I herald from a rather notorious area of religious divide, an area which even by your west of Scotland standards is something of an odd and antiquated village, rooted in a by-gone age of bitterness and resentment.
I like, JohnBhoy, had, still do and will continue to engage in constructive relations with dear friends who are considered by others within this small and closed society, as different to me, as more of ‘their own kind’ and as being more acceptable and less offensive…I am sadly, somewhat of a tarnish upon this towns self promoting image.
I abhor bigotry, I am saddened by it’s on-going presence within our society and I am ashamed by the inability of two sets of ‘supposed’ football fans to act out their rivalry in a more genuine show of mutual respect, with more humour and less hate and with an overarching ethos of healthy competitiveness and less of bitter resentment.
I must therefore congratulate JohnBhoy and the many other decent individuals, who have over the years attempted to step back from the raging inferno fuelled by bigotry and to offer something of an olive branch, a hand of friendship and a far more wholesome, pacifistic platform.
In reference to these altogether more decent minded people, I am drawn to include the touching attendance of many bus loads of Rangers supporters, who paid homage to the late Tommy Burns, at Celtic Park whilst en route to their various home destinations after the clubs trip to the UEFA Cup final in Manchester back in May of 2008.
In terms of these rival fans, the list of decent minded individuals and their actions are too long forgotten, often only fleetingly acknowledged before the grudge and desperate resentment levels restore the skewed sense of parity in our odd and socially divided nation.
That being said, while I genuinely hope to see the violence and the vitriol be wholly eradicated from our footballing rivalry and social psyche…I believe that much of the groundwork has long been ignored by consecutive governments, local councils, boardrooms at both Rangers and Celtic and by voices of social reason.
Sadly I think it will continue to be ignored because the appetite to remedy the ills of our society is not yet great enough to consume the realisation of how dreadfully ill our society has traditionally been.
It is an absolute necessity that both Orange and Hibernian Orders are targeted for strict regulation or better still are disbanded. The mass followings of their walks are but breathtakingly ignorant and bigoted fools and who don Rangers or Celtic tops and spout forth their bile and intolerance of other religious sects, all the while using the occasions as an excuse to act in a disorderly manner and to consume too much alcohol.
The continuation of religiously intolerant organisations is fuelled by senses of rebellion, of fear, of insecurity and of faux pride cultural identity and of a complete misunderstanding of true religious values. These organisations act to be only tools of deep division.
The walks are in essence the breeding ground of the manic and the lunacy of our religious divide and so the governments must act if they ever wish to truly rid society of this religious aggravation…how can songs sung at an organised and restricted entry football match be criminalised, yet played by a flute band to an unlimited audience of drunken football shirt wearing ignoramuses on the public highway be perfectly legal.
Perhaps the football clubs, if they’re truly taking the issue of sectarianism seriously could start with loud and proud exclamations of disgust for the perceived alignment of the institution to such occasions, to such organisations and to any such individual who engages in acts of intolerance or disorderly behaviour based on prejudice of any kind.
For me, ‘while you wear your teams shirt, you represent the club and are deemed to be an upholder of its values’, whether as a player or a supporter. Simple!
Without these ‘apparently’ religious zealot producing organisations, albeit many of the converts have yet to enter a church or a chapel and to engage in religious worship of any prescribed manner, then we may begin to tackle the root cause of the issues which turn footballing rivalry into something altogether more sinister.
In a purely footballing sense, it is equally imperative that Rangers must to must insist on proving their absolute contrition and show the first signs of a willingness to engage in mutual gestures of good will, after all they have acted as a club, like the footballing equivalent of Somali pirates.
They must be willing to face an acceptance of the brutish intimidations of old, the morally reprehensible sectarian signing policy and the sense of entitlement that fuelled a large section of society to buy into an exceptional unhealthy superiority complex and of past behaviours not compatible with real sporting ethos.
That is not to say that Rangers and its fans are the only ones who have a modicum of contrition to express, no Celtic, its fans and many other clubs and their fans must indeed participate in some soul searching and acknowledge the mistakes of the past.
I personally, am dismayed by the lack of internal governance shown by Celtic fans, whenever we are in the wrong, be that for possession of flares and of smoke bombs, IRA chanting or in making ill-advised banners of political reference, of our own religious intolerance or our own acts of minor disorder, a minority drown out the silent majority who abhor such actions and who acknowledge the potential harm to the reputation of our club.
Furthermore, after all of the regrettable actions of the people who run football in this country, be that at club or at association level, a period of massive systematic cleansing and purging is desperately required if the fairness and credibility of our game is to be restored.
In specific reference to Rangers, I believe they are, as corporate regulation, insolvency law and common-sense would point them out to be an entirely new organisation, a new club.
I would however accept that in its fans mind, they will always be Rangers, The Rangers and that emotional connection would remain.
Unfortunately as Charles Green, Ally McCoist, Craig Mather and countless others have already displayed, to play to that connection means to over-emphasise the altogether more unhealthy minds amongst the support.
Let us not forget that Charles Green impersonated a blood thirsty bigot, only after realising that his new business model was doomed to even sooner failure had he not pandered to the lowest common denominator.
The sooner everyone gets serious about olive branches and ridding society of its sectarian vermin, the better.
Unfortunately the cure is like many other medicines, it may be rather hard for certain people to swallow and there will be unpleasant side effects .
I have developed my own system for navigating the sectarian sickness that inflicts our nation but clearly my avoidance of the conflict zones and my silence on airing personal opinion is contributing nothing to the cleansing process, so there you have it; absolute contrition from all sides, a cleansing procedure within society to eradicate us of religiously divisive organisations and a rewritten moral and ethical code of practice for sporting organisations and then the fans can attempt to exchange respectful handshakes, otherwise we are just wasting our time and efforts on token gestures of self-righteousness.
Posted by JP