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Poppy Day Is A Grotesque Spectacle And Celtic Fans Aren’t The Only Ones Rebelling.

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Earlier on, I wrote about the minute’s silence at Dens, but I don’t want to leave it at that because although I’m pretty frustrated that a legitimate protest on a serious subject has now become tangled up in this issue, I am just as angry that we’ve been, again, put in this invidious position.

My feelings on the minute’s silence are clear. They always have been. A minute’s silence is a solemn, dignified thing. It should be respected. If you can’t bring yourself to respect the cause, then pick another one. It’s easy to do.

Remembrance Day was once a solemn, dignified thing.

But slowly but surely it was hijacked and warped and twisted.

It has now become an enforced ritual; there is nothing solemn or dignified about any of it. It has become a warped, grotesque spectacle which is already a national embarrassment. It risks becoming its own disgrace.

The poppy used to be a matter of personal choice. The wearing of one was voluntary.

The symbol itself was tiny, discreet, like those American flag pins so beloved by their political class over there. No harm in it.

Not today. You see it everywhere, even where it’s inappropriate. Some of the people I’ve seen wearing it look visibly uncomfortable.

But they know they would be far more uncomfortable not to.

Our fans and our club have been eating shit for this nonsense for a decade now.

For what exactly? The silence is only part of it.

Our club was once forced, like others, to wear the gruesome red splotch on the famous jersey, the one worn by German players and Italian players and then, and now, Japanese players. They should never have been put in that position.

No footballer in the modern game should ever be put in that position.

Today before the televised EPL games a ludicrous overwrought “ceremony” was played out for the cameras; a bugle player came out, a remembrance poem was read, the players stood in silence, some doubtless in bafflement, and the fans observed it by staring blankly into the middle distance.

How many do you think were silently paying respect? Not many, I’d wager.

Because this is now just one of those things you do every year,. Some of them scrolled through their mobiles, not even pretending to be thinking of the dead from one war more than 100 years ago, of whom a handful live who remember it.

That war, of course, and the “add-ons.”

And I use that term disparagingly and very deliberately.

Remembrance Sunday was never about the Second World War until it was.

And it was never about the illegal occupation of Ireland or the illegal wars in Iraq and elsewhere. Until it was.

The very extension of the ceremony to include those turned it into a political act … but it ought to have lost its lustre well before then.

How many wars does this island need to glorify itself?

There are people in this nation who would celebrate the Napoleonic War if there was a single celebrity angling for it.

It must disappoint them that there aren’t. Some wars are more equal than others I suppose.

The Great War is history.

We remember it best by remembering what an utter waste of blood and treasure it was.

Not by glorifying the sacrifices of those who died, because they didn’t die for glory.

They died for nothing.

It was a pointless exercise and its triumphalist end was a clear-cut contributing factor to the bigger conflagration which followed it.

And it was in the interim period that one of the cruellest, evilest symbols in history came to be made and fellow human beings made to wear it. It was the yellow Jewish star, which Nazi Germany forced on its own citizens to say “you do not belong.”

Now British football forces its players to wear a big red spot on the jerseys at this time of year, to signify that you do “belong.”

But to what?

A ridiculous comparison? Ask James Maclean that, or the handful of other players who have willingly opted out. Ask them what treatment they get for exercising their right to say “No, mate that’s not for me.”

The point of the comparison is that the symbol is about raw power, that the wearing of it is coerced.

Those handful who refuse to wear it aren’t even the real issue as much as those other players – and there must be hundreds of them if not thousands of them – who don’t feel it represents them or their views but who stay silent because they have been cowed into acquiescence, knowing that they will face bile from the stands and that there’s an entire media industry prepared to grind them to dust for stepping out of line.

The atmosphere around this is toxic because the central point of it has been toxified.

The poppy is no longer a voluntary symbol or a matter of personal choice and that means it is enforced, just as the silence has become compelled and shame heaped on those who won’t observe it.

I may not like that choice, but there are two sides to the debate and I recognise that, and I understand theirs even if I don’t agree with it.

“Remembrance” is now forced on people, either by those in authority or by the threat of public opprobrium and that’s why I’m proud that my club no longer plays ball, that it respects the quiet dignity of Remembrance Day for what it was, but will not bow to what it has become.

And we are not the only club to feel that way.

A handful of others have taken that decision just as a handful of players have.

Just as some celebrities and other public figures have foresworn never to wear the poppy again; because they understand what it is now.

I’m tired of my club and our supporters eating shit over this.

Ten years or more of it is too much.

We aren’t the only people who feel that way. We’re amongst the few who refuse to toe the line.

But the backlash against this grows year on year and the preposterous ceremony before each EPL match is a disquieting sign of a country that has gone mad, the one that voted to leave the EU, which was, in fact, the greatest monument to the end of the Second World War that has ever been constructed, because it was the one which was built to ensure we never got the third act.

This is why the poppy should be removed from football shirts entirely and the glorification of war with which it has become hopelessly entwined brushed back out of our culture until Remembrance Day is back to what it was before.

A silence you observed if you remembered at all, and a symbol you wore only if you genuinely cared.

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27 comments

  • Saulgoodman says:

    Good read also you stand outside Asda or tesco you’d do well to see 1 in 10 wearing a poppy – totally hijacked up here thats why people can’t be arsed either way

  • Robert Kennedy says:

    I read a lot of your articles and agree with the majority 100%. But to start going on about a minutes silence and wearing of poppies like you have done is way out of order

  • Thomas Healy says:

    I attended celtic games many years ago .
    There were no minutes silence or any bloodstained poppy on any football Jersey.
    Indeed a football top lasted about two seasons.
    Shame on the hierarchy that force feed this appalling ritual on the paying customer.
    I detest poppyfest the whole lead up to it where it is in your face morning noon and night on our televisions.
    If people want to remember do it alone say a prayer.or attend your local remembrance day church service on the 11th hour on the eleventh day.
    Not the days and weeks leading up to it

  • Tam c says:

    I am a Celtic supporter a season book holder a share holder I have and still buy Celtic memorabilia.

    You could say I am a Celtic fan.

    I have donated a few quid to the Poppy appeal for over 40 years but over the last 10 years I have not worn it. Because the donation I make is for the upkeep of the armed force’s. What “the rangers club” and the rangers support have done in hijacking the Poppy appeal for their own ends is absolutely shameful

  • Damian says:

    Well made points.

  • Fred Howden says:

    Agree entirely ,mIv not worn a poppy for as long as I can remember. It has been debased !

  • Jack Robertson says:

    Absolutely shocking! Thousands of Celtic supporters, Irish and Scottish died in the wars. It’s not asking too much to stay silent for one minute in respect of their sacrifice.
    Your comments do not represent the millions of Celtic supporters around the world

    • James Forrest says:

      Perhaps you didn’t read it. Perhaps you are too dumb to read it.

      I wrote – quite clearly – that I agree that the silence should be respected.

      The next time you post a comment READ THE ARTICLE FIRST.

    • James Barr says:

      You are blind to what the article actually said.

  • Paul Fitzgerald says:

    You really are a hypocrite of the highest order. You bang on about the freedom to wear a poppy (or not), yet anyone who dares to challenge the political imperative behind the whole ridiculous Black Lives Matter movement is labelled racist. Take a day off James Ffs!

    • Kyogos Dream Team says:

      BLM u have a Fukin Day aff m8! Political Fukin Nonesense harped on about by Cunts like Banjo & Dixon who if any ae their family had been attacked by that Awfy nice guy Floyd sure as Fuk widny be Championing the SCUMBAG!!

      • Paul Fitzgerald says:

        Stop being an idiot. You’re making the same point as me!

      • Tam c says:

        “Kyogos dream team” You have bad evil people black and white evil is evil end of.
        In my opinion….. BLM was to highlight (what I witnessed was evil) BUT……… I’m sorry no BUTs .

        Was the BLM movement not before the Floyd case

  • Peter Cassidy says:

    Most wars are just a waste of life look how our troops are treated after they have finished there service unless your are a (officer,)wars are money makers for arms companies has been been for decades they don’t want world peace, regarding the poppy if you want to wear it thats your choice if not thats your choice but don’t disrespect the minute silence that’s wrong whats changed is the uk government making it a political point it is nonsense they don’t give a @uck about the arm forces or anybody else look at covid how the have @ucked up big time 150000 dead and rising every week.

  • James Burns says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I joined the RHF to get off the building sites where I’d been on since a 15.5 year old… 2.5 years in Sunny Singapore was the lure. My four grandparents were Irish but they understood. When l/we returned we were sent to Belfast for general election day 1974. I did three months before l was sent back and demobbed.
    I’ve never felt any ‘love’ for the regiment and I certainly don’t wear any poppy then or now. Many Celtic fans in the regt felt the same as l do.

  • John S says:

    I keep saying “Keep politics out of football.” All the poppies, palestinian flags, ‘taking the knee’ and so on. These things are divisive, no matter how well-intentioned. Let’s take the poppy issue as an example: There is a distinct difference between WWI and WWII. The first was a squabble between imperial cousins and had nothing whatsoever to do with freedom or justice. The second was a defence against naziism and holocaust. All the other major wars in-between, Viet-Nam, Korea, Malvinas etc. are as a result of clawing for resources and power. There are pros and cons. To bring these into the football arena is to contaminate it with differences. Watch the game, support Celtic and all that it stands for but please leave the politics behind.

  • Roonsa says:

    What happened to the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifices made by those who fought in the wars? When America says jump this country says how high? The ethos of “if you don’t support the war you are unpatriotic” created by Bush has been copied by the UK. As if being unpatriotic means anything.

    These idiots who proclaim to be proud to be British. Derp! How can you be proud of something you’ve had absolutely zero control over? There is absolutely no dignity in the way these people pay their “respects”.

    I’d quite happily commemorate soldiers who needlessly lost their lives in WW1 and the soldiers who fought against the Nazis in WW2. But I ain’t buying no poppy because of 1) who started it and 2) as yer man says, it’s been hijacked to justify the attrocities that have been carried out in the name of British interests.

  • Bigmick says:

    Celtic won 4-2 today

  • ?Green Machine? says:

    Meanwhile what’s a Poppy got to do with Football.Every Wars a Bankers War.They make there money We lose Our Lives.Nothing will ever change

  • Ian McGuigan says:

    Totally agree. No blood stained poppy on my shirt.

  • Bigeal says:

    I’m 65 years old, I served in the army for 16 years, I chose not to wear the poppy any more because of what it has become, I was forced to dress up and wear the poppy and also forced to give up precious time off, just to hear droning on about how great it was for British and commonwealth service men and women to be slaughtered in their many hundreds of thousands, generals and politicians who should have been tried for mass murder who were actually decorated for their contribution to the slaughter, they were of course many many hundreds of miles from the away from the fighting.
    So please allow me to chose not to wear the badge of slaughter.

  • James Barr says:

    This article truly reflects more or less everything I feel about what Poppy Day ( !!!) has become. Well done, James.

  • James A. Adam says:

    I loathed the article and the fact Celtic do not wear a poppy is disgraceful. Thousands of Irishmen fought and died in the first World War members of the Celtic team fought in the First World War and 30,000 Irishmen fought in the Second World War. Wearing a poppy is part of remembering the sacrifice of those who died as is the 2 minute silence. I have been a Celtic supporter for 66 years and am also a former soldier and there are many Service people past and present who are also Celtic supporters. I and others think it is disgraceful that we (Celtic) are the only team in the major leagues of Great Britain who do not wear a poppy on their shirt.

    • James Forrest says:

      It is certainly not disgraceful. Your own insistence that we wear a political symbol on our jersey with which many, many, many of our fans profoundly and bitterly disagree, including those who’s families have been on the wrong end of British boots and guns is what is loathsome.

      And your facts are staggeringly wrong. We are NOT the only team which does not wear the poppy. If you’re going to critique a piece in that kind of language your facts better be right on the money and yours are not.

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