You see what happened this week? The First Minister calls it out (to borrow a phrase), “violence and vandalism and vile anti-Catholic prejudice”. This gave Police Scotland a responsibility to fall in line, which they did. That in turn provided cover to journalists to write reflective pieces on why a modern country should be ashamed it retains prejudices like these.
It didn’t used to be like this. By this stage of any earlier Rangers (old or new) embarrassment, you would be reading about two Celtic fans chanting IRA slogans or dangling an effigy. Strings would be pulled and the lowest lying Celtic-connected fruit would be plucked and served. Equivalence in as much time as it takes to sing about the grassy slopes of the Boyne.
Newco/Oldco inevitably deflects and denies, “tiny minority” this, “everyone, anyone” that, you will remember the damage “fans of other clubs” did to Manchester? It has worked this way since their excesses started to grab headlines in the 70s.
This time, it’s different. Nicola Sturgeon’s intervention changed the script. The path from the First Minister, to the police to the journalists who found the freedom to report without fear and intimidation is lined with orange lilies. Many journos have taken the opportunity, although there are a notable few clearly still imagining themselves doing battle on the aforementioned grassy slopes.
The reaction will probably see an end to George Square takeovers but it is also likely to see trophy parades inhibited, which will affect Celtic more than everyone else put together. Newco will not change, of course. From birth, they relied on the lowest common denominator to make the club viable (it is still searching for that quality). Their values and instincts see them underplay, deflect and deny what the rest of the world sees.
History is either with you or against you. In the 1980s, it took an hour for Orange Walks to pass through a wee Lanarkshire village like Holytown. ‘The street’ of my youth was memorably thronged with the drunk and the defecating. Very few are interested these days. Like the waters of the Boyne, this particular history will inevitably flow into the sea.