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Celtic’s Walter Smith Response Should Be The Moment Certain Peepul Get A Grip.

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There is a story about Julius Caesar which I’ve always found instructive.

After Caesar triumphed at the Battle of Pharsalus, Pompey Magnus, his great rival fled to Egypt. No sooner had he arrived there but he was murdered, and his severed head kept as a gift for when Caesar arrived with his armies.

When Caesar was presented with it in the palace at Alexandria he was appalled, and furious.

When he was given Pompey’s signet ring he openly wept.

Although enemies, Caesar had the greatest respect for Pompey as a man, as a general and as a fellow Roman.

It’s been on my mind these past 24 hours.

In that time, I have been heartened by the response of Celtic and our supporters to the death of Walter Smith.

I expected nothing less, but it gladdened the heart just the same.

We are, and have always been, a tolerant, accepting and even forgiving club and fan-base.

We don’t hold onto ancient grudges. We don’t exist to serve the causes of hate.

Hate takes up more and more of our daily discourse.

I am often accused of hating the club that plays at Ibrox.

The truth is that I don’t. I hate various things about it. I hate the lie that it’s built on, the bigotry that supports it, the scum which it can’t seem to rid from its stands and the contempt in which its directors hold the rest of the game.

I dearly wish it would cure itself of those afflictions, and then it could be just another club in this country, a bigger one than the rest and so a proper rival to ours with that rivalry built on mutual respect and a shared city.

Different cultures don’t have to hate one another, except when hate is the foundation stone for one of them, hatred of the other.

To break the cycle of hate you have to stop seeing others as the enemy.

You have to stop looking at the world through the prism of your own prejudices.

For years now there has been an element – a large element, not a “small minority” – of the support across the city which views Celtic as an evil, corrupt institution.

You don’t have to be a Celtic fan to recognise that as sheer nonsense. But haters have to hate, and their view of us at the centre of a vast conspiracy which seeks to eradicate them and their “culture” is one that ought to be challenged over and over again.

Ask the deranged element of that support where its hatred for all things Celtic comes from. Then ask them to look at our directors today, placing a wreath at their stadium for their fallen icon. As we’ve done, by the way, for the dead of the Ibrox disaster year on year.

Today they are going to find their hatred very hard to justify. Because it is built on nothing but prejudice and pig ignorance, and if there was ever a time for challenging that, for challenging some of the nonsense inside their own heads, this is it.

There is no reason – there has never been any reason – why the Ibrox club and ours could not co-exist as mere opponents.

Ditch all this “Old Firm” baggage, based on mutual loathing … we did, years ago.

The toxicity that surrounds the rivalry is a nightmare construct part fed by the media and part fed by a fan-base which seems like it can’t let go.

But let go of what? What is their grievance here? What do they think we did?

The problems that beset their former club were made inside its own walls.

One of the architects of those troubles was Smith himself, a man who spent money the club didn’t have and fought the bank who were running it during his final year because he wanted to spend more.

Any reckoning with the guilty should start with those who actually had some responsibility.

Likewise, the rest of the clubs, whose own directors and managers and former players are paying their own tributes to Smith today.

What exactly was their crime against Ibrox, the one for which so many of the fans over there are still uproarious today?

They voted, in 2011, to follow the rules.

The rules say that any new club starts at the bottom of the pyramid.

A lot of those fans who cry foul today supported that idea at the time.

You know who else did? You know who accepted that they were a new entity and wished them well? Walter Smith. So hate us, and hate those other clubs as you will, but don’t pretend that the man you are honouring today saw it any differently because he didn’t.

The hate is needless. It is groundless.

There is no purpose to it, except that I suspect that it gets a lot of Peepul out of bed in the morning.

But surely it’s time to let it go?

Surely it’s time to consider whether it’s healthy, whether it’s reasonable?

The death of Walter Smith has rocked their entire support. But it has had an impact way beyond their club and the respect with which Scottish football as a whole, and Celtic in particular, has shown at this hour should – must – be the moment some of them take a good look at how they view the rest of the game here, but in particular Celtic, our club, which has not been bound by bigotry or pettiness or rivalry and has simply acted with great decency, a club filled with people who respect the man, his achievements and his stature in the game.

That he was also our deadliest foe matters not one bit.

If they want it to be, this can be a moment for progress, something that would honour the memory of the guy who carried Tommy Burns coffin, something in that same spirit, which every person and newspaper has paid tribute to Walter Smith for.

If they take off the blinkers they may be surprised by what they see.

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10 comments

  • hans says:

    Your post is dripping with hate. You should take a good look at yourself. I wish we were perfect, we’re not. I don’t like them, but they’re like every other club, they have good and bad. Holding us up as perfect actually does us an injustice.

    • Seppington says:

      I don’t think his post is “dripping with hate” in any way, quite the opposite. Nor is he claiming we are perfect, but they are most definitely NOT like every other club. The Rangers have a very, very large number of fans whose entire being is about hating us, and the club panders to them ridiculously in order to keep getting their cash. Show me another club that consistently behaves the way they do, picking fights with everyone for perceived injustices that just aren’t real. If reports of their current finances are true you could say that last season they risked their new club’s existence by spending way beyond their means to ensure they stopped us from winning “the ten” which in reality would have been nothing at all but bragging rights for us. Putting the club on the edge of financial disaster, why? Because there would have been a considerably negative reaction from those hate-filled fans had they failed. Do you think we would have reacted in the same way had the late Walter Smith managed to win “the ten” for them in ’98?

      I don’t.

  • Bigmick says:

    Best article I’ve read from you James. This really should be a watershed moment..a time for serious reflection.
    It’s a terrible thing to be burdened by the beliefs and prejudices of one’s forefathers. It takes guts to cut that out by the roots, and so much easier to hang onto a sense of identity, even if it is misguided.
    I hope some Ibrox fans read this and are encouraged to use this opportunity for real change.

  • David Scullion says:

    Well said ?. Totally agree with your article ??

  • scouse bhoy says:

    we hoped for the same fifty years ago after the ibrox disaster but unfortunately nothing changed and here we are to this day.

  • Finbar muldoon says:

    Walter was one of the top ten managers who ever plied their trade in scotland. Alongside the likes of Alex Ferguson, Willie Maley, Jim McLean, Jock Stein etc. Let’s give him the respect he deserves. RIP Walter. HH

  • James campbell says:

    There will never be progress with that club, the bigotry is enshrined within its walls, I enjoyed your article but sorry to say when people think your sub human because of a religion there’s no way back!

  • Roonsa says:

    I just remember the way Smith and McCoist conducted themselves when Tommy Burns died. That for me, was the measure of the man who died the other day. It’s all about respect. I don’t care what their fans think. I don’t care what a lot of Celtic fans think either. If someone dies it is a sad occasion for those close to the deceased. Just grow up for 5 minutes and do the right thing. If the best thing you can do is keep yer big yap shut then happy days. I, personally, was surprised and sorry to hear of his demise.

    Thoughts and prayers. ? ?

  • Tommy McQuillan says:

    Brilliant piece James and every word true. All Celtic fans on social media that I’ve seen have been very respectful of the passing of Walter Smith. If Rangers fans owned everything that happened to them instead of blaming everyone else they’d get more respect too. There’s a blame kulchur down Ibrox way, but they’re blaming all the wrong people, instead of having a long hard look at themselves for not questioning the corporate governance going on at their club for decades before they were liquidated and died. Their new entity, sevco, are going down the same road, they’re well over £100million in debt trying to stop ten in a row, which they did, but was it really worth to win one trophy? The mutants in their support will think so but their failure to see the bigger picture is what killed the original Rangers and will probably drive the death knell into sevco too.

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