From Govan to Paradise: A Prayer to St Anthony’s

A little while ago, an awful thing happened at Sartorial.Soccer towers.

Whilst sorting through our collection of football shirts, built up since childhood, one special bag of kits seemed to have disappeared.

The most reasonable explanation was that all of those classic kits had been mistakenly donated to charity along with the bags of baby clothes and old suits.

One man’s loss is another man’s gain, but the value of those shirts, both in sentimental and financial terms filled our little hearts with sorrow.

There was only one thing left to do.

Pray to St Anthony.

St Anthony, noted by his contemporaries for his powerful preaching, expert knowledge of scripture, and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick, is often called upon by dimwits to find the things their eyes can’t see and sure enough, he delivered.

At the back of a cupboard, under the stairs, behind the coats, there it was!

The bag of shirts!

St Anthony had saved Sartorial.Soccer!

Which brings us to the story of the club and the shirts we focus our attention on now!

St Anthony’s are a Scottish non-league football club from Govan, South West of the River Clyde in Glasgow who although founded in 1902, didn’t play competitively until 1904.

St Anthony's, Hummel, Away, Kit
St Anthony’s away shirt by Hummel courtesy of footballkitbox.com

Nicknamed The Ants, they play their football in the West Region Central District League Two of the Scottish Junior Football Association.

The Ants are by club constitution a non-political, non-sectarian, anti-racist club, and welcome anyone regardless of sexual orientation, colour or creed.

Ironically for a club named after the saint so often invoked when people need to find something that’s been lost, much of the St Anthony’s Football Club’s history has been destroyed, forgotten or ransacked long ago.

St Anthony's, Macron, home, hoops, Footballkitbox.com
St Anthony’s home colours

In 1941 their home ground’s pavilion was flattened by Luftwaffe bombs, whilst the decades that followed saw scores of burglaries, arson attacks, flood damage and vandalism from sources closer to home.

Through the mists of time and fog of war, myths and legends have grown surrounding the amateur club. The most commonly cited story surrounds St Anthony’s home colours of green and white hoops and the influence they may have had on another, more illustrious Glasgow club.

There are those, Celtic included, who believe that The Ants’ kit inspired the Bhoys colours, but the truth is less clear.

St Anthony's, home, kit
The green and white hoops of St Anthony’s

Most observers agree that Hibernian were the first to wear the green, and their charitable example inspired the foundation of Celtic. There was even a time when Hibs themselves briefly wore hooped shirts in green and white.

St Anthony’s themselves point out that the design of their own original jerseys is uncertain. The club believes they were most likely to have been vertically striped rather than hooped, but the colours of those shirts may have been lost forever to the Luftwaffe. Add to that the assertion that they didn’t play competitive football until 1904, and there is reasonable doubt as to the account of how Celtic gained their look.

Whilst Glasgow giants Celtic have declared that the inspiration behind their iconic kit comes from the Ants of Govan, unless St Anthony himself can intervene and return some of the artefacts burned, stolen and bombed, we may never quite know the whole story.

Forza Ants! St Anthony’s have developed an international social media following

What is clear is that The Ants adopted Junior status (reflecting the level of football rather than age of players) early in 1905 and progressed rapidly from park football to be one of Scotland’s foremost clubs. Their most successful years came between the wars with Scottish Junior League Championships in 1916/17, 1918/19, 1919/20, 1920/21 as well as Scottish Junior Cup Runners-up medals in 1918/19, 1924/25.

Over the years the club has provided Celtic with more than 60 players as well as legendary back room Bhoys in chief scout Steve Callaghan, and the great Jock Stein’s mentor and scout Jimmy Gribben.

Callaghan was trusted enough to sign players without reference to the club’s manager or directors, whilst it was Gribben’s recommendation that brought centre-half Stein back to Scotland in 1951. He also the man who fought to keep a very young, and very small Jimmy “Jinky” Johnstone at Celtic Park.

St Anthony’s away shirt by Hummel

St Anthony’s most famous son may well be Scottish Football Hall of Fame inductee, Bobby Evans who won 48 Scotland caps and played nearly 400 times for Celtic between 1948-60, before moving to Chelsea.

Since then the club has endured and survived hard times from when they didn’t have a park to call home, to the transformational moment in 2003, when the Ants found a permanent home at McKenna Park.

With hard work and a fresh spirit of optimism, results at McKenna Park have improved and today, St Anthony’s enjoys a strong social media presence, with their most famous fans and brothers in arms being AS Roma.

This Ants away kit in gold with green sleeves by Hummel was actually discontinued, but in the spirit of St Anthony, the current away shirts were found, re-released and are exclusively available along with the hooped home shirts from Footballkitbox.com.

The green and gold away shirt by Hummel

You can join St Anthony’s thousands of international followers on Twitter (@SaintAnthonysFC).

Big thanks must go to our friends at Footballkitbox.com for sharing this shirt with us through their incredible football shirt subscription service. For more fantastic shirts like this one, please give them a follow on Twitter (@footballkitbox).

We always enjoy covering stories from grass-roots and community clubs, so if your side has a shirt you think we should cover on Sartorial.Soccer then you must alert us to your kit!

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