Don’t let the aftermath and the incidents detract, for one minute, from what happened on the pitch today because it was the story and the Peepul being the Peepul should not detract from it.
But let’s not kid ourselves; there is no value in doing what the media will, and giving these things some modest coverage and then pretending they did not happen.
There will be plenty of time this coming week for covering the football; it should be covered, it must be covered and it will be covered because today Ange’s team fought like lions and triumphed.
Today we virtually wrapped up this title and we deserve immense credit.
But let us please, once more, turn the spotlight on the Peepul, on their hatred, on their bile, on their complete disregard for their fellow human beings, the reputation of football or – and this is the bit that should be ringing out loudest of all – even for their own club.
It is no surprise to me that the “small minority” behaved so appallingly today.
From the kick-off, the “small minority” sung their bile from all three corners of the ground, the exception being the one where 700 of our fans were housed. In the first half, our players took a torrent of abuse.
At the start of the second, one end of the ground showered the keeper until broken glass forced him to make the ultimate threat to walk off the pitch. Later on the in the half, at the other end of the pitch, Jota had to dodge missiles whilst taking a corner.
We know now that an object struck one of our backroom team from a different section of the stadium again.
This is not a “small minority” whatever the media might want to convince you of.
Theirs is, as I said in a piece yesterday, the most bile soaked and hateful football support on this island.
By far. The margins aren’t even close.
Let’s face it, when their “official media reps” can joke about child abuse and when even the most amateurish internet sleuth can turn up example after example after example of their racism, hatred and bigoted mind-set, then how much tolerance can their possibly be in the stands?
For days I’ve wondered aloud when the press guys who have to share interview space with these creatures will say enough is enough, but there is a bigger question. There is a larger issue.
When do their own fans – when does the ordinary rank and file supporter – start demanding their exclusion from the inner sanctum of the club?
Do you think if I wrote that kind of thing day after day after day that I would still have readers amongst our fan-base?
Do you think if I wrote bigotry and filth and naked unbridled hatred that our own supporters would not lobby the club and demand that it banned me and disavowed me and cut any ties with me once and for all?
Tell me who the Celtic fan media equivalent of those guys.
Even if you have one Celtic fan media outlet which you absolutely can’t stand, where is the version of David Edgar or Mark Dingwall or Chris Graham? The simple answer is that there’s not one.
I know there is a perception in their sewers that I hate all Ibrox fans; it’s not true.
But I certainly hate the ones who wallow in filth.
I hate the ones who, as Liam Neeson says in Michael Collins, are guilty of “making hate necessary.”
There’s a guy I know through Facebook, a die-hard Ibrox man his entire life, and he’s one of the finest and most genuine human beings I know. I love the guy. He reads a lot of my stuff, so he’ll recognise himself without me having to embarrass him. We got to know each other through the independence movement and before every European tie he emails me to wish the club well.
I wish I could claim I did the same when his team play, but I don’t and that never stops him.
My respect for this guy is beyond anything I can put in words; Scott, my friend, love and good wishes to you.
See, I would rather not live my life hating people.
But if folks want to glorify in being up to their knees in my blood and indulge in smearing an entire club and its supporters as if every one of us was guilty of the ghastliest crimes then yes, I am going to hate those bastards right back and I won’t apologise for doing so.
What I cannot understand is why those who share the stands with them have never made an honest to God effort to purge the club of their toxicity and poison. I know my friend has made his anger over them clear many, many times down through the years. He’s a football man. He loves his club and he loves his country and won’t accept anyone who shames either.
In case other people haven’t noticed, these vile folks have gotten a toehold in the upper echelons of their club now; they think they are its living embodiment … and if they have their way then that’s how the whole world will see that club now and forever.
I would never allow such people, and most Celtic fans would never allow such people, to gain any kind of status where their behaviour threatened Celtic itself.
Indeed, this site and others have put ourselves out there in vocal opposition to the handful of Celtic fans who do sing sectarian dirge, and we’ve demanded that the club stand against them.
And by the way, I am wholly unsatisfied by the club’s response.
The loathing is a by-product of the environment that club has been allowed to grow in, and that’s partly the fault of the media for indulging their paranoia and rationalising their past behaviour.
The object which struck our coach today, and the stuff which our winger dodged and which our keeper almost walked off the park over didn’t come out of nowhere; they emerged from a fan-base which is totally absorbed by a twisted sense of its place in the world.
The last article I posted was about how their version of reality comes from how they perceive their club and that place in the world, and how they struggle to understand it being behind ours except by conspiracy and contrivance.
But that warped view is only allowed to persist because we have a media which never properly challenges it (and which actually indulges it) and because those fans who sit beside goons every week never speak up against them.
Those three incidents came amidst a flood of sectarian songs, which were only silenced when Celtic scored the equalising goal.
(Fortunately, after a mere seven minutes of the match.)
Whilst they were being sung there is no question that it was the whole stadium, not some mythical minority, and this is a problem that has grown, like a weed, week after week after week and which this blog and a tiny handful of courageous journalists has highlighted.
What did they expect today? Perfect behaviour?
Those thrown objects were not isolated incidents or isolated individuals – in three different parts of the ground don’t forget, and don’t let the media forget it either – but emerged from a support which, as whole, is either stomping its feet to the anthems of hatred or refuses to challenge those who are.
That’s not a minority and these are not events to be viewed as separate from the whole; from a fan-base which still sings all the wrong songs, from a club which hired an Ulster Unionist to run its PR, from fan media reps who don’t even hide what they are about or the toxic, vile things that they believe … this is a culture affecting everything.
And that club, more and more, is gripped by fear.
Fear that the uppity fenians actually have the upper hand, that their one season wonder was exactly that, that we are back in the place where we belong as the biggest club in the land … and I’m happy for them to feel afraid like that except that I know what that leads to, and the damage that it can do.
It’s not our job to deal with that problem.
Christ, it shouldn’t even be our job to highlight it … but we find ourselves doing it because nobody else will.
Today a Celtic official went down under a thrown object and had to get medical treatment. The cameras didn’t see that, but they saw our goalkeeper walk away from a penalty area filled with broken glass.
How the Australians must be sighing with relief that this vile lot won’t be making the trip to cheer on their team in this appalling, horrific fashion.
How some in our own club badly need to look in the mirror and ask themselves what the fuck they were doing in offering to climb into bed with this lot for a “friendly” over a few quid they could have had playing Villarreal.
But the real questions need to be asked by those who run our game, those who cover it and by those at Ibrox who care about the reputation of their club, however shitty that might be.
There’s a story about Napoleon which I’ve always found amusing; seeing his soldiers almost collapsing as they walked down French roads under the hot summer sun, he demanded that his officers plant trees along the way, to keep them cool.
“But that will take years!” his officers whined.
“Well we ought to start right away,” Napoleon is said to have told them.
When does the Ibrox fan-base – the great majority if you believe the press – start to weed out the vile bastards, before they take the whole place over and the whole club down?
It will be a long haul, and yes, it will take years … that’s why I suggest they get cracking.