Yep, 150 members of the Villarreal Celtic Supporters Club are flying to Glasgow next week for three main events. A charity match, Celtic v Hearts SPL fixture and an evening dinner/dance inside "The Brother Walfrid Suite" at Celtic Park.
The charity match, with all proceeds going to Yorkhill Children's Hospital as explained in the above link, starts at 10am, from there our Spanish friends will be guests of honour at Celtic Park for the home match against Hearts that afternoon, where they'll be invited onto the pitch to make the half-time "lottery draw" (although they don't know that ) - and in the evening it's a 9pm function inside the Celtic Park restaraunt with enertainment provided by Irish band "Spirit of 67".
Hopefully our visitors from Villarreal will have a great time, and it's all in aid of a good cause as well. I'll be there next week to greet them and i'll see what i can do about posting some photos from the event on this forum.
In the meantime, if anyone wants any more information on the Villarreal Celtic Supporter Club then you can visit their website (in Spanish) at : http://www.celticsubmari.com/.
Celtic's trip to the Spanish town of Vila-Real last April ended in a painful UEFA Cup exit - but a special bond was formed with the local fans that night.
Gregor Kyle, Celtic View.
Football rivalries, as anyone in Glasgow will admit, can often become overwhelming in their intensity. But it is the rarest of occasions when that rivalrly grows into a lasting symbol of friendship shared by two sets of supporters.
This is the unique situation that will be celebrated on Saturday as the Celtic family warmly welcomes 105 new members in the shape of the Submari CSC.
While most Celtic Supporters' clubs outside Scotland and Ireland are born of the desire of ex-pats to follow the club from overseas, Submari is unique in the way its formation was inspired by the behaviour and example of Celtic fans during their April 2004 visit to Vila-Real.
That particular European jaunt may not rekindle the warmest of memories in the majority of supporters, bringing to mind the 2-0 defeat by La Liga side Villarreal and a quarter-final exit from the UEFA Cup.
But for those supporters who travelled to the small Spanish town, Vila-Real, the trip is best remembered for the warm welcome organised by the people there and the remarkable bond that blossomed in the wake of the match.
Gerrard Martin is a Celtic supporter who lives in the region and has become a link between supporters in Scotland and the new Submari CSC.
He said : "Until the Celtic supporters arrived the biggest away support the people were used to was when Espanyol came to town.
"They're about two hours up the road from here and bring about 700 to their games. Even then, there is always something going on the police or club have to keep an eye on.
"So as you can imagine, when they heard there would be 8,000 Celtic supporters travelling over here for the game the alarm bells started ringing.
"A certain reputation proceeds clubs from the British Isles when they are coming over here but then Villarreal got a phone call from a chap asking if their supporters would like to take part in a charity match with Celtic supporters.
"That's when they started to realise this club Celtic was something different."
It's not often Celtic supporters are greeted on away trips to Spain by the country's biggest ever paella but that's exactly what was laid out in a generous pre-match welcome by the local people.
The charity match was then played in good spirit and the money raised donated to a local care home, the first charitable institution within walking distance of the ground.
Such actions brought the people of the town and the Celtic supporters together on the day of the match but what touched the hearts of the local people most was the way their guests supported their team.
"They were completely overwhelmed by the levels of noise and the amount of singing from the Celtic supporters," Gerrard said.
"The Villarreal fans are actually quite a quiet bunch normally but that got them going too and spurred them on.
"After the match there were scenes i've never witnessed in football in all my life.
"The Villarreal fans left the ground before the Celtic supporters and when we came out they had lined the streets to cheer and applaud us and shake hands and swap scarves. They even chanted "Celtic" as we made our way past.
"The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up now just thinking about it."
As the supporters left town, the people of Vila-Real found they could not shake the memories of the days before or their new found love of Celtic Football Club.
They had been touched by the example and behaviour of the supporters and in the weeks that followed, as goodwill messages went back and forth, it was decided the friendship they had built up was simply too strong to lose.
After much discussion it was decided the most fitting tribute and lasting way this friendship could be celebrated was for the town to have its own CSC and for the people of Vila-Real to join the Celtic family.
"There was a lot of friendship built up that night in Vila-Real and i suppose this supporters' club is really an extension of that," said Gerrard.
"When you look around the world at CSC's today, most of them have been started by ex-pats who already have a connection with the club and basically want to follow Celtic from their new home.
"I've never in my life heard of a club that has been set up by the supporters of a rival team, ones who were actually our opponents but were touched by our supporters.
"It's a real accolade for the fans of this club and shows UEFA and FIFA were not wrong in their decision to give them Fair Play awards after Seville.
"Vila-Real is a small town an you really can't under-estimate the effect the Celtic supporters had on them."
Working closely with Gerrard and the new friends they had made in the Celtic Supporters' Association, a band of supporters set the wheels in motion and began taking names for their own CSC.
With the bright yellow strips of their own team Villarreal at the forefront of their minds it was decided the new CSC would be called Submari (as in 'Yellow Submarine') and within the space of a fortnight the club had more than 300 members.
The Submaris also had a president, Ernesto Boixader, a right winger who played for Villarreal during the '80s, and soon plans were being made for an official pilgrimage to Celtic Park.
A total of 105 Submari CSC members, the youngest of which is just six months old, will travel to Paradise this weekend for the club's inaugural visit, which promises to be an unforgettable experience.
With that first charitable game in Vila-Real in mind, the weekend will start at Barrowfield with a friendly between the Submaris and a group of Celtic supporters.
In much the same way that the Celtic supporters asked for the money raised at that first game to be donated to a local charity, the Submaris have done the same, although it's for a cause close to their own hearts as well.
Just weeks before Celtic's game against Villarreal in 2004, Ernesto's six-year old son Ernest lost his fight against cancer an they have asked for the money raised at this Saturday's game to be donated to the Yorkhill Hopsital's Shiehallion Unit in his memory.
Looking ahead to the charity match, Gerrard joked: "I think it's important to emphasise the charitable aspects of this one.
"There are a few seniors in the Submari team and I think you might have seen more athletic specimens at the Auld Firm legends game at Hampden last week.
"But Ernesto used to play for Villarreal and the whole team are looking forward to this game."
After the game at Barrowfield - which is open to all and kicks off at 10am - a whole programme has been organised at Celtic Park.
The Submaris will enjoy a post-match lunch with their opponents and some of the others involved in the visit before taking their seats together for the game against Hearts.
In the evening a dinner-dance has been organised in the Kerrydale Suite, with past players, club officials, Submari CSC members and fellow Celtic supporters from Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany and even further afield attending.
Glasgow City Council will also extend a warm welcome to the Spanish group, which will include the mayor of Vila-Real and his wife.
The European Office, particularly liaison officer Laura McGread, have been of great assistance during the organising.
Looking ahead to the visit, Submari CSC president Ernesto said: "For the past few weeks I have been left astounded with how the plans we had for a visit to Glasgow have developed.
"When we first spoke of it, it was just the seed of an idea and now we are looking skywards at a massive tree of organised ideas and events which await us in Glasgow. We are all looking forward very much to getting to know you all and hope this will be possible during the weekend we are there.
"We have been kept informed of every step in the development of the plans and it is obvious we owe thanks to many people.
"I'm not sure we are going to be able to repay all of this as it is on such a grand scale but in one way or another we will certainly try to.
"I can see we are not mistaken in our perception of the Celtic fans. You are amazing, you are the reason we are coming and the reason for the existence of the Submari CSC."
The excitement among the Submaris is matched by that of the Celtic supporters who will welcome them here, and indeed by all at the club, who together are humbled and honoured Celtic has touched a group of supporters in such a fashion.
Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawell said: "We're very happy to have the opportunity to return the warm welcome that was extended to everyone involved with Celtic Football Club by the people of Vila-Real last year.
"That game may not be best remembered for the result but the whole occasion that surrounded the match will live long in the memories of those who were lucky enough to share in the experience.
"People have since remarked on the obvious bond enoyed by both sets of supporters that day.
"But few would have imagined this bond would manifest itself in the lasting display of friendship that is Submari CSC.
"Celtic supporters have been recognised by both FIFA and UEFA for their outstanding behaviour and unique attitude on away trips.
"This establishment of a permanent supporters' club in Vila-Real is further recognition of our fans' proud reputation.
"This weekend will be an opportunity for the club and supporters to welcome Submari CSC into the Celtic family.
"We hope this valued friendship between the two football clubs continues to flourish and the members enjoy their first visit to Celtic Park.
"We hope the trip will be the first of many more to come."
The Submaris should certainly provide a memorable addition to the Celtic crowd this Saturday and will be clad in their bright yellow strips, beating their traditional drums and carrying with pride the permanent banner that flies behind the Villarreal goal at every home game.
Gerrard said: "There is a permanent banner behind one of the goals, which they will be bringing with them on this trip.
"It carries the Villarreal and Celtic crests and the words 'Submari CSC'.
"It's incredible to think how the reputation of Celtic has grown in the three years i've lived out here.
"When I go out with my Hoops (Celtic shirt) on, people shout 'Celtic' and come over to shake your hand.
"They are still talking about Seville here. Seville is known in Spain as the home of the beer Cruz Campo and they have a big brewery there.
"Celtic are still known as 'the team who drank Cruz Campo dry'."