Keith Jackson’s Article On The Celtic Fans Travelling To Rome Is Disgraceful.

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Everyone knows where I stand on The Daily Record and its sports journalists.

They should be banned from Celtic Park.

Yesterday, Keith Jackson made a pretty strong case for why. On a day when I’ve written about Joel Sked and the gleeful speculation about how we’d cope if Edouard got injured it amazes me that Jackson looks likely to have published the worst article of the week, and perhaps even the month. When he’s on this form he’s unstoppable.

His article yesterday – where he accused The Green Brigade of “painting targets on the backs” of the Celtic supporters travelling to Rome – was outright despicable.

If you can’t get banned from the Parkhead press box for writing something as irresponsible and outrageous as that then nothing you do will get you booted.

Except criticising Lawwell. We know Jackson was once banned from Celtic Park for that. Slandering the fans is okay, but don’t dare suggest that the CEO ought to do more for his money; that’s where the club draws the line. I am sick and tired of that double standard.

So let’s go over Jackson’s article bit by bit; I’ve not done this in a long time and so it’s overdue. The piece is appalling and it deserves the special treatment.

“Leave your politics at the front door.”

 Wouldn’t Scottish football be a wonderful place if only that were the case? Actually, no. Because it’s only the politics of the Celtic supporters which this rag, and the media as a whole, gets up in arms about. Politics is everywhere in Scottish football and nobody cracks a light. Nobody cares. At Ibrox, they are allowed to hold military days and Britishness days and the media never bothers with any of it. Their fans sing songs about Loyalist death squads. Several clubs take cash directly from the SNP and have the adverts dotting the ground to prove it.

“It’s a commendable message and one with which Celtic have repeatedly bombarded their own supporters over the years.”

 And Celtic are hypocrites for doing so, and I’ve said that many times. The club has done well for itself trading on the friends our fans have made by holding to a certain political allegiance and there is no point in them pretending otherwise. Lately, the focus has been on fireworks, smoke bombs and flares though. Even this board knows that asking fans to dump their political views before entering the ground is a joke. The club, by the way, also opposed the Offensive Behaviour at Football act.

“But if it is really to be taken seriously then surely it’s about time the club started enforcing it rather than allowing it to fall on deaf ears.”

Jackson would love this, of course. But until he – and Celtic – come up with an answer as to why some versions of political expression are okay whilst others aren’t then all they are doing is pissing in the wind. As far as I’m concerned it’s a non-starter. I’m curious as to what Jackson would like to see our board do. More than he’s asking other boards to do anyway.

“Because the attention-seeking element of the club’s support appears to be hell-bent on making all manner of trouble by expressing their own beliefs even if it means distracting the focus away from the standard of performances which have just blown Lazio and Aberdeen away.”

 Utter shite. Until Jackson wrote this, not one other article in any publication has suggested that people focus on what the fans had done rather than the team. This assertion has not one shred of fact or logic behind it. Not one. It is foaming at the mouth.

“Yesterday’s romp at Pittodrie saw Neil Lennon’s side hit a 45-minute high point for the campaign, hot on the heels of that dramatic late Europa League win. These are hugely exciting times for the manager and his players who are settling into quite a stride at a critical moment.”

 And I’m quite sure Jackson is loving every second of it, right?

“But there’s a narcissistic sideshow following them around that Celtic would be better off without.”

Absolute bollocks. But if it were true, he could have written the same article about the Union Bears, who’s conduct resulted in the closure of part of the ground at Ibrox and who’s banners are far more provocative than anything The Green Brigade has produced. We’ll get to that.

“On Thursday night, in the hard-of-thinking section of the stadium, a number of banners were unfurled that were designed to cause maximum offence to some of the most objectionable visiting fans to have crossed Celtic Park’s threshold.”

Whatever else you might accuse The Green Brigade of, being “hard of thinking” would not be on the list. These are highly intelligent, politically astute, sophisticated supporters. And I have no problem, and no-one should have a problem, with telling fascist gutter rat scum to piss off and peddle their hate somewhere else. I hailed those banners and still do. I do agree with Jackson on the assertion that they are only “some of the most objectionable visiting fans to have crossed Celtic Park’s threshold.” There are a set of supporters who are far worse; those from Ibrox.

“And it spilled over all the way up to Pittodrie yesterday lunchtime where Lennon and his men were going about their business in spectacular style.”

Yes, it did. And part of the reason why it did is that his newspaper gave space to the granddaughter of one of the 20th century’s most detestable men to stand up for his reputation by attacking that of our anti-fascist support. I wrote about it and said that giving a platform to a woman who is, herself, a fascist and a bigot, trawled the gutter. Of course The Green Brigade responded. The Record allowed this individual to suggest they committed a hate crime … as if calling a fellow parliamentarian “a faggot” as she once did isn’t itself one.

“If Lazio’s vile ultras had their feelings hurt after jack booting their way down Buchanan Street then few will shed any tears. This really is a deplorable, rancid lot.”

Agreed. All right-wing neo-fascist scum are, including those who marched down Glasgow streets in black garb not that long ago, threatening to stomp “fenians” and who unfurled a banner at Ibrox depicting a dead Celtic fan. “A deplorable rancid lot.” Totally, yes, no argument whatsoever. So why, for the second time in a week, is The Record suggesting that The Green Brigade giving them a bit of stick is out of order somehow?

“But what if it’s more than just feelings that are hurt when Celtic’s own fans make the return trip to Rome in a fortnight’s time?”

What if they are? I’m quite sure taking their frustrations out on people they don’t like is against the law. If the police are on their toes, there should be no problem.

“Make no mistake, that’s the nightmarish scenario that now confronts Scotland’s champions as they plan special security measures ahead of a potential powderkeg Europa League tie.”

Powderkeg? Says who? The fascist element of the Lazio support is in a minority amongst their fan base and they are not the only club who play out of that beautiful and historic city; I am sure the Roma fans will make our lads feel at home. Frankly, I’ve heard this chatter a hundred times before and the Celtic supporters have gone and had a ball. This will be no different.

“Of course, the hardcore element of Celtic’s support will argue they have merely taken the moral high-ground and there will certainly not be much in the way of sympathy for the granddaughter of Benito Mussolini who has demanded criminal action be taken against those fans responsible for the art work depicting the founder of fascism’s lifeless hanging body.”

Except in the Scottish press, no. And there is no need to take “moral high-ground” here as most reasonable people would agree that Mussolini was a war criminal and dictator. It’s not like there’s grey area around this debate. It’s pretty much cut and dry.

“She had a banner made in her name yesterday too.”

 Yeah and it serves her right. How can I put this delicately … here goes. To Hell with her and her hurt feelings, to Hell with the despicable offspring of a horrendous human being. And I’d say to Hell with him too except that he’s already there and one suspects not enjoying the place too much. Not to worry, it’s only for eternity. If he gets five minutes he can make up her bed in advance of her own inevitable incarceration in Pandemonium’s legendry living quarters.

“That Alessandra Mussolini, who is herself involved in Italian politics and following in the family footsteps, is campaigning for a new law to be introduced outlawing what she calls “Duce-phobia” points to a quite astonishing lack of self-awareness.”

It didn’t stop your paper from giving her a platform, did it? What a hypocrite you are, Jackson. Did you complain to your editor when her comments were given such coverage? No, you didn’t bother your arse because you don’t care what her politics are. On top of that, you are gutless beyond belief. Every one of those boys in The Green Brigade is worth twenty of a posturing keyboard warrior like you, and you only muster up the courage for that when the targets are in green and less likely to stage a protest outside your place of work.

“If there is indeed a fear or loathing of murderous, racist dictators then surely it is to be promoted rather than prosecuted. None of that, however, is close to being any of Celtic’s business.”

So in point of fact, you agree with every sentiment The Green Brigade expressed. So what, then, in God’s name, is the point of this ridiculous piece?

“There is an element among the club’s support who appear to see no irony at all in their own attempts to act in an obnoxious and outrageous manner which is precisely what went on the other night.”

 And I say again, the only people who could possibly have been offended are precisely the kind of right-wing gutter rats the banners were targeted at. What is the big deal here? What exactly is the problem with those banners? Or is the problem with the people flying them? That feels like it’s a lot closer to the truth of why Jackson is rattling on the bars of his cage here.

“A huge “Brigate Verde” display was perhaps the most sinister and troubling of all even if, at first glance, it will have meant little to those who witnessed its unfurling at the time.”

I know for a fact you were one of those people. You didn’t have a clue what the connotations of the banner were until someone whispered it in your ear, and I’d question that person’s motives because you were steered where they wanted you to go. Your outrage is as fake as Gazza’s pair of plastic knockers. And as I said in a previous piece, those jumping to conclusions are way in over their heads in trying to divine the meaning behind that banner. Those of us with a little more education are wholly aware of what it was … and what it was not.

“Even for those of us whose grasp of the Italian language doesn’t extend beyond the pages of our favourite restaurant, it seemed a straight-forward translation and a harmless one at that.”

 Yeah, until McFarlane or somebody else like that plucked a little more fake outrage off of Follow Follow and suddenly it was all clear, right?

“It was only afterwards that comparisons were drawn to the emblem of notorious Italian terrorist group Brigate Rosse (aka the Red Brigade) a paramilitary group which, among carrying out a host of other violent atrocities, was responsible for kidnapping and murdering the country’s former prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978.”

 Absolutely pathetic, and wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. But the worst possible interpretation is the one you wanted and so that’s the one you grabbed at.

“Five of Moro’s bodyguards were gunned down during his capture. His own bullet-ridden corpse was discovered in Rome 55 days later.”

Like you give a toss about a guy you had to Google. Let me say again what I said when I saw the banner; the badge may have looked the same, but in fact that was the in-joke. The Green Brigade were actually inviting comparisons with the Brigate Fiamme Verdi … the Green Flame Brigade. See the connection in the names? They were a World War II partisan organisation, primarily of Catholic origin, who fought against Mussolini’s fascists. See the connection? Idiots will see only what they want to see and those with agendas will pursue them regardless.

“Leave your politics at the front door? That’s precisely what these lame brains did when they brought their displays to the stadium’s security gate. The trouble is they were able to collect them and take them through the other side.”

 That’s what all this is about. It’s not even really an attack on The Green Brigade, it’s an attack on Celtic and a chance to try and overshadow an excellent display. Except that apart from a handful of bitter hacks most people did want to focus on the football.

“And that’s the crux of the matter because as a direct result of these banners and insults – and the Brigate Verde slogan was on show again yesterday – a target has now been painted on the back of each and every one of 9000 or so Celtic supporters who intend on following their team to Italy.”

Absolute garbage. If you’ve studied the Lazio fascist support, they don’t need an excuse to go looking for a fight, and there are several clubs in Italy, including Juventus and Atalanta, not to mention their local rivals Roma, who give them it every bit as tight, every single week. But this effort to suggest that if there is trouble that Celtic fans “brought it on themselves” … that’s dredging the gutter even for that rag. It’s making a case, in advance, that the fascists themselves must be thrilled about. Scotland’s leading tabloid has told them, “give the Celtic fans Hell. They deserve it.”

“Every man, woman and child who makes that trip in Celtic’s colours has been put needlessly in harm’s way in order to pander to the ego of a section of the club’s supporters that appears to be a law unto itself and answerable to no one.”

You could just as easily blame the sheer irresponsibility of the media, and Jackson’s own paper, and this particular column. He possesses not one iota of self-awareness. The media’s culpability in numerous football related acts of violence is an established fact; when Neil Lennon was attacked at Tynecastle it sprang in part from the media’s suggestion that he, too, had brought it on himself. I am so sick of these people climbing out of the gutter and onto their high horses.

“Leave your politics at the front door. That’s what Brendan Rodgers asked of them after they used his image in another terror-related banner designed to inflame Linfield’s travelling fans at another European tie a couple of years ago.”

 Linfield fans don’t need to be inflamed either. They hate Celtic and Celtic fans just fine without needing to be needled. They too have an unhealthy fixation with Loyalist paramilitaries; it doesn’t stop the Ibrox club from going over there every year to play a “friendly” in front of the local marching band, with all the connotations that go with that.

“That one led to a UEFA charge and infuriated chief executive Peter Lawwell to such an extent he shut down the standing area for two games. But still they will not listen.”

 At this moment in time, Celtic fans have no reason to listen to Lawwell lecture us on UEFA. It would fit him better if he got busy sending them an official request to investigate the SFA’s granting of a European license to Rangers in 2011.

“It is to be dearly hoped not a single drop of blood is spilled in the Eternal City in response to these banners.”

Which, I presume, is why the general tone of your article is to salivate at the very idea of it.

“But the risk factor is now through the roof because Lazio’s hooligans are a particularly loathsome and dangerous bunch.”

Agreed, and it would have been the same no matter who they were playing … unless their opponents shared similar ideological views. Sevco will be happy to meet them in next year’s competition. There won’t be a bit of bother at that one.

“They seldom require any extra provocation to behave in a manner any decent human being would find thoroughly reprehensible.”

So I ask again; what’s the point of this article? I agree that they are scum, I agree they don’t need provoking. So is this anything other than a rant for its own sake, or an open invitation to the Lazio fans to do their worst, with The Record’s seal of approval?

“In April they caused outrage in Milan when they paid tribute to Mussolini before an Italian Cup match at the San Siro – before subjecting two AC players to racist abuse during the tie.”

And still, Jackson thinks we should respect their feelings …

“In October 2017 they plastered Lazio’s Olympic Stadium with stickers featuring Anne Frank wearing the shirt of their rivals, AS Roma, alongside an anti-Semitic message.”

…. and gave the grand-daughter of the fascist dictator space to attack us …

“They followed that stunt up the following year by distributing leaflets outside the ground calling for female supporters to be restricted to specific “women only” areas at the rear of the stadium.”

 …. and now appears to be inviting them to have a go.

“It goes without saying that sort of twisted, warped logic has no place in any civilised society.”

But it’s just fine for The Daily Record.

“But that’s the putrid world into which Celtic now have to wade.”

It’s ground we are familiar with, not that you want to acknowledge that. We share Scottish football with similar people.

“They should do so with a heightened sense of caution.”

Our fans have been all across Europe and aside from a period in the 80’s where it was commonplace, everywhere, there has never been an incidence of serious disorder of the sort this article longs for between Celtic supporters and rival fans.

This article is a flat-out disgrace, and Jackson should never be allowed to file copy from inside the ground again unless he’s paid for a ticket.

Is It Time Keith Jackson And His Paper Were Banned From Celtic Park?









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