As you’ll know if you follow this site, Bagging Scotland isn’t just about highlighting the GOOD things in Scotland, we really are trying to make a difference and change perceptions about some of the not-so-hot aspects of being a Scot.
Therefore, it saddens us that yet again, violence ensued and another 230 were arrested after a Celtic v Rangers match at the weekend. If this was ANY other event in Scotland and OVER 200 people ended up in the cells, there would be an absolute outcry and the event would be instantly banned! Football (in particular, Celtic v Rangers games) seem to be immune to this and are still able to sail over the troubled waters.
As we predicted in last week’s Flippant Friday, the Accident and Emergency Departments, along with the boozers were going to be rammed all day on Sunday. Full of the detritus which spilled out of an early kick off (is there proof this makes one tiny bit of difference to arrest levels?) and a very one-sided game, which was bound to have raised hackles of all losing Rangers fans. Don’t get us wrong, we’re huge football fans, have witnessed ‘Old Firm’ matches at first hand and really enjoyed them but sadly, there’s still a hugely unsavoury undercurrent at these matches that in spite of both teams’ erm… ‘protestations’ about it diminishing, isn’t going away.
We think 230 arrests (there are ALWAYS around 180 at every Old Firm match) is maybe too high a price to pay for what is just a football match. The statistic we really also want to know is how many people were hospitalised and just what was the level of domestic violence that terrified spouses had to endure? If banning it (which is what would happen at any other event where hundreds of arrests took place, like an Orange Walk or Apprentice Boy’s March) isn’t going to happen, what can we do about it?
There’s an age-old argument in Scotland which focuses on the fact that around 70,000 of a crowd can drink whilst watching a Scotland Rugby or Football International, (in fact, they can get absolutely blootered) and there’s barely a sign of any bad humour, let alone violence or arrests. Come to a Celtic and Rangers day, in a similarly-sized ground and ugliness, hatred, naked aggression and violence occurs.
We think it’s Scotland’s shame and as we know LOADS of normal, intelligent Celtic and Rangers fans who go to the game, we think the onus is on THEM to self-police. It seems that until religious hatred and sectarianism is given the same stigma as drink driving or maybe even rape, it won’t be taken seriously. There’s lots of lip service paid to improving things but fans STILL stand next to other fans whilst they spout offensive bile and hatred (we know this because we witnessed it at first hand at a game recently) and they ALL need to be starting to get ashamed. It’s ALL the fans who need to get involved and stop turning a blind eye to this.
If it REALLY is the ‘vocal minority’ that stir resentment and religious bad-feeling, then it’s up to the ‘silent majority’ to do something about it. Years ago, Scotland’s International football fans were a pretty bad bunch, Now, they’re a really good bunch. Again, we’ve witnessed this at first hand and a lot of this is down to the ‘Tartan Army’s’ self-policing, where they embarrass offensive, rude tw*ts, very early on in the proceeding in to being not-so-offensive, rude tw*ts.
People Power. It’s turned the Tartan Army into unarguably (in our book) the best sporting Ambassadors of any Country in Europe, possibly The World.
It’s time to start using the same techniques to start embarrassing the Old Firm, stone age, dunderheids to change their ways. They won’t do it themselves, education will take decades, they simply need EMBARRASSED into doing it by their more sensible pals. That’s the stance both clubs need to take. Develop a sense on humour about it and use humour (which football fans are brilliant at) to single-out the out-dated religious arses for ridicule. After a few months of having the p*ss taken out of them and being cold-shouldered by their mates, even the most indoctrinated bigot will start to get the message.
Maybe we’re being totally ridiculous here and it’s going to be impossible to use good humour and embarrassment to iron out decades of wrong thinking and hatred but maybe it just might be worth trying?