Domestic football will be back this coming weekend, and thank God for that. It feels like an eternity has passed since we left the pitch last midweek after running Real Madrid close for 60 minutes of the match.
Who knew our next game would be in Warsaw?
The decision to cancel the entire football card “out of respect” for the Queen seemed ludicrous to many of us when it was made on Friday afternoon. It has since become the subject of widespread derision.
The fans did not want it. Most of the media now claim to have been wholeheartedly against it. Other than some of the uber-staunch at certain clubs, the public appetite for everything to stop appears to be virtually non-existent.
One club in particular clearly took advantage of the situation. We know who that was.
The same one which tried to benefit on the back of the COVID pandemic.
They can hammer out social media tributes and their directors can lay wreaths and all the rest of it until the cows come home; they saw a chance to dodge the Aberdeen game and cancel the Napoli game and take this weekend’s fixture out of the equation and they grabbed at it.
Over on their forums, sanity is rarely the default setting but the past few days have shown them at their schizophrenic worst.
They stamped their feet for the calling off of all last weekend’s fixtures “out of respect” but simultaneously claimed that it was Celtic who pushed hardest for it so as to “avoid embarrassment.”
They took great pleasure in spreading unsubstantiated nonsense about how our club hadn’t released a statement, and then more unsourced garbage about how football’s decision rested on the presumed reaction from Celtic and Liverpool fans.
In the end, they seemed unsure what they would have preferred; the chance to see how Celtic fans would respond, or the cancellation they had demanded.
For many of them, that’s all this really is. A chance to watch the rest of us. An opportunity to climb high atop the dung-heap and crow about how morally superior they are to everyone else, but especially us. The actual paying of their respects to the dead monarch is a minor consideration behind that; this is what they live for.
Their anger is presently directed at the SFA and the SPFL for allowing clubs freedom and latitude to decide how best to pay respect. Whilst every club in England is being forced to wear armbands, hold a silence and play the anthem, the governing bodies here have taken the vastly better decision to let the home club itself decide on those matters.
What St Mirren chose to do will be for them.
But the pressure is already being applied by the fans of the Ibrox club, in order that they go the whole way.
Nobody else on the planet cares about any of this stuff, but their support is fixated on what will happen in a match they aren’t even taking part in, and on what the hosts will do in regards to it.
To me, the English approach is absolutely wrong.
Playing the anthem presumes that everyone in the ground feels the same way. Demanding silence presumes that everyone in the ground thinks that the hereditary monarchy is a good thing and not a symbol of sectarian attitudes and an imperialist past.
Most of the players who will be standing on the field aren’t even British, so why should they care? So getting them all to wear black armbands is preposterous over-reach.
It is like the enforced wearing of the poppy, another gesture imposed on them whether they like it or not.
Clubs should have resisted this lunacy, but it comes from the top of the house where the newly minted Prince of Wales is head of the FA, something football should never have permitted because it leads to just this sort of jingoist drum banging.
Scotland’s approach is more on the nose, but even leaving it up to the home team is a problematic thing. Certainly the visitors to Ibrox will be force-fed all the tribalist bollocks that goes with this and if they don’t like it they’ll have to choke on it.
There are two clubs taking part in each of these games, and any decision should be taken jointly by them both. We don’t live in some banana republic here, although for sure that’s how it’s felt at times over the past few days.
But I suspect we’ll be subjected to exactly what the visitors to Ibrox will be.
I suspect that they aren’t the only people who want to moralise and crow over this stuff.
There are curtain twitchers in every corner of this country at the moment, and what makes them feel good is being able to point their fingers at others. Don’t be surprised if we’re forced into an observance of it all, and then to days of howling invective when it isn’t all pristine.
Let’s face it, we know that it won’t be.
The same people who won’t be silent for the armed forces certainly aren’t going to be for the head of state and the “defender of the faith”, especially when we’ve had a televised reminder of what that actually means.
The idea that “the anthem” should be played before the game and our fans have to meekly accept that is actually vaguely sickening. I’ve never stood for that song in my life. I’m not starting now.
I would not hold it against any person who booed all the way through it. I fully understand the sentiment, not a response to the song itself (although obviously there are big problems there) as much as forcing us to sit through it.
This is not a United Kingdom. It never has been. I’m also a life-long republican. Hereditary monarchy is an insult to those of us who sees ourselves as citizens with equal rights.
Nobody is automatically placed above me because of the circumstances of their birth. No-one has a divine right to “rule” me and mine. The idea offends me, and it’s the concept itself that makes this whole thing feel vaguely fascistic.
The paying of respect is supposed to be a personal thing. It is supposed to be arrived at on your own, not something you’re shoehorned into. Otherwise it’s not really respect is it? It’s compliance. It’s conforming so as not to stand out. It’s fake.
People might have no problem with playing their role in this little national farce, but some of us just flat out won’t do it.
I believe that the whole structure of the monarchy and the unelected British state is imperialist, racist and sectarian and since the media and the chattering classes make no effort to separate the woman from the institution then any observance of respect for one can easily be miscategorised as support for the other, and I’m not playing.
And many thousands of my fellow fans – not just at Celtic but up and down the country – feel exactly the same way, and the curtain twitching moralists who cannot wait for something to sneer at are not going to hammer us into the mould they want and I’m damned if I’m going to let them point their fingers without giving it back to them with both barrels.
If you want to stand in line and watch the hearse go by you can.
If you want to get out your Union Jack umbrella or get into the full dress uniform then you’re welcome to do that.
If you want to attend a wake or host one of your own then go right ahead.
But some of us don’t, and leave us out of it.
One of the things she and her brood are supposed to stand for is freedom; this would be what the word means.
I smart when I hear politicians and news anchors talk about how much she “meant to us all.”
She didn’t mean a damned thing to me. The Christmas speech was not the highlight of my year, we never watched it once, preferring the telly off to having to listen to it.
She had duties and a job to do, but it consisted of opening things not working at the sharp end.
She never pulled an 18 hour shift in a hospital or worked on a factory floor.
She never carried sheet metal or helped a care home resident into or out of bed.
She never changed a sheet or wired a plug. She never had to worry about paying bills or scraping together enough cash for presents at Christmas or birthdays.
I know too that the large section of the population that gets very angry over benefit claimants are the ones most devoutly crying into their hankies at the death of this woman and the suffering of her family, the greatest beneficiaries of state handouts of all.
There was a time, not that long ago it seems to me, when this country found at least part of its sanity again.
It was during COVID when, every Tuesday, we all used to stand outside our doors and applaud those front-line public servants, those real-life heroes, who were bearing up and carrying the nation on their shoulders.
How swiftly they’ve been forgotten by much of this country, and by a government which claims it can’t afford to raise their wages, but which will spend an estimated £6 billion in assorted costs because this woman is dead.
That is the mark of a country with the wrong priorities.
So when Celtic fans get the inevitable stick at the end of all this, I’m going to flatly refuse to accept it. The monarchist moralists can have their wee day criticising, but their ersatz anger will be met by my very real version of it.
Those who are doing nothing here but pursuing their own agendas … stop pretending you have any more respect for the woman or the institution than I do.
Because I might not think they’re entitled to my compliance … but they deserve a lot better than that, a lot better than to be used as some sort of weapon by the likes of you.