I watched part of the first half from Perth yesterday before heading out to the game, but I turned the volume down because I didn’t want to listen to the outpouring of bile and hatred that was flowing out of the away stands. So I didn’t hear much of it.
But it must have been bad. Really bad. For the whole 90 minutes.
Because, as he sometimes does – and he is one the only people who does – Andrew Smith wrote about it in his column for The Scotsman today. Whilst others, like Keevins, criticised the Tartan Army for the bad atmosphere at the “friendly” with England on Tuesday, and ignored the much more poisonous behaviour of the Ibrox fans, Smith jumped in there.
“The loathing expressed by sections of the Rangers support since their team’s defeat to Celtic were directed towards Michael Beale,” he wrote.
“Self-loathing seemed more the order of the day at McDiarmid Park. In the form of sectarianism effectively expressing hatred over their country being home to Catholics, and those of Irish-Catholic heritage. Reflected in the No Pope of Rome chant being given a lusty airing, along with various ditties built around abusive terms that deployed the word Fenian.”
He then went on to point out that they also poured their bile out at The Tartan Army.
This is really all there is to the Ibrox fans; hatred.
And it has to go somewhere, and for the last while it has been pointed at their own boss, but it was natural that it would start snaking out across the wider world, and especially this week when Scotland fans were such an obvious and easy target. They really are despicable people, and our game would be well shot of them if there was a concerted media campaign to remove them from it.
But there isn’t. Smith writes about this, Speirs has done it a few times, but in the main the media doesn’t give a toss. It is telling that in a week where hacks are falling all over themselves to have a pop at Scotland fans for booing a bigoted song that there are no voices calling out the Ibrox fans for doing far worse. Nobody cares.
As I’ve said, if this scum were singing those songs about any other religion they would be hammered in every editorial and the chattering classes wouldn’t talk about anything else for a month. But their bile targets Catholics and that’s perfectly okay with our press corps and the governing bodies, who refuse to get this house in order.
I get sick of this. I get sick of living in a country which tolerates this stuff when I’m convinced that it could be driven out of our sport, and our society, if the will was there.
Apart from a tiny handful who regularly raise this issue, I see no evidence that it is.