First up, let me thank everyone who’s responded to the Neil Cameron piece from yesterday; that one was important and I’m grateful that a lot of folk treated it that way.
The national media in this country is a disgrace, and that so many of its members appear to believe either that it’s acceptable to stoke hate for the benefit of sales or that hate itself is something to joke about – remember the “Which of These (Hector or Lenny) Is The Most Hated Man At Ibrox”? – and those people should be tackled, endlessly, without fail.
This article is a change in tac.
Over on Twitter, a bunch of people this morning decided to simply skip the point of the article and instead thrust into the spotlight “the evil of the Old Firm.”
You know the kind of people I mean; preening, sneering, arrogant, full-of-themselves tossers who have an idea in their head about “two sides of the same coin” and who won’t shift it no matter what you say to them, or no matter how many facts and details you throw at them.
Today I’m not so much bothered, though, by the “two sides” argument; it is weak, intellectually incoherent, lazy, ignorant to a monstrous degree.
I’m more concerned with the underlying structure of that argument, the one that underpinned the Offensive Behaviour At Football Act in the first place and which is still the one favoured by most of its supporters.
And it’s this; that both clubs are evil.
That our fans are shallow goons.
That the clubs are responsible for the creation and promotion of social division and that without them the country would be a better place.
You’ve heard all that before.
And all of it is complete and utter bollocks.
Like I said, I’m not getting into the two sides of the same coin debate. It’s been had, and it will be had again, I’m sure. Only somebody with a five-minute attention span and who reads way too much of The Scotsman or Neil Cameron for their own good could swallow it. The old “plague on both your houses” has long been used as a shortcut to solutions and by centrists and people too scared to actually confront real problems.
We can discuss them another day.
What offends me about these people is that they seem to view all of us – football fans in the West of Scotland regardless of which club they support – as unreconstructed bigots, troglodytes who the rest of the country needs saving from. People, in fact, in need of some saving from themselves.
To read some of their comments you would think that Glasgow was an armed camp surrounded by walls.
Point out to them that fans of Celtic and Sevco work together, socialise together, Hell even live together in the same houses, share marriages, families, mortgages, dreams, ambitions, aspirations … it goes down like a bucket of cold sick.
It’s the last thing they want to hear in their appalling ignorance and narrow mindedness.
Some of the most important contributors to what gets published on this blog are Sevco fans. They provide information. They put things in context. They offer insight.
Yes I hate the bigots and the cretins who drag Scottish football down, but I hate them whatever colours they wear and whatever teams they support. Sevco has a large number of them, but I have never allowed myself to fall into the trap of believing they were the only people in the stands.
Scottish society is full of self-important yokels who hate the two Glasgow clubs for their so-called bigotry; listen to the words that come out of some of their mouths, though. It’s bigotry of a different kind. It’s just hatred of a different sort.
If sectarianism is built on ignorance – which it is – then these people are much closer to what they purport to despise than they think they are.
“We don’t want it in our football grounds,” some of them tell me.
But ask them what “it” is and they answer with stupidity.
“Political songs,” is one that gets thrown at me.
Great, well I’ll put down my gun when you put down yours.
Let’s hear no more Flower of Scotland; let’s face it, if you don’t know that’s a political song you’re a brain dead eejit.
Whilst we’re at it, get those party political ad boards out of the grounds. That kind of stuff is no longer wanted.
Sectarianism wasn’t invented at a Celtic – Rangers game.
Those who attack two football clubs as if they were the poison factories that produce it, I don’t even have an appropriate number of insults for people so thick. Sectarianism is everywhere in this country, but it’s the football grounds that inspire the wrath of these armchair activists.
One of the folk arguing with me today showed his hand when he talked about how he “walked away from Scottish football.”
Good for him.
I suspect more people will do the same in the next few years, as the rancid behaviour of the SFA continues to rankle and continues to go unanswered.
But this geezer wasn’t protesting about that, and I don’t think he was protesting about sectarianism either; if he was he didn’t love the game very much and it seems to me that he missed the 80’s and 90’s which, if it’s possible, were even more toxic inside and outside grounds.
No, I get the impression this was some kind of social guilt, that he felt being a football supporter had made him kind of “uncool” amongst trendy elites pontificating on how evil we all are; keep telling yourselves that. Keep telling yourselves how hateful all football fans are … as I said earlier, yours is just a different kind of hate, that’s all, and all the more poisonous that you can’t even recognise it for what it really is.
I get sick of these people and their patronising bullshit.
Peter Lawwell said something interesting during the whole application process for the Celtic Village project; he said that there’s a common cause amongst the political class that football clubs shouldn’t be helped, that there’s a political downside to promoting the game. He’s right, of course.
The game is a target, it’s not seen as bringing benefits to society.
Some of these people follow football.
And underneath all of it, all of the ignorant trash talk, there is an another seedy undercurrent, that of jealousy, of that old bitch envy we talked about earlier in the week. They may dress it up in pretty clothes but it’s there, green eyes blazing, bitterness seeping out of every pore.
They decry the weaknesses of their own clubs, the number of people from their own communities who travel to Glasgow every other week … and it eats away at them.
You know what you do about that?
One of two things; be better or suck it up and live with it.
But these people haven’t opted to do either.
Instead they’ve created the ultimate conspiracy theory; that all their neighbours, all the people they go to work with, even members of their own families, are attracted to evil. That sectarianism, far from being a divisive and dangerous thing, actually has a gravitational pull which … brings people together.
From different communities, different backgrounds, different cities, different cultures … even different religions … all going to Parkhead and Ibrox week after week to … indulge in sectarian behaviour?
Sitting next to each other?
Don’t mention the Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and yes Protestants who go to watch Celtic every week, or the representatives of all those communities and the occasional Catholic who goes to Ibrox … that screws with their narrative. It eats away at the logic.
I am a Celtic supporter, socialist, humanitarian and anti-fascist.
I despise bigotry in all of its forms.
I detest hatred no matter who is spouting it.
And I loathe ignorance of every shade and stripe.
I am proud to be all of those things, but a Celtic fan most of all because I know in my heart of hearts it made me those other things too.
I got my politics from Celtic, my compassion from Celtic, my love of community and family from Celtic.
I will not apologise for it.
I defy anyone to tell me it’s not made me a good person, a better person than I would otherwise have been. It’s why I’m not a curtain twitching, judgemental, narrow minded, loathing filled, gossiping, finger pointing, hateful, preening b@st@rd like some of those I’ve spoken to today.
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