Aaaah we’re well underway now.
With the numbers of TV viewers falling off the first brick fell out of the Old Firm wall. Now a Celtic first team player has come out and said that the so-called rivalry has become a farce because the games between the clubs are too easy.
There is little doubt that those comments were sanctioned inside Celtic Park. Some will say they will “fire up” the Ibrox club; the very fact that nobody inside Parkhead seems terribly concerned about that possibility is pretty telling in itself.
Also, it has the media talking about the issue, finally, and asking the question as to whether the rivalry is valid, whether it still applies … that’s a major victory for us.
We’ve been chipping away at this for a while, little by little. Now it seems the sledgehammers have come out. Not before time.
When we beat Sevco 5-1 at Parkhead this time last year, Scott Brown was pretty direct in his verdict on the game. “It was like men against boys,” he said. There was not a trace of worry in his voice, no sign of any nerves about the possibility of a backlash.
Off the back of the notorious Hampden semi penalty defeat, Brown and Celtic kept their counsel as the Ibrox men talked big and made bold predictions. It took only one win for our captain to reveal how deep the disdain for them was, and no-one contradicted him. Celtic’s decision to with-hold ticket money in the aftermath of the match, to pay the repair bill for the damage their fans caused to our toilets, was another slap in their face.
They leaked it to the media, of course, whining about how it had broken some unspoken convention; Celtic didn’t even respond. The convention they spoke of was between ourselves and a club called Rangers, and it depended on a certain mutual respect … that respect is nowhere to be seen here. They have never pretended to have any, for anyone, and so Celtic no longer feels that it has to pretend it has any for them.
And mark my words, we don’t. We see them as a joke.
Celtic is now wholly content to talk them down, to have our players laugh in their faces, knowing that no matter what noises they make in the media that Sevco is a pale shadow of the club it claims to be … and we know more even than that. We know that Rangers was never the club it claimed to be in the first place. It, too, was a shadow on the wall.
The rivalry the press places such great store in … this is what it’s been reduced to. The butt of jokes. What remains amazing to me is that they and the SFA – the clubs included – continue to jeopardise the integrity of the whole of the sport to support this farce.
In time though even that will change. It has to.