Sunday, 28 July 2013

Do unto others…
Brendan Behan, writer, poet, drinker and Irish Rebel used to say that the first item on the agenda at every meeting of the Dublin IRA was ‘the split.’ He may have been joking but there is a certain argumentative side to those who have Irish blood in their veins. This weekend was not a pleasure on Twitter as a minority engaged in fairly acrimonious debate about issues affecting the Celtic support. As Celtic supporters, each of us has the right to an opinion on the club and the issues surrounding it. It matters not a jot if we go to every game or for whatever reason can’t manage to go to any. If we love the green then we are Celtic Supporters, the equal of any other. Celtic means so much to so many that at times passions can spill over into angry words. Didier Agathe once said after a section of a tetchy home support booed  Neil Lennon after he passed the ball back to the keeper when we needed a goal in a European tie… ‘The problem is not that they dislike any player, it is that they love the club too much.’ Sometimes this passion for the club can make us hold strong positions on certain issues. For some Celtic is the repository of Irish identity in a hostile land, for others it is a bridge between cultures which aided Irish assimilation into Scottish life. For more it is an ideal, a place where those of all faiths and none, of all political opinions can unite behind a team built on principles of Charity and integration.

The point is that the club belongs to all of us and we don’t all feel the same about the issues affecting it. From players coming and going to the situation in Section 111 there are as many opinions as there are fans. That is good as debate is healthy. What isn’t great is the abuse of others who hold differing views from us. Celtic fans more than most know what it’s like to be subject to verbal abuse. Last week’s lies about the songs sung at Brentford were just the latest in a 125 year old smear campaign by those who hate the club and all it stands for. So the last thing we need is acrimony among ourselves. I’m always amazed at the eloquent points made in just 140 characters by some of the Twitter Celts, or ‘Tweenians’ as some wit called us. Great points are made and debate can be excellent but there are a tiny minority who resort to the foulest of language and that isn’t necessary or welcome. In fact it tells you more about them than the folk they aim their invective at.

 So this short blog asks that we try to keep the level of debate up and treat each other with the respect we would want for ourselves. We often fail to realise the power of words, even on social networking sites, to hurt others. If we disagree then say so but without resorting to abuse. That isn’t the Celtic way. We can’t be responsible for the actions of words of others but we can and should be responsible for ourselves. Celtic is fortunate to have a great community of fans who care passionately about the club. They come from all walks of life and reside in just about every country on the globe. When they fuse with the team, as they did when we met Barcelona last season, they are capable of incredible things. Over the years Celtic has had its ups and downs like any club but the one constant was their incredible support. Tommy Burns was asked what makes Celtic so special after the team’s victory in the Cup Final in our Centenary year. He pointed towards the packed terraces of Hampden and said…. ‘Look at them, they’re there, they’re always there and God bless every one of them.’

 I would echo those words and ask you to remember them when you interact with our fellow supporters. When there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can’t hurt us.

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