My gut feeling is that the banner the other night was the work of a wannabe or at best someone loosely associated. Maybe I’m wide of the mark with this but my experiences at Celtic Park, away grounds or just viewing the Green Brigades banners etc on TV has been that quite a lot of work and effort has gone into them and even with the one’s I’ve disagreed with a lot more thought goes into them that just ‘F*ck You!’. The other night’s protest came across as amateur hour. Something cobbled together in the early hours of the morning after a dozen can’s of TL and a half bottle of buckie. No doubt the perpetrators thought they were about to unleash some real hilarity or maybe even a cutting political gesture onto our psyche when they unveiled their work and were probably proud as punch with themselves. Unfortunately the reaction has been anger, disdain and to a certain extent humiliation. The anger and disdain comes from the manager and players who see it as grabbing attention away from a gallant efforts made to qualify for the Europa league last 32 against all the odds considering we were up against a team a top of Italy’s Serie A as well as the fallout and possible sanctions from UEFA. The humiliation comes from us as Celtic fans looking at it in the cold light of day and having to admit “So that’s it huh lads? That’s the best you could come up with?”
All in all it’s a headache we don’t need. Over the last decade we have prided ourselves on fantastic European nights and the relationships we have forged abroad. All the while the hordes from Govan persistently made tits of themselves and covered themselves in shame via a wide range of various offences. But if actions like the other night become allowed to persist then any moral authority from our end will become eroded beyond repair. Whether you agree with the UEFA fine or not it’s a mute point. It’s happened and all of the arguments in the world about legitimacy, historical context and freedom of speech won’t change the fact that many groups ranging from the police, SFA, UEFA and public at large in the UK are not going accept “Oooh Aaah Up the RA” as a legitimate club anthem.
That being said I do take issue with the term ‘illicit chanting’, that being the charge that the club were found guilty of and subsequently fined for last week. I mean, really what the hell does that mean? So you cannot chant illicitly? And who decides what is illicit and what is not? Such variables make UEFA’s HQ in danger of resembling an ivory tower as they pontificate and lay down the moral law whilst all the while several long standing members of their parent association FIFA come under investigation for bribery and other forms of corruption to such an extent it seems inherent. Illicit chanting can technically be attributed to some of the most basic of ditties including “ Oh the Rangers are Sh*te” , “We don’t care what the animals says” and “We f*cking hate Rangers!”. Now none of these are part of official Celtic hymn sheet cannon and if barred it would hardly be disastrous but it would expose the singing restrictions as bordering on the absurd. We would be getting to a situation where you just couldn’t offend anyone, anywhere and in any form which would be impossible as we all know that someone, somewhere always finds something offensive about even the most inoffensive things. It’s also my experience that the more restrictions you put in place the more resistance you get. Sometimes it’s born out of legitimate frustration and other resistance is just an excuse for anarchy but either way having the powers that be locking horns with the bread and butter of the game over what’s right and what’s wrong while claims of bribery and corruption emerge persistently would be to say the least, an unsatisfactory situation.
Of course this takes us to the SNP’s new football banning order legislation upon which they have bestowed the pretentious moniker ‘ Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill.’
I’ll be honest, I’ve voted SNP in the last few elections. Independence is something I can take or leave and is something which seems increasingly irrelevant as we move towards a global community but for me they offered something different. They seemed positive as opposed to negative which is the norm in contemporary politics where more time is spent sniping as opposition policies than espousing the virtues of your own if indeed you’ve even bothered to come up with any of your own. The Labour party had been in power for so long and had wasted so much time battling the ‘plague of sectarianism’ that apparently blights this country while real issues like poverty, street crime, the mistreatment of the elderly and pissing away £800 million on a parliament building went ignored. A statue stands in honour of Donald Dewar in Buchanan street despite his overseeing and active support for a complete misuse of public funds (Holyrood) that could have built things like, I don’t know…hospitals and schools. So on the basis of being fed up with nonsense like that I thought I would give Salmond a go. This bill has made me think again though. The arrogance in putting it through in the face of overwhelming opposition from the public, every other political party and indeed experts on issues regarding sociology and culture, worries me. Does Salmond and the SNP at large believe they are now above and beyond public opinion and accountability? But more pressingly why is he pushing the issue of bigotry in football as the most pressing one in society? There are much bigger issues and wasting time and resources on overly oppressive legislation like this underlines that the SNP are no different to their predecessors when it comes to scoring browny points with press row by indulging their obsession with an overhyped issue rather than dealing with real issues that affect real people on a daily basis. And I also have serious reservations about any legislation on ‘offensive singing’ devised by a party who’s justice minister, Kenny MacAskill, commended the support of Glasgow Rangers for helping to create ‘a great family atmosphere’ in the hours after the best part of 20,000 of them had stood to a man at the national stadium and belted out the long banned ‘Billy Boy’s’ anthem with remarkable pride and vitriol. Sometimes the world truly does stand on its head!