What a difference one interview makes, my interview with Superintendent Stephen McAllister, head of FoCUS, seems to have ruffled a fair few feathers. Not only because some didn’t like the lack of questioning that some paranoid luvvies would bump up with to make a fool of themselves, but also that answers to certain questions gave more credence to these luvvies being perpetrators and liars than the victims that they profess to be time and again on their soapbox.
Anyone who is a regular reader of Scotzine knows of my willingness to cover and out those elements within the Scottish game that are a plague on our game, no matter their allegiances. Whether they be football hooligans, purveyors of singing ditties glorifying terrorists and those delving into the gutter with the other pond life pulling out sectarian, racist and bigoted chants.
So it is no great surprise to many that I have covered the Green Brigade, with a plethora of articles.
Since my interview with McAllister, I was inundated with supporters and tag alongs of the Green Brigade and a certain closed-forum The Huddleboard, because I dared to mention them in my line of questioning.
How dare I claim that The Huddleboard, which is closed to all unless ‘invited’ by a good Celtic man, is one of those sites that breed certain undesirables with their content. And how double dare I claim that the Green Brigade are not telling the full story when publishing statements to their supporters and anyone else that would listen.
In fact, the whole issue reeks of similar run-ins that I have had with the Vanguard Bears. Two groups at the opposite ends of the divide, behaving the exact same way. Funny isn’t it?
You could say that the Green Brigade and the Vanguard Bears have a lot in common, not just their penchant to hate and peddle lies about this writer.
One hate-filled and outspoken ‘defender’ of the Green Brigade @GaryCnut aka Sniper, seemed to take exception to me highlighting the fact that numerous groups were contacted in the run-up to our Offensive Behaviour in Football bill series and that my hatred and agenda against the Green Brigade had more to do with me not getting to ask them questions than anything else.
I thought my hatred and agenda against the Green Brigade, was because I detested their continued willingness to impose their political beliefs on fans in the stadium, singing songs that glorify terrorists and the groups that they were in and the continued harassment of those who they see as ‘enemies within’.
I may be wrong, but it seems the Green Brigade think they know me better than I know myself?
Lies & Censorship
Given that ‘sniper’ is one of the more outspoken and known Green Brigade members on the internet, across many outlets, I asked him some simple questions:
1. Do the Green Brigade ban their members from taking videos and photos within section 111?
2. If they have nothing to hide why do this?
3. Why do the Green Brigade continually ignore the laws of the land and stadium regulations?
4. If there is continued and sustained Police harassment and intimidation from the Police as the Green Brigade claim at every opportunity, why is there no video footage of this? Especially given that everyone has a mobile phone nowadays with camera/video function on them.
5. Lastly where is the hard evidence from them that the club and police are colluding with one another to kick the Green Brigade out of Celtic Park? Other than their claims and one disgruntled supporters group person. Why have no other groups came out stating so?
Somewhat predictably, sniper failed to answer questions two through to five. But he did answer question one. When asked if I was ‘making up the fact the GB are actively censoring their members from using phones and cameras in section’, he stated straight and to the point: “Yes you are.”
I once read that you do not ask questions that you do not know the answers too, I may be wrong with the exact phrase of it, but sniper’s answer certainly did not match up with the information that I obtained straight from the horse’s mouth – as in the Green Brigade forum itself.
While it was written and posted back in 2010, it is still prominent on the board for all members to see and to be reminded of. In fact it is still a directive from the GB to this day despite snipers reluctance to tell the truth.
In a thread called ‘Reminder: No cameraphones in the section’ dated August 23 20, one the group’s head honchos The real Citizen Smith announced a form of censorship that would be used by the same fascist groups that the Green Brigade campaign against.
He said: “And that includes boosting out of the section to take pics/vids from the front. Don’t do it, don’t stick vids like that on facebook or wherever and don’t be surprised if you’re dug up for it.”
Dug up for what? Innocently taking photographs and videos of the group in all their glory supporting the club that they profess to love?
Smith’s post was followed up by marsh22, who added: “The group will take all necessary videos so theirs no need for it. If you see someone with a camera in peoples faces you’s [sic]know what to do.”
The thread was locked soon after to prevent anyone on the forum asking questions of this form of censorship that a state like North Korea would go down the route of.
So the question has to be – what have the Green Brigade got to hide?
Sniper did state that there are ‘videos up there’ on YouTube, but sadly he failed to mention that these videos are GB approved ones and the photos posted on the forums of the group close up are GB approved and censored also.
So the anti-fascist group is actively promoting a tool that fascists and totalitarian states have used time and again.
I am still waiting on snipers answer to why they imposed censorship in the first place. He didn’t quite like being proven a liar with the proof to back it up. Something that the Green Brigade are certainly strangers too.
Soon after he labelled me a troll and blocked me. Only to claim this morning that it was myself who had blocked him. Another lie, but what is another lie in the grand scheme of lies that they have peddled over the years.
So why would they actively censor their own members and of those fans in the vicinity? Is it to prevent the Police and the club from seeing the members faces?
But that would then deem their claims that they are continually filmed by the Police,harassed for their details every time they are in the stadium etc. Why censor their members from publishing photos and videos if the Police already have them on camera and their details? Even more so if the Police and club are colluding, they can simply just put a name to every person on video using the club’s season ticket list for that section.
A section gifted to the Green Brigade by the same club that is allegedly colluding with the Police.
If you read or listen to the Green Brigade, there is no alleged about the collusion, they know it is going on. Yet cannot provide hard evidence of their claims. They can promote the comments of one former supporters group member who says that the club are actively wanting rid of the group, but where are the other supporters groups like The Celtic Trust, the Celtic Supporters Association etc in backing up this claim? Are the keeping quiet to stay at the table with Lawwell or is their lack of support nothing more to do with the claims being rubbish?
In my recent interview with Superintendent Stephen McAllister, I asked him straight if the police were colluding with Celtic and if the club was handing over fans details willingly.
McAllister said: “Actually, it’s mostly a one-way street actually, it’s mostly us giving information to the clubs. When I say we give information to the clubs, when we … the people next door run the Scottish Football Banning Authority, so when somebody is arrested, whether it’s a football related matter or gets a football banning order, it comes through there.
“So we will know fairly early on if somebody’s bail condition is not to attend Celtic home games or any Rangers game, or whatever. So we’ll know that. We’ll know that they’ve been given a two-year football banning order and the club wouldn’t necessarily know that. The individual may be a season ticket holder or might have bought tickets or whatever, or they might be going to Turin.
“So what we do is we say to the club here you go, as part of the information sharing protocol, Joe Bloggs is now subject to a football banning order, he’s a season ticket holder at Celtic Park. You need to be aware of that because if the club aren’t aware of that then what actually happens if that individual knowingly gets into the ground and breaches a football banning order or breaches bail, actually, that has an impact on the club because what the club haven’t done is they haven’t taken, I suppose, due-diligence in order to ensure they have to comply with a court order. So they then have to withdraw the season ticket holder or impose a club ban on that individual.”
He added: “Usually you’ll find if somebody gets charged at a game, we will usually let the club know to say, ‘Do you know Willy was locked up at Cowdenbeath on Wednesday night, thanks very much.’ So the club might decide, it’s entirely up to them, the club might decide do you know what, we’re going to put a banning order on you, a local banning order on you, you’re not going to go to any of our games until you’ve sorted your legal stuff out. Once you’ve done that then we’ll review that. So we’re duty bound to tell the club that.
“Once the club have that information and the club then become aware that individual is either in breach or about to breach a banning order, they actually have to come back to us and say, ‘Do you know Willy’s bought tickets for the game next week,’ or, ‘He’s booked up to watch us play in Amsterdam.’ So we now know he’s liable to breach that banning order, that’s going to impact on us and in fact, we don’t want somebody to be caught breaching a banning order and the club have sold him a ticket. So it puts the club in an awkward position.
“So what we would then do, particularly with … we would go and speak to that individual or we’d letter them and say, ‘It’s come to our attention, blah-de-blah-de-blah, we don’t want you breaching your banning order because actually that’s just going to make things worse for you because you’re going to get reported for the breach of the banning order. You may have a six month banning order and actually, you may end up with an eighteen month order.’
“So we letter them, occasionally the letter comes back, because we do it recorded delivery, or they’ve moved on so then we go and look for them. We purely go and look for them to make them aware that they’re aware of what their banning conditions are and that they should not breach those banning conditions because we don’t want them to breach it.
“If we know somebody is liable to breach their conditions and we haven’t taken any action to do that, to prevent that happening, then actually … and then they breach it, they say ‘you knew what we were going to do, you knew I had a ticket for that game, why didn’t you tell me I couldn’t …’
McAllister deemed any hint of collusion as ‘nonsense’, he continued: “Of course that gets twisted around and it’s like the club are colluding with the police again and our own fans. That’s not the case at all, the information sharing protocol is mostly one way, it’s mostly us giving information to the clubs, as you need to do in order to prevent the club allowing one of their fans, or a group of their fans who are banned, from breaching that banning order.
“So that’s about a partnership approach. It’s not a case of, as we have heard and we’ve seen, and I’ve read it online as well, that somebody makes an accusation that Celtic Football Club, for instance, want the police to do their dirty work for them, they’re not prepared to take that onboard and deal with their own fans, which is nonsense. They’d want us to come along and actually lock up 400 or 500 people and get them all banned from the stadium. It’s just a ridiculous assertion.
“So yeah, I’d like to put that one to bed in terms of that because that’s simply not happening. We have to give the clubs information about people who are banned or bailed not to attend football matches and as a consequence of that, the clubs’ hands are tied. If they’re aware that person is getting access to the stadium, has got a season ticket, has bought tickets, we need to have an investigation into that. We do that sometimes, the club do it as well and sometimes the club will go and say to them, ‘Actually, you’re banned, we’re cancelling your season ticket until that ban’s sorted out,’ or, ‘actually, those two tickets you bought for the cup final, you’re not getting them now because we know you’re banned from going to football’.”
It was interesting to hear McAllister comment along a similar belief as to my own, that there are agitators in the group, who love to stir it.
He added: “I think there’s people who are agitating in amongst that as well, for whatever reasons, I don’t know why, clearly people who like to do that, and you always get that in society, they seem to get a position within a group where they have influence and they quite like that. Actually they’re not doing it for their love of football, they’re doing it because they likely to be a bit of a pain in the ass at times.
“So the reaction that I’m seeing on the ground is because people are getting convicted, and people are getting banned now, but they will come with a whole load of other reasons about not liking the legislation, about police harassment, about clubs colluding against their own fans. I’m thinking could somebody please explain to me what’s in it for the club doing that, what’s in it for the police doing that because nobody ever can give me any cogent explanation as to why we or football clubs enable that because all they’re doing is reducing their customer base. It doesn’t make any sense.”
I would actually like to pose two open questions to the Green Brigade at this point – but I doubt they will or would be willing to answer them – what is in it for Celtic to get rid of several hundred fans? What is in it for the Police?
We then come to the kettling incident in the Gallowgate, an incident we covered before on Scotzine. McAllister could not comment on why the officer commanding the police on scene, used the kettling tactic as he was not on duty at the time and it was not involving any of his officers – despite what the Green Brigade want to have you believe – but it is interesting to hear what McAllister did have to say on several matters related to it and other instances.
McAllister said: “…. there was information on fan sites about a procession, I think they called it a Corteo or whatever. So I do know that it was planned, I do know there was no permission sought from the city council because you don’t apply to have permission from the police, it’s the city council, and there’s good reasons why you should apply for permission because the city council ultimately have the responsibility to almost ensure your safety.
“Saturday afternoon in Glasgow there’s always a lot of events going in, so you’ve got to make sure that the fabric of the city is able to facilitate that and every other group, whether it’s WOBSA, The Orange Order, The SDL, Unite against Fascism, they all have to comply with that.
“They all have to ask permission, but the Green Brigade feel they don’t have to do that and you need to ask them why if they wanted to have a legitimate protest, why they wouldn’t follow the rules and regulations that are no imposed by use, but imposed by the city council in relation to that.”
So McAllister is of the opinion that the Green Brigade believe they don’t have to follow proper procedures that every other group do. I posed the question to sniper on their failure to ask permission from the council on the matter of the protest, his reply being: “Dunno, don’t care.”
Says it all really doesn’t it? One of the top guys in the Green Brigade not caring about following the laws of the land, that everyone else has too. Do they have some superiority complex? It looks to me as though they do. That they can do whatever they like and if anyone tries to stop them, criticise them or charge them with breaching said laws, they then use the victim card.
If they were so willing to legitimise everything they do both inside the stadium and outside of it, you would think they would actually sit down with the powers-that-be to resolve all the issues. Well any sane and reasonable individual would do that now wouldn’t they?
McAllister even stated to this writer that ‘the solution’ is ‘to sit down and talk about it’.
But according to McAllister, the club and the Police have tried to sit down with the Green Brigade and they have refused –their nameless, faceless leadership that is –McAllister added: “In relation to the Green Brigade, I know the club; I’ve tried, on numerous occasions, to sit down with them. I know my officers have repeatedly offered at games for their nameless, faceless leadership to come in, the way you’re doing, the way that MPs, MSPs, fans’ groups, have been in this office, or we’ll go to them and sit down and have a full and frank discussion about policing of football, where ultimately they may walk out the door and have to agree to disagree, but the reality is, what the fans’ groups will understand is they will understand the operational nature of policing. Actually, what we’ll get is a bit of feedback of how they feel when they’re being policed.
“I don’t think for a minute, and I don’t mean specifically about this incident, I don’t think for a minute we get it right all the time, of course we don’t, operational decision-making is fraught at times because you can make errors of judgement. Sometimes just the way that a police officer approaches somebody, whether it’s a happy, smiling face, or whether it’s a grim face can make a huge difference.
“I’m an experienced match commander and ground commander, and it’s the same at every briefing. The first thing we’re there to do is facilitate a sporting event in a safe fashion. The second bit is to make sure the wider footprint of that event will always have an input in the community around about them. You’ve got to lessen that impact and allow people to go about their lawful business, but you’re there to facilitate a sporting event and every police officer who polices a football game in Scotland completely understands this.
“This isn’t a security event with a football match bolted on the end, it’s the other way around, it’s a football match with a wee bit of security on it.
“We’ve tried to discuss that with people but there’s no doubt there are certain individuals and there are certain groups who don’t want to interact with us and actually what happened is ‘manna from heaven’ for them. They’ll use that as their way of justifying their behaviour.”
So in short, the Green Brigade refuse to adhere to the laws of the land in regards to protesting and marching, they are then given guidelines by the police on the day which they refuse to adhere too, resulting in the Police having no other option but to use the kettling tactic to restore order as quickly as possible – A tactic frequently used against the fascist groups SDL and EDL by Police up and down the country – and then when the Green Brigade take exception to this they then throw their arms up in the air professing to be victims of police intimidation etc.
Of course, the kettling tactic used the Police on the day played right into the hands of the Green Brigade. In this writer’ opinion, they wanted something of note to happen and the Police fell for it hook, line and sinker.
We have seen certain videos and photographs made public, which show the fans being surrounded and then dissipated in groups of two or three. But where are the videos of the Green Brigade at the start of their protest of their illegal march? Where are the videos which shows the Police instructing them to adhere to regulations? And where are the videos showing the Green Brigade blatantly ignoring the police instructions?
The whole episode while showing the Police up, to me stinks to high heaven of a stitch up by the Green Brigade. One that only shows one side of the story, with ‘evidence’ published on fan forums and social network sites to paint the police in a bad light.
So where are those videos and photographs? Or do we go back to the censorship post on their forum, that only photos and videos by those in the group can be published after approval from the GB? Of course there were others in attendance that were not kettled and are not part of the GB – but where are their videos and photographs of the initial discussions between the Police in attendance and the GB leaders?
Everyone in attendance inside a football stadium should be there to support their team no matter the result, whether they are Celtic, Rangers, Partick Thistle or Stirling Albion fans. Football fans do not go to a football stadium to listen to political rhetoric and they certainly don’t turn their backs on the game for much of it to lead others in a merry sing-song etc.
At the end of the day, in this writer’s opinion – whether folk agree with it or not – the Green Brigade are not at Celtic Park or away grounds for the team, for the club, they are there to further their own agenda. Trying to prove to the real Ultras crowd on the continent, that they are just like them, however no matter how hard they try or the amount of laws they ignore and bump their gums over collusion between the club and police, the Green Brigade will forever be a second-rate group compared to those who they try to copy. The real Ultras, the hardcore Ultras that live, breath and die the Ultras philosophy are those with power at their club. The Green Brigade have no power outwith their own group, hence the reason why they use propaganda and the victim card among Celtic supporters to further their own cause.
They don’t care about the 60-year-old Celtic fan in the Jock Stein stand who would rather watch the game rather than sing about Bobby Sands or Glasgow’s Green and White, nor do they care about the club otherwise they would not continual flout the law and harm the club publicly as well as financially.
I am actually glad that Partick Thistle have taken steps to ban Celtic supporters from their main stand, especially given the Green Brigade’s penchant for using flares. Why? Because the main stand is wooden and their idiotic actions of setting these pyrotechnics off and then either dropping them or throwing them to the front could start a fire.
We all remember Hillsborough – with even some Green Brigadiers and supporters using that disaster as reason to back up their claims of Police collusion disgracefully – but would they still set of pyrotechnics if they remember or saw the footage of the Bradford City fire in 1985 when 56 people died when one of the stands at Valley Parade was engulfed in flames.
The head honchos may be smart enough to remain nameless and faceless for now, passing the blame and the buck onto the club, the police and their tag alongs. But will they be smart enough to escape justice if something seriously goes wrong which leads to someone getting hurt or worse?
It’s time for them to ditch their claims of victimisation, sit down with the club and the police – without making any demands upfront – and realise that at the end of the day they are not the Celtic support and when they are long gone, either through the group being disbanded or being banned from the grounds, the Celtic support will still be there each week watching and cheering on their side. That is how it should be – singing Celtic songs, glorifying the players on the pitch or the legends that have passed through Parkhead’s gates – that is what football is about, that is what supporting Celtic should be about.
Joining the Green Brigade may be a badge of honour for those easily swayed by their colour, by their songs and by their rhetoric – they may be a great sight to behold on matchdays, but they are also a curse of modern football. The fans that pretend to be hardcore Ultras, who are nothing but jumped up wannabes brown-nosing their continental brethren so as to be part of the gang, to have notoriety to fuel their egos, so that they can strut their stuff down London Road, Reservoir Dog style in their khaki jackets, green t-shirts and their scarfs wrapped round their face.
They may peddle the line of ‘what’s the point in talking to him, he wouldn’t change his mind about us’ – in all honesty, they wouldn’t change my mind about them, anyone that resorts to peddling lies, making phone calls in the middle of the night saying ‘total hell inside stadion’ and wanting to meet up for ‘pint’ to ‘discuss’ things is not wanting to change anyones mind. Their whole philosophy is if you are not with us you are against us.
And as I was told this weekend by one disgruntled supporter of the Green Brigade, if you don’t support the Green Brigade then you are not a Celtic supporter.