Today everybody’s favourite brand of decorative bog roll was at it again, printing another story with an anti-Celtic slant, and this one against a favourite target; our Irish forward, Anthony Stokes, currently on loan at Hibs, who are chasing Sevco for a place in the SPL.
As a target, Stokes ticks all their boxes and no mistake, which is why it wasn’t even surprising to see this morning’s papers and the howling negativity as regards him.
What was his crime this time?
Being photographed with Barry Hughes, a “gangster” the paper calls him, in a move I hope their lawyers cleared before the issue went out. I don’t know if Barry Hughes is that or not, but the flap over this is entirely ridiculous and for more reasons than one, but foremost amongst them is this; for The Record to be slating Stokes for their association with this guy is hypocrisy of the first order.
That kind of thing has never stopped them, of course.
There was a time, before he was convicted for fraud, when Barry Hughes was a media darling in this city, and one of the newspapers that endlessly fawned over him was the same one that now squeals like a pig over our striker posing for some pictures in his company.
Barry Hughes gets photographed with a lot of people. Every day.
If he is what the papers say he is, well it wouldn’t exactly be the first time that the rich and famous have enjoyed the company of those from the badlands.
If the Record wanted to get all moral over who breaks bread with him they could put a different person under their outraged headlines every day of the week!
Is Stokes the only high profile person Barry Hughes has been out with lately? I happen to know – for a fact – that he’s not. He’s not even the only footballer who’s been in his company recently.
Where are those pictures?
Where are the “insiders” talking about “poor judgement”?
But this is Tony Stokes. This is the guy who’s dad owns a rebel pub and said he would refuse to serve the Queen. This is a guy who’s an Irish Catholic and doesn’t hide his background or his pride in it, from anybody, and there are people for whom that’s a greater “crime” than any Barry Hughes has ever been convicted of.
Hughes will know as well as we do that this wasn’t an article that was coming after him; he is collateral damage here in The Daily Record’s long time campaign of harassment against our player.
Hughes, not Stokes, was photographed with the wrong man this time.
If Stokes cuts a loud enough fart someone in our media takes offence to it; he’s a target for these guys like no-one at our club has been since Neil Lennon.
You spot the connection, yeah?
Because if you are an Irish Catholic with a high profile here in Scotland you’re meant to keep your mouth shut and your head down.
How dare you represent yourself and your background with pride and honour?
How dare you celebrate that culture as so many backward idiots in this country celebrate theirs with their annual drunken sally down our streets every July?
I’ll tell you something else about Stokes which the papers won’t say; whatever you think of the company he keeps, he doesn’t turn his back on people.
He knows he’s going to eat dirt for it, but he is loyal and steadfast and stands by his friends.
He isn’t ashamed of them, and that’s probably why he’s trusted and respected by so many who lead closed off lives and don’t let too many people get into their inner circle.
I’m not saying I agree with his choices, but Stokes doesn’t ask anyone to.
But nor does he hide part of his life from the world.
I respect that. I respect it more than those snide hacks who have probably been out in Barry Hughes’ company more than once but don’t mind throwing him under the bus on a day like today to help them hit their real target.
I know who I would rather have as a mate, and I’m sure most of you would agree.
The press continues to put this guy under pressure, and that was only ever going to increase when he moved to Hibs and became a key threat to Sevco’s promotion hopes.
A lot of people are going to say that Stokes “brings this stuff on himself” but that’s making excuses for a media which has substituted what’s newsworthy for what’s entertaining.
This might sell a few papers by feeding into a negative perception about Stokes and Celtic – the Republican sympathiser with friends in low places and who’s fans sing songs glorifying such people – but it’s not newsworthy. There’s no “public interest” in showing you pictures of a football player hanging out with his mates.
It’s tabloid trash, like the kind of thing you would see in the National Enquirer.
It’s gutter journalism and that’s being kind.
It’s lazy too. They’ve essentially got a “story” by going through someone’s Instagram snaps.
Worse, as this comes from a paper that has welcomed crooks into Scottish football, which has lauded and fawned over and serialised the stories of hardcore criminals and made folk heroes of people who’ve been involved in everything from contract killing to drug dealing it is reprehensible for them to pretend morality of any sort, and especially for them to do so in pursuit of an employee of Celtic.