Celtic’s Forrest Testimonial Offers A Shocking Contrast With Ibrox’s German Hate Fest.

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Yesterday, Celtic announced a testimonial for The Famous Name; I am delighted with that because my namesake absolutely deserves it and he should get a great turn out for the match.

He recently joined the 100 Goals Club for us, and that has earned him our acclaim.

I was also thrilled to see that the opposition will be Athletic Bilbao, a club close to the hearts of many of our fans, representing the Basque region in Spain and where there is a tradition of support for left-wing causes and anti-fascism.

I know that some (a handful) of my writers do not like it when I get political or mention our club in a political context, but I keep on reminding those people that the perception of Celtic as a club whose supporters hail from a working class city, steeped in socialism and who understand and sympathise with left-wing causes throughout the world has done us no harm whatsoever and is the reason we are welcomed in almost every place we go.

There are exceptions.

There are, in fact, places all around Europe which are politically more aligned with the hard-right and there are football clubs who have sections of their fan-base who embrace hard-right ideology in the ghastliest fashion. It just so happens that Ibrox has friendships there.

Look, this is just a fact whoever happens not to like it. And even as we’re lining up a game against a club such as this, and donating the proceeds to charity no less – as if the message wasn’t already loud and clear enough – their club is getting ready to take on Hamburg and the press here is boasting of the bond that exists between those two teams.

There are people who will tell me over and over again that Hamburg are not a fascist, right-wing club, and you know what? They are right.

Indeed, the city itself is a working class city like this one, and profoundly leftist. But that’s expressed through their other club, St Pauli, and not so much the larger one. The simple fact is that during the 70’s, 80’s and for long spells in the 90’s the neo-Nazi right held sway at Hamburg and amongst those who feel the strongest affinity for Ibrox are those same people.

That’s a problem. I know from bitter experience that the connection between the two clubs has been exploited and taken over by right-wing nutjobs on both sides, and that much of it has ballooned into a toxic mess.

It would be better, certainly, for the Germans if they cut ties with Ibrox just as it would be advantageous to Ibrox if they didn’t so handcuff themselves to the sort of clubs that they do; Linfield and Hamburg for God’s sake?

What’s the common denominator?

What is it that binds them together in the way Celtic is bound to clubs like Barcelona and St Pauli and all those others we consider our friends? When Hamburg fans visit Ibrox it will be a hate-fest; you could put money on that, a mutual love-a-thon, yes, but between two groups of fans who share a profoundly negative outlook about the rest of the world and which will be as much about who their enemies are as anything else.

I have never said that all Ibrox fans are right wing bigots any more than I’ve said that all Celtic fans are left wing socialists.

Hamburg, like Celtic, is too big to be defined so narrowly, and so I can’t and won’t say that their fans all ought to be damned … but the segment which is most vocal in their backing for Ibrox have more in common with the lunatic fringe there than just the colour blue, and as I keep on saying, those in charge of that club have done nothing to change the negative perceptions around it, and around its most prominent relationships.

These two matches are an insight into the ethos of both clubs.

They have no problem being linked to one whose fans have a history of fascism even as they model themselves as something special, “the club of the troops.” We are playing a testimonial against a left-wing club and giving the money to charity.

We know who our friends are … and who our rival’s friends are too.

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  • Brian Cavanagh says:

    Well James

    This reader likes you talking about the politics of Celtic and the principles of social justice that the club stands for. I am old enough to remember Celtic fans singing we shall overcome – the great civil rights anthem in the late sixties- in solidarity with people in the North. Keep reminding us of the purpose of the club what we stand for and how we behave -its a powerful antidote to the toxicity of some of soccer

  • Roonsa says:

    Wir mussen die Sevco ausrotten!

  • Sophie Johnstone says:

    Athletic Club welcome

  • S Thomas says:

    I’m not a fan of left wing politics myself.. I am of the opinion that far left and far right are actually very dangerous , but I am a fan of helping the people in need in society. James Forrest deserves his testimonial as he has been a fantastic servant to our great club, and the fact he is giving the proceeds to charity will do for me.

    • Henriksgoldenboot says:

      My late father (2nd generation Irishman born in Scotland) used to tell me left wing and right wing were part of the same nut. It’s those on the top who oppress us further down the ladder we need to watch out for. God bless.

  • John Copeland says:

    Assenzeenholenzees !

  • Robert Jenkins says:

    Police will be busy when Sevco play Hamburg.



  • Timbilly says:

    Athletic Bilbao. They don’t like to be referred to as
    Atletico as the Franco regime insisted upon and reverted back to Athletic on the death of the dictator.
    Anaiak Elkarrekin
    Brothers Together

  • Joe says:

    My Cousin is from Hamburg. A Werder Bremen fan since he was a kid, he says he wouldn’t touch that mob with a bargepole.

  • Eldraco says:

    So, no jumping out of planes or helicopters nor field guns being fired by the 107th is it field battery gunners and red berets running around?

    Or as basil Fawlty would say ” ffs don’t mention the war” .

    This is gonna be fun.

    Well done JF. A true clubman. CFC

  • Kevin Meina says:

    I am a Celtic fan and a Scottish Nationalist I wouldn’t vote Sir Keir Starmer if you paid me

  • John S says:

    Keep politics out of Celtic Park. It is divisive. Saying that Celtic is a left-wing club is stretching its charitable and socially conscious foundations to suit personal political persuasions (right, left and centre) that have nothing to do with football.

  • Henry McDade says:

    Is wanting Justice a right wing thing? I dunno. We certainly have no time for feudal lords or the Establishment but I don’t think that in itself is left wing. Personally I would love to see the end of the Labour Party, full of people whose ambition dwarves their ability and who in reality despise oeople like ordinary Celtic fans. Wish the Green Brigade would put up candidates.

  • JimBhoy says:

    Well done to Jamesy, fantastic career with the Bhoys, brilliant medal haul, happy memories. HH

  • Adam Thomas says:

    The ranjirs are playing Newcastle for mcgregors testimonial ,hanburg must be a pre season friendly James

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