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Opinion: Why we can’t stand the Auld Firm

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At the weekend there Cowdenbeath managed an astonishing come back with two goals in the last-minute, Morton banged three past Dunfermline to continue their resurgence and hold the promotion hopes of the Fifers, Livingston toddled into Dumbarton and left with an emphatic win to go 13 points clear, Ayr United left the Shyberry with a five goal spree – all in the second half, Queens Park halted the re emergence of Clyde with a four nil home win and Albion Rovers had a tremendous away victory in the top of the table clash at Stranraer. Life outside the SPL is good. In fact outside the
Auld Firm ‘tis fine.

Yet all we have read about is the shame of the Scottish game, how the Police and now the Government need a think tank or a summit to sit down and discuss Scotland’s powder keg fixture of last Wednesday. While the rest of us turned up, paid our monies and watched with dignity the largest supported clubs in Scotland took our noses and rubbed it in the proverbial.

The bile that has spilled onto the pages of social network sites and the like has been vicious and embarrassing. Better spread through the hinterlands of a war zone the type of appalling commentary that has followed twenty-two men running about a pitch in pursuance of a wee ball has been vile. It’s not even been funny. From the cries of Hail, Hail to the naming one Sally and the other Lemon the playground has seldom witnessed a graduation of childish nonsense at this level and so
visibly appalling.

The genuine football supporters who were brought up in families that support either Celtic or Rangers exist. They are not a myth. Many, I am aware, do not go to the Auld Firm games as they are sickened by what it has turned into. However even they are not immune to it. One friend of mine pointed out there was more violence afterwards when Rangers won than when Celtic did. Aye and Stalin killed more than Hitler but that doesn’t make Hitler a good guy!

The idea that this is a societal problem is, of course true. Sectarianism has to be dealt with by the whole of Scotland. The fact is that with Nil by Mouth and the play Singin I’m no a Billy, He’s a Tim there is clear evidence that society is trying to. Both clubs in their own ways have managed to start the clearances. The recent example of how the Green Brigade and the poppies has been an example to us all. Rangers have done something about bringing out a songbook. It might appear that the two are slightly askew as the cries of no surrender seem to emanate throughout the Europa League and at many away games on the box but there have been movements to acknowledge the difficulties the Auld Firm fire up.

Make no mistake after the Scottish Cup replay the cells were full, the accident and emergencies overflowing and there was a 70% increase in domestic incidents. The games are a catalyst for anti social behaviour of the most extreme and terrifying kind. No wonder some policemen have called for these games to be banned. I may believe that Neil Lennon is too much the rookie for such a tinderbox post or that Diouf was a daft signing but there will surely be no nail bombs or bullets in the post for me. I may also think that making the Auld Firm play an entire season of Auld Firm games behind closed doors would be a start but this is as unlikely as anyone will let me get to the SFA to advise them on league reconstruction – I am only a fan after all!

What is abundantly clear is that, for the rest of us these debates are infantile and irrelevant. Some time in the past – I am not sure when – we grew up. I kind of managed it when I went from Primary School. No matter how flippant I feel I know that the reality of all of this is that people who drink, have been ill educated and believe that violence is the answer will continue to go to football matches. They shall try to take the game we all love and use it for their own ends. That so many of them end up in Govan or Parkhead is no accident and both clubs profit from the tickets purchased to the hot dogs eaten. It is all going to be a long summer… mind you we [Ayr United] won at the weekend so life looks a bit better down the coast…

Written by Donald C. Stewart

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