The President of Celtic Football Club: Mr. John Glass

April 9, 1892
Mr. James McAleer, Glasgow, contributes the following to the People’s Journal: –

Mr. John Glass, the perpetual President of the famous Celtic Football Club, Glasgow, entered this world thirty-eight years ago. Born within sound of the Cross Bells, little Johnnie soon set up opposition to their music, and carried it on for a period of three years with varying success.

Mr. John Glass.
John Glass Celtic 1892

He was sent early in life to a day school in the neighbourhood where knowledge was passed into the head by the simple expedient of hammering it in at the other extremity and allowing the spinal cord to do the rest. But John was born to be a worker, and at the age of 18 we find him foreman glazier in the establishment of Carney & Sons, then one of the foremost glass merchants’ establishments in Glasgow.

He continued in that capacity till the failure of the firm, when he joined his brother’s establishment (P. Glass, wood merchant and builder) as general manager. This position he retains to the present day. Early in life Mr. Glass distinguished himself as an advocate of temperance, and an uncompromising one too. He joined St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Temperance Society when it was in a very weak state – morally and financially – and in a time of crisis, when the very existence of that body was threatened, he was elected President.

The result justified his selection. Before long his rule was felt, and members who thought nothing of taking the pledge one night and breaking it the next, found that a temperance hall was not exactly the place for them to rest the soles of their feet. By the end of Mr. Glass’s first year of office you wouldn’t have found a member which would enter the front door of a public-house for love or money; and at the end of his second tenure of office he who ventured into a whisky bar even by the side door was a venturous man indeed.

By Mr. Glass’s exertions a hall was obtained for the body, new billiard tables were added as required, and not the Society stand second to none in the Kingdom. Mr. Glass is nothing if not energetic. He had scarcely infused new life and vigour into the Temperance Society, when he joined the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, a body which meets every Sunday, and doles out contributions to the Catholic poor. This Society is a very respectable, very decorous, and as a rule very dull body, which works on certain rigid lines, viz., weekly contributions and charity sermon at the end of the year – the proceeds of which go to the relief of the poor.

When Glass joined the Society, the Hibernian Football Club had just gained the Scottish Cup, and owing to the prevalent distress the funds of the Society were at a low ebb. But when it was suggested that a charity football match should be organised it was received with holy horror. However, in spite of opposition, Glass had his way (and it may be remarked here that he generally has his way), the Hibernians and Renton kindly lent their aid, and once more the Society found itself able to cope with the misery and distress of the parish.

It was seen that football matches paid better than charity sermons, and along with a few enthusiasts Mr. Glass launched the “Eastern Hibs” football team. Their idea was to make the Club the handmaid of charity. The idea was taken up with enthusiasm, and nearly every man in the parish went down to the green to have a “kick at the ball.” Alas! Within one short week nearly half the parish were “hirpling,” whilst the other half were laughing at them as fools. Amidst jeering and sneering the Club came to rather a premature end, leaving nothing behind it but bitter memories and an old ball.

For the next six months or so it would have taken a brave man to mention “football club” in St. Mary’s Parish; so Glass wisely held his peace. But the idea was still in his brain, and when the bitter memories of sticking plaster and embrocations had been somewhat mellowed by time, Johnnie once more smiled his spring-like smile and started operations. He received scant encouragement – plenty of plain advice which he didn’t take, and a few subscriptions which he did. The more opposition which he receives makes Mr. Glass work the more, so morning, noon, and night, he rested not till the object was accomplished.

November 11th, 1887, saw the Celtic Club started, and May 4th, 1888, the first match was played on Celtic ground between the Hibernians and Cowlairs. The life of the Club is now a matter of history, but no one knows the amount of time, trouble, and labour which Mr. Glass spent in founding it – for found it he did, other claimants notwithstanding. From the moment of its inception, through the struggling period of its early infancy, when other officials wavered and wandered in their allegiance Mr. Glass stood firm.

When timorous persons were asking themselves and others, “Will it succeed?” Mr. Glass was asserting “It shall succeed.” When players refused to commit themselves to the colours through fear of collapse Mr. Glass was there to dispel their fears and reassure them, with the result that the Celtic is now one of the foremost clubs in the country, with a following that priest or politicians might envy. Though head of this powerful organisation, Mr. Glass is of a very retiring disposition, and hates all sort of display.

We have seen him at St. Andrew’s Hall, when Early Roseberry was speaking, retire to an obscure portion of the platform where he neither could be seen nor heard. This is the whole nature of the man, “work” not “talk” being his motto. He is a Liberal in politics, but has not identified himself much with them since he founded the Celts. His religious belief, of course, is that the Celts can lick all creation, and that if he were unmarried he would receive a Cardinal’s hat.
(Source: Dundee Evening Telegraph: April 9, 1892)

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