James McAnerney: Everything You Need to Know About Bend it like Brattbakk

The Background

Jim Orr decided to write a play to celebrate the 20thanniversary of what he believes to be the second most important (and most nerve wracking!) season in Celtic’s history, 1997-98. The play follows three fictional characters during that season, explained in more detail below.

The moment that all Celtic fans knew that nine years of misery had ended, was when Harald Brattbakk slotted home an exquisite Jackie McNamara pass to put Celtic two-nil up against St Johnstone with 18 minutes of the season left. At long last, the Celtic fans could breathe again!

To celebrate the 25th anniversary, Bend it like Brattbakk is back this June with three special shows at Celtic Park’s Kerrydale Suite.

The Football

In the summer of 1997, Rangers were about to embark on a league campaign to secure a world record 10 league championships in-a-row, overtaking the record set by Celtic’s legendary Lisbon Lions. The ‘10’ was a formality, as Rangers were huge odds on favourites. Having spent £13m on Amoruso, Porrini and Negri, adding to talented players such as Laudrup and Gascoigne, they had an extremely strong squad, which also included Andy Goram, a major thorn in Celtic’s side over the previous few seasons.

For Celtic, Tommy Burns had been sacked, so they had no Manager. Van Hooijdonk had already left and Di Canio and Cadete were refusing to return. Paul McStay, voted into Celtic’s greatest ever team, had retired through injury. A Manager was then appointed in Wim Jansen, who was described by the entirely impartial Scottish media, as the ‘second worst thing to come out of Hiroshima’. Tom Boyd was given the captaincy, following in the footsteps of Paul McStay, and had to stop the ‘10’, no pressure then!

The Play

There was an American children’s programme in the late 60s/early 70s called Sesame Street. Each episode would feature words with the same letter, e.g. this episode has been brought to you by the letter T.  Bend it like Brattbakk is brought to you by the letter ‘F’: family, football and faith, but not necessarily in that order!

We follow the fictional Lyons FAMILY, Tam Lyons, daughter Maggie Lyons and her new boyfriend Nat Christie, throughout that rollercoaster FOOTBALL season. Every gut wrenching moment, the good bits, the bad bits and the ugly bits as Celtic, Rangers and Hearts take it in turns to top the table, right up until the dramatic last day of the season.

Bend it like Brattbakk is the story of Tam’s obsession with Celtic, and his fear of the ‘10’. As a Celtic fan, Tam had suffered for most of the 1950s and the early 1960s, but this was different, very different, the Lisbon Lions’ nine-in-a-row record was going to be broken, by Rangers!

Nine long years without a league trophy had taken its toll on Tam, physically and mentally. 10-in-a-row was a tsunami he could see coming hurtling towards him and there was no way of stopping it, so what could he do! Well, at the point where hope would otherwise become hopelessness, it becomes FAITH, and Tam needed to keep the faith. What else could he do as all logic pointed to the dreaded ‘10’.

The Feedback

“THE best Celtic related play I’ve seen, it’s brilliant.” – Joe Miller

“All Celtic fans MUST see this, so funny.” – Murdo MacLeod

“A MUST-SEE show, funny all the way through” – John Fallon

The Kerrydale will host three wonderful showings of the play on Friday, June 23 (evening) and Saturday, June 24 (matinee and evening). Tickets are available now and can be purchased HERE with Celtic FC Foundation benefitting from a percentage of the ticket sales, as well as proceeds from the sale of all programme