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Opinion

Once upon a time in Gosford: Celtic FC’s history with the A-League

Ange Postecoglou is the taste of Glasgow. (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)
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15th July, 2022
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In an upstairs sports pub on Sydney’s George Street, a football jersey hangs from a brick wall, its green and white hoops protected behind a pane of glass, like a prized Mona Lisa painting.

Patrons of Cheers Bar, many of who regularly meet to watch Celtic FC games, admire the framed Scottish icon.

Australia, it seems, has dozens of such organised clubs, all barracking for the Bhoys.

Although come November 17th, such establishments will be temporarily empty, as traversing fans will be found at the new Allianz Stadium instead, watching Sydney FC verses their beloved Glasgow giants.

Back in 2011, another A-League club hosted Celtic, and it wasn’t the famous Sky Blues. Times were different. For starters, Ange Postecoglou was winning trophies with Brisbane Roar, Gotye had a hit musical single, and a beautiful stadium at Brisbane Waters was renamed Blue Tounge.

Yes, life was good for Central Coast fans. A few months before the seventh A-League season commenced, the Mariner’s somehow negotiated to play against Celtic at ANZ Stadium.

Facing the Scottish powerhouse in an international friendly, Central Coast beat Celtic 1-0, scoring in the 86th minute. The Aussies were on fire. Granted, this was during a successful period when the Gosford club finished second on their previous A-League campaign.

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It’s interesting to note the calibre of the Mariner’s roster at the time, beginning with super coach Graham Arnold (our current Socceroo boss).

Arnold had recently been assigned as manager, having filled Lawrie McKinna’s vacancy in 2010. Born in Scotland, McKinna was the Mariner’s inaugural coach. His focus was on community engagement, having encouraged players to closely interact with the locals.

Celtic Manager Ange Postecoglou celebrates with the Premier Sports Cup Trophy during the Premier Sports Cup Final between Celtic and Hibernian at Hampden Park, on December 19, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Celtic Manager Ange Postecoglou celebrates with the Premier Sports Cup Trophy.(Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Eventually, the “community club” godfather was elected as Mayor of Gosford City in 2012. Suddenly a well-respected McKinna had an incredibly influence around Brisbane Waters.

The Mariner’s alumni also included Oliver Bozanic, who was once classified as a junior marquee. A few years later, Heart of Midlothian signed the Australian international, and Bozanic packed his bags for Edinburgh.

Coincidently, Bozanic is competing in the Sydney Super Cup, but as a Wanderers’ recruit, having been given the honour of playing against Everton FC in another match.

Initially the November event was billed as an Australian “homecoming” for Ange Postecoglou. However, that’s only half correct. The Celtic coach will actually be gracing Sydney FC’s turf, not his. Grass, mind you, worth a cool $828 million in construction costs.

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The real return is the Sky Blues, as they finally come home to Moore Park.

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