Not long after this campaign got underway, the ‘famine song’ made its first appearance at the Celtic-Rangers fixture at Parkhead in August 2008 – Rangers supporters groups dismissed allegations of racism with the retort that this was all ‘banter’ against ‘plastic paddies’ and not Irish people per se. The usage of ‘the poppy’ and remembrance weekend as a jingoistic British propaganda tool also took off at this time (with the associated aim of highlighting the ‘treacherousness of Celtic fans). 


All of this counter-propaganda began with the attacks on Jock Stein’s’ character. However, it was only recently, after clearing out my emails, I came across this exchange I had with the ‘creator’ of the ‘Big Jock Knew’ campaign that you can read below (my email is first btw). This exchange really does shine a light on the mentality of someone absolutely determined and bitter enough to argue that black is white and vice versa. You can decide for yourself what this person’s motives are…


On 10/15/07, Sean Huddleston  <> wrote:

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you over your controversial and highly contentious website ‘Big Jock knew’.

First of all, there is the nature of the whole ‘campaign’. I find this a very vicious ‘campaign’ that implies that Jock Stein was complicit with child abuse and this points at a very disturbing raison d’etre which could start a very unsettling trend amongst the footballing fraternity. What’s to stop Liverpool fans investigating and lambasting Alex Ferguson and launching similar websites with a similarly cynical and hurtful outlook like yours? What’s to stop Celtic fans launching anti-Bill Struth websites considering how prejudiced Rangers FC became under his stewardship? This kind of ‘debate’ is merely slenderising at its lowest form and cannot contribute to helping ‘clean up’ the game of its ills and promote more constructive debate e.g. sectarianism and so on. Have you even approached Alan Brazil, John McCluskey, et al for their permission and support in your venture? I feel that, unless you have contacted the people who suffered under the hands of Jim Torbett and elicited their support then it does leave your ‘campaign’ in a moral vacuum. The people who suffered in this awful ordeal have spoken to the press at great length about it therefore can you ‘campaign’ actually help them or support them? Does it actually reveal any ‘new’ information?

Also your website has obviously touched the masses but can every person who has adopted this ‘phrase’ that you have launched i.e. big jock knew claim they are doing so for the same ‘reasons’ you are? This ‘campaign’ has seen the horse bolt from the stables and is now being used for purely sectarian purposes by a large number of people in my opinion due to the clamp down on overtly sectarian songs being banned at Ibrox. This phrase has now replaced ‘the billy boys’ as song of choice for a lot of rangers ‘supporters’ due to its attempt to apply moral backwardness on Celtic and people attached to the club and thus moral superiority on their own club. Coupled with previous child abuse scandals in the catholic church uncovered in the 1990’s it provides the more sectarian element of Rangers’ support with ‘ample ammunition’ as it were e.g. Rangers ‘fans’ singing about ‘who shagged all the boys?’. Was this an intended effect? What does your campaign have to say about this? Does your ‘campaign’ support this position? Will there be a statement from the website speaking out against people using it for sectarian purposes?

You also say that this ‘campaign’ was started as a counter-campaign to the one launched by MPs who wanted to award a post-humous knighthood to Jock Stein. This campaign, as you will have noted did have a very long shelf life to say the least after the PM announced there would be no post-humous awards given out. Petitions are all well and good but the there has to be a certain kind of public appetite for a campaign to be a success. The public did not support this notion of post-humous knighthoods and the lack of media coverage after the Prime Ministers’ announcement reflected this. You even highlight all this yourself and the only defence you give for keeping the ‘campaign’ alive was the amount of complaints you received! This is a very immature position to say the least and not very helpful to the debate at large.

Finally, your view of the whole controversy has a very warped and present day prejudice to it. Child abuse claims have emerged several years after they took place and have emerged from lots of different areas of society. In the 1990’s it seemed like an incessant amount of child abuse scandals, which had laid dormant for quite some time, emerged to a whirlwind of media coverage. Unfortunately, the Celtic boys club scandal was to be part of this whole sorry episode. However, one key thing that all these cases had in common was the reluctance of sufferers to inform the proper authorities. Sufferers remained in fear of their tormentors for some time and, in a lot of cases, only came forward after the tormentor had died.

It was also not the ‘done thing’ to deal with this sort of ordeal by going to the proper authorities. Child abuse had a lot of taboo attached to it and it remained like that even through the 1980’s. It was only with changes in society and how society looked at this sort of awful tragedy that people realised that it was ok to come forward. This is not meant as a ‘cop out’ and dis-attachment of blame but a reflection of the time and how society mismanaged these sort of situations. Indeed social work departments and the Police had no proper procedure and resources to deal with victims of child abuse and this reflects the way authorities viewed its priorities.

Also the Celtic board MAY have been complicit in not informing the police,etc but it would also be fair to say that a large group of people who knew about this situation also refused to inform the authorities. From the police to SFA to business associates of Torbett and acquaintances, they ALL did nothing to investigate or corroborate the rumours. It is NOT consistent to target the one person who actually DID something about the tormentor of these poor children at this time  (albeit contentiously) and overlook the large number of people who also knew but did nothing.

I hope I have given you food for thought and look forward to your reply,


Sean Huddleston


And the reply…

Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2007 14:22:29 +0100
Subject: Re: ‘big jock knew’

Hi Sean

My apologizes for the delay in getting back to you. Lost my net connection at home and I’ve been too busy at work to give your email a proper repsonse

Regarding the content of your email I feel I need to correct you on a couple of things. Firstly I totally refute any accusation or insinuation that my website or the campaign in general is in any way sectarian in nature. Sadly it seems in todays society and especially within the celtic fan fratnernity that if one should have an opinion that is somehow at odds with ,or critical of ,the majority then that opinion is automatically labelled sectarian. It has almost become the war cry of the Celtic fan, adopted en masse to stop anyone slating or otherwise being critical of Celtic or its fans. It makes no difference what songs the BJK chant has replaced, no one with any intelligence can reasonably claim that it is sectarian. Not even remotely sectarian.  If I have inadverently included something on the website that is sectarian in nature please can you provide a link to it so I can remove it.

Regarding the contacting of Mr Brazil et al I have felt no need to. My personal reasons for the website were never about the “victims” it was about the campaign for a knighthood. Therefore Mr Brazil’s thoughts never really entered the equation. On the subject of the knighthood I will correct you on another small matter.  I did not keep the website going because of the amount of complaint’s received. I kept it going because the people who were complaining actually managed to get the site shut down by my host. What you call immature I call retribution for violating my rights to free speech. Simple as that.

Regarding different types of websites by different groups of fans (ie Liverpool fans V Alex Ferguson , Celtic fans V Bill Struth) I would have no problems with that. See I’m suffer from a disease. It used to be everybody had this disease but as the years have rolled by more and more people seem to have been cured. The disease is called “Not Easily Offendeditis”. Take songs for examples. I couldn’t give a monkeys if 60,000 of you guys were singing FTQ , IRA chants etc. Means nothing to me. But it seems now that everybody wants to be offended. The real question is, are they? Or are they really just mock offended to try and claim some kind of vicitmhood and continue perputating the myth that is sectarianism in Scotland. And it is a myth. It no longer exists in day to day society. Sure like racism there will be pockets of it but in everday life? nope just doesnt exist.

Regarding the “Who Shagged All The Boys” chant. I abhor it. It is making fun of child abuse and I would shout down anyone singing that song near me. This may seem like an ironic viewpoint coming from the owner of the BJK website but I firmly believe in what the site is about, and it has never been about child abuse. It has been about the cover up. This brings me on to my next point. I am very aware of the facts that others around Celtic Boys Club were aware of the abuse and it saddens me that no one had the courage to stand up and be counted as a man of moral value. I also firmly believe that Jock Stein did the right thing in kicking Torbett out the club and I rate his actions as better than those around him that knew. This does not dectract from the fact that the moral thing to do would have been to go to the police and inform them.

Anyway I hope this has answered your points and I thank you for an interesting email. It is rare I get an email from someone wanting to debate the message rather than just attack the messenger.


John Smith