Date: 2nd October 2018 at 7:05pm
Written by:

I am gratified to some of the folks on Twitter today, one of whom sent me an illuminating clip.

I’d never seen it before, although I have heard of it; it was Terry Butcher, talking about his past and the way his wife made him get a grip as he was descending into the cesspit of uber-Loyalism and hatred that surrounded Rangers and still surrounds Sevco.

Butcher was able to snap out of it. Others were not. The clip was tweeted to me as part of the backlash against the media for highlighting a series of incidents from nearly 30 years ago, those involving the ex-Rangers player Mark Walters.

Racist abuse is vile and horrible, and unacceptable. Those who say “the culture was different then” are making excuses. The culture was different, but racism was always racism. It was no more acceptable then that it is now … it’s just that people did accept it.

It was prevalent in our politics, in our society, in our sport, in our media.

It was everywhere, and it would have stayed everywhere had it not been rooted out.

Just the other week, at the Labour Party Conference, a Scottish member of their National Executive made an anti-Catholic remark to a delegate. He should have been removed from his seat and kicked onto the kerbstones. But that would have been an exceptional response to attitudes that are not exceptional. Anti-Catholic sentiment is still rife. Unlike with racism there is no major push to have it curbed in society; it continues to grow and fester.

And the reason I found that clip illuminating is that the interview itself was interspersed between examples of exactly the sort of stuff Butcher was talking about; a dressing room session in which the Rangers first team squad of that time sang anti-Catholic songs on camera, absolutely without shame or remorse of any sort. He wasn’t in the squad at the time, but there’s footage of Nacho Novo singing similar stuff on a Rangers team bus.

What astonishes me is the hypocrisy of some of those involved.

I’ve heard Novo bleat about the way he was treated by people he describes as bigots. I’ve heard Kyle Lafferty and others do the same.

They play the Victim Card with such fervour you’d think they meant it.

Walters is doing the rounds this week talking about suffering racism … he’s in the video, he was there at “the party”, and if he sees no linkage between anti-Catholic songs and the scum in the stands who abused him because of the colour of his skin then he needs lessons in what bigotry actually is.

They need calling out on their bullshit.

These people took the greasy coin of a club that was mired in this stuff and they weren’t just passive observers.

They didn’t just stand on the side-lines, they got fully involved. They dipped a toe into the waters and then leaped right in. I am sick and tired in getting morality lessons from people who turned their morals off the second they walked through the Ibrox gates.

They don’t get to give those kind of lectures, not without shining a big light on the other forms of sectarianism in which some of them played an active role.

I always admired Butcher for the way he faced up to that. It’s the first time I’ve seen the interview, but I’ve read the transcript of it, or something not dissimilar. I know he personally confronted that stuff and his own involvement in it, and he took a big step backwards. He still feels a deep sense of shame over it all to this day. He owned that part of his life and has done more than just offer a mealy mouthed apology for it; he has warned people against it.

Those attitudes are still alive and well at Ibrox today, and there are still too many sectarian bigots in our football grounds and in our culture as a whole. The commentariat is too gutless to call these people out. Thank God they are not the only people with a megaphone.

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