I am glad to see that so many in the media have recognised that the missile thrower at Livingston originated in the Sevco end.
This has been a long summer of denial about the extent of the problem within their support.
I am equally glad that their club is campaigning for the person to be caught and punished. Sevco and the media could hardly have done otherwise, as the linesman was standing directly in front of a stand full of their supporters.
It is important that the individual responsible – and I use that word loosely; one particular item may have hit the official on the back of the head but it wasn’t the only one thrown at him – be caught and banned from all football stadia, of course it is.
But it will accomplish exactly nothing until the underlying cause of such behaviour is dealt with.
I refer, of course, to the Victim Lie.
There has always been an unsavoury element at Ibrox.
This is an established fact and it goes back decades.
It was the late Ian Archer who famous described the fan base there as “an occasional embarrassment and a permanent disgrace.” People forget just how fulsome his condemnation of them was, and few are aware of how he ended that famous column, with words that are just as applicable to the NewCo as they were to Rangers.
“I am Scottish and I love football, and everyone else who is Scottish and loves football should insist in every possible way that the root cause of the Rangers sickness is broken … that the club should say now that they have no part in bigotry and discrimination.”
The root cause of “the Rangers sickness” was never just bigotry though; it was in this idea of what Walter Smith once described as “Protestant supremacy”, this so-called exceptionalism, the idea that their club was something special. Murray described them as the “second biggest institution in Scotland after the church” in a moment of hubris which still takes your breath away. It exists at Ibrox today in slogans and chants like We Are The People.
This would have been bad enough, and toxic enough, had it been simply ported over to Sevco when the old club went out of business, because how could a club that was an “institution” and a cultural icon go to the wall in the first place? It couldn’t be the fault of those inside it, it had to be the fault of Others, of outsiders. It had to be a conspiracy, right?
Thus was the first appearance of the Unseen Hand.
Every bit of trouble that club has run into since has been blamed on someone else.
The SFA encouraged it when they endorsed the wholly spurious notion that Rangers and Sevco were one in the same and then tried to shoe-horn them into the top flight; the moment clubs rejected that it was always going to be labelled “Rangers hating.”
Sevco and its fans thus became the real victims, ignoring the self-evident fact that the club’s problems, just like those of Rangers, were entirely self-inflicted. Neither the media nor the governing bodies has ever been particularly keen to make them face that fact.
The real problem yesterday wasn’t simply the scumbags in their support who threw coins; it was the thousands of them who sang an anti-SFA song whilst the linesman was being treated. For all the so-called anger from their fan-base and the club over this, the people who were in that crowd made it abundantly clear that they thought the linesman deserved it. Their sympathies were not with the guy who was hit on the back of the head, they were with the guy who did it.
Catching the perpetrator won’t sort this out.
That club needs to be confronted about the way it pushes hate and feeds the sense of grievance and victim-hood amongst that support; the unfortunate truth is that, for a while at least, taking such action will only increase the belief that nobody likes them very much.
But in the long haul it will be good for them and good for the game.
Their behaviour is getting worse.
Things can’t go on like this.
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