On the day that Charles Green stood pitch-side for Sevco’s first game, and told the country and the world that what had happened at Ibrox was an outrage and that the club had been treated unfairly and that this had been motivated by hatred, the people who make up the leadership of Scottish football had a choice to make.
That choice was going to define how this game existed forevermore.
We know what they chose to do. They – and “they” includes Celtic – chose to let that lie go unchallenged, and so were born two grotesque untruths which stain our national sport.
I call them the Survival and Victim Lies.
Others call the first the Survival Myth or the Continuation Myth … they need to sharpen their grasp of language because it’s a lie, not a myth, and there’s a difference.
And in that difference lies the problem.
To sustain the Survival Lie those pushing it had decided to weave an alternative history, and it was that which Charles Green pushed that day standing on the touchline at Brechin.
On that day, the Survival Lie was combined with the Victim Lie, the second great untruth, which underpins the first and gives it a deadly power.
It is not enough that we acknowledge one and not the other. They are conjoined. They exist together … but they are not the same.
Sevco could have argued its continuity without resorting to the Victim Lie; Green’s demented genius was to realise that this was something the Ibrox fans needed.
Rather than blame themselves and those they had lionised for years they needed to believe that it was somebody else’s fault, and that they had been stabbed in the back.
The stab in the back myth is not their invention, of course.
Unscrupulous bastards have been using variations of it for eons.
Hitler’s was the most famous; he built an entire career and all that followed on the back of his lie about “the November criminals” – the German leaders who he said betrayed the nation when they surrendered at the end of World War I, a war he believed the country would have won without what he and the Nazis labelled this great act of betrayal.
I cannot put it more simply than this; Charles Green decided that in order to power his new club through the divisions, with the fans behind them, the supporters needed motivation greater than just being able to watch a club which bore the name Rangers.
And his decision on that day was to focus their anger and all the old hatreds and to use those to fuel the club for everything that followed.
It was brazenly cynical and clearly unhealthy.
Yet not only was it allowed to stand, but the two lies he pushed on our game have never been properly challenged.
There are Celtic fans, some of them prominent fans, who regard this whole debate as being worthless and pointless; it is far from being either of those things.
The Victim Lie is cancerous.
It continues to rot at the heart of our sport like an unacknowledged affair.
It’s the one few people talk about, but in my view it’s just as important as the Survival Lie and twice as dangerous and its impacts are far-reaching and damaging to Scotland. It puts people in peril, deadly peril, as another family has learned to its cost.
It is time a lot of folk came off the fence over this and took it seriously. The Sevco support believes that a conspiracy led from Celtic Park stole five years from them. Their anger over that has been stoked by successive boards.
Their winning a first title has stoked this paranoid suggestion, not weakened it.
They are capable of anything as a result.
Their belief in this is as real to them as our acceptance of gravity. They not only believe Celtic did this but the rest of the game backed us in it … out of jealousy. Out of hate. Out of twisted, dark motives which Green invoked for all they were worth.
The Victim Lie is one of the most widely believed untruths in circulation in British sport. Why do you think so many media outlets, north and south of the border, report the “relegation” of Rangers in 2012, although no such thing took place?
This isn’t related to the debate over their fictitious continuity.
Relegation, when there is no footballing reason for it, is a procedural punishment inflicted on clubs by their national associations. Using the word to describe what happened over there in 2012 paints a wholly inaccurate picture of the events and circumstances of that summer, and it suggests that what happened to the Ibrox club was punitive.
You do not need to believe in the Victim Lie to believe that Rangers lives on.
But you do need to believe in the Survival Lie to believe that the club playing at Ibrox were the targets of a deep rooted conspiracy founded on a hatred of its followers and their “culture.”
And it’s that lie, that noxious, corrosive, pernicious bullshit, which does the most damage because it gives Ibrox’s supporters – who are quite capable of hating all on their own – an underlying justification for their more rabid modes of thinking and the behaviour that flows from them.
This is why their forums buzz with unrestrained loathing for all around them.
It’s why they believe they are perfectly entitled to rub the country’s face in their title win, because in their world the whole country hates them anyway and tried to kill their club.
When they lash out against police, fellow supporters and even the park benches in George Square, they do so from the perspective of people who have been betrayed and put down by those around them.
It’s why their “celebrations” have such an aggressive, and even vicious, edge to them. It’s why their fans felt entitled to talk about stomping “fenians” and all the rest of it.
It’s why some of them go way beyond vandalism or the occasional act of violence … and it’s how people end up dead.
Their victim mentality has been so successfully stoked that it is an article of faith for them.
The media never challenges it; indeed, there are hundreds and hundreds of examples going back over the last ten years where the media has actively pushed that view and given it full expression.
From the Daily Record, who’s remaining readership is obsessed by the idea, to the likes of Tom English at the BBC, much of our mainstream press continues to push not only the lie that Rangers survives but that the rest of Scottish football would have killed them just to watch them die.
You do not need to be a genius to work out that a support which is already predisposed towards reviling others would take to that like a duck to water, and use it to justify their own escalating levels of vile behaviour.
That has effects and consequences beyond football.
It has never been more dangerous – never – to be a Celtic fan caught on your own wearing the colours.
There are parts of the city which the “natives” have turned into no-go enclaves for all but their own.
We are used to this in July and the accompanying months of the summer when the Association Of Sectarian Walks is out doing its thing.
It is jarring, it is unsettling, to see it happen in March.
To know that as the club pushes this 150th anniversary nonsense that the whole of the next calendar year will fill up with this stuff, and that the risks to our own supporters will rise exponentially.
They are “the club Scotland couldn’t kill” and so those “celebrations” when they come will have a deadly edge to them, one that we would do well to acknowledge right away and prepare for.
Because they have convinced themselves that they “survived” amidst a sea of poison; it is not hard to see how that could translate into lashing out.
Celtic fans are all too aware of what it is like living in Scotland at times like this; I wrote about it at length last night.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the toxic combination of the Survival and Victim Lies makes this worse, and increases the danger we’re in.
This is why I challenge them every chance I get.
It’s why I have long hoped that our club would break it’s depressing silence on these issues. It’s why I lament the spineless media which knows these things are lies but will not say so.
Until they do, things will continue to be ugly around here.
Until they do, Celtic fans will just have to keep watching their backs.