Auld Firm Blues

Date: 9th September 2022

This week’s first blog from our resident writer Donald Stewart.

Auld Firm Blues

By the time you read this it shall be all over including the shouting.

Rangers v Celtic. Or was it Celtic v Rangers?

A colleague of mine is coming home on Saturday morning from Paris so her husband can attend. He is a Celtic fan so I shall presume it is at Parkhead then?

Don’t they restrict how many opposition fans can get in these days?

I am a fan of neither club. Not that I mind either one of them. But like so many fans in the Scottish game I have issues over their dominance, financial clout and the obsession the media have around them.

Take the very first encounter between them this season. I read an article where former player of both clubs, Kenny Miller said it was too early in the season to call this a deciding game. It’s September. They have hardly kicked a ball. The BBC dedicated time and space to that.

Can you imagine Cove Rangers v Arbroath being described as too early in the season to be described as a relegation decider as they both sit at the foot of the Championship table? Mind you they would probably struggle to find someone who played for both clubs.

Such an obsession is, of course, defined by the gulf between the number who support both of these Glasgow Clubs and the rest of Scottish football. I recognize this and am relatively comfortable with it – relatively.

We could do with more on why it is that Cove Rangers have not managed to make a bigger dent in the Championship. Or why high-flying Arbroath are at the bottom of it. How about, is Cowdenbeath managing the Lowland League any better than League Two? Or why Have Kelty Hearts stumbled so badly in League One? Are Airdrieonians better without Ian Murray? Have Falkirk finally found the right manager to get them back up the tables? Will Willie Gibson lift Queens out of the gloom or are they in a Brechin style freefall? Are Bonnyrigg Rose on a roll or have Dumbarton finally found the form which has been missing for seasons?

I am a lower league fan, so these questions do fascinate me more than who gets bragging rights in the green v blue derby game.

But it is the malaise of football across Europe that disparity financially exists. The race for titles in Portugal, Spain, England, Germany and France tend to have a similar ring as the pundits there start to narrow down their choices for champions to one, two or three clubs. Scotland does not stand alone in the whole “we only have two clubs” debate able to win the championship…

Consider Croatia. In 17 years, Dinamo Zagreb have won 16 times. The year they lost; they came 2nd. Of the 31 years of the Croatian league, they have won 23 times. Of the last 31 years in Scotland, we have had 2 title winners… No prizes for guessing…  You have to go back 38 years to Aberdeen to find another club lifting the premium league trophy. Only twice have either Celtic or Rangers not been in the top two since the competition began – 1897 and 1902.

So, they deserve the acclaim and the attention.

But so do the rest of Scottish football. The questions I posed earlier are really important to massive numbers of people throughout the country. Alongside the Juniors, Lowland League, Highland League clubs and the massive numbers involved in the pyramid, true grassroots football in the heart of many communities deserve that attention. We can build our product beyond the four times a year broadcaster fawn over Scottish football because it is a product needing more than some attention paid to what we already know – it’s a decent product which could probably do with a better brand but decent none the less. It needs a broader base of media support and attention.

But of course, the headlines shall be more about one game than the rest and we shall thole it. At least we know we are not always alone in that.

 


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