Celtic fans have always been pretty incredible, right? I don’t particularly care what the critics have to say about that, or what some other supporters believe.
It’s true just the same.
To a lot of people in Scottish football, we’re simply one side of the dreaded double-headed coin, forever connected to whatever masquerades as a football club playing out of Ibrox.
For years we’ve tried to make it clear that we want sod all to do with that. To some, we might as well have been talking in a foriegn language. Fans at other clubs still tar us with the same brush, acting as if we, too, have dumped debt, bent rules, corrupted the governing bodies and drove the Scottish game to the brink.
We did none of it. But we can’t seem to shake the stigma that comes with a decades long attachment to our one time rivals … even if few us wanted that association anyway.
We’ve talked until we’re green in the face …
Now, a group of fans from CQN have decided that talking isn’t enough. They’re taking out an ad in a national newspaper, to make it clear that we want nothing to do with the tag, or the hype that surrounds it. We don’t want an association with the Ibrox NewCo. We are, as we have ever been, a club with its own identity, and that does not depend on anyone else.
In fact, we find the whole “Old Firm” idea abhorrent.
The ad will run in The Sunday Herald, on the 25th of this month. The enterprise should be applauded by everyone who follows the Hoops. It’s a revolutionary move. No set of supporters in British football has ever placed a newspaper ad setting out the reasons it wants nothing to do with a rival side, and clarifying their thinking on that club and its history.
Some – maybe even some Celtic fans – will say this is an indulgence, and that we should concentrate on our own club, but I disagree.
This is necessary. It’s important.
Clarifying these things sends several messages.
First, it sends one to our own board of directors, to promote any “rivalry” at their peril. Celtic fans won’t wear it. The rivalry, as hateful as it was, died when the club called Rangers did.
Secondly, it responds to the shocking comments from Neil Doncaster, where he said the SPFL considers the NewCo a “continuation” of the old club. Responding to this barmy assertion is vital, because it goes to the heart of much of what is wrong – and will continue to be wrong – with Scottish football. This bizarre assertion needs to be not only challenged but crushed.
Finally, it sends a message to the other clubs, and their fans, that Celtic supporters are tired of the same old systems of governance and the awful results they produce. It announces to them that we are ready to take a lead in fighting for reform in the game here. We are not the enemy. We are allies and friends in that fight, and we do not seek to carve up the territory into something that serves ourselves and no-one else.
Those days are gone. I hope to God our own board realises the strength of feeling on this.
The supporters have taken the lead where the club would not go. That speaks volumes in and of itself, and it might well be that this is an effort to spark a reaction from them too.
One thing is clear; the days of sitting at the back of the bus are over, for good.