I had the pleasure of playing golf yesterday with a friend of mine..a true blue nose. A passionate professional man who has been a fan all his days. Although very articulate and intelligent he hails from the school of thought that says political correctness has taken the fun out of bigotry. He maintained that turning up at Ibrox and venting his spleen was his therapy for the week and brought a sense of calmness to his world. Clearly we were at odds on that one. Although he did make a very valid point which was: “You cant really blame us as we have got away with it forever.” So true…so very true.
Can you remember the Partick Thistle player who was booked for making the sign of the cross as he ran on to the pitch? What would have happened if a Muslim player had turned to Mecca in the tunnel and prayed? Not likely I know, but we can be assured a great deal of tolerance would have been shown to him.
Of couse we have moved on from there…err not! We still have the loyalists ‘venting their spleen’ only this time it is at venues where the local bobbies dont have the resource or the stomach to implement the law.
So what is it that continues to consume our old ‘Old Firm” cousins? What makes their brand of football loyalty different to ours? Certainly ignorance is at the heart of it. Fear of the unknown. They never did understand that the vast majority of Celtic fans could see the other side of the coin and could turn the other cheek. Lack of a religious education which teaches charity and tolerance. I recall as a wee boy aged 5 going to school for the first time. A different one from my pals. That afternoon after school I chapped on his door and asked him if he was coming out to play?
He told me he wasnt allowed to play with me any more. I couldnt understand what he meant when he said it was because I was a ‘Roman Candle’. My first encounter with ignorance. He wasnt to blame.
Mind you the Catholic Archdiocese had a lot to answer for too. Our school was too small for the numbers and we had to take two classrooms at a ‘non-Catholic’ school [Remember that term…there was us and everyone else was a non-Catholic] round the corner. The church insisted that we assemble at our school and be bussed round the corner starting 15 minutes later. We then had our playtime on our own 15 mins after everyone else. To top it all and this is where no one thought this through, our lunch time started, you guessed, 15 mins later and so on up until chucking out time. Now all that did was make us different and therefore a target. And targets we were as the school would wait for us coming out and knock seven bells out of us and chased us for our lives. That could be considered character building. It certainly was for me anyway. So thank you to all who took the time to wait at the school gates and guide me on my way.
But back to the loyal and their unique brand of supporter culture. Living in exile I can see things from a different perspective now. What did drive this hate for us ‘cafflicks’ was fear. Fear that we could be better than them. Fear that we were united culturally and therefore stonger. Fear that our numbers woud rise and we would take over the world. The numbers did rise and we do occupy a greater number of influential posts now than ever. That is down to education and drive and hunger to succeed. So a self fulfilling fear.
Another thing is intransigence. They are quite simply stuck in the past and are moribund. They dont know how to change things up, move on, lighten up. They are constrained by the tightness of their replica shirts squeezing the oxygen of reason out of them. Just look at the Scottish media and you will see what I mean. Delusional drivel is being spouted and spoken every day. At no point has any of them said ‘lets move on’. Embrace this new chapter and build a club that is tolerant and welcoming to all. What a chance they have and what an opportunity to lay down a marker in history. But no its got worse. The songs are back and louder. The bile is greater and more tasteless. The recriminations go on and on with the threatened backlash aimed at every section of the Scottish society. Even down to the absurdity of this all being a Catholic conspiracy. So you see nothing changes…fear and loathing.
Lastly back to my golfing partner’s parting shot: “We’re only buying season tickets so you bastards dont get away with this.”
Rational thinking indeed.