to make money for myself but I couldn’t just work for money and I think that’s where sport comes into it. The businesses that I’m trying to do now, it’s not about the money. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a benefit, but I’m doing it because it’s something I enjoy. I’m not doing anything in this life, unless I enjoy it. It’s gonna be short and sweet, that’s how life is, I won’t be doing something that I don’t like.

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-How did you get involved with United Glasgow?L: It all started before I went to work in Boston – I was coaching over there – for a few months in 2016. I remember that I saw something on my Facebook about this football club, and I just thought it was brilliant. I immediately was like ‘fuck yeah’. They were looking for a monthly donation and I was just ‘take my money, that’s fine’. I was a student at the time, had no money but I was okay with that. It was something like a fiver a month, not that much, and I just thought it was really cool, it’s on my doorstep, I 100% align with and support this. So I started giving them donation long before I ever met anyone at the club or had been to any training session.

Then I went to Boston, came back in November, and I honestly think that United Glasgow brought me back, and that’s really fucked up when I think about it. I did enjoy the job I was doing in Boston and I didn’t, because I was coaching, which is always fun, it was good, but the hours I was doing was ridiculous. I’m not lazy, I don’t mind working, but for the amount of money I got from it, for those hours … I was like ‘you know what, great experience for four months but I’m going home!’. So there was definitely that part of it as well, I was always coming home, but United Glasgow gave me something to come home to. That’s the honest to God truth, and I had never even been to the club before!

I went to the drop in on Monday night, after not having played football for four years, and I just thought ‘fuck, this feels so good’ and it was instant, I just caught a bug.

-Do you follow any women’s football?

L: I don’t. It’s something that I really should try. I do feel bad. I watched the first half of the Scotland game [against Switzerland], then I had to go to training, it was pretty brutal and they lost. But it wasn’t the best performance either. I don’t watch it as much because the women’s game just gets the worst time for things. See if they’re abroad, I can be in the office sometimes for those games at like noon, how’s anyone supposed to support that? But I’ll consciously go and check the results and I check who gets into the various teams as well because I used to coach for Celtic as well in the women’s team and some of the youngsters I used to coach are now playing in the U19’s and I’m mind blown!

Mission Accomplished: The Supporters Who Made Sanitary Products Available At Celtic Park

I’m so happy to hear that the women behind this online petition can now declare victory and announce that Celtic, as the first football club in the UK, will provide free sanitary products on all female toilets at Celtic Park, at no cost for the fans on a trial basis with the aim of installing them as a permanent feature by December.

These are such great news, demonstrating the power of working together and how you, with a little persuasion and grit, can achieve big things. It’s also yet another testament to how intimately intertwined football and politics are. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to catch up with these women and talk to them about their hard work, promoting their initiative to highlight period poverty as well as their love of football. You can read the first part of the interview here.In the wake of this success, we hope to see more football clubs follow.

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​- What pushed you to initiate the petition on free sanitary products at Celtic Park?
(everyone turns to look at Erin)

E: Well, there’s a few reasons. The period poverty is a pure hot topic in the now, politically and socially really. I found myself at Celtic Park one day, thinking, ‘why haven’t we done this here? Why is there no talk happening at football grounds?’ And it just felt oddly right that we should start this and do something about it. I think I speak for all three of us but I don’t know, after the act got repealed I was pure politically energised, it was proof that working class people organising could actually work. So we thought ‘let’s just give it a go’ and we started the petition and got in touch with Celtic on the same day, advertising the petition and asking to meet with them, because we had some ideas about it, and then we didn’t hear back from them for a wee while, because our contact was on annual leave. But we have just kept going and cheering on the petition, Mikaela has been making up wee info pictures, like reasons why we started it, and they have been taking off really well as well.

M: I think that’s how it kind of started, with the Offensive Behaviour at Football act, that’s had a huge impact on most fans I think, in the Scottish game.

E: The petition has gained momentum so quickly. I didn’t expect it to get this much attention but it’s definitely a positive. There’s been a lot of backlash but the good outweighs the bad for sure. We’ve gotten so much support from MSP’s, fan magazines and podcasts, and even mainstream media. It’s crazy!

O: It’s not just a group of girls crying out for free sanitary products, that want things for free. That’s not the reason, we don’t want them for free just for the sake of it. I think the people that have signed, they’re the ones that have looked into it and what the campaign is about. We’ve had a few messages from people that have said that they were totally against it but now that we understand what it is about we’ve changed our minds.

E: That’s the positive, minds are being changed about it. We’ve always said that it’s good it started a discussion and a debate, even though we get some really harsh comments.

– Could you describe these comments more?

E: I have so many screenshots …

M: To be fair they’ve given us quite a good laugh but some people have been so extreme.

E: Aye, we just try and take it on the chin. Because we agreed to not get into arguments – if we’re going to reply, just try and be as progressive as possible and answer questions, that’s how minds are getting changed. But this guy was tweeting us, like ‘football’s a man’s game’, just pure medieval stuff, ‘keep this out of football’, and he was saying that we don’t care about Celtic’s trophies this season because we’re causing the fans to argue among themselves, that winning the treble again is not enough for us, so we’ve just had to start this. It’s just been madness some of this stuff, but the people that get it, get it. Minds are getting changed. But see if we implemented this over night, none of these guys – it’s mostly guys – would know, because they’re not on these toilets, well generally speaking anyways, so they wouldn’t notice. And it’s not like it’s increasing the ticket prices, we’re not selling a player to fund it, it’s not about a lot of money. It’s just a running cost of running a business. It’s the same with toilet paper.

if we implemented this over night, none of these guys would know, because they’re not on these toilets

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​M: It’s just such a huge and important message that Celtic have got the opportunity to stand out. We were saying, this is how we believe that things eventually are going to work, period products are going to be free – so why not do it first and show we’re inclusive and make things more comfortable for the fans. There’s been guys that have been really fighting for it, that really get it, and there’s then been that extreme that’s just been so against it, writing stuff like ‘these girls obviously don’t know what to do with themselves next’, ‘just for attention’, ‘pure world warriors’ and ‘extreme feminists’. But I think most people draw the line and say ‘well, if you can afford a season ticket, you can afford your sanity products’ – but that’s missing so many of the reasons why we’re doing this.​

O: So many men seem to think that if females are at Celtic Park it’s because they are season ticket holders. They don’t think about the charities that Celtic work with, week in and week out. Not every female that is at the game is a season ticket holder or have bought their ticket, they’re there with charities. Even if they are there with a season ticket, what about these 13-14 year old girls that are there with a male, and get their period. How do they come out to who they’re with and say ‘oh, by the way, I don’t have any sanitary products with me’.

E: ‘Can I have two pounds for a tampon dad?’ You know what I mean?

O: And it’s not just ‘oh, here’s a fiver, go and get it. You would then need to go and exchange for coins and, it’s not very easily accessible as it is anyway, even with the price of it being extortionate but the fact that you need to have specific coins like that …

E: It’s just stupid to assume that everybody buys their own tickets, because that’s not the case. We got told during the week that you can get free sanitary products from the paramedics at Celtic Park, but that’s not well advertised. I didn’t know that and I’ve been going to the games for years. And it’s not comfortable, if I’m in the toilet and I get my period, I need to go find out where the paramedics are based – which I do not know – and I then need to ask them, and it might be a male, ‘can I have a tampon please?’. All this time I’m bleeding! It’s just not efficient. I mean, it’s good to know that it’s there and if someone asks you for a tampon and you don’t have one you can go to the paramedics, but it’s just not accessible enough.

​M: It’s not going to make female fans who go to the football have more periods and use up all of these free products, you know what I mean? It’s just not going to work that way. Nobody’s going to start stashing hundreds of them in their bag – that’s one of the other things that people have said, like ‘people are just going to stock up’ – well I’m sure that if they are stocking up it’s probably because they need them, and that’s the whole point, innit?E: We are a club that were founded on principles tackling poverty, so if we’re going to turn around and say ‘you can actually only take one tampon per head’ that’s just ridiculous and so far from the founding principles of the club.

O: Some might need one tampon per season, it’s not going to be ‘oh every single game let’s go in and take a ten pack of tampons’.

M: I think it sends a message. Celtic has a huge reputation, so for them to come out and do that, also the whole PR side of things, that just can’t be underestimated, at all.

O: And other fans from other teams have already shown interest and how they want their teams to get involved and I think for Celtic to lead the way and to do it first sends out a message saying, like you said, ‘we are a club founded on poverty’ basically. We want Celtic to be the first.

M: And we’ve had a few messages actually from fans, saying they’ve had to use toilet rolls when they’ve been at a stadium, whether that be because there were no products – there are machines – but I know in my toilet they are not really that well stocked and personally I’ve never had to use them but there have been girls that have come to us and said they’ve been out of stock. One girl had to go home, she had to leave at half time …

E: It’s just crazy.

M: One other girl was using toilet rolls to make a makeshift sanitary towel.

… this time a couple of weeks ago if you would’ve said to all Celtic supporters ‘do you think you’ll be involved in any sort of discussion about periods, period poverty – there’s no chance they would’ve expected this

– What is your own relationship to periods, was that something that was talked about or kept quiet about?

M: I found it so funny right, I’ve been online, talking to other guys about it, and then I thought ‘I still haven’t said to my own dad that this is a thing going on. So I phoned him after a couple of days and I was telling him about it, and I thought it was so weird talking to him about periods, you know that way it’s still a bit funny, but my dad is dead supportive, he told me how great it was and shared it on his feed, all the Celtic pages that he goes on Facebook and stuff, and that was pure great I thought that in itself has been huge, guys, see this time a couple of weeks ago if you would’ve said to all Celtic supporters ‘do you think you’ll be involved in any sort of discussion about periods, period poverty, sanitary products, availability of them and whether it should be free or not – there’s no chance they would’ve expected this, and the fact that some people have been so passionate about it – or even that some people aren’t but it’s just been the whole debate around it. We’ve been active online, sharing in the group chats but even on the threads which aren’t public, different Celtic fan boards, and on them some of them have apparently had up to 20 pages worth of debate whether or not it should be free, for and against. That in itself is absolutely mad, that you’ve got threads worth of guys and girls talking about periods.E: We’ve got so many guys on board, guys of all ages, but I’d say mostly younger guys though which is pure promising for years to come. It’s a female issue, gender spectrum aside I’m just going to say male and female to not overcomplicate things but we need male allies for sure because we are underrepresented and they’re the ones that are visible, they’re the ones with power, so we need that support. We need guys to be sharing it, signing it and speak to their pals. It’s something we definitely need and it doesn’t go underappreciated.

O: The fact that [sanitary products] are seen as such luxury products, even in the advertisements from these companies that make them, make them out to be these wonderful things – they are a necessity.

M: That’s a big point, discussing period poverty is obviously an issue but even underneath that, discussing periods is just as important, it shouldn’t be a taboo and it is. That’s partly what Celtic could do, they just normalise periods.

Meet Three Fierce Celtic Supporters

This is the first part of a series I am introducing on this blog, called The Glasgow Series. It will feature football fans in Glasgow, but not your stereotypical rowdy, beer guzzling and loud male fan. Nothing wrong with them, but I am interested in the other fans, not quite visible behind this image of a typical football fan, and I want to highlight them here. What most of these people have in common, except for a love of football, is an interest to do something more. This can be starting up an LGBT+ supporters club or entertaining a weekly kick about on a 5-a-side.

A few weeks ago I met up with Mikaela McKinleyErin Slaven, and Orlaith Duffy, three women that are extremely passionate about their football club Celtic. But they are equally passionate about equality and politics, and after the Offensive Behaviour at Football act got repealed, they felt the political buzz and decided to act on a different, but just as important matter – period poverty. They launched an online petition, urging Celtic FC to start distributing sanitary products at Celtic Park in the female toilets, at no cost for the fans. This interview is divided into two parts with this post focusing on football fandom, whereas the second part, coming out on Thursday 3/5, will focus on their work with the petition.

-How did you get into football?
Mikaela: All my family have always been football fans, going back generations and generations. You’re just born into it a wee bit. And you always know someone around you, everybody always supported something. Most people were Celtic or Rangers, so I think for me it was a natural course really. My mum and dad are both football fans and both supported the same team.

Orlaith: I’m much the same. I have four brothers and my daddy, so we are all Celtic fans. I know it sounds strange because I’m from Belfast, but it’s much the same as here, everyone’s either Celtic or Rangers and then everybody had their English team, but I wasn’t actually as much into football at the start. I played Gaelic games, I’ve never played football, can’t play football to save my life honestly but watching it and being a fan, definitely. I was always a Celtic fan but as I got older I started travelling with my daddy, we’d go to European games and go over.

Erin: This is so boring but I’m the exact same (laughter). I was born into it as well. My mom’s not really into football, but all her family are like Rangers fans, my dad’s massively into football, ever since I’ve was young he’s been watching it in the house and as I got older, maybe around eight or something, I’d go to football with him and we used to get tickets in the hospitality bit and I was like I hated it I wanted to be in amongst it I wanted to go to the good bit and I begged him and begged him ‘can we get our own tickets can we get our own tickets’ and eventually we did and we still got them today. But I played a bit football when I was wee. I turned up to training one night in a full Celtic kit and I got bullied out the team. I can laugh now but I was so upset! Because I was so wee, probably around the same height that I am now and everyone were so tall and so strong and they were just bullying me out for being this wee Celtic fan. Well, jokes on them now!​

… if you ever think about getting married, you would have to think about ‘which date does this fall on, is there going to be a game?’


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How do you feel that football has had an impact on your life?M: I think it’s had a huge impact. When I was wee it’s obviously such a big part of your life. When I was about 10 my mom and my dad split up and they used to have season tickets together, right, at the football, and had to actually get a seat moved – it’s so funny – and so I got a season ticket where my mum sat and my wee brother had a ticket, so it’s a whole family thing really. But aside from that, I met my boyfriend Mark through football, so we had actually signed up to go to Malawi as part of the Celtic foundation charity over there, and help them build schools, paint schools, stuff like that. So I met him, technically through that, we didn’t start seeing each other straight away but eventually we became a couple through that. So that in itself is a huge thing. Then I think that even the fact that we are friends, it sounds harsh but we actually only met through the football and then we started the campaign through the football, it’s just a huge, huge thing. Even things like if you ever think about getting married, you would have to think about ‘which date does this fall on, is there going to be a game?’  – so it’s huge.O: This is probably going to sound the same for all of us (again) but I met my boyfriend – that’s why I live in Scotland – through the football. I used to travel over for games, I was never part of a certain C.S.C because I worked weekends and things like that, and I actually met my boyfriend in Milan, we were both in Milan for the Juve game, in, what year’s this … 2012 maybe? 2013? I’ve been with Kieran five years this summer so whenever that was, I know that. We just met each other and started talking and then I was coming over to a game and met him and, that was it. A lot of my friends I know back home, female and male friends, are all through Celtic. Two of my very best friends back home, we met each other when we were in a pub watching a Celtic game and we’ve been friends ever since and it’s nearly, eight years ago. Everything to do with life really revolves around football. I work as a nursing assistant but I work for the bank because I don’t want a permanent rota, because of games, because I know that I’ll miss out on games. So I just put my daily life around it – it sounds so sad but I can still get my full time hours but I can just pick when I need my days off for the football.

E: That’s class.

O: It’s so crazy when you think about it, when you actually talk about it …

E: Because it’s normal to us!

O: Aye.

E: I’ve been much the same. I met my boyfriend through the football as well. I knew of him for ages, just by going there, and I pure fancied him (all laughter) and I tried to play it cool, I’d bump into him all the time at half time but I was so shy, but then we ended up seeing each other and going out so I definitely wouldn’t have meet him if it wasn’t for the football, or either of yous. I met Mikaela because I started going out with Darren and her boyfriend is friends with him, they rescued me the first time I met everybody. Then I met Orlaith when we went to parliament to see the Offensive Behaviour at Football act get repealed, so it’s been totally football based. I think as well the political roots of the club totally influences your life as well. You don’t think certain political ways because of the club but there’s definitely an overlap like it does energise your beliefs so much. Because there’s stuff in the displays that we see and the songs that we sing, there’s definite political roots and it switches you on, makes you want to learn more. I think that’s a definite impact as well.

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When did you start realising – if this was a conscious thought – that being into football was not a “woman’s thing” and was not always accepted?M: I suppose this probably comes back to the first time someone asked ‘do you even know the offside rule?’ (everyone sighing and nodding).E: Name five players!

M: I suppose these wee things happen when you’re young and you’re not conscious that that’s what it is. It’s just as if you need to reaffirm that you actually know what you’re talking about to be allowed to be there, isn’t it. It still happens …

E: It does!

M: I don’t think people half the time even realise that it comes across like that.

O: But they wouldn’t ask guys. You wouldn’t see a guy go ‘oh you’re a football fan, tell me the offside rule’ to a guy.

M: It’s just a given that they understand it, they have a right to be there as such. But I think for me, my mum always went so for me it’s been more of ‘that’s a thing women do’, and my mum and auntie, even my nana, everybody’s always supported, whether that be watching on the telly or actually having a season ticket, so for me it’s not ever been too much of an issue I would say. There’s been wee things that happened where you think, you’ve not realised you’re viewed that way.

O: Growing up, if you were a girl and enjoyed football, you’re a tomboy. There was no other way around it you know. The pubs I watch games in back home, you never would’ve got a woman in a it, until like 6-7 years ago. It was a man’s pub. I don’t think women were allowed in. It sounds terrible I know but years ago I know because my granddad was drinking there it was a man’s pub, women were not allowed in. Nowadays I think people are just starting to accept that women are there. But you are always seen to be a tomboy, so that’s probably why I didn’t play football, I always played sport like I said but back home if you played football it was kind of ‘oh you want to be English, you want to be this’ you know because we have Gaelic games so it was nearly like a dividing community, if you didn’t play Gaelic football or hurling you played soccer and then you weren’t really Irish or anything, you know.

E: Aye, that’s crazy.

O: I know sometimes there are people being ‘boys can watch the football and the girls can sit in the kitchen and talk’. Like I was at a party a while ago and it was like all the guys in the living room watching the game and the girls were in the kitchen talking. I tend to get along with the guys, even our friends, a lot more, if you’re at a group thing, because you have a lot more in common. They’re talking about football and about what’s going on and you want to be involved in it because you’re passionate about it. None of us would be here if we weren’t.

E: What we said earlier about naming five players, it all just comes back to this narrative that women only like football for male attention, people can’t grasp the idea that you enjoy football, that you are not doing it for the validation of the guys. It’s not as prominent now but it definitely is still there. You see it on social media a lot as well.

O: Even to this day certain males in my work will go to me ‘ah you got a ticket? Surprise surprise wonder how you got that’ and you’re like ‘you need to go to games to get that!’ Honestly, I think that’s the biggest fight. That’s probably the most you hear it, when it comes to big games, what they call big games. If you’ve got a ticket – ‘how did you get that?’ But they wouldn’t think twice about a guy having a ticket.

M: I find people often act surprised that you go to football ‘so you’re actually going to the games?’ As if like they just assumed that you’re a Celtic supporter in a different form, not going to the games.

Growing up, if you were a girl and enjoyed football, you’re a tomboy

​-What do you think is a necessary step to be taken in order to bring equality in football? Amongst supporters as well as players.E: It’s hard to operationalise it because it is such a … in terms of inequality in football it’s so systematic, because of how we’ve been brought up and in these conditions, you think it’s a male-dominated sport and there are lassies that are just not into it, and that’s alright, it’s fine.

O: I kinda think for us being Celtic fans it is a lot easier than a lot of other clubs. Celtic are so open on equality and you know, they are for everyone. You do hear a lot of things and you do read things online about people getting hackled in the stance and I think for us, it’s not something …

M: It’s not really my experience. I do notice there isn’t enough girls and I think compared to when I’ve went to games elsewhere. I went to games in South America, in Buenos Aires, and there were hundreds of women there, so many wee girls. You don’t quite see that as much here. I just don’t really know why or what could be done on it. Not pink tops anyway! I do hope just the attitude and other female fans being more visible just encourages people. Actually seeing people going to games and that it’s just a normal thing.

O: It is just females being more visible, especially for younger kids. They’re the one’s we want to bring through.