In a statement that frankly boggles the mind, Linfield have told their fans to think about the good name of the club when they visit Celtic Park this week.
Are they for real? Is this for anything but show?
They have already trashed that name. Their behaviour the other night was lamentable. The club has moved quickly to find the guy who threw the bottle at Leigh Griffiths, but anyone who watched the footage of him, and of other Celtic players, being pelted on Friday knows it was more than one guy and one object.
Their singing was deplorable too. Which is to say nothing for the pitch invasion at the end. Not many clubs have had to deploy riot police onto the pitch after a match to protect opposition players. How the club can even claim a “good name” after that amazes me.
The idea is ridiculous anyway. The club has taken some public steps to move beyond its image as a sectarian cesspit but not nearly enough of them. If they were serious about it they would trim off certain elements of the annual Ibrox Bigot-Fest. They would draw the line at allowing their club to be used by the Loyalist element.
They are so much like Sevco, this lot.
From the imitation strip to the songs in the stands, they are almost modelled on the Ibrox club and its predecessor organisation. They have the same shady mentality. The same shocking cynicism, where they don’t simply promote untruths but seem to believe them. They stirred the soup as much as they could in the run up to the game, as good as accusing Celtic of painting their fans as extremists before those same fans proved that’s exactly what they are. A club gets the supporters it deserves though.
Because they are like Sevco in another way; they have tailored much of their appeal towards the Bigot Pound. They have manufactured their image in a way they think appeals to their “core support” and never mind that it makes other people positively balk at the idea of going to watch one of their games. Their link with Ibrox goes back a long way, but it has become thoroughly poisonous now, a celebration of a “culture” which is steeped in blood.
The sight of their fans, arms outstretched, confronting police on Friday night was troubling only in that it was oddly familiar; these people would have been right at home (and doubtless some were) on the pitch at Hampden at the end of the 2015-16 Scottish Cup Final.
They would have been amongst friends with the hooligans of Manchester.
The club itself has moved to ignore or excuse their behaviour. The media narrative coming out of Belfast is that Griffiths himself was somehow to blame for the atrocious scenes. This sounds an awful lot like the kind of guff we heard after the Hampden riot; someone else is always to blame. The Peepul are always “provoked.” But they aren’t the only fans in the world to be “provoked.” A very small number react like mad dogs turned loose.
They will come to Celtic Park and I believe they will act according to form. Seats will be wrecked. Sick songs will be sung. Coins and other objects will be thrown. The atmosphere from their end of the ground will trawl the depths. In the aftermath UEFA will open investigations. The club will issue mealy-mouthed statements about how “the majority of fans behaved” and with that any “unfortunate incidents” will be glossed over.
And we know this because we’ve seen it before, we’ve seen it right here at home, and not that long ago either.
Ibrox. 29 April 2017.
Just in case people have forgotten.
The SFA certainly seem to have.
That’s nearly three months ago now, and they have yet to utter a single word about it or impose any sanctions at all.
Fourth officials report lost in the post, is it?