67 kitchens benefit from eastern promise

ALL of the Celtic drama is watched, appropriately, in the William Shakespeare bar. The Bhoys of Baku know how to watch the Celtic success story unfolding but they are also aware that the club is about more than the theatre of football.

Finny Gormley, a Bhoy from Wishaw, who has been a member of the club since 2011 said: “If you look at the history of our supporters’ club in Baku we have raised more than $100,000 for charities during its existence. It was natural for us to get involved with the Foundation,”

The Celtic outpost in Azerbaijan has become just one of the supporters’ groups worldwide to embrace the Foundation initiative, in conjunction with Mary’s Meals, to cover the cost of building 67 school kitchens and supply food to the children enrolled there. It costs £13.90 to feed one child for the year.

Supporters’ clubs were invited to sponsor one of the kitchens and the Bhoys from Baku have taken a leading role from their base in the William Shakespeare bar in the capital of Azerbaijan.

Finny added: “The first fans came out in 2003 and immediately set up a supporters’ club. There are still a few guys in Baku who were at the inaugural meeting. We have the pictures to prove it.

“We pay an annual subscription and I guess at the moment we have about 40 members but there have been up to 80-90 in the past. It obviously depends on the level of oil and gas operations going on. Some games get 10 guys but 40-60 come along for the big matches.’’

Finny, who works for an Aberdeen-based company that does directional surveys for oil and gas fields, works on a rotational basis, four weeks in Baku, four weeks back home and he added: “Outside of Celtic Park, the William Shakespeare is my favourite place to watch Celtic.

“We have our own room upstairs all decked out in Celtic colours, with signed shirts and things like that. It’s great for us because we can get the Celtic jukebox on at half-time and full-time as well.”

Finny has a personal relationship with the Foundation. He said: “A friend of mine works at the Foundation. Obviously, she was aware of our supporters’ club and asked if we were interested in the 67 Kitchens initiative. We just felt it was natural for us to get involved with the Foundation.

“We have many fundraising events such as raffles throughout the year but we also have a collection at every game. Half of the proceeds goes to upkeep of the club and charity and the other half goes to the winner, but most of the time they put the money back in.

“I just basically help out but there are a couple of guys who are the main sponsors and a lot of money comes out of their pocket.”

He added: “The connection with the club becomes stronger when you are away. I work for a relatively small company so when I arrived in Baku I was on my own. But I could rely on the fact that at the weekends I was going to relax with like-minded people, watching the game. The camaraderie is terrific.”

“A lot of guys who were down there in 2003 are now relatively senior and retired but I still meet them for a pint when I am back in Glasgow.

He believes that common purpose stretches into the relationship with the Foundation. Finny Said: “I have no doubt the Foundation was always doing great stuff but now it is getting more exposure and that is wonderful because it gives the fans the chance to see what it is doing.

‘We want to be associated with such a great purpose. I think you feel that very strongly when you are far from home. It’s great to become involved. The 67 Kitchens initiative takes us back to our roots.”

For more information on the 67 Kitchens project, please contact [email protected] / 0141 551 4321 or tweet us @FoundationCSC