Bono and Celtic F.C.

Posted: June 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


It’s a great story. In his brilliant look at the social history of Celtic F.C., We Are Celtic Supporters, author Richard Purden has an entire chapter on Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr and his long-standing love for the Glasgow soccer team.

And Kerr tells this tale of bringing U2 singer Bono to an Old Firm derby – a game between cross-town rivals Celtic and Rangers. ‘Heated’ does not even begin to describe the animosity between these two clubs. It’s a rivalry that has as much to do with cultural, religious, ethnic roots as it does with kicking a soccer ball. Celtic grew out of the city’s Irish Catholic minority community so, historically, the divide was at least partly drawn along Catholic-Protestant lines and Ireland-vs.-England/Scotland lines and it could get ugly.

Presumably this was sometime in the ’80s that Kerr took Bono to see the Celtic-Rangers match-up at Ibrox, the Rangers’ stadium.

Says Kerr: “I don’t think he was ready for that kind of intensity, this was before the seats came in so it was more of the old pack mentality and pretty mental. I remember we were about to leave when Charlie (Nicholas) popped in an amazing goal which he thoroughly enjoyed. He said to me it was like ancient Rome and he wasn’t far wrong.”

In any case, Kerr ends the Bono section by saying the Irish rock star eventually drifted away from Celtic and the Simple Minds singer suggests it may have been because U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. was concerned about Bono being linked to a team that created controversy because some of its fans would openly show their support for the Irish nationalist cause and even the I.R.A.

Says Kerr: “I think Larry put the kybosh on the Celtic thing. He was a football man but not a Celtic fan and he was worried about certain connotations with the band but Bono was certainly into Celtic.”

Pretty funny no? Basically suggesting Larry was afraid they might be dragged into a controversy simply because Bono liked a Glasgow soccer team.

With U2 set to hold high mass for a fourth time at the Bell Centre Wednesday night, I thought it was as good a time as any to pull out this slice of soccer/pop culture history.

– Brendan Kelly

  1. John says:

    Bono is a bhoy! No need to worry 👍 HH

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