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Matt O’Riley on the ferry full of Celtic fans singing Osaka’s Green and White!

As Celtic fans you grow up with it, it is the normal, wherever you turn there are Celtic supporters, wherever the team turns up there will always be a presence, a backing.

Over the last decade UEFA have sent the club to the most eastern outposts of Europe, virtually into Asia in a bid to reach the bright lights of the Champions League.

With those hurdles on hold, although possibly returning in future years, the club has got more adventurous with trips into areas well off the beaten track.

Over the last 12 months Celtic have been to Australia and Japan, mainly for PR and commercial purposes but also acknowledging the support of far flung fans who turn their lives upside down to watch the team from afar.

In November thousands of ex-pats, second and third generation fans welcomed Ange Postecoglou back to Australia with the novelty of normal kick-offs for two matches in Sydney.

Off the park, assisted by Adidas, Celtic did their bit with some PR exercises, reaching out to an audience intrigued by Postecoglou and probably having in their circle or knowing of ‘one of those made Celtic fans’ that bases their leisure time around 3am streams from Kilmarnock, Ross County and St Johnstone.

Japan is a fairly new market for Celtic although seeds were sown in the first decade of this century through Shunsuke Nakamura.

Again the Postecoglou Factor was at play with the former Yokohama F Marinos boss signing up three J-League players absolutely central to recent successes and stirring up attention again, a generation on from Nakamura’s goals against Manchester United.

Two years ago Matt O’Riley would barely have known of Postecoglou, The Fields of Athenrye or noticed that there are Celtic/Irish pubs in every holiday resort in Spain.

These days the sporty Londoner that has been capped by Denmark knows all about the Celtic support, their reach and presence.

A week in Japan is a bit different to visiting the Spanish Costas or a Tuesday night match in Azerbaijan but two matches on the other side of the world was an attractive double bill while also reachable for supporters based in Australia.


It has been pretty cool. Even on the team walk before the game, we saw a full ferry of Celtic fans singing. I was so struck to see that but at the same time I wasn’t because I know I am at Celtic and that is what you get here. I think it is really cool that we get this amount of fans worldwide

Saturday’s match was a big step on the road to fitness for the squad, 22 players all got 45 minutes with Daizen Maeda providing an answer to the question of the third striker.

Against Yokohama F Marinos earlier in the week he scored a composed first half hat-trick, against Gamba Osaka he had a similarly executed ‘goal’ wrongly disallowed by an offside flag.

Reo Hatate put in another eye-catching display, playing more central, a little further back he showed great strength in the tackle while delivering the sort of passes that Maeda, Liel Abada and James Forrest thrived on.

Plus there was ‘two clean sheets’ achieved by two different sets of defenders, even if each was only for 45 minutes, enough to give Brendan Rodgers encouragement without fooling him into thinking that issues have been resolved.

Next weekend it will be Dublin, fans from every county in Ireland will be inside the Aviva Stadium backed by others from Scotland and England keen to enjoy the first post Lockdown trip to the Irish capital.

As Rodgers builds up the squad, imposes his stamp on things he knows that he has buy-in among the players as they realise that Celtic is more than just a stop off and entry on their playing CV.

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