A common theme in practically every newscast, radio forum and article that I have heard or read is that Celtic have created a storm where none existed, and the next step ought to be the administration of severe punishments starting with Neil Lennon and Gary Hooper, before taking action against John Reid himself.
The main accusation seems to be one of calling the referees’ integrity into question, a concept which seems to be beyond the understanding of anyone outside our own community. As we have discussed here before till a band played, no one in Scottish Football seems to have any difficulty in thinking that officials from outwith this island are corruptible, but not our brave boys in black, yellow, pink etc ….
And yet this idea that our referees are above suspicion has not always been the case. I can cite two examples that I know of where a senior referee was removed from the list because his actions and decisions were perceived to favour one club at the expense of their opponents.
Example one is that of Jim Callaghan who was the best referee in Scotland until he failed to order John Hughes off in a match against Rangers following a retaliation offence after he had already been booked. The Ibrox club protested and Callaghan effectively disappeared off the radar.
Example two involves the late Kevin O’Donnell who allowed Mark McGhee to run on and score following a foul challenge on – I think – our present international manager. Hearts complained bitterly and O’Donnell’s career finished to all intents and purposes that night.
So you see Dear Reader, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a referee might cheat and influence a game. I do not however need to point out the similarity in these two cases and which club was the perceived beneficiary.
Clearly it was incumbent upon those who monitor the probity of our national game that the offending officials be dealt with according to the full severity of the law!!!!
No ‘honest mistakes’ here you will have noted – clear examples of cheating, but what else might be expected from that quarter!!!
On the Lostbhoys podcast this week, the ubiquitous Scots/Irish blogger/journalist related the story of how his persistence forced the demise of Shuggie. The title of the podcast was ‘A Seat at the Front Please’, and he several times suggested that members of our community were no longer prepared to accept second class status such as was the case in the Deep South of the U.S. with regards to blacks.
His analogy is valid. While our discrimination on a wider scale has been underhand and subversive, people have been stabbed for the very fact of wearing the hoops, and any attempt to protest this has brought great hand wringing and the charge that we are the opposite side of one coin and just as bad as our persecutors.
We know the lie in this, but just enough of our community err sufficiently to allow the charge to be made.
It is however when our press and broadcast media deny that there is any conspiracy to do us down that the analogy is most apt.
In the Deep South it was not necessary for whites to conspire against their black neighbours. The fact of their colour made them inferior, and accordingly any action taken against them was generally accepted because the community to a greater extent shared the one viewpoint.
A similar situation has existed in Scotland since the Reformation and was exacerbated by the influx of the Irish during and after the famine. If their poverty and general ‘strangeness’ was not enough, their faith singled them out for contempt and accordingly – abuse.
That in both cases the most extreme and visible signs of persecution came from the pecker-woods and red-necks of the poor white class, cannot hide the fact that a more subtle and insidious persecution has always existed amongst those in the establishment. The well off, the Church – in our case the Church of Scotland – the lawyers and the power brokers did all that they could to maintain the status quo through dubious employment and education policies, and a deep sense that we were aliens and even generations down the line not fully to be trusted.
This hostility extends even to sport and this is the battleground at the present time.
The problem which we face is that they truly do not understand the problem, because they are the problem.
Cretins such as Daryll King, Bill Leckie, Davie Dodds and others have attacked Celtic in recent days – indeed in the case of the two hacks – attacked the Catholic Church and our whole community – but that is nothing new for them. It is actually possible to understand why. Their mind set is such that to change it will require a massive attitudinal shift which frankly is beyond them. They have neither the wit nor the inclination to change and I fear that this is the case within the SFA despite the presence of the new Chief Executive.
In recent times at Football Games at the University of Mississippi – Ol’ Miss – it has become a feature to wave banners to the effect that : ‘The South Will Rise Again’. Despite protests from a majority of students, faculty members, and many in the community at large the fact remains that those attitudes still prevail amongst a section of the people of the south.
‘The South Will Rise Again’ is their ‘Famine Song’ and despite massive changes in American Society that sense of what used to be remains. Despite what Phil may say about our place on the bus, there are still those in Scotland who will resist change tooth and nail, and their present sticking place may be the SFA and how our sport is run.
Celtic’s silence may well be golden – perhaps they are simply keeping their powder dry, but the void that this creates is deafening in the response it elicits from our opponents.