Date: 27th May 2022
The first weekly blog provided to you by our Donald Stewart.
Credit where it is due…
In the aftermath of their defeat in Seville, there were quite a few people, me included, who held their breath. Manchester was not that far back. Neither was the squinty bridge or George Square. In fact, benches had been removed from George Square by Glasgow City Council in preparation for what they thought might have ended up being a battlefield as the frustrations of the night or the celebrations would have been taken out on inanimate objects.
In the “whataboutery” debate, so loved by some fans of either side of the Glasgow fitba divide, there was also the recent disruption around the Trongate after winning the league by the other side of the divide. This had led to businesses having to shut, the Tron theatre closing a performance and people leaving the theatre by the back door as they feared for their safety.
None of these “celebrations” did football any favours.
But Spanish police have confirmed zero arrests of Rangers’ fans. They did us all proud.
Thankfully it as like when Celtic were in Seville before.
The media had found and publicised this week, tales of doing it for their deceased relatives, incredible tales of heart-warming hospitality and how people had travelled through thick, thin, trains, planes, automobiles, taxis, bikes, foot and had there been a donkey a la Don Quixote, it would have borne a busload upon its back.
Scottish football looked good, sounded good and was good. And it was good to see and hear.
Those of us old enough to remember the bad old days of the 70’s and terracing hooligans, however, witnessed the sickening return that needs resolved now.
Down in England, one man has been convicted of head butting an opposition player following a pitch invasion as his Nottingham Forest beat their Sheffield United. Patrick Viera has been caught up in a further police investigation following an altercation with an Everton fan. The terracing thuggery looks like it is making a comeback.
Outside of football, people have not got far to look and workout why. It is an uncomfortable discussion as we try and obfuscate the truth that assaults our ears, week in and week out.
The thing is that no matter what we may think about the rights and wrongs and the rightful exuberance of being a supporter, the chants and comments heard in grounds throughout the UK are part of a culture which emboldens the unruly. Whatever you feel is appropriate to shout and bawl during a match, within a structure which believes it should police itself, behaviour that is bordering on, and downright criminal, is indulged in a manner that would be stamped upon anywhere else.
You can argue that any large grouping of people marauding down a High Street at any time would be a concern. One chanting racist, homophobic abuse and attempting to intimidate people with whom they disagree would not be tolerated irrespective of what they supported. But on a terrace, it is fin?
People argue that it would be highly unusual to witness a large group in a twin centre and so it would and perhaps the comparison between the behaviour outside a football ground and inside are not appropriate.
But the issue is of group mentality.
Ironically, this is one time when herd immunity is a really, really bad thing.
We cannot contemplate thuggery and violence on our streets, on the terraces and after a game when the excitement of achievement spills onto the pitch.
There is, however, a reason for such behaviour: a reason for the unreasonable.
If you tolerate the behaviour not 40 yards away, it ill behoves you to condemn it when it is in front of you. The barrier of a fence or a wall is not sufficient to sustain any objection to right minded people who think we have a problem. It is hardly helped when idols and players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Ollie McBurnie are also caught on camera behaving petulantly and abusing fellow human beings.
It is one of the reasons why, if we are serious, strict liability is the only option. We need something to start the stop. We cannot just stand by and hope that it goes away. It won’t. the big boy did it, he did run away, and he will keep coming back if we do not shout down the reason for the unreasonable behaviour spilling out onto the front pages of tabloids. They make better headlines for the papers than the positive images of people behaving.
But let’s not feel overly smug, well maybe not for too long.
It is always easy to have a go at football fans when they misbehave but the overseas Rangers supporters have done us proud, and we should revel in that sunshine for the moment. Credit where credit is due.
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