Scotland: Where A Hooligan In A Football Scarf Isn’t A Football Hooligan.

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There’s a great moment in The Deal, the first movie in Stephen Frears’ Tony Blair trilogy, where Michael Sheen’s Blair is trying to convince David Morrissey’s Gordon Brown that he is, in fact, a Scot. “You may mock,” he says, “but I am a Scot.”

I laughed hearing that, because I’ve heard those same words out of Blair’s mouth a few times.

Brown does decide to mock him. “As well as being black and working class?” he asks. “I was born in Scotland,” Blair tells him. “Being born in a stable doesn’t make you a horse,” is the answer he gets, and that, too, always makes me laugh.

The truth of it is obvious. It’s a beautiful put-down. But sometimes being born in a stable is a sure sign of what you are, and in Lucky Number Slevin The Rabbi tells the titular character that, “The first time someone calls you a horse you punch him on the nose, the second time someone calls you a horse you call him a jerk but the third time someone calls you a horse, well then perhaps it’s time to go shopping for a saddle.”

I laughed last night reading The Daily Record’s characterisation of the thugs who attacked McDonalds as being neds “wearing Rangers scarfs.” Not Sevco supporting neds, just people who happened to have red, white and blue scarves on. That doesn’t make them Sevco fans any more than being born in Edinburgh made Blair Scottish; perhaps they were just passers-by who found those scarves in the bin.

The Evening Times characterised one of the neds as “wearing a Rangers top” which may just make him an ordinary guy who liked the colour at the bottom of the bargain bin. Yet I wonder where this mental block and inability to simply call him a Sevco fan comes from.

It gets even better, of course.

“A Police Scotland spokeswoman confirmed the incident was not football related,” The Evening Times report on the incident said. That, too, made me laugh. Because a hooligan in a football scarf is something other than a football hooligan now, at least according to them, and I find that equally hilarious in a chilly sort of way. I know I shouldn’t.

There have been three major incidents, in this city, involving their supporters in a matter of weeks. There were incidents in Slovakia and Croatia. In all cases, the media went out of its way not to call a horse a horse, even though it’s stabled, saddled and has a face as long as Gordon Waddell’s upon hearing he’s been mistaken for somebody else.

These were Sevco supporters; they are the common thread linking all the incidents. It is pathetic that some people in our media aren’t saying that out loud. What are they afraid of? Doing the news? Telling the truth? Isn’t that the job description?

This is a strange country at times, but never more strange when The Peepul are on the rampage and Civic Scotland falls over itself not to say it out loud. The longer this silence is maintained the longer this is going to go on.

It is a matter of time before something so serious happens that it cannot be swept aside as easily as the last few weeks.

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