No Old Firm passport to English football with so much baggage
November 9, 2009
Earlier this week, Everton manager David Moyes backed a proposal to allow both Celtic and Rangers to enter a second tier to the English Premier League. Personally, I’m conflicted by the latest idea, especially as there is a plan to remove relegation. However, with a few amendments I think the idea could work. That said, I fear after the actions of a minority of Old Firm supporters this week (I use that term very loosely) Moyes’ yes vote will be as rare as the Giant Panda.
I have to say I’ve always been uncomfortable with the religious and political aspects of both Celtic and Rangers, and have felt embarrassed by sectarian songs on both sides of the divide. I mean, what EXACTLY do paramilitary groups have to do with football? However, yesterday’s events really got to me. In case you haven’t seen what I’m talking about, there’s a video below.
Now I understand that Celtic are a club that transgress the borders of Britain. I’m fully aware that Celtic were formed to aid the poor Irish immigrants of Glasgow, many of whom had fled oppression and hunger to start a better life in Scotland. And I know the British Army have a somewhat murky history on the Emerald Isle. However, I STILL feel that the actions of the few yesterday were a disgrace.
In the lead up to the game, it was widely reported that the Celtic board had requested a minutes’ applause rather than the traditional silence, presumably to avoid this scenario. It fills me with great sadness that we are the only club in the country who are unable to adhere to this most important tradition. Indeed, I personally feel a minutes’ applause is inappropriate in such circumstances. These people died, they didn’t win some mindless TV talent show, or even a European Cup.
No, Remembrance Sunday is a day where we respect the men and women who laid down their lives to protect this country. Ironically, many of those who died in the First World War were Irish. Some of whom lied about their age so they could stand up for what they believed in. To boo or heckle a minutes’ silence dedicated to those brave souls is a horrific insult. Yes, I know there is a right of protest in this country, a right which was earned by the actions of these very people. However, to choose to protest in this manner does nothing but damage the integrity of Celtic Football Club, an entity most of these clowns confess to loving.
Maybe I’m biased here. After all, I come from a military family, with both my Father and Brother having served in Iraq, and my Grandfather served around the time of the Second World War. Despite the family’s rampant atheism, Remembrance Sunday was the only day of the year where we felt it was genuinely appropriate to go to church. Maybe that’s why this angered me so much. However, my family also originate from the north of Ireland, before emigrating to Glasgow.
That is where my Grandfather was born, which is how the McKenna love affair with this great club began. I can assure you all that if he had been alive today he would have shared my disgust. I think it’s worth noting that in England (and the rest of Scotland, for that matter) the minutes’ silence has been impeccably observed, and it is the English who Celtic must appeal to if they are to get their greatest wish: entry into the Premiership. It would be naivety in the extreme to think that this will have gone unnoticed.
And then of course there’s the other club of this great schism.
Like most of the followers of Celtic, the vast majority of Rangers fans are thoroughly decent people. There are many differences, but both sets of fans are passionate about their clubs, and travel in vast numbers across the globe to urge their side on. However, every genuine Rangers fan will be devastated by the actions of the few on Wednesday night in Romania. Again, in case you missed it there is a video below.
Of course, Rangers ‘fans’ (again, the term is used loosely) have form for this. Indeed, I’d expect the residents of Manchester to flee for the hills the next time Rangers are due in town after the events of the UEFA Cup Final in 2008. Then Rangers fans have also have been found guilty by UEFA of sectarian songs in Pamplona and Villareal, and it is this past form which led to UEFA charging Rangers for the acts of last week. This charge could lead to anything from a large fine, elimination from European competition this season, being forced to play home games behind-closed-doors or even being banned from Europe.
Once again, this is not attractive to the powers-that-be who run the English Premier League. I mean, who wants to invite mindless violence and bigotry into the ‘best league in the world’? However, it would seem once again that the Rangers board are deflecting the issue, rather than taking it head on. Indeed, I agree with most of the points made by Graham Spiers in his Times piece.
What is needed now is a drastic clean up operation. There has yet to be a reaction from Celtic about yesterday’s events, and Rangers have been somewhat meek in their condemnation of their fans’ conduct. Instead, there MUST be action from both clubs.
Anybody found to be causing trouble should have their season-tickets removed from them, and should be banned from every stadium in the country. I firmly believe that supporters of both clubs should aid the Old Firm to weed out the trouble-makers. These parasites may claim to be football fans, but they are nothing but baggage. Under the weight of this baggage, both clubs will eventually buckle, and it is time this particular weight was jettisoned at the door.
If it isn’t, there’s a great danger that the Premiership flight will take off without them. For the good of both Celtic and Rangers, that cannot be allowed to happen.