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Scottish Football wants to move on but the Irish Political brigade do not

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bloggerThe world lives in the 21st century, Ireland has moved into the 21st century and yet Scotland is infested with those who still live in the past, be it 1690, 1916 or the times of the Troubles. Mention Irish politics not having any place in Scottish football and you will be inundated with the activists, followers, tag alongs and wannabes commenting, criticising, abusing and threatening. And that is why league reconstruction is not the biggest issue within the Scottish game. The Irish political infestation is.

Before anyone tries to claim this article is an attack on Ireland or the Irish, like one specific Irish-based journalist tried to peddle last night on Twitter – much to his buffoonery – especially given the fact he was born in Scotland and live most of his life in Scotland. This article looks at why Scottish Football is sick to the back teeth of Irish politics and conflict being brought into the Scottish game. It is not only non-Old Firm fans who are sick of it, but there are plenty of Celtic and Rangers fans who hate the republican and loyalist rhetoric being peddled about by the 90 minute bigots, by the inbred bigots and the terrorist-supporting luvvies.

I have written on many occasion on the IRA supporting luvvies that are within the Celtic support and those across the city also who peddle this notion that Rangers must adhere to their Protestant traditions.

A simple conclusion to this article just now is that both are as bad as each other. However, as we all know that is simply not enough for some folk whose mock outrage and faux pas offence raises its ugly head at the sheer criticism or failure to back their ’cause’.

It is ironic really, especially coming from elements of the Celtic support and one specific group who state they are anti-fascist, only to denounce, condemn, attack and abuse people who do not kowtow to them or who do not adhere to their ways – fascist or what? A group born out of division to continue their stance of conflict against the club’s board all the while taking backhanders from the same board they denounce time and again on forums and social network sites.

Scottish football fans have more things to worry about than the politics of a nation [or two nations]from across the Irish Sea. In fact the fans have their own problems to deal with rather than having to face the plague that is in our game. Football is a relief for most, sadly for these hatemongers it is just an extension of their hate filled bile.

Scottish football is facing its biggest crisis in years, whether folk want to believe it or not. The financial climate in the country is abysmal – blame who you want for that – ticket prices are far from value for money in our top league, while the quality on the park is potentially at its lowest ebb ever. The Scotland national side has failed to qualify for a major tournament since 1998, Rangers financially imploded due to their own mismanagement at board room level and we are seeing other clubs nearing the end or seeing their debt increase significantly over the past few years. Yet the major issue that has cursed our game is sectarianism, Irish politics and Old Firm whataboutery.

Scottish football can re-invent itself, it can reconstruct the league setup, we can see a return of quality players on the park and may even see a reduction in the debt within clubs, but all that will be in vain if we are subjected to the bile that belongs to another nation – a nation that is doing its damnedest to turn their back on it once and for all. It is a Scotland-wide problem, but for the most part the majority of the perpetrators who peddle their Irish political bile are from the West of Scotland.

You can bet your mortgage on the majority of those who do peddle such bile have never been to Ireland in their life, or if they have they stay clear of the ‘real’ Ireland and stick to the tourist hotspots drinking their choice of Irish tipple and claim to have returned to the motherland or their place of origin.

I was born in Scotland, lived most of my life in Scotland – bar a few years in Singapore and England. I have been lucky enough to travel to numerous places across the world, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia. I have experienced much and yet when returning to the west of Scotland it feels like I have gone back in time and it’s not a good thing.

As a Celtic fan, I look at my son, who is not even two yet and I worry. I worry over subjecting him to the bile that infests and plagues our game. Since starting this site, I have attended a multitude of games across the country and I am sad to say, I would rather take him to an SFL game such as Partick Thistle or a Junior game like Pollok or Arthurlie, free from the bile that some Celtic and Rangers fans feel are part of their respective clubs and of our game. I may not be able to protect him from the usual language that is heard in the stands – usually aimed at referees – but I will make sure that my son will grow up like I did by detesting the issues that plague or game – issues that have no place in Scottish society let alone in our football stadiums.

If you speak to certain elements of Rangers fans, they believe that they should protect and defence their club’s Protestant traditions – clearly spitting in the face of those Rangers fans who are not Protestant. Do they care? No, because they peddle that rhetoric in retaliation to those Celtic fans who peddle the Irish Republican rhetoric as a counter. At the end of the day it is a petty, idiotic and hate filled battle of massive whataboutery.

In effect, the battle of whataboutery is the modern-day equivalent of two siblings getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar and trying to blame the other so that they get a worse punishment than they do.

Nowhere in the Celtic history does it state that Celtic fans must be supporters of Irish republicanism, certainly nowhere does it state that they must sing songs glorifying the IRA of any era.

I have looked on the Celtic website and even the brilliant Celtic Wiki page and any article or information related to the formation of the club, fails to mention anything about Irish Republicanism being a founding principle of Celtic Football Club.

An article on Celtic Wiki entitled ‘Born From Charity – Brother Walfrid and the Poor Children’s Dinner Table’ stated that Celtic was established ‘to aid an impoverished community’.

It added: “A community often shunned because of their faith and nationality. He [Walfrid] was driven by a desire to not just save them from poverty but to help them retain their dignity. Through the Poor Children’s Dinner Table and Celtic FC he wanted to put food in the belly and pride in the heart. That’s not romantic revisionism, that’s the reality behind Celtic.

“The club’s rapid success on the pitch would see it quickly steer away from these original off-field aspirations. Today such honourable intentions are, bar few exceptions, almost alien to a world of football more concerned with multi-million pound transfers, sponsorship deals, executive boxes and merchandising.

“Yet these roots remain a source of great pride for Celtic supporters’. While the club is now ‘owned’ by shareholders, charity and community will always remain at the very heart of the club.”

On the Celtic official website, under the brief history section, it states: “November 6, 1887 – Celtic Football Club is formally constituted in St Mary’s Church Hall in East Rose Street (now Forbes Street), Calton. The purpose is stated as being to alleviate poverty in Glasgow’s East End parishes.”

Again no mention of Republicanism or the IRA, or more accurately at that stage the IRB. Of course many who do know their history, or specifically Celtic history know that Irish nationalist Michael Davitt laid the centre circle at Celtic Park in 1888. They get on their soap boxes and use Davitt as some sort of poster boy to bang on about Celtic’s links with Irish republicanism and the IRA. Yet they fail to mention the whole truth of Davitt.

In an article written in the Irish Independent, May 2006, it is well-known that Davitt renounced his ‘Fenian oath; and took a seat in the House of Commons at Westminster. He also ‘totally excluded violence as a means of advancing Irish unification’. That alone puts a nail in the coffin of those who try to use Davitt as some sort of Irish republican who had links with Celtic Football Club, therefore giving them the right to sing about the IRA.

In fact the majority of songs that Celtic fans sing about, around the 1916 Easter Rising, have less meaning if they continue to use Davitt as some form of poster boy. During the Easter Rising of 1916, Davitt was deemed a Judas and had been “deliberately air-brushed out of the script for Irish freedom. Republican Ireland declined to acknowledge him as among ‘the Greats’. Pearse did not assign Davitt a place in the Republican pantheon of Theobald Wolfe Tone, John Mitchel, Fintan Lalor – or even Parnell.”

Giving more backing to the notion that Davitt’s mere presence at Celtic Park had nothing to do with Irish republicanism but more to do with his work in Land reform and his work in Scotland also with crofters.

Davitt, after years in prison, came to the conclusion that violence was ‘self defeating’ and ‘membership of an underground, armed conspiracy merely invited the counter-productive attention of State agents infiltrating the movement and recruiting informers’.

The poster boy for so many so-called educated Celtic fans and Irish republican supporters, inspired even the great Mahatma Gandhi in his campaign for an independent and free India from British rule.

Again on the Celtic website, under their Social mission section, it states: “Celtic Football Club was founded in 1888. Its principal founder was a Marist Brother named Walfrid. The Club had two principal aims: The first aim was to raise funds to provide food for the poor of the East End of Glasgow, an area of the City that was greatly impoverished and had a high rate of infant mortality. Within the East End was a large Irish community and friction was growing between the native Glaswegians and the new influx of Irish. Brother Walfrid saw the need for social integration and his vision was a football club that Scottish and Irish, Protestants and Catholics alike could support. A new football club would be a vehicle to bring the communities together and this was the second aim. The Marist brother sought for the Club to have both a Scottish and Irish identity and hence, the Club’s name “Celtic” came about, representing a bridge of cultures across the Irish Sea.”

AGAIN no mention of the IRA or Irish republicanism.

The current positioning as the website states: “Celtic Football Club is a Scottish football club with proud Irish links. The primary business of Celtic is as a football club. It is run on a professional business basis with no political agenda. However, the Club has a wider role and the responsibility of being a major Scottish social institution promoting health, well-being and social integration.”

So a club that back when it was founded – which had no links nor interest in Irish Republicanism – still to this day steers clear of Irish Republicanism, with no political agenda. I seriously wonder if these Celtic fans who claim, Irish Republicanism and Celtic go hand in hand, know the club’s history or have they been brainwashed by decades of inbred bigotry and political propaganda.

This is not solely an attack and condemnation of those IRA supporting and glorification luvvies, as Celtic’s neighbours from across the city are just as bad. Sectarian signing policy, the utilisation of a child abuse scandal as a tool to beat their rivals with and sectarian/racist chanting bring unwanted headlines on Rangers’ doorstep. Were Rangers founded as a Protestant institution or was it all about five lads wanting to play football?

It is clearly evident that while there is a sizeable number of Irish fans that support both Rangers and Celtic Football Clubs, the main protagonists of glorifying the Loyalist and Republican causes are Scottish-born fans claiming to be political activists and religious zealots – who have for the most part not set foot at a political rally, campaigned or set foot in a church or chapel week in week out – as the political and religious zealots they claim to be.

The Government have certainly not helped with ill-advised and half-cocked legislation, likewise self-policing is far from successful also, but at least they are not ignoring the problem.

Last year, before the Offensive Behaviour in Football Bill was passed into law, I wrote a piece looking at the IRA love-in with some elements at Celtic Park and looked back to Celtic in the days of legendary manager Jock Stein.

Jock Stein – a Protestant – during a game against Stirling Albion at the start of the troubles in Northern Ireland, famously vaulted the perimeter fence to challenge a group of Celtic fans who had been chanting ‘I, I, IRA rule ok!’ and other IRA slogans throughout the first half of the game.

An eyewitness to this famous event stated that Stein said: “The players don’t respond or react to your IRA songs or chants. Keep them for your buses or pubs. You have loads of Celtic songs, sing them and the players will respond better, thank you.”

For the Second Half of that game, the Celtic fans sang only Celtic songs.

But don’t let the IRA supporting luvvies hear you condemn and call on them to put an end to their hate filled campaign from the terraces. They will label you not a real Celtic fan, they will peddle lies about you, they will abuse and they will try to intimidate. Not better than their equivalent element from the blue half of the city.

As the club state themselves, “Celtic is a club for everyone who believes in football as a medium for healthy pleasure, entertainment and social integration. The Club always has been and always will simply aim to be the team of the people.”

Can you honestly say that with the bile infesting Scottish Football at this time, that football is a healthy pleasure, entertaining and is helping social integration?

One side peddles the IRA as freedom fighters and the British military as terrorists, the other side peddles the IRA as terrorists and the British military as heroes.

At the end of the day, when it comes to Scottish Football, the majority of fans do not care one iota about Irish politics and the bile and plague that comes with it. It is time that either these so-called football fans ditch their unwanted politics at the turnstile or that all the decent Scottish football fans make a stand and rid them from our midst once and for all.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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