Sunday, 1 February 2015

Is it any wonder?

Is it any wonder?
Forgive me for returning to an issue which many of you will be bored listening to me going on about. After events at Hampden, I think it’s important to state clearly that what we heard from the blue half of Hampden today was unacceptable in any context. I don’t refer to the Loyalist or Unionist chants which, like it or not, reflect the outlook of a minority in our society. Rather I’m referring to the songs about paedophilia, the songs cursing the Pope and the songs about being up to their knees in Fenian blood. This is 2015 for God’s sake, isn’t it time this stuff was ditched into the dustbin of history? Isn’t it time the decent Rangers fans took a stand about this issue and said, ‘Not in my name?’ Isn’t it about time they tried at least to make some token resistance to the tide of bile which swirls around their club.

There is a school of thought that suggests that Scotland needs the ‘Old Firm’ game to promote our game. However after watching today’s League Cup Semi-Final between Celtic and the Rangers IFC, I would beg to differ. Of course it’s good to see a full stadium and to win the bragging rights in our City even against lower league opposition but the bile pouring from the blue half of Hampden was unacceptable in a decent country.  Of course we expected it as their so called ‘decent majority’ of fans usually sit on their hands and say nothing about the poisonous nonsense being sung by their fellow fans. Nor is their voice heard much on Rangers forums where they really should speak up about the chants which if they were directed against Muslims or Jews, would lead to a huge outcry.

Let’s make no bones about the songs heard today; they were immoral, vile and in post ‘Offensive Behaviour at Football Act,’ probably illegal too. What sort of person chants about paedophilia at a football match? In 2011 after the Celtic v Rangers League Cup Final, Graham Spiers stated with commendable honesty…

"The incessant bigoted chanting by Rangers fans at Hampden was shocking. Unarguably the most socially-backward fans in British football. The really damaging thing for RFC is, it’s not the mythical ‘small minority’. There appear to be 1000s upon 1000s singing these songs."

What has changed at Ibrox since then? What indeed has changed since 1976 when Ian Archer called the club’s less cerebral fans a ‘permanent embarrassment and an occasional disgrace’?

I don’t class myself as a ‘Rangers hater’ who writes simply out of dislike of the club. I write as a Scot and a football fan utterly bemused by the knuckle dragging antics of a minority of our fellow citizens. Those of you who read my articles will know of my feelings on the singing of political songs by a minority of Celtic fans but there is simply no comparison between nationalist ballads and the morally debased filth we heard today. 

No doubt the media will pour forth their usual ‘Old Firm’ up to their old tricks routine. This ‘both as bad as each other’ tosh doesn’t hold water. Before the game, we saw the Daily Record warble on about a Police list of banned songs. The ‘Famine song’ and ‘Billy Boys’ were there but just to even up the score they added the ‘Ibrox disaster song’ and ‘Glasgow Celtic IRA’ song neither of which I have ever heard in many years of watching Celtic. A Celtic fan stated on twitter that he had asked the Police if they compiled the list of songs and was told they had done no such thing. Why would a newspaper make such things up? We saw this last year after trouble at the Glasgow Cup final at Celtic Park between Celtic’s youngsters and Rangers. I attended this game and the vast majority of the bile came from a group among the away support. Indeed some Rangers fans with children left the away section to get away from them. The press labelled it ‘Old Firm Shame’ and even showed a picture of a Celtic fan with a flare taken years ago at a match with Hamburg which they were forced to apologise for after Celtic fans rightly complained. I could give further examples but you get the picture, they seem impelled to portray the problem as two sides of the same coin.

So we brace ourselves for tomorrow’s predictable media coverage which will no doubt describe the day’s events as an ‘Old Firm’ problem. They’ll no doubt raise the banner among the Celtic support which appeared to use the ‘Hun’ word as a counter balance to the incessant bile from the other end. The ‘H’ word is one I choose not to use but its fairly recent labelling as ‘Sectarian’ is another feeble attempt at the balancing act the media and others try to do when dealing with the ‘Old Firm problem.’ In years gone past fans of every club in Scotland called Rangers and their fans ‘Huns’ and many still do. It isn’t difficult to find examples of this on YouTube and elsewhere. If it is indeed sectarian could anyone please explain what these Motherwell fans are up to here?

At least Ewan Murray writing in the Guardian didn’t dodge the issue of the songbook aired today by the Rangers supporters…

‘The Billy Boys, Famine Song and No Pope of Rome were bellowed out by the blue-and-white masses in what proved a disappointing throwback to the times when Rangers attracted attention for all the wrong reasons. Those embattled and embittered fans do not care about that as, history tells us, the same is the case with Scotland’s policing and football authorities.’

I don’t have any faith in the SFA or SPFL taking any action over this latest brazen example of racism and bigotry which besmirched the occasion. The BBC who covered the match remained silent too. Was that really the same Sportscene show where Rob McLean raised the issue of Celtic fans singing the ‘Boys of the old Brigade’ some years back and labelled it as sectarian?

The decent Rangers supporters must be shaking their heads at this intractable group who stick to the club like barnacles to a ship. What they really need to do is be brave enough to challenge them and slowly try to turn around the club they claim to love. Otherwise they’ll remain stuck in a time warp.
‘No one likes us we don’t care?
Is it any wonder?


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