On a weekend when the streets of the city I call home will be filled with the dregs of Orangeism, Loyalism and Unionism, when the stench of their bigotry will be flooding the nostrils of every citizen of this country who is sick and tired of this tasteless Halloween display, I think it is important to talk a little about why I’m so proud of where we’re from.
As I will write later on, the grotesque “spectacle” of the parades will be a prelude to another bizarre event tomorrow; Ibrox’s flag-day, put off several times now and which will bear no resemblance to any title party anyone in Scotland has ever seen.
The chances are very high that it will lead to some impromptu gathering in the city centre, with the fresh possibility of what others would call shame and disgrace.
They appear impervious to those things though, and even seem to take a perverse pleasure in them.
I could not imagine our fans taking pride in disgracing themselves and their club.
Seville remains a point of pride for us because 80,000 Celtic fans travelled there without a single arrest. Its direct counterpoint was the shame of Manchester, when the OldCo’s fans rioted in the streets in some of the worst scenes ever seen after a European final.
When I look at the two clubs right now the differences are starker than they ever were between us and the first Ibrox side.
I look at the whole development of the current operation over there and it’s more insular and backward and poisonous than Rangers ever was.
I look at where we’re from, and what our background is.
Our club was founded for Glasgow’s Irish community.
We could have remained insular.
A lot of organisations formed out of adversity do exactly that. We could have built walls, and no-one at the time would have held it against us.
But right from the start, we reached out. We were a home for anyone.
We remain that sort of club today. We have kept our charitable ethos, and we pride ourselves on our Irish heritage but we have never let it entirely define or limit us. We are, as the saying goes, “a club open to all.”
Everything about us is welcoming.
There is no equivalent, in our community, of what this city will see on its streets over the course of this weekend.
We don’t need it. We’ve never needed it.
Our culture is not built on the supremacy of one over another.
These ideas are poisonous.
For us to embrace that … it’s an alien concept, it is something that makes no sense to us at all.
Celtic is not about that stuff.
This weekend, when the dark side of Scottish society is on full display, tied inexorably and dreadfully to the football club across the city, I will remember that this is what is killing them.
That they are connected to a dying creed and even as that becomes ever more obvious to the rest of the world they cannot pull themselves free.
This is why we endure, why we’ll be here when the third or fourth Ibrox operation is struggling to claw its way up from the gutter.
All this hatred, it must be exhausting for them.
Life is so much less stressful when you’re more interesting in making friends than enemies.
That’s the difference. That’s who we are.