Date: 30th December 2016 at 4:36pm
Written by:

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, that the conduct of Sevco’s directors and supporters organisations couldn’t be more flagrantly provocative or vile, they amaze and repel you with another example of behaviour which makes your stomach lurch.

I don’t intend to sugar coat this; their latest line of attacking us is sickening beyond belief. It is designed to generate headlines against our club and our supporters, designed to deflect from the probability of a bad result (perhaps even a disastrous one) and to put our entire club on the back foot. It will not succeed, because they’ve massively over-reached here. They’ve gone so low that any effort to attack us with this will blow up in their faces.

Last night, I posted an article on Club 1872 and their latest inflammatory statement. In many ways we owe them our thanks for that statement because it put up a flag which otherwise might not have been visible. In the aftermath I was asked by more than a few fans about the minute’s silence which is scheduled for before the game.

To be honest, had I not read Club 1872’s statement I would have known the sum total of nil about that. Because it wasn’t in the media at all.

Now with less than 24 hours to go before the game, the announcement has been made. But not, initially, by Sevco although that’s now been rectified (more on that in a moment). It was made by Celtic, in a very respectful, quite moving statement which reveals that the reps from the two clubs will be laying wreaths and paying their respects.

This is a beautiful sentiment. I am pleased about it. This is the kind of thing that could have brought the two clubs together, and leeched some of the poison out of this awful fixture. But the sentiment has been soured – in fact ruined – by the sneaking suspicion, apparently shared by prominent people at our club, that this has been planned with an entirely different sentiment attached to it. One with no altruistic or compassionate motives whatsoever.

Before I continue, let me say this:

The Ibrox disaster’s anniversary is 2 January. That makes this a fitting time to hold such a tribute, no matter what some febrile minds might conclude. The silence itself needs to be respected by everyone; period. To knowingly disrupt it makes you a low-life of the worst sort, the kind of person who crawled out of a sewer. You don’t represent any body of opinion outside of your own lonely brain cells. You don’t belong in civilised society.

But the fact that the anniversary is so obviously the right time for this asks questions in itself and the manner in which this has been done makes me suspicious and leads me to a shocking conclusion.

For this silence has been long planned; that much is clear.

Club 1872’s statement refers to numerous discussions with the police on the issue, and that deadly phrase I highlighted last night about how they “emphatically emphasised” to Police Scotland the importance of the silence suddenly makes an awful kind of sense today when you see Celtic’s announcement.

For if this was so important, why the Hell did we have to announce it to our fans instead of Sevco itself informing the media, the SFA and everyone else about it? Why was it kept incognito, so that many of our supporters would have travelled to the match totally in the dark about it?

What the Hell could be so important and at the same time so inconsequential that they were, apparently, ready to simply spring it on people at the very last second, if at all?

And I’m sorry, but I can only conclude that it was deliberate.

That they quite cynically decided to use dead supporters and a memorial silence to them as a weapon. That the sole reason Club 1872 placed such an emphasis on the silence, both to the police and in their statement, was because they had an expectation that our unknowing fans would stumble into a trap.

This sounds insane, of course and I realise that writing it.

But I am not alone in harbouring this dark thought; it’s been echoed on CQN, by the Supporters Association and, apparently, on the face of their statement, by Celtic itself. If you remove this awful possibility from the list of options you’re left only with the idea that the Ibrox operation itself is scandalously dysfunctional and can’t even do proper planning on an issue of this magnitude.

But I think it’s clear that when Club 1872 discussed this with police they did so with the connivance of their club.

Yet Celtic’s statement makes it clear that we’ve only just now been told that this will go ahead; the memorial laying of the wreath and everything else, which you’d imagine could and should have been sorted out and discussed weeks ago, has instead been hastily improvised. That does, in a lot of ways, sound like their board is simply useless and has no foresight. That they were shoddy in their preparations and left this to the last minute.

It’s not like they couldn’t have seen this coming, though. Club 1872 clearly did.

Furthermore, a pre-announcement of this would have made good sense to both clubs, especially in light of other events. This could have been used as a bridge-building excersise. It could have been helpful to those of us who want to see the hatred taken out of this game.

Why wasn’t that done?

Who decided this approach was better?

So yes, this feels like something else. At the same time as it’s going on our club has been told it can only investigate conditions in the stand after the game, which has Paul67 and others urging fans to take photos as soon as they arrive and upload them immediately, to “time stamp” them for posterity, in case the club attempts to blame us for damage that was already there. And amidst this, our excellent supporter liaison officer has tweeted that hard-hats are suddenly banned by police, for reasons passing understanding, and that none of our fans will be allowed the time or space to set up and organise card displays or banners.

The hard-hats and the banners issues are small fry, but they are indicative of a mentality inside Ibrox to make this experience inconvenient and uncomfortable for our supporters, with Club 1872 pressing the police to arrest people for the slightest perceived infraction.

This goes beyond petty, snide behaviour and becomes something more sinister.

One look at their fan forums (where some of them didn’t even know about this until our club announced it; go figure) tells you there is open glee at the prospect of being able to point their fingers at our supporters. Ponder that for a second; they are delighted about the minute’s silence, not for what it means to their dead brothers and sister and cousins and friends but for the opportunity it affords them to confirm all their darkest prejudices about us.

That’s what we’re dealing with here.

That’s the mind-set you’re up against.

Those people are already, publicly, pissing on the memories of their own dead. What do you think they’d feel about a scheme that afforded them the opportunity to make us look like shit? They’d grab it in an instant, and wallow in the muck.

But does the insanity of a certain section of their support really translate into the club sanctioning a put-up job like this?

Unfortunately the available evidence suggests that it does.

It is tempting to conclude that at Ibrox the tail is wagging the dog; that the lunatic element of their supporters groups is influencing the outlook of the club. But that doesn’t stand up. Because it’s the club itself which controls the fan organisation, as I’ve pointed out on here time and time again.

The lunatic fringe didn’t take control by accident; these are the club’s favourite sons. Don’t forget, the club even offered one of their most notorious halfwits a seat on the board, until his own social media utterances publicly, spectacularly, torpedoed the idea … as was all too predictable.

This is the club whose director, John Gilligan, only this month sent a WATP message to their fans on their own TwitterTV feed.

Is he the same director Graham Speirs accused of being blasé about the banned racist song The Billy Boys? In many ways you’ve got to hope that he is, otherwise there’s more than one of them in the director’s box. Certainly, the club itself had no problem whatsoever appearing on the Linfield pitch with a Loyalist flute band , and their pronouncements after the cup final where they accused half of Scottish football of being involved in active hatred against them were right out of the Paranoids Handbook.

They also colluded in the spread of utter lies about the conduct of Hibs fans, elevating the Victim Lie to staggering heights through their media narrative that “every player” was attacked that day – a lie that found its way onto the front page of a national newspaper, and who’s writer said he got it from inside Ibrox itself.

Even more concerning were the statements the club itself issued about our fans after the Celtic Park game, a match about which any number of abhorrent myths have already grown such as the one I talked about last night wherein the police “ignored” the “hanging effigies.”

At least four arrests blow that one to smithereens; it is still widely promoted on their forums.

The official statement in the aftermath of that game was one of the most hate-filled and vicious – not to mention deranged – communiques I’ve ever seen a club issue.

It is not the only example. What I’ve offered above is a small selection of all the available evidence that the people running Sevco are dangerously paranoid or cynically aware that they are upping the stakes and the level of hate to snapping point. Either way, we should be concerned.

Even as I write this, their club has finally announced the silence publicly … and yet even a statement of this nature is bitter, sarcastic and reeks of vindictiveness.

“It is to be hoped the 60 seconds will be observed properly and that decency will prevail over any rivalries. The period of silence is about one thing and one thing only – honouring the memory of the 66 fans who left their homes to go to a football match and never returned. Celtic directors will attend the wreath laying ceremony and Rangers acknowledges their wish that supporters observe the minute’s silence impeccably.”

What does that suggest to you?

When the official club announcement is a piece of shreiking, one-upsmanship?

I repeat; Celtic fans have no history of failure to honour those who died in that needless tragedy.

Why then does that statement make it sound like we do?

If you’re asking me do I believe that the Sevco board colluded with the nuttier elements of their support, using the memory of dead Rangers fans, for the purposes of embarrassing us, I have to say that yes, on the basis of the available evidence I do believe it, and I know how that will sound to a lot of people.

Let me put it this way; I see no reason not to believe it.

Always with something like this you try to look beyond your initial anger, to past behaviour, and for obvious signs of restraint or sanity, which give you an alternative proposition to consider.

And I see none of that.

I see a club infused with spite, wallowing in hate, drowning in self-righteousness and with a board of directors who are unscrupulous, led by a convicted crook and congenital liar who a South African judge said wasn’t to be believed on any subject unless there was evidence to support his claims.

This doesn’t meet that standard of proof.

To be frank, this guy, and that club, is capable of anything.

Anything.

And so sadly, I have to conclude this was a shocking effort to set us up.

To my fellow Celtic fans, I say “be careful.” If you’re attending that ground be aware that your every move is being scrutinised, your every act being watched. I’m not telling you to behave; the vast, vast, vast majority of our fans – and in fact people inside the stadium – don’t need to be told that and those who do are moronic beyond belief and incapable of reaching.

I’m telling you to watch out for anything that might even give the appearance of misdeeds.

It’s impossible, by the way. But try.

An old Warren Buffet line comes back to me now; “if you put a traffic cop on somebody’s tail for 500 miles eventually he gets a ticket.”

Not satisfied with that, our enemies are trying to rig the deck.

Celtic fans have never disrespected a silence for fellow dead football fans and we never would, and that’s not just Celtic fans but is a view that’s shared by all decent football supporters, nee all decent human beings. To disrespect the dead is an affront against them and all the living too.

So is using their memory for such a thing as this.

Those doing it have no shame.

No regard. No decency. At all.

I am thoroughly sick and tired of sharing the planet with these people and I now very badly want this game to be over.