Last night, at Celtic Park, The Green Brigade unfurled a banner that has some people in a flap.
I’ll get to one of them, specifically, in a minute.
But for now let me straightforwardly decode the banner for those who were looking at it, a bit puzzled.
The slogan “Brendan’s Undefeated Army” and the “Brendan At Work” half of it went together like a well-designed jigsaw. In case the point was missed, the first half of the banner was a guy in paramilitary style garb. A Green Brigade guy, I presume.
On the surface of it, if that’s all you’re looking for, it’s a Republican banner.
The “Undefeated Army” is a reference to the Republican movement’s war with the British in Ireland.
Those of a more innocent vintage may not remember when there were road signs up all over the southern Six Counties with “Sniper At Work” on them, but they were quite similar to that which depicted Brendan last night.
The banner has political and social connotations galore.
It is a subtle masterpiece, the sort which The Green Brigade are very good at.
There are some people taking it way too literally for their own good; ask yourselves this question.
Are the Green Brigade suggesting that Brendan Rodgers, this generous, this good man, this manager who found the time to visit the way dressing room last night so he could pay his respects, is a “terrorist” to use the parlance some would? Or a freedom fight, to use the words which others might use instead?
Neither of those things.
Because it’s ludicrous.
And probably would be highly offensive to the manager himself.
That’s a sledgehammer message anyway, and The Green Brigade only uses the sledgehammer when they have one big almighty nut to crack.
Last night wasn’t that.
This wasn’t equating Brendan with a Republican leader or Celtic’s march to the treble last year with the Irish War of Independence. Stop looking for the woods in the trees. This was a football match. Brendan Rodgers is a football boss. The war is over across the water; this was The Green Brigade taunting our backward guests with a little iconography from back home, whilst reminding them that in football terms we’re now far beyond them.
Yeah it was a political message to Linfield, and others beyond.
The message was “we’re still here, and still proud of who we are.” It’s offended some people; guess what? It was meant to. It was a gutter-ball pitched where the opposition lives, just as some of the banners against Sevco were. The Green Brigade can make high-brow political statements – the one about Bobby Sands and William Wallace a few years back was so right on the nose some people must have winced with the pain – but their banners are equally capable of going low.
There’s a lot of gibbering and wailing in the press and on social media today, and some of it from Celtic fans who want to see this stuff gone from the stands at Parkhead. I sympathise. Even though I understand what that banner was, it was also easy to see that it would provoke a hysterical reaction from people who are our enemies. But you know what? Those people were always going to find a reason to have a wee moan anyway, they pretty much had to.
Some described it as an “IRA banner”.
Without the IRA being mentioned on it.
A lot of them are writing today about how “ugly” it was last night. Sorry? Where were the bottles and other assorted objects being thrown? Where was the pitch invasion? Where was the lunatic trying to assault a player?I’ve seen real ugly in a football ground, and not that long ago; it’s funny how many of our hacks would rather not go there.
Our old friend (aye right) Neil Cameron actually wrote the following line;
“There were songs sang from either set of supporters which could be construed as sectarian …”
Construed as sectarian? By who?
By Neil Cameron possibly, and a few other halfwits.
These people need to learn the difference between what’s sectarian and what’s political.
They need to learn the difference between what constitutes a political message and what constitutes naked hate.
I’ve seen naked hate too.
There was none on that banner last night.
There’s a reason why I condemn what belts out of the Sevco stands whilst not particularly caring what comes of Celtic’s. Because one is racist, bigoted bile and the songs from the other are about a conflict between Ireland and Britain which goes back over a hundred years, and that’s just in its modern phase.
People might not like those songs. I don’t like the Conservative (and Unionist) Party. I’ve learned to live with them. People might feel offended. I feel offended whenever I have to listen to Willie Rennie speak. I’ve gotten used to it.
The reaction on Sevco forums is all too predictable.
They are emailing UEFA today; I kid you not. They are getting into a mass emailing campaign. And they call us obsessed?
I’ll save them all some time and trouble; if it’s not in the UEFA match delegate’s report the Discipline and Control Board won’t touch it with a 20 foot pole. So either it’s already under investigation or it’s not going to be; save yourselves an afternoon trying to master spelling and punctuation and grammar and don’t subject some poor sod in a back office to “I’d lik to complane about Celitc fans last night and ther baners at the Linfeld game …”
Even writing like that gives me a sore head.
A lot of our media class will get itself into an almighty flap over those banners; you know what? Until they are complaining, equally loudly, about the excrement that pours onto our streets every July, masquerading as “a celebration of culture” I really don’t want to hear any of it. Not a single one of them has uttered a word about events at Ibrox, or questioned why the SFA did the sum total of nil about it, and that includes even making a statement.
They’re sitting, right now, on the biggest football story this island has ever seen … the trail of lies and deceit stretching from Hampden to Ibrox over LNS, the tax case and a host of other stuff. And this, this, is how they chose to define what’s wrong with Scottish football.
Their outrage is so contrived, so phony, that it makes me want to vomit.