Rio Fergus McCann Celtic Supporters Club
I was given this story from former club president Jim Dunnet about the amazing work from Fergus McCann Rio CSC, Eddie Duffy CSC, Humberto and Gerson Oliveira.
When the Rio Fergus McCann CSC was established in 2007, the idea was we’d support local football. This was successful and we actively (to this day) support a squad of local youth sides, 7 teams aged between 7 and 15, who play in the Hoops. Their most successful product to date is Patrick de Paula who won a World Club Championship medal with Palmeiras before joining Botafogo this year. There is a fantastic Reuters article about him and his Celtic FC connections before he played in The Copa Libertadores final against Santos at the Maracana Stadium. [Reuters article]
The photo below was taken about 10 years ago and shows Coach Gerson Oliveira with his team. Gerson was a back up player to Zico in the great 80s Flamengo side. Gerson really is the “star” in all this and has worked tirelessly since retiring from professional football and giving kids a chance to play. Pleased to say that the RFMCSC donations (and occasional counsel) has helped the teams along the way, and are still going strong today.
Unfortunately, the RFMCSC isn’t active in Rio, as our members are now either home, or scattered across the globe. However, we continue to support Gérson and his kids. We still raise funds, and do what we can to keep them going with kits, ground fees, and fund the occasional BBQ, food packages at Xmas and sweets at Easter. Bags of kit are usually brought over by Celtic fans who live in Rio. One year, we managed to get a cheap set of strips from the Celtic store, leftover from when Bobo Balde used to donate strips to his own local communities. The downside was that Gerson’s entire team played with number six, and the name Balde on the back. Confused the referee no end!
In addition to the youngsters we managed to get sets of adult strips for the local “Commindade do Cantagalo”. The contact there was Rei, “the King of Cantagalo”, a well known local in my Rio neighborhood. We’ve kept in touch from those days, and he’s still a Celtic fan. Although the RFMCSC isn’t currently active in Rio, the King is always there to welcome any visiting Celtic fans.
The King’s team still play in the hoops and have a full blown “Celtic de Galo” network going.
Demonstrating the connections that Celtic fans make across the world, In 2016 a bunch of guys from the Eddie Duffy CSC came to Rio de Janeiro on a bhoys holiday. They were sitting at a bar one day when Rei walks past, wearing his top donated by the RFMCSC. He sees the Eddie Duffy bhoys, and strikes up (although he speaks little English) a conversation with them about Celtic, showing photos of his own community team wearing the Hoops. Friendships are made and arrangements agreed culminating with Rei and two others coming over to Paradise for a few games as guests of the Eddie Duffy Bhoys, joined by a couple of us RFMCSC, who were able to help with the Scottish-Portuguese language barrier.
One of my highlights from the RFMCSC days, was when we used to watch Gérsons’ boys play in the hoops. Prior to joining a formal league structure, Gerson and the Celtic Bhoys would often play “invitation” games. This particular match was against CFZ (Club Futebol Zico) which, at that time, was an elite football school in RJ. What a day out this was! The exact scores that day for the four teams escape me now, but I think the aggregate score was something like 25-3 for the bhoys. Debuting that day was a U9 called Pelezinho who we now know as Patrick de Paula. Think these photos say a lot about that day!
Pelezinho now - Patrick De Paula of Palmeiras fights for the ball with Julio Ortiz of Delfin.
Typical post match celebrations, with Gerson receiving a shipment of strips from The Celtic Foundation.
These days Gerson is recovering from major spinal surgery and has just started training the kids again (I think he’s up to something like seven youth sides including girls teams). Their last “hoops” delivery was back in October last year.
As for the Celtic do Galo, they are still going strong (including a 40 something, Rei who does “guest appearances” these days). Their last set of “taps” (from the Eddy Duffy CSC) being delivered less than a month ago. Humberto now has a small bar (suitably decorated) at the corner of Barao da Torre / Farme Moedo streets in Ipanema and welcomes any hooped visitors with open arms.
I have to say (and I think everybody else involved agrees) that starting a CSC and the process of finding & supporting Gerson and his squad is up there amongst “greatest ever lifetime achievements”. There are no real words to describe the fulfilment this has brought over the years. And the story goes on to this day …. I was out there a few weeks back and met up with Rei.
Sadly, although no longer meeting as a “functioning” CSC (with the economic downturn in ’14 everybody moved on), we stay connected through ‘Whatsapp’ and ‘Zoom’, and we continue to support the “Bhoys in Brasil”, and are indebted to the Eddie Duffy boys for their continued support.
Many thanks to Jim Dunnet for spreading the great work Rio Fergus McCann CSC has done. They continue to raise funds and as recently as Christmas 2021, they were raising funds for their local community. Below are some photos of the families of the young boys receiving some of the gifts.
They are a credit to themselves & Celtic Football Club.