There was a moment during the League Cup semi-final when I actually turned to my mate in utter disbelief at the atrocious song emanating from a section of our fan-base. It was the “soon there’ll be no Protestants at all” add-on to The One Road. From there, these morons launched into a hearty rendition of The Soldiers Song.
“Not bad,” I said to him. “A sectarian add-on to a Free Stater tune, followed by the anthem of the Republic. The intellectual incoherence is hard to credit.”
Which brought me back around to something I’ve known for a long time, and which Andrew Smith highlighted again today in his Scotsman column; that there are people amongst our support who are genuine wastes of space.
It’s not even that they are bigots, they are worse than that.
Because being a bigot is a coherent, individualist choice and as deeply horrific as it is, choosing to be a bigot requires basic decision making functionality. Being a sheep, parroting idiotic ideas and opinions and singing songs which get the stink of this stuff on our club doesn’t require any.
I marvel sometimes at the lives these guys must lead that this is what they think counts them as rebels and revolutionaries. It makes them neither. It makes them sad bastards who haven’t quite twigged yet that they are throwbacks to a bygone age.
Any Celtic fan singing about the ethnic cleansing of Protestants – which, let’s cut the bullshit that add-on does – doesn’t just not understand our history but they are woefully short on their knowledge of Irish struggle, which was filled to the rafters with them.
One of my favour Republican songs is The Wolfetones Protestant Men, a sterling anthem to some of those guys, which I would dearly love to hear being lustily sung at Celtic Park one day. “Be England’s fool; divide, they’ll rule …” is a crucial segment.
And of course, Wolfe Tone himself, mentioned in the song, was a Protestant. I bet if you told some of these cretins that their jaws would hit the floor.
To me and a lot of our fans, there are some great songs which some of our fans are dementedly hearts-set on ruining forever with puerile, needless, IRA add-ons as well.
Let’s get something out of the way before I go on, although regular readers won’t be in the least bit surprised; I have no problem with Celtic fans singing Republican songs. I don’t do it at games, because I personally don’t think that’s the forum for it.
Anyone who has met me in the pub, however, will know I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of them and consider some of them absolutely wonderful. I have long dared anyone who wants the debate to tell me the Republican song, sung regularly at Celtic games, which preaches the killing of fellow human beings and no-one has ever come back with an answer and no-one ever will because there’s nary a song in the Republican canon which does that.
About four years before The Fields Of Athenry got sung first at the football I sang it on stage at a trade union event in Germany for delegates from all over the continent, who all wanted to know what the song was. I’d been singing it, and hearing it, for years; it was a family party-piece at New Year. When I first heard it at a game my jaw dropped open.
It was the same with Grace, another old favourite whose first performance at the football left me beaming with joy and surprise because it, too, had been an old family favourite and it was good to hear it getting a stirring rendition from our fans.
But I wince every time I hear Willie Maley’s chorus polluted by that “… and the IRA” dirge, because of course neither Maley nor James McGrory nor Paul McStay nor the founders of our club had the least connection to the IRA which wouldn’t even surface as an organisation in its own right until years after we were founded.
Where does it come from, this sheep-like braying of utter nonsense like that?
There are a handful of songs which pop up randomly at Parkhead and just as quickly disappear and it’s an embarrassment and a disgrace when they do.
Roamin’ In The Gloamin is another notorious piece of anti-Protestant swill which doesn’t belong at Celtic games. I am less convinced by the argument about “Dirty Orange bastards” which some people say is a coded reference to Protestants; it must be very coded indeed as I’ve heard it sung at Catholic officials and even Catholic Ibrox players.
I’ve always viewed it as a catch-all kind of phrase, in the same way the word “hun” is, a word I only use in a very specific context. Hey, at the end of the day if there are those on the periphery of Ibrox who don’t like “orange” being tossed at them, maybe they should stop playing into the stereotype with the orange strips and other paraphernalia.
Those who equate the terms “hun” and “orange” with Protestant are at it, and this is a relatively new phenomenon and I am surprised that any intelligent person accepts the claim.
Those who equate those words with their use of the word “fenian” are overlooking a clear difference; they have a song over there which is a very clear reference to being “up to their knees in fenian blood” which makes the intent and the sentiment and the use in context quite explicit; it’s an ethnic cleansing anthem, and it is once again heard everywhere they go.
But Andrew Smith has a particular issue with one of the songs of yesterday and you know what?
So do I. The songs mocking dead ex-Ibrox staff and players are the stuff of the gutter and that’s where those who sing them belong. It’s sewer-dredging Ibrox style, and the irony is that I know the very people who sing them would be amongst the first to lose their shit over songs about dead Lisbon Lions and Tommy Burns.
Andrew Smith criticised fan groups and the club for not speaking out; maybe he’s missed all the times I’ve written about this subject. Maybe he’s missed the numerous entreaties the club itself has made for fans to consider the reputation of Celtic.
And maybe he missed the fact that when that song was sung yesterday that many thousands of our own fans booed it. But that doesn’t make for sexy headlines.
Still he deserves credit. He is consistent on this issue, and on writing the same about the fans across the city. This guy, like Graham Spiers, has been, if you’ll pardon the pun, singing this song a long time.
This has to be cut out of our support at some stage, and really, the sooner the better.
The song debate deserves more nuance than it gets but I think there are things on which we can all agree, and that these chants are disgusting and have no place in our support is one of them.