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Celtic heading for slow train-wreck

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All it took was one man, Eddie Smith, who joined the referees strike a year ago as their body became embroiled in allegations of lying, bullying and sectarianism, to make it his business to report Celtic fans to Uefa and the SPL, and the support are besieged on two fronts.

After decades of the police turning a deaf ear to illegal and offensive chanting elsewhere this might appear opportunistic, but Smith’s motivations are irrelevant.  We have endured ‘the songs debate’ here for years, the only thing universally agreed upon is that as long as a single Celtic fan sings political songs at a game, this day would come.

I sincerely doubt that Celtic fans sing anything illegal, which perhaps explains why the police encourage observers to ‘police’ the stands, but no one denies many people, including a number of Celtic fans, find such singing offensive.  There is, therefore, scope to mount an attempt to discipline the club, and an easy route to inflict reputational damage on each and every Celtic supporter.

The Debating societies will be exercised on the freedom of some to sing racially-hostile God Save the Queen, or the militaristic, Flower of Scotland, and wait for the reaction to what is euphemistically known as ‘the marching season’.  In this vein I would encourage the Celtic delegation who meet Uefa next month read aloud a transcript of La Marseillaise, which becomes a logical target if Uefa prosecute our club.

I predict Uefa and the SPL will reprimand Celtic with a cease and desist-type warning which will include specific instructions to remove and ban ‘offenders’.  Efforts will be made to prosecute ‘offenders’, which I expect will fail, but not before a few individuals are brought before the court.

Neil Lennon, Jock Stein and since Fergus McCann, the club, have asked fans not to sing political songs.  Many agreed but some will not waver, so it would be an act of vanity for lesser mortals to suggest restraint.  The slow train-wreck will happen.

Don’t take the notion that attempts to prosecute are likely to fail as legal advice.  In my experience, lawyers become a lot less certain once proceedings are underway.

On a separate note, I was pleased to read Iain Blair of the SPL differentiate pro-IRA chanting from sectarian chanting. Lazy jounos everywhere take note.

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  1. My dear,dear,dear,friend.. Awe Naw 15.10.

     

     

    Thanks fur Highlighting..Ma Point.. which Ah …well.. Pointed oot ,Yesterday..

     

     

    In Ma..

     

     

    “If Ah wiz King”… Scenario.

     

     

    Yep… Mr.McBride..whom, AH Deeply Respect..

     

     

    Is essentially saying the same things that as Wiz.. and Ah Wull Contiue to say..

     

     

    The Time has Come Fur the CELTIC CLUB..to

     

    Stoap Cutting Bait..and FISH!..

     

     

    They must get .. Seriously, Serious. with The Recalcitrants..

     

    Who.. though few in Number..

     

    Are Doing a Hellava Joab. of

     

     

    EMBARRSSING US.. Afore the World!

     

     

    Ah agree with Everything that Mr. McBrude, Proposes..and Spectulates.. as tae

     

    what should and will be done ..

     

     

    To .. Put the” PETER”..(Sorry.. Couldnae Resist!) oan those young..”Renegades”

     

    who insist oan.. Opening the Door fur the entrance o’ Sanctions and Punishment,agin the Celtic Fiba’and Athletic Club, fae the Powers that Be.

     

     

    Thanks ,wance agin,pally.

     

     

    Kojo

     

    yer pal..who likes ye aloater.

  2. James Forrest

     

     

    We’re not the best at picking our heroes though are we. I’m not suggesting you did. I’ve no idea who did… however McBride, like Phil and others have become heroes of the fans. I think it tells a story of the judgement being employed, because McBride and Phil can both be portrayed as heroes one minute and perhaps villains is too strong a word, but…. The point is we assume too much about what these people think and what motivates them.

     

    There are many people, myself included, who could spend a long time telling you what is so wrong with the the attitudes of protestant Scotland, when it manifests itself in a bad way. Equally I would defend this in the face of ingorant views from the other side. However context, as I’m forever saying, is everything. I don’t come onto CQN to pontificate (!) on the ills of Rangers and their fans because this is a Celtic site. And jeezo if one of the first lessons we all learn isn’t two wrongs don’t make a right then I don’t know what kind of upbringing some on here had – my mother might tell me to find better company.

     

     

    Someone else called it hypocrisy. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s screamingly obvious. And if people on here aren’t at the wind up, are adults of sound mind, then there is little excuse for the mixed up attitudes and hypocrisies that dominate.

     

     

    Hands up if you’re a christian… God, look away now, you’re in for a shock.

  3. JinkyvJohnGreig-saysitall on

    To anyone going to Inverness, take care. Whatever happens we will be painted in a bad light. If someone coughs it will be deemed inappropriate, or clearly designed to disguise a political chant. If nothing controversial is heard it will be a case of the fans managed to behave, for once.

     

     

    I’d like to see us just go through the rest of the season with only 2 or 3 songs sung, on repeat, if you like. Sing the Celtic Song, JCGE, Willie Maley, over and over for 90 minutes non-stop. I remember Shearer’s testimonial at St James Park and Willie Maley was sung for what seemed like the entire 45 minutes of the second half. I didn’t think I would be able to speak on the journey back up the road.

     

     

    It goes against my principles to act in this way, but I genuinely do have fears that this country is getting worse. It saddens me greatly that I read (and agree with) posts like James Forrest and others who say that they have had enough of living amongst this behaviour. It is becoming more discriminatory as their ‘supremacy’ is tested, ironically not by us on the football pitch this season. Death and taxes being lifes only certainty? Not in Govan.

     

     

    TET – Ooh ahh pay your tax, indeed!

     

     

    HH

  4. Bryce Curdy,

     

     

    that´s completely apparent …. doesn´t make it right though.

     

     

    So you compromise your feelings.

     

     

    These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness

     

     

    You surely cannot miss out on the point that you believe that some are more equal than others.

     

     

    See my Greame Spiers post above.

     

     

    Hail Hail

  5. On the subject of dumb animals -went to Chester Zoo yesterday [the Sweethearts’ idea].

     

     

    I thought Giorgios Samaras had sad eyes until I saw the ole big cats.

     

     

    And then of course it sets you thinkin’, is it better to be confined [but alive] in a small pen in the Wirral or livin’ wild and runnin’ the risk of being slaughtered for Chinese ‘medicine’?

     

     

    Not that I think for a second that that awful fate awaits our #9 enigma.

  6. bournesouprecipe says:

     

    15 November, 2011 at 15:29

     

    Bada

     

     

    This miraculous club, we all support will return to Football, and the story will go on.

     

     

    Any team news?

     

     

    ***********************************

     

     

    Yes Robbie Keane starts.

     

     

    Oh no, I’ve mentioned the Irish. I’ll expect the front door to come in around me tomorrow morning-:)

     

     

    Árd Macha

  7. BontyBhoy says:

     

    15 November, 2011 at 15:32

     

     

    ‘McBride, like Phil and others have become heroes of the fans’

     

     

     

    McBride was lauded by the more gullible fans.

     

     

    Some of us (two, as I recall) saw him for what he was. We were right.

  8. Kojo

     

     

    if I knew it would highlight your point .. I woudn´t have bothered.

     

     

    Celtic make an example of the GB to curry favour with an overtly Anti Celtic establishment and Celtic Park will be decimated.

     

     

    It will be another well laid brick in the wall that we are Old Firm and that WWW OLD FIRM as in wrestling is the next venture for them.

     

     

    Hail HAil

  9. DBBIA – the rumours that the contents of Gorgeous George’s gall bladder have unsurpassed healing properties just will not go away.

     

     

    Would you be able to finish a sweeping move when you had the spectre of some shadowy oriental types stalking you with a catheter and some rubber tubing and Yuan signs in their eyes stalking your thoughts?

     

     

    I know my mind would be elsewhere….

  10. James – are you seriously claiming this entirely inevitable and entirely avoidable situation has not damaged the reputation of our club far beyond our enemies in Scotland?

     

     

    Your last point also entirely misrepresents me. This is the slippery slope arguement once again. You are wrong. I only wish for the Celtic support to give up the absolute minimum to allow it to unite to defend everything else. We are divided and will remain so unless we can reach common ground. Unity and strength in numbers are my sole aims – look at last season for inspiration.

  11. James Forrest is Lennon on

    One more comment from me on this before I wrap up for the night.

     

     

    I posted earlier on the debate over why some songs are deemed acceptable and others not, and I used the song Free Nelson Mandela as an example.

     

     

    You want to talk about removing politics from football? The last World Cup was the MOST blatantly political World Cup of all time. And above it all stood the image of one man, one man who was once deemed a terrorist across much of the world. Indeed, it was a tip from the CIA which led to his arrest, and imprisonment, for, amongst other offences, conspiracy to plant bombs at infrastructure centres across his country.

     

     

    At the same time as he was in prison, being lauded across much of the world as a hero, another man was serving time in a jail cell in the Six Counties after being found guilty and sentanced to 14 years for possesion of a firearm. Like Mandela, he went on to become an elected representative of the people, and his organisation, like the ANC, went on to become an accepted part of the political structure, and indeed an essential part of it.

     

     

    His name was Bobby Sands.

     

     

    Now, an entire football tournament, with a global TV audience, feted the first. Here, in Scotland, we are proposing to declare war on a set of supporters, demonise the larger family to which they belong and, ultimately, criminalise those same people for commemorating the struggle of the second.

     

     

    It is sheer hypocrisy at best, and at worst it is naked and undisguised racism.

  12. James F

     

     

    Why do folk sing ‘Oh A Up The Ra’ or any other explicitly pro IRA chant/song.

     

     

    I know they have the right to do so. I just wonder why they do. What motivation? What inspiration? What benefit?

  13. Tell you what: I have mixed feelings about the Republican songs (sometimes I think they may be damaging commercially but don’t think they should be banned simply because of that). I detest and cringe when add-ons are sung.

     

     

    But I’ll tell you something, if they try to ban or prevent these songs being sung then I don’t want to ever hear Rule Britannia or God Save The queen again – they might be offended with Republican songs, well then I’m offended by these.

     

     

    #Can’t have it both ways

  14. Philbhoy - It's just the beginning! on

    bournesouprecipe says:

     

     

    15 November, 2011 at 15:25

     

     

    Victor Wanyama scores the winning goal for Kenya this afternoon.

     

     

    Was it a header?

  15. My dear,dear,dear,friend..Awe Naw

     

     

    Pal..

     

     

    Ye mean that Ye Disagree with Mr.McBride and Mysel.. oan whit Peter and the Bhoys.

     

    should dae,in order tae Bring these Erring Children ,tae Heel?

     

     

    O.K.

     

     

    If ye disagree with Mr.McBride and Masel oan oor Point oan this..

     

     

    Then…

     

     

    HOW WID YOU HANDLE THIS VERY VEXING. Position .in which Oor Club Finds itsel..

     

     

    Owing to The ..”ILLICIT CHANTS AND SINGING. By a few Recalcitrant Youths???

     

     

    Kojo

     

    yer pal.. who likes ye aloater

  16. bournesouprecipe says:

     

     

    15 November, 2011 at 15:25

     

     

    Victor Wanyama scores the winning goal for Kenya this afternoon.

     

     

    NotTheBBC CSC

     

     

     

    Good old Victor. Might this be offensive?

     

     

    Victor Wanyama’s

     

    Kenyian Army

  17. James Forrest is Lennon on

    neveralon:

     

     

    Who cares why they do? I don’t care. For me, I have pondered why people like my girlfriend buy trashy mags, how a reprehensible specimen of humanity like Jordan has carved herself a place in the hearts of millions and why some people, like my mother, sit and watch reality TV shows like Big Brother.

     

     

    None of those things are against the law, although I am offended by the impact they have on our national outlook and culture.

     

     

    I don’t question why people do it, but I wish they wouldn’t. And for the record, I wish some of our fans WOULDN’T sing Republican songs and I don’t do it myself.

     

     

    But nor will I condemn them for it, nor criminalise them for it, nor accept that it reflects badly on our club that they do.

  18. Just watched sky sports news and the reporter standing outside Celtic Park said Uefa and the SPL had charged Celtic with sectarian chanting/singing???????????????

     

     

    WTF?????

     

     

    Hail haiol

  19. Árd Macha

     

     

    Ha – I saw that, and all the way from across the big pond, ( and to where my ancestors should have taken a bigger boat? )

     

     

    We’d have had no miracle club in the grubby East End, and they’d still have slaughtered Scotland’s brave hero William Wallace, as he came out of Holy Mass.

     

     

    Hail Hail

  20. Paul McBride “What do you say to a 10-year-old child who asks his father why people are singing about killers at a football game?”

     

     

    “And stood against him Proud Edward’s army And sent him homeward Tae think again”

     

     

    “O Lord our God arise Scatter her enemies And make them fall”

     

     

    “Under our flags, let victory Hurry to your manly tone So that in death your enemies

     

    See your triumph and our glory! ”

     

     

    All lyrics from national anthems, all make references to bloodshed and death. What gives Paul McBride the right to decide what type of killing is right, and what type is wrong.

  21. So it has started Celtic supporters having a go at each other with comments about individuals justifying singing IRA songs at CP to the causalities and relatives of those injured and killed during the PIRA campaign. Well that is a 2 edged sword of an argument. Who apologised or rationalised the decision to emblazon a political symbol that supports an army that have maimed and murdered and tortured in Ireland for centuries on the Celtic shirt to the Irish support or Irish Diaspora that follow Celtic FC? The rights and wrongs of both arguments are nothing but semantics – one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The issue is not about the rights and wrongs of singing certain songs at CP. It is about halting the ongoing crusade by the SNP to criminalise our support for doing nothing more than allegedly ‘offending’ someone. Who is the arbitrator of the definition of offensive? The Scots establishment in this instance and we know where that will lead. Appeasement is not the way we should approach this.

     

     

    Just an opinion mind

  22. Philbhoy - It's just the beginning! on

    What’s wrong with going to Celtic Park and singing songs about, err, fitba’?

     

     

    Makes sense to me.

  23. ANNAON – but it’s not what I’m talking about that matters. I agree it’s entirely possible that UEFA will find that we have no cause to answer, but the damage has already been done. It’s like the three line newspaper apology in small print on page 17 the next week following a front page headline lie.

  24. raham Spiers Commentary

     

    Last updated March 22 2011 12:01AM

     

     

    Another week, another excruciating example of the problem Rangers have with a large section of their support. Walter Smith’s team, going into Sunday’s Co-operative Insurance Cup final as underdogs, won quite a few admirers for their gritty 2-1 win over Celtic.

     

     

    Alas, no one who was at Hampden Park as a neutral, and who had any understanding of the type of songs that were being sung, could have found anything remotely appealing in the antics of the Rangers support.

     

     

    For fully 120 minutes the Ibrox legions belted out stuff about the Pope, Fenians, and some of their other favoured subjects.

     

     

    Quite a few of us have become used to “the Rangers problem” over the years but Sunday at Hampden was still quite an eye-opener. It was the consistent, incessant nature of the bigoted chanting that was truly shocking.

     

     

    One of the problems we have in tackling bigotry in Scottish football is the sheer ignorance of the subject that we have to put up with. For instance, Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, clearly didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, to judge from the fatuous statement he released after attending the match at Hampden.

     

     

    After the prejudiced chants had boomed out, the following was MacAskill’s take on the whole spectacle. “This was the showpiece everyone wanted to see — it was a great advert for Scottish football,” he said. “The players, management and fans contributed to a memorable occasion, and I urge that their positive example inside the ground is replicated outside it over the course of the evening and beyond. Football is a force for good in society.”

     

     

    Given the nature of what was chanted inside Hampden, this was an utterly ludicrous statement. MacAskill, clearly, is totally unfamiliar with the sort of problems given an airing at Hampden if he thinks that the sort of chanting which the Rangers fans kept up apace represented “fans contributing to a memorable occasion.” This is risible.

     

     

    I didn’t expect a Rangers statement yesterday on the shocking tone of their supporters’ singing, and nor was one forthcoming. Rangers’ preferred position on their problem is this: let’s just have a general media silence on the subject, and let’s keep any fuss to a minimum. From Rangers’ point of view, the fewer headlines there are about their problem, the less need there is of any requirement to act.

     

     

    But that is a tough scenario to hope for. The Ibrox club have already been censured by Uefa over bigotry, and more than that, a number of Rangers supporters’ songs have specifically been banned by European football’s governing body. So it is asking a lot for every newspaper to turn a blind eye (or deaf ear) towards songs which have repeatedly been outlawed.

     

     

    What is more galling for those who want to be rid of this poison is the seeming ignorance — such as was revealed by MacAskill — or inability in government or police circles to be able to fix it.

     

     

    Hampden on Sunday rang out to bigoted chanting from the Rangers end, yet the police statistics for “sectarian-related crimes” were paltry, never mind MacAskill’s absurd words about how wonderful it all was.

     

     

    This isn’t government action. On the contrary, this is inaction, and even incompetence. The truth is, we are getting nowhere today with the problem of sectarianism in football. In fact, we are regressing, Edinburgh summits or not, at an alarming rate.

     

     

    Rangers, in trying to fight their own specific problem, have lost ground. Indeed, if you were at Hampden on Sunday, with bigoted chant after chant ringing out, you would think that the club had gone back ten years in their quest to solve the problem. And for many others, meanwhile, it actually means very little.

     

     

    OK, so there is sectarian chanting, they say. So what? What does it matter? Just let it go, let’s just concentrate on the football.

     

     

    Rangers lack the guts to truly take on their own support on the issue, and the same applies for the Scottish FA.

     

     

    The docking of points really would force the bigots to stop their chanting, and the SFA has the power to do this, but it is too scared to.

     

     

    Meanwhile, too many other people won’t touch this problem with a bargepole, claiming the accompanying aggro that comes with such debate simply isn’t worth it.

     

     

    So Scotland just goes on living with its embarrassing bigotry problem. Ignorance, incompetence and cowardice ensure it.

  25. sorry Graham that should have read

     

     

    Graham Spiers Commentary

     

    Last updated March 22 2011 12:01AM

     

     

    Another week, another excruciating example of the problem Rangers have with a large section of their support. Walter Smith’s team, going into Sunday’s Co-operative Insurance Cup final as underdogs, won quite a few admirers for their gritty 2-1 win over Celtic.

     

     

    Alas, no one who was at Hampden Park as a neutral, and who had any understanding of the type of songs that were being sung, could have found anything remotely appealing in the antics of the Rangers support.

     

     

    For fully 120 minutes the Ibrox legions belted out stuff about the Pope, Fenians, and some of their other favoured subjects.

     

     

    Quite a few of us have become used to “the Rangers problem” over the years but Sunday at Hampden was still quite an eye-opener. It was the consistent, incessant nature of the bigoted chanting that was truly shocking.

     

     

    One of the problems we have in tackling bigotry in Scottish football is the sheer ignorance of the subject that we have to put up with. For instance, Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, clearly didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, to judge from the fatuous statement he released after attending the match at Hampden.

     

     

    After the prejudiced chants had boomed out, the following was MacAskill’s take on the whole spectacle. “This was the showpiece everyone wanted to see — it was a great advert for Scottish football,” he said. “The players, management and fans contributed to a memorable occasion, and I urge that their positive example inside the ground is replicated outside it over the course of the evening and beyond. Football is a force for good in society.”

     

     

    Given the nature of what was chanted inside Hampden, this was an utterly ludicrous statement. MacAskill, clearly, is totally unfamiliar with the sort of problems given an airing at Hampden if he thinks that the sort of chanting which the Rangers fans kept up apace represented “fans contributing to a memorable occasion.” This is risible.

     

     

    I didn’t expect a Rangers statement yesterday on the shocking tone of their supporters’ singing, and nor was one forthcoming. Rangers’ preferred position on their problem is this: let’s just have a general media silence on the subject, and let’s keep any fuss to a minimum. From Rangers’ point of view, the fewer headlines there are about their problem, the less need there is of any requirement to act.

     

     

    But that is a tough scenario to hope for. The Ibrox club have already been censured by Uefa over bigotry, and more than that, a number of Rangers supporters’ songs have specifically been banned by European football’s governing body. So it is asking a lot for every newspaper to turn a blind eye (or deaf ear) towards songs which have repeatedly been outlawed.

     

     

    What is more galling for those who want to be rid of this poison is the seeming ignorance — such as was revealed by MacAskill — or inability in government or police circles to be able to fix it.

     

     

    Hampden on Sunday rang out to bigoted chanting from the Rangers end, yet the police statistics for “sectarian-related crimes” were paltry, never mind MacAskill’s absurd words about how wonderful it all was.

     

     

    This isn’t government action. On the contrary, this is inaction, and even incompetence. The truth is, we are getting nowhere today with the problem of sectarianism in football. In fact, we are regressing, Edinburgh summits or not, at an alarming rate.

     

     

    Rangers, in trying to fight their own specific problem, have lost ground. Indeed, if you were at Hampden on Sunday, with bigoted chant after chant ringing out, you would think that the club had gone back ten years in their quest to solve the problem. And for many others, meanwhile, it actually means very little.

     

     

    OK, so there is sectarian chanting, they say. So what? What does it matter? Just let it go, let’s just concentrate on the football.

     

     

    Rangers lack the guts to truly take on their own support on the issue, and the same applies for the Scottish FA.

     

     

    The docking of points really would force the bigots to stop their chanting, and the SFA has the power to do this, but it is too scared to.

     

     

    Meanwhile, too many other people won’t touch this problem with a bargepole, claiming the accompanying aggro that comes with such debate simply isn’t worth it.

     

     

    So Scotland just goes on living with its embarrassing bigotry problem. Ignorance, incompetence and cowardice ensure it.

  26. Afternoon bhoys,

     

     

    Its times like these I long for wee Fergus, because wee Fergus was absolute in his defence of all things Celtic, to which the SFA will testify!.

     

     

    For me one of our biggest problem is we lack that type of person on the Celtic board. We badly need a prominent figure from within the club who will stand up and defend us and our club.

     

    We’re not perfect, we’ve never claimed to be, but this demonising of our great support just to lable us as two side’s of the one coin is making me sick.

     

    My fear is this will not happen as the people on the board are business men and Celtic men a poor second, I would be delighted to be proved wrong.

     

     

    So I ask Peter Lawell or the new chairman to come out with all guns blasing and protect CELTIC from the disgraceful attempts to criminalise a law abiding and faithful support.

     

     

    Hail Hail

  27. CQN is takin’ over the world.

     

     

    It used to be you could switch on the wireless to get away from the ole poppies/songs circle jerk but not anymore.

     

     

    Anyways, if we are headin’ for the ole slow train wreck then we should be able to avoid this.

  28. enmac75 stands shoulder to shoulder with Neil Lennon on

    from previous thread

     

     

     

    for those who dont want to sing rebel songs at the football, then don’t. sing something else. If enough people feel the same way, then do something about it…….sing a different song. Is it not that easy ? if the majority of the fhans, home or away don’t want to hear it, then drown it out. contribute with the vast number of celtic songs we all know. the guys singing the rebles will join in

     

     

    the problems lie squarley with the ‘we need to even things up’ brigade. life is not even. Offensive is subjective. What if the spl/sfa or whoever decides they are offended hearing the feilds of athenrye of the celtic park PA ? against the famine and the crown ? how would the celtic board react to that ?

     

     

    one more wee thing. when the huns were up on their numerous charges of sectarian songs/chants etc.., their board blamed everyone else. Now we are up, celtic have said explicitly we dont want them. there is no place for it here, and i comend the celtic board for standing their ground( even though i dont agree).

     

     

    let the people sing……aye right

  29. Was it 2010 or 2009 that I wrote this. It still applies, it is still me. Others have different views. It doesn’t make them mad, bad, indifferent, dangerous or from the dark side of the Southside. It just means that they have different opinions. That’s what makes the pubs of the world stay on business….chinas with different opinions.

     

    ****************************************

     

    Put your ear to the ground or wet the tip of your index finger and test the wind.

     

     

    There’s a rumble of approaching tremors and schisms, there’s a coldness of an icy northerly heading our way bringing with it a battering gale and possibly a destruction of the hopes and some cases expectations of what this year would bring.

     

     

    I was nine years old, built like a pipe cleaner and stood in the centre circle of Kirkshaws Primary School football park. It was before the days of mid-fielders and I was an inside right. A frozen, shivering scared wee inside right, up against probably the best primary team in Coatbridge at that time. Our school St James (I’ve been told it’s now called St Kevin), was maybe a quarter of a mile away and despite the gulf in ostensible class, this was our biggest rival. We knew their team, we shared streets, fights, insults and ginger. But this was different, this was Celtic vs Rangers and this was serious.

     

     

    Even in Coatbridge, there was a gulf in facilities – Kirkshaws primary had its own grass pitch, proper goals and nets and all housed inside its own school perimeter. Whenever Coatbridge played the likes of Edinburgh, the game took place there. After all who would want to stage a showpiece game on the likes of the black-ash of Lochrin, or the red-ash of Old Monkland Tech college. That’s who the we the Cafflicks, begged and borrowed from just to make sure we could play football; just to make sure that for an hour or two a week we could be whoever we wanted to be; just to make sure that our knees and thighs would still bear the scars forty five years later of lacerations and sudden encounters with walls, railings and bricks tossed at wee boys and their ‘Miss’ team manager by cowards from behind buildings and lorries parked on the nearby street.

     

     

    Coatbridge, aye even in our own heartland we were still poor relations in the pecking order of encouragement.

     

     

    Years later at St Pat’s it was no different; football or rugby, volleyball, basketball and even athletics. We had nuthin! Apart from a pride in our schools, our uniforms and a burning desire to just show whoever was watchin that they might shout defiantly ‘no surrender’, but we didn’t have to ‘cos we lived it every day. While they concentrated on gathering all the superfluous outward paraphernalia that would translate so easily into their pseudo-supremacist regalia in their marching season, our parents, our teachers, our peers simply got on with an instillation of values that every now and again I really live up to and every now and again brings ‘thankyou’ to my lips.

     

     

    For be in no doubt, there are people who say they hate Catholic schools. Rubbish! They don’t give a toss about Catholic Schools; it is the value system of humanity and ambition that burns acid in their eyes and inflames their ire. It is a jealousy and fear of being taught to think. It’s an intelligence based system not a knowledge based regurgitation.

     

     

    The vast majority of those who for whatever reason came through the non-denominational system know that, and it is not they who scream their venom. For they know that the road of such vitriol leads only one place and who would then call stop as the precipice of oblivion looms. They know that when a belief system becomes a fugitive from tyranny and a forager for a basic freedom, it is rarely the pursuers who have the perseverance to last the longest. We were raised well and they hated it; they hated it in darkened corners, they hated it behind closed doors, and they hated it under the blankets of a perversion of equality – the last thing they wanted.

     

     

    As I stood there waiting for the ball, sometimes hoping it wouldn’t come and sometimes wishing I was anywhere else but where I was, Miss McKinlay shouted “Corner flags”

     

     

    That was the signal, I was to run to the far attacking corner flag and Eddie was to run to the other. Ronnie would jist hit the ball low through the middle and Robbie, who was on trial (at the age of nine) with a whole host of teams would sprint through on to the pass.

     

     

    It worked an absolute treat.

     

     

    A goal at Kirkshaws!! A goal for St James’s at Kirkshaws!…’NO CATHOLIC SCHOOL DOES THAT’!

     

     

    I got back to our half through a hail of vitriol that a company sergeant major shouldn’t hear, and as the sleet and wind picked up, I think I started to go blue – a bad sign in a Tim – and Big Geordie our keeper who at the age of nine was already 5ft 6in, wandered up to me and said “All bullies hate it when they get wan back”.

     

     

    We looked over to the shy-line and Miss McKinlay was in their manager/teacher’s face and he was giving pelters to his team. ‘Miss’ had out-thought them. We lost that day, I think it was 4-1 but thinking back, those of that narrow mindset probably stuck their ear to the ground or their finger in the air, tasted the harbingers of the future and looked at each other for someone to blame.

     

     

    We stuck our fingers in the air and felt the warmth of companionship and our ears to the ground told of a community’s dash for glory. But without a doubt my pals stuck by me, freezing, wet and shivering in the face of the elements. Our teachers stuck with us not because it was expected, not because it was asked, but because it was right.

     

     

    The storm is coming this time at us in a big way. I’ll stick with this team, this manager and most of all with this support because it is right. Watch as we stand fast in deed, words and defiance; Watch them even in dubious victory begin their infighting. Watch them crumble and dissolve as win lose or draw becomes not a fleeting phrase or nostalgic plea, but a real brilliant evocation of Sinn Fein – We Ourselves. People sneer at ‘win, lose or draw’, but in that one phrase lies a history of balance. When we enter the piranha infested waters of win at all costs, we enter the world of supremacists.

     

     

    Give them nothing but fleshless fishbones and watch them retch!

     

     

    Now let’s win this league, let’s do it as ‘We ourselves’, and if we don’t well at least we can still think, can’t we! We can still turn the ‘what might have beens’ into ‘what will be’.

     

     

    That’s after all what ambition, hope and dreams are all about. I don’t remember being taught that it was about giving up, giving in or running away.

     

     

    Hail hail

     

     

    Estadio

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