Fans take a stand … and stand

Date: 27th July 2016


By Donald C Stewart

A funny thing happened last week at Parkhead. I am not talking about a struggling Scottish side up against European minnows but a really revolutionary thing that occurred. Whilst their players were out on the pitch providing them with 3 goals in 6 minutes that saw off the butcher, the baker and the candle stick maker of the giant Lincoln Red Imps of the sporting monolith that is Gibraltar the fans of Glasgow Celtic FC stood and sang.

Now normally there is an element of annoyance in an all seater stadium that such nonsense is allowed – not the singing – the standing. You see, coming to see a game of football and standing when there are comfortable plastic bucket seats on which to park your backside is a terrible travesty. For some short and younger people having the Carlton bodybuilding giant in front may be akin to the big hat in front of you at the opera but the reality is that for most of us sitting to watch a game should be confined to those who come in a bath chair and shout my good man at the turnstile attendant!

The experiment of having a standing section at Parkhead, in amongst the highly impressive 50,000 + who turned up for Brendan Rodger’s and Celtic’s first home game of the season was a triumph. Of course after the scenes at the end of the Scottish Cup Final in 2016, any changes to the post 1980 footballing landscape in Scotland was going to be a difficult one to maintain but credit is due – they did it.

The fact is that despite the re-emergence of Rick Astley we do not live in the 1980’s anymore. We live in a different decade. Of course there remain Neanderthal attitudes that are likely to have their foundations in the 1690’s but the vast majority of society and the community that supports our national game have moved not just the goalposts, they have significantly moved their views, attitudes and behaviours. The greatest national export in footballing terms is no longer our players but the Tartan Army…

The view held on the terraces may still have some way to go but it is now more tolerant and likely to contemplate standing because it brings with it atmosphere. As I studiously avoid any reference to Russ Abbot classics the fact is that football thrives on chanting, rivalry and ribaldry. These standing areas give that voice and according to all those who witnessed them at the European tie, it is to be welcomed. The question must be – who’s next?

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