Early this morning, even as they were being pilloried on Sevco social media along with the government in Edinburgh, the police in London and even Boris Johnson (not to mention Gareth Southgate) the Tartan Army was busy picking up bottles and sweeping up glass and putting plastic cups into bin-bags and generally showing themselves to be world class ambassadors for their country and for football itself.
At the end of what was a triumphant day, it was a grand and noble gesture.
Yet it would have been the same had Scotland snatched the winner they deserved, or indeed if England had turned us over. These guys know what they represent. The football is just a small part of their outlook and their identity.
Those wailing and screaming about them online have their own outlook and their own identity. They “celebrated” a title win in their home city and the city had to clean up the mess and pick up the bill including damages from the destruction they wrought.
They had spent the day fighting each other and singing sectarian songs. None of that was in evidence yesterday in London, although one gutter site was able to dredge up some footage of a few guys in a pub singing an “anti-English song.”
Their fury is centred on this idea that they are being held to a different standard. Which is true, but only because their behaviour was markedly different, and the circumstances were markedly different.
Let’s take their objection to a Fan Zone.
They believe the Tartan Army was given special treatment. They wanted a fan zone and didn’t get one, whereas the Scotland fans did. That’s proof of a conspiracy. It’s as if because they were denied one that no fans should ever get one again, and the strange circumstances of the moment don’t matter at all to them.
It’s as if it never dawned on them that the law was different and that a fan zone wasn’t possible under those regulations. Not that they bothered obeying the law or Police Scotland enforcing it.
They look at Scotland fans heading down to London and are actually brazen enough to demand that the country condemn them for doing it … whilst insisting that they themselves were perfectly entitled to break the law as they saw fit and won’t hear a word of criticism for it.
In my view the Tartan Army should have respected requests that they not travel, but there was no specific prohibition on them doing so and they went down there without rancour and returned home without leaving destruction in their wake.
The real motivations behind the Ibrox fans criticisms are the ones we recognise all too well; spite, hatred, jealously, bitterness, a nagging and unending sense of grievance against their own country which never lets up and never finds closure.