Followers on twitter will be aware that yesterday I was pretty angry. In his match report Matt Lindsay of the Herald/E Times made reference to the very few fans that had broken the minute’s silence at Ibrox and identified them as being among the 7,500 Celtic fans. My anger was two-fold – why specifically state that the breaking of the silence was by Celtic fans when it wasn’t and why highlight it at all?
I was at the game and as we approached the minute’s silence there was an audible “ssshhhh” from our support. After that I heard a few muffled noises. They could have been from the Rangers support; they could have been from outside the ground. Standing in the Broomloan lower all I could tell was that they weren’t from our support. There was one arsehole who shouted Bobby Sands (followed by a few murmuring “shut the f**k up”) and that was it. I’ve since heard the silence on TV and the far away shouts I heard at the game are the one or two loonies from their side. That was all. Perhaps 5 attention seeking arseholes in a crowd of 50,000 – 0.01%? So why mention at all? If the town of Perth were asked to hold a minute’s silence and 99.99% of the town stood solemnly it would be hailed as a great success, so why does football in Scotland beat itself up so much? Why is the negative the first thing that many in the media and many fans online highlight?
In the afternoon following the game and for the next 3 days, the third headline on the BBC News App for “Glasgow & The West” has been “3 arrests at Old Firm Game”. There were 50,000 and 3 arrests (99.994% were NOT arrested).
Compare this to the coverage of the Edinburgh Hogmanay event. The only mentions were outlining how wonderful the event was. How it passed off peacefully and how easy it was to police. Buried right down in the depths of the report (again as a positive) were the arrest numbers – just 2 arrests in 75,000. This prompted me to do a quick Google search for arrests over the past 4 or 5 years. The numbers are always buried right down as a positive of how few there are and there are usually around 5.
This is not about tit for tat. My anger at Lindsay is that if he felt a need to mention the breaking of the silence he took the chance to accredit it only to the Celtic fans. Based upon the evidence that could only be because of inbuilt bias or encouragement from elsewhere. Both reflect poorly on him but more importantly reflect poorly on his colleagues by association.
There are good journalists covering Scottish football but our game is dreadfully marketed. Like it or not the game against New Rangers is, outside these shores, the most marketable game we have yet based upon pre-match chat the police were expecting WW3. As the game kicks off our biggest broadsheet tweets about the 0.001% and post game talk from many media outlets centres on the number of arrests and breaking of the minute’s silence. Then to top it all we have to wait 3 days for any free to air highlights package.
We have some excellent journalists desperate to write positively about our game. Unfortunately we also have some very poor ones who regurgitate pre-prepared copy from bullies or who cannot report objectively due to their own bias. We have a police lobby that paints football as the great bogeyman to avoid cuts and we have politicians who use football as a vehicle to lay all the blame for society ills instead of tackling the real problems.
Social media has given fans a voice and has enabled those good journalists to flower above the gloom. We should use it to side-line the negative doomsayers and those who peddle PR agenda’s and focus upon the good coverage. We need to start demanding that those who run our game no longer accept that click bait peddlers such as Jack, Lindsay and Jackson or organisations like STV derive commercial gain without providing financial benefit. Only then can we start the very long journey of improvement to the whole of Scottish football.