A Poisonous Fixture?

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As we head, at breakneck speed, towards the League Cup semi final, on 1 February, I’ve penned a long piece for On Fields of Green (which you can read at the link below), in which I suggest that the Celtic fans turn that game into a celebration of who we are. I want to emphasis that point here.

If you live here, on Planet Scotland, you’ll know this game is coming up. Many people are worried about it, and the potential it holds for serious trouble.

I would love to think we could all just keep our heads down and that wouldn’t happen.

Unfortunately, it’s not like that. Some of us have trouble doing that anyway!

Outside the ground, anything can happen. Parts of the city will be no-go areas for those wearing the wrong colours.

That’s depressing, as it’s depressing that there are people out there who are actually looking forward to the game for that reason. They undoubtedly exist.

Inside the ground, we have a chance to make the atmosphere better than that. The Celtic fans can turn the game into a celebration of our own diversity and inclusiveness. We can, in short, make it about who we are rather than have the experience defined by other people at another club, or in the media.

God knows that, at the moment, Celtic fans have much to be thankful about.

Our position in the SPL has been strengthened by Aberdeen’s dropping points. We have just secured the services of a fine young player for next season. We are in the League Cup semi-final, against a lower league team who are experiencing turblent times on and off the field … we have a strong, and healthy, and largely united, football club that is secure for our children and grandchildren.

Everyone will have seen Wee Jay scoring the penalty kick yesterday at Hamilton, and then running to the crowd. He is a special kid, as we are a special club, and as we rallied around wee Oscar and did our best to help the Thai Tims along, so too we have embraced this brilliant wee lad and his people. That’s who we are; we are not defined by a horrible, bloody, insular rivalry that died on the day Rangers went to the grave.

Those who would raise the dead so this country could go back to that … no thank you. You are speaking for yourselves.

Naturally, I want us to win that game by a distance, and put in their place the pretendy-gers and their delusions of granduer … but I am under no illusssions that this is “an Old Firm game.”

It isn’t. There will never be an “Old Firm” game again, and as I loathe the phrase and what it means anyway, I shed no tears for that.

Neither should anybody else.

On 1 February our fans should remember who we are … not worry about who they think they are. We’re welcoming a new club to Hampden, for its first time against us.

That’s an occasion for giving them a warm welcome. I suggest beach balls and floppy hats, and celebration songs.

Maybe even give them a wee chorus of Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.

They could use that, don’t you think?

What we ought to avoid is getting sucked in to a hate-fest. That’s not what we’re about.

The media, and some sections of the Sevco support, will try to make this a poisonous fixture. Within that stadium, we can make it anything we want it to be.

Let’s celebrate Celtic. Let’s celebrate our values and ethos and uniqueness. Let’s celebrate our history – our unbroken history – and let Scottish football and the world see that we want no part of the poison or the hate.

That’s who we are, after all.

To read my longer piece on this match, check out the below link.

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  • Frank McGaaaaarvey says:

    Great article James. I echo the sentiments exactly. I sincerely hoped that the day would never arrive when we had to face Newco but, alas, here we are. Our fans won’t contribute to what I am sure will be a highly charge and poisonous atmosphere. You only have to look at the queues at Owebrox including peepel camping out overnight to ensure they got their tickets to face us. There is going to be 3 years of highly pent-up frustration being released that day from the zombies combined with, I am sure, a lot of humorous baiting and banners from the Green Brigade. It’s a fixture I will be watching from the safety of my own home but I am sure my fellow Tims will do us proud. I just hope they stay safe.

  • Tyneside No1 says:

    Excellent piece James, I have no worries over Celtic fans at all . What has been worrying me over the past week or so is the naivety of our players saying what they are going to do in the game. They should screw their loaf , say nothing and just do their job on the pitch. No more silly interviews please, you will set yourself up for a greater fall in the media, either way you have given them their stories through stupid comments. It is us,the supporters who have to defend what the players have reportedly said. You have rightly pointed out that the media have shown their hand and support the lies of the other club coming out of liquidation and such rubbish as continuation,that is their remit . In reality we are playing a team from a lower league for the first time , be respectful , make sure we have eleven on the pitch at the end and let us see how the opposition handles themselves. Remember the eyes of the world will be watching and in some quarters they will be looking for controversy and a giant killing.

  • kent loyal says:

    What a sad blinkered person you are. You know the venom that comes from your support towards the team you said died but still takes up so much of your time. I would imagine for the first time this season all your ‘cellik’ pubs across the country will be full, singing your political songs hoping that you beat that team from a lower division.

  • Jhimmy T jnr says:

    Well said.

    It’s been said in the past that form goes for nothin’ in a ‘derby?’ but this should be one ‘Glasgow derby’ that shouldn’t fall victim to that possibility.
    It may not be the ‘old firm’ as it once was…but victory and braggin’ rights is still without question a must!

    It is was it is…a game of football that will have the excitement and intensity that I’VE missed for a while now regardless of what people think of the tie and I can’t wait!

    There’s guaranteed to be incidents all over Scotland and the west but its up to the individual to be wise enough to avoid it where possible.

    Stay safe fellow tims and enjoy the occasion…the next time THIS ‘Glasgow Derby’ comes around we may be playing another ‘new club’ 😛

    HH 1RD TAL

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