Honestly, the sun always shines on the Glencoe Car Park Run.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

No One Likes Us, We Don't Care

'No one likes us, we don't care' is the battle cry of supporters of a football team from Govan. Many words have been written, myself included, about how hollow those words turned out to be once negative stories started appearing in the Scottish Press about their team. When chairmen of other clubs spoke out they too were targeted by the new wave of bloggers capable of stringing a few sentences together and more than willing to do so. As it it became apparent that very few did actually like their team it became increasingly apparent that Rangers fans did indeed care what others thought of them. The term 'Rangers-hater' was then thrown around like confetti at anyone, and I mean anyone, who dared say anything negative about Rangers. Lists were compiled of the enemies of Rangers along with thinly-veiled 'Lest We Forget' threats of future retribution.

Such was the liberal use of the term 'Ranger-hater' it soon lost its intended impact and became nothing more than a cliche, like 'obsessed'. In a quite remarkable turnaround it is mainly used these days by different factions of the Rangers support to insult one another. 

Of course, to spectators like myself it is all mildly amusing. Expressing my amusement is what led me to being labelled an 'obsessed Rangers-hater', which, of course, I also find mildly amusing. For the avoidance of doubt, I don't hate anything or anyone. I don't even hate the intolerance of bigots, whether religious, political or class, although it does irk me somewhat.

In recent weeks both the Celtic team and Celtic supporters have taken some hammerings on and off the park. These have been well-documented elsewhere so I won't dwell on them here. The point being the negative cumulative effect it's had on Celtic and its fans.

In particular, a small, vocal section of the support appears to be circling the wagons and adopting a 'no one likes us, we don't care' philosophy. I have no problem with them doing so. To have a problem might be perceived as bordering on intolerance. Instead I look at each respective issue individually and try to form a learned opinion based on the evidence in the public domain and not on the alleged groups involved.

I have no issue with any banners, whether displaying political slogans or pictures of zombies. Unfortunately, I'm not in charge of UEFA. 

It should be remembered that clubs must apply for UEFA membership. It is a private members club. As such, it makes the rules for everyone wanting to play in their competitions. So, if you want to play in the Champions League you must adhere to their rules. If their rules state no political chanting or banners then anyone found guilty of breaking these rules will, undoubtedly, be punished in some way. 

But it's against the law to prevent me from exercising my right to freedom of speech is something I've heard frequently. 

This is where some people get confused. 

But, and this needs constant reinforcing, private member clubs, like EUFA, or the SFA, can dictate their own rules. If you don't like those rules you can always go and play elsewhere.

Last year Rangers took the SFA to court for handing out a punishment that Rangers felt wasn't in their remit. Rangers won the case but ended up accepting the original SFA punishment in order to play in their competitions. Lesson learned.

It can also be confusing because the SFA or SPFL have no rules about political chanting or banners. They had the chance to introduce tougher rules on racism and sectarianism earlier this year and the clubs voted against it. 

So, we have one rule for Scotland and another rule for Europe. If the Scottish football authorities had more bottle they would be telling the clubs these are the new rules rather than asking them. This would also make the ridiculous Offensive Behaviour at Football Act redundant. 

If clubs were fined or had points deducted there would be no need to arrest teenagers for singing songs, which, incidentally, is an attack on their right to freedom of expression.

Last night a number of plastic seats were broken in one of the stands at Fir Park during the Motherwell v Celtic game. It's true that this type of seat can be easily damaged when an exuberant crowd jumps around for ninety minutes. Accidents can and do happen. 

But on reviewing the damaged area one can't help but come to the conclusion that not all of those seats were broken accidentally. Like I said, I have no doubt some of the breakages were indeed accidents, but even if half of those broken were an accident that still leaves around sixty seats whose fate wasn't accidental.

Why do some fans feel the need to break seats? Alcohol? Wanting to be part of something? I honestly have no idea. It just looks like mindless vandalism.

It comes as no surprise to me, or many others, that even in light of the damning evidence there are still those who not only defend such behaviour, but take a warped pride in being part of an ever-decreasing group who act without a care for the thoughts of others.

While the majority of the Celtic support may not be completely supportive of everything the club does they don't feel the need to do whatever possible to hurt the club. Most realise that the so-called Celtic Family is bigger than single issues. They might not agree on everything but respect is given to those with opposing views, like it should be.

However, there is a vocal minority who are intolerant of other Celtic fans' views. They are becoming a law unto themselves and don't care about the club's reputation. Part of me admires their stubborn resistance, but another part of me cringes at some of their actions.

I will support people's rights to freedom of expression until my dying breath, but I can't support or condone out and out mindless vandalism. 

Those guilty of wrecking seats have today been called 'Celtic-haters' by other Celtic fans. Such a term, like the 'Rangers-haters' one now used by warring factions from the other side of the city, is completely wide of the mark. 

The Celtic fans guilty of destructive behaviour are no more 'Celtic-haters' than Chris Graham or Bill McMurdo are 'Rangers-haters'. Both groups might have strong negative feelings towards the board of their respective clubs, but that doesn't make them haters of their clubs for doing so. They all just have different opinions on what their clubs represent and how they should be run. 

So to those in the Celtic support who continue to defy the majority of fans as well as the board I ask why are you so intolerant of other opinions? Because from where I'm sitting it looks like you should be singing that empty battle cry usually heard in the Ibrox stands: 'No one likes us, we don't care'.

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