Unpopular Fact Number One: The media helped make Gazza what he is today.
Unpopular Fact Number Two: Gazza is responsible for his own actions.
There’s a third Unpopular Fact; the Scottish media, in particular, have contributed to his shocking descent by continuing to indulge in some of his worst excesses, laughing them off as if they were nothing more than a little comedy act from the class clown.
We have a tolerant culture, which is hard to believe when you spend five minutes on social media where every scumbag with a hateful opinion wants to share it with you. Maybe it’s anonymity or the safety of insulting someone at distance; it allows every wannabe hard man to have a pop without looking his target in the eye. Convenient, and cowardly too.
Those people aside, we really do put up with a lot and our capacity for understanding and forgiveness is enormous, and occasionally heartening.
But what do you do with a serial recidivist? With someone who’s simply not getting it, who persists in acting out and engaging in behaviour that is not only self-harming but socially reprehensible too? What is society’s answer to that supposed to be?
Paul Gascoigne long ago used up about all the sympathy I had.
There’s nothing left about him to say other than he’s a truly idiotic individual to whom we should pay no further heed after this week. Through his years of tribulation, and much of it entirely self-inflicted, until now I’ve never written an unsympathetic word about him because that’s not what you’re supposed to do. It’s also an insult to those who’ve suffered with alcoholism, and I respect their struggle too much to write something that risks sounding like an attack on them.
It wouldn’t have been and this won’t be.
Gascoigne’s problem isn’t alcohol. It’s Gazza, his media hyped, over-indulged, superego, who, as it happens, is a bigot to boot.
This is the final Unpopular Fact, the one that dare not speak its name.
There’s a story about Terry Butcher which I found fascinating and still do; it’s from his autobiography where he discusses the hold sectarianism almost took over him. Butcher went to Ibrox knowing nothing of the “culture of the club” but, by his own admission and to his shame, he freely acknowledges and admits to becoming “sucked into it.” He would go to supporter’s events and sing with gusto all the familiar tunes and he was fully behind the sectarian supremacist sentiments of “We Are The Peepil.”
It was his wife who put a stop to that, when she confronted him with the reality of what he was; no better than a ned, spouting the most atrocious bigotry.
Butcher says he confronted the reality of that and backed away from it quickly, and still says he’s ashamed of it to this day.
I respect that man for those sentiments and for telling that story, because it’s an important, and instructive, one.
No footballer who came to Glasgow to play for that club was ever better tailored to wrap himself in all the cerements of hatred quite like Paul Gascoigne.
If you wanted to find the poster boy for the intellectually and morally challenged, this would be your guy.
Not only was he perfectly susceptible to all the peripheral nonsense, but the club itself was like a spiritual mirror of him; over-bloated, full of itself, arrogant, smug and unquestioningly worshiped by a phalanx of goons and with a slavering, sycophantic media to boot.
I’m sick of hearing how that club, and in particular Walter Smith, “steered him right”.
Have you ever heard such obvious cobblers, contradicted by every fact?
This was the guy who battered his wife whilst at Ibrox; who once downed a double before going out onto the pitch; who mimicked the playing of the flute during a sodding Celtic – Rangers game … talk about stirring the soup.
Not only did he leave Ibrox with every one of his issues massively multiplied, but he had added “flute playing sectarian halfwit” to his CV.
Was Gazza a funny guy with a wicked sense of humour?
Aye, he probably was and still is, but as I discussed earlier in the week that’s focussing on ephemera, the size of Hitler’s penis, rather than on looking at the bigger picture.
At Rangers, every one of his failings as a human being was allowed to be turned on its head.
They became part of the “Gazza legend” and oh how people laughed.
They’re still laughing.
The Daily Record ran its headline earlier in the week when “bigots singing sectarian songs” hijacked an event he was doing in Irvine.
The paper called it his “homecoming” and how right they were.
There was no “hijacking” of any kind at that event, because the jaked up halfwits who shouted “Gazza give us The Sash” were his audience, that was the gallery he was here to play to because he is them and they are him, twisted alter-egos, shadows of each other, and although The Record went out of its way not to tell you that, that version of the story broke nonetheless.
Because by the end, he was one of the bigots singing the sectarian songs, and why should we be surprised?
Because that’s what he became when he signed on at Rangers.
That’s what the club turned him into, but it turned Butcher into the same and he rejected that version of himself and many others resisted it to begin with.
Can you imagine Brian Laudrup at a similar event?
As I said earlier, we are a tolerant country with a tolerant culture, more so than it needs to be.
For all my strong feelings on this subject, this is an article I’d never have written but for this man pushing his way onto the front pages with moronic and socially divisive behaviour, cheered on by a room full of yobs whose collected brain power couldn’t light a six watt bulb.
The myth about Gazza is that he is special, and that because he is special we should sympathise with his plight and we should tolerate his less than savoury behaviour.
He certainly had extraordinary talent, but much of it was wasted on a series of dreadful career decisions and his inability to behave himself whilst on the park. His injury at Spurs, in the cup final against Forest, and which plagued much of his later career, was a self-inflicted one from a moment of typical madness.
His behaviour, more often than not, even that which some people find endlessly hilarious, was crass, vulgar, ignorant and generally deplorable.
His was a life spiralling towards disaster before booze ever got a proper hold on him.
Gascoigne is, to put it bluntly, an idiot and this is where our sympathy for him ought to end, because he’s making no real effort to change or be better than he is. The sectarian bigot who walked off the stage in Irvine shouting “No Surrender” is the truest version of the man there is, and all that remains of what he might have been.