One of the things I do every single day is monitor the Sevco fan sites. There is an element of schadenfreude in that, and I freely admit it. I enjoy reading about their suffering. I enjoy dipping a toe into the waters of their pain. But that’s not all.
Those sites are great repositories of rumours and stories about their club and the wider game here, just as our own sites are. Part of this job is keeping up to date on what’s going on across the sport, and if there’s an interesting story on those sites it is as valuable as one found elsewhere and they have offered a tremendous insight into all things Sevco.
To give you one example, it was on Sevco sites that the truth about Carlos Pena first emerged; stories whose origins were clearly deep inside Ibrox itself. That allowed me to predict, with total confidence, as early as last September, that he would not last beyond January. That signing was a disaster. The club did absolutely no due diligence on the player or his habits. It offers a fine insight into the dysfunctionality of the club.
It isn’t easy trawling through those sites. It is wearying. It is often painful. Even a moderate sampling exposes you to dehumanising language, sectarianism, racism, sexism, hate which bubbles from every orifice. Look at a site like Celtic Quick News and see how different ours are. I have often argued that the default position for Sevco fans is hate but that doesn’t do justice to it. The depth of it would astound you. The depravity of it makes you want to take a shower.
There are people on those sites who view Celtic as a warped institution, wholly evil, without any redeeming merits at all.
The language they use to attack us is mind-bending.
I am sure you can guess, but I doubt you can wholly imagine. You read it and you despair. You try to tell yourself that surely it’s exaggerated, that surely presumably rational people can’t believe some of what they write behind the anonymity of their user names.
They have day to day lives; this stuff can’t be all encompassing or they wouldn’t.
It seems impossible to carry so much venom towards your fellow man and yet there are whole threads which leave you reeling because you cannot imagine how it can be put on, you cannot easily separate what someone writes from what they must truly believe … and I came across one of them just the other day. It’s why I’m writing this.
The subject matter was on the memorial garden the club just got permission to build. I wrote a highly sarcastic piece about that when it was proposed to the planning committee. The idea itself is very nice, and positive, but it had a surreal and suspect element which I thought was worthy of some comment; the decision that they’d offer (for a fee) to store the earthly remains of fans … I found that icky in a way that was hard to write about objectively.
But as I said, the idea of the garden itself is not a bad one and the reaction of many of the fans on that thread was to offer their congratulations to the club for it and to express their view that it was a fitting tribute to those who died in the Ibrox disasters.
I could not have agreed more.
Those fans had only one concern in their minds; respectful appreciation.
But a large number of the posts had something different in mind; how long it would take before the area was targeted by Celtic fans. That was the first thing that popped into their heads. That our fans would wreck the area. The thread quickly devolved into the usual hateful language, discussions about security measures, and almost gleeful anticipation of being able to clamber onto the high ground once “the inevitable” happened.
These people have no conception of what the high ground is.
And that’s when it dawned on me that some of these people aren’t kidding around at all.
They really do view Celtic supporters – all of us – through this lens. They really do think the worst of us, the very, very worst. They expect it. Their perspective is so warped that an altruistic decision by their own club became just a stage on which to parade this prejudice.
And I wondered; do we have fans who feel the same way about theirs?
That we assume every Sevco fan is a rabid lunatic, focussed only on destruction?
I know there have to be elements in our support who do believe that, but I wonder why I don’t come across them with this depressing regularity.
I know part of this is cultural; We Are The Peepul is a supremacist sentiment if ever I’ve heard one, implying a certain arrogance and moral superiority … that’s exactly the kind of attitude that breeds this kind of worldview. But this is more than that.
Last year, I did an article where I posed the question; have I contributed to this?
Have I, either willingly or unwittingly, actually played a role in expanding the hatred outward?
I concluded, and I still conclude, that the answer is no.
I don’t peddle hate. I don’t believe that the whole of the Ibrox support is comprised of sickos or sectarian bigots; I lament the fact that so many of them are but I also read enough of their forums to know that many of their own fans feel exactly the same. I am friendly with enough of their bloggers to see the other side.
And I don’t believe my own support is holier than thou; one of the most depressing things about that particular thread is that I know, for sure, that there’s a diseased element who wears the colours of my club who believe that smashing up urns and spray-painting the walls in that memorial garden would be a jolly good time. They may even believe, in their sickness, that they are “striking a blow” for our side, like modern day revolutionaries.
I know they are out there. I hope they are surrounded by human beings who would be appalled at such an idea and would let them know that in no uncertain terms. Nevertheless, I am sure that some vandalism of a minor sort will happen, just as I know that those forums will bubble with orgasmic joy at it and allow those people to feel superior and smug.
I get angry at times. When I read posters on those sites referring to Celtic fans in the most grotesque ways I get angry that no-one on those forums ever calls them out on it. Is basic human decency, basic civility, really too much to ask of folk?
Does it benefit anyone that this kind of language is published on a public forum?
They aren’t, as some of them put it, “spreading the word” about the uniquely evil nature of Celtic. They believe they are, but any rational observer who looks at those kind of comments knows that they are absolutely bat-shit, and that reflects on their club more than it does on ours. They appear wholly oblivious to this and the damage it does to them.
These are the same people who spend weeks looking forward to the annual Poppycock in the hope that Celtic fans will sneeze during the silence or something and to them that’s all the occasion represents. It’s not about remembrance; it’s about rubber-necking. It’s not about paying their respects to the dead, it’s about celebrating their own perceived victory over some of the living, provided they are wearing our club’s colours.
And I wish it wasn’t so. I wish those who are on those forums and who just want to talk football could speak up and wash this stuff away. I’ve got news for them; they are the only people who can. Our fans can’t clear out the bad elements in their support, it doesn’t work that way. You have to be self-policing. Change on this front can only come from within.
Without it, their forums will continue to stink of the swamp. They will continue to attract the worst of the worst. The kind of people who give the club and Scottish football – Scottish society itself – a bad name. This is the modern world; there’s no excuse for it.
Unless people on there speak up, those forums are irredeemably doomed to continue in the same vein.
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