Celtic and Rangers fans watch the derby together at Alex Riches’ pub
My goal was to remove the stigma attached to one of Europe’s oldest local derbies, the “Old Firm” games between Celtic and Rangers. Everyone associates those games with violence; it was no different here. This area has always had a lot of Celtic bars because we are right on the route from the city center to Celtic Park. That’s why many people would avoid us on match days for fear of fighting between rival fans.
So I tried to create a friendly atmosphere at The Winged Ox –even on match days and for fans of both teams. Our pub is located in a former church, Saint Luke’s, which is now a great venue in Glasgow’s East End, with space for concerts, art and comedy nights.
We started showing the derbies here eight years ago and introduced a strict no-colors policy (no team tops, scarves or caps) from the outset. Also, we have a strong security team on the door and inside. I wanted to show Old Firm games in an open, family-friendly environment, and it worked. We always have a large female crowd and children, too. Some 200 people come for Old Firm games and then we sell over 1000 pints of beer.
It’s hard to maintain our friendly values. Every derby calls for renewed vigilance; it’s the only way. I have worked hard on this concept over the years, especially on convincing our neighbors that this is a quiet, friendly place to watch the derby. They know that now. I have got to know many of our guests and am proud to have built up such a strong but good crowd for these fiercely contested games.