In his match report for the game in midweek, Andrew Smith of The Scotsman – remember them? The newspaper nobody reads? – launched a full-frontal assault on The Green Brigade for disrupting the minute’s silence to Walter Smith.
Now, I wasn’t at the game but I watched it on the telly.
If there was disruption, I failed to notice it and I’m 100% certain that more than one media outlet would have highlighted it. In fact, Radio Scotland’s Richard Gordon commented on the behaviour of Aberdeen fans at Ibrox on the night.
Yet Smith accuses someone of booing. And an unnamed woman of whistling.
Even if the allegation itself is broadly accurate – and I am not vouching for that – to use the behaviour of two obvious idiots as an excuse to attack The Green Brigade, and the wider Celtic support as a whole, is just not on. Smith is using his position as a journalist to attack a segment of our fan-base with which he has an obvious problem. It is also attention seeking. It is ring and run.
Here’s the thing; aside from that deeply sick section of the Ibrox fan base about whom I too often have to write, which is using this as a means to ignore all the good that was done by our club and our supporters in honouring the memory of the former Rangers boss, this story has not been taken up by a single other journalist.
Which will almost certainly disappoint the writer, as he was clearly hoping to manufacture a controversy here for his own benefit.
For the record, I wholeheartedly and unequivocally condemn any individual who doesn’t have the basic human decency to respect the minute’s silence. Our own club, dozens of our players, thousands of our fans, paid tribute to this guy.
The handful of selfish arseholes who are so filled with hate that they couldn’t do the same deserve to be scorned.
But Smith made it an attack on an entire fan organisation.
Shame on him for drawing attention to a couple of goons rather than focussing on the decency of the rest. Shame on him for using this moment to self-aggrandise. Shame on him for attempting to taint the Celtic fans themselves with it.
He doesn’t get to do that. He doesn’t get away with it.
Not content with targeting the Green Brigade, Smith then wrote this astonishingly bitter, angry, indignant, and wholly dishonest paragraph.
“Celtic’s away support isn’t dragged to the gutter by just one faction, though. That was demonstrated by most of the away end singing Roaming In The Gloaming, with its “**** King Billy and John Knox” …Knox, the head of a church of course. Similarly, with chants of Orange Bastards – Orange shorthand for Protestant in the same way it is understood the use of Fenian in the west of Scotland means Irish Catholic. Let no pious Celtic supporters claim sectarianism is entirely one-sided. They have an away support that disproves that contention.”
Let’s start with the obvious; if that song was sung – and I did not hear it on the telly – it was most certainly not sung by “most of the away end” or, “surprise!”, I would have heard it on the telly.
That dirge is one of the worst songs in the book, a song I haven’t heard sung with vigour by any significant section of the crowd at Celtic Park for years.
It’s entirely possible that the majority of fans at Celtic Park don’t subscribe to the line “Oh it’s good to be a Roman Catholic” which is what makes the song such an anachronism aside from the lines about King Billy and John Knox.
I hate the song. If it was being lustily belted out on Wednesday, I would have been one of the first people to write about it and condemn it as I have before.
Orange is most definitely not shorthand for Protestant either.
That is a blatant untruth, and evidence that Smith is either a liar or that he has spent too much time raking through the detritus of the Ibrox fan forums for his own good. Even The Orange Order publicly refutes the idea that they are a religious organisation.
And for the record; I’ve never been bothered by anyone calling me a fenian and I don’t know many people who are.
We only get antsy when the same people talk about being up to their knees in our blood.
That, to me, seems the critical issue.
“Let no pious Celtic supporters claim sectarianism is entirely one-sided. They have an away support that disproves that contention.”
In spite of his bold assertion, I am going to go out on a limb and say that it’s almost – a crucial qualifier, and one that I have never wavered to add – entirely one sided.
We do have idiots in our fan-base, as every fan base does, but this support as a whole is almost completely free of the kind of poisonous ideas that are rampant in the support at Ibrox.
I don’t hesitate to write that.
A lifetime of observance has convinced me of it.
The Battle of George Square, anyone? Manchester, anyone? The Famine Song? The Billy Boys?
Should I continue, or has Smith’s argument been exposed for the sham that it is?
You know, it feels strange to be ending a serious piece on a note of genuine bemusement, but he ended his own article on another anti-Celtic note by having a dig at us for wearing one of last season’s strips. I don’t mind that he’s obviously an idiot; I do mind that he’s never played FIFA.
Our home strip could potentially clash with the Hibs one.
One of our away strips looks like the home strip.
The other is all green, which definitely clashes with their home top.
So we took the decision to play in a black top from last year; big deal.
Talk about trying to make something out of nothing.
Smith apparently thinks that our shirt manufacturer should consult every other club in the league before we decide what designs and colours to go with before a new season kicks off. It is a moronic point to make.
Celtic were comfortable winners in midweek; I know that has rattled some people who were predicting doom and gloom and disaster. But honestly, to read Smith’s article was to be amazed at how nasty and spiteful and vindictive and petty it was.
The focus on two people out of thousands, who stood in calm, respectful silence is ghastly.
To try to paint the whole Celtic away support as bigoted is shameful and dishonest.
I know The Scotsman struggles for hits and you can’t give the paper away in most parts of Scotland but really, this is scraping the bottom of the barrel in a way not even the Ibrox fan websites dared.
The premise of this story is blatantly untrue.
In a just world, Smith would be censured for writing it.