For generations referees were drawn from the professional classes, people who were educated and accustomed to learning and applying rules. This happened across the world, not just in Scotland, where refereeing was very much a white-collar business in a blue collar country.
It was an impoverished immigrant community which formed Celtic, the descendants of whom were largely responsible for nourishing the club through the subsequent generations. Equal access to education in Scotland came with the liberalisation that swept across the UK in 1918.
Self-improvement followed, but even those of us who left school in the 1980s were told by guidance teachers that certain careers were unlikely to be open to us. Large engineering employers in Lanarkshire were closed to Celtic-types when I graduated in the late 80s.
Speak to lawyers, who will explain why so many Celtic supporting colleagues practice the in the less-attractive criminal law side of the industry. Banking, brewing and publishing were the same. That recently, the professional classes, where referees were still drawn from, were under-represented by Celtic fans.
This is not a rant about social inequality. Social inequality is a fact of life for post-immigrant communities across the globe and for this community, things have improved beyond all recognition in recent decades. Celtic fans now have access to work their grandfathers could never dream of. Including refereeing.
For many of us, things going wrong on the football field is triggering. Echoes through the generations try to explain what our eyes see. Prejudice? No. No one is trying to do you down. What about bias? Bias is different. We are all biased, the pages of CQN are full of examples. If you think you are not biased, you should do more self-reflection. Referees are no better than you and me in this respect, but they can still be fair referees.
What is beyond doubt is that our football is not being refereed in a manner that is open and consistent with the Rules of the Game. Before the World Cup I wrote here that the SFA should use the weeks without top-flight football to train their referees on the handball rule. When football returned on Thursday, the handball rule seems to have changed significantly.
If this has happened, by SFA Head of Referee Operations, Crawford Allan, who was so quick last season to postulate that a Celtic goal may have been offside, has a duty to explain to the public why they are not seeing consistency. To remain silent is as much a dereliction of duty as to allow this apparent inconsistency in the first place. Be open and communicate clearly without reference to any incident or club.
Last night Liel Abada was in an offside position when a forward pass was made. He was not offside at this time as he was some distance away and not interfering with play. A Livingston defender attempted to head the ball forward but miscued, playing the ball in the direction of Abada instead, who duly scored.
The application of the rules here depend on the intent of the Livingston player. If he intended to play the ball, play is in a second phase, Abada is onside. If the ball struck the Livingston player, who had no intent to participate, play remains in the first phase and Abada is offside. Without question, the Livingston defender intended to head the ball. There is zero doubt.
With Abada standing in an offside position when the initial ball was played forward it is not a shock that VAR asked the referee to confirm what he thought the intent of the Livingston player was. VAR was still wrong to ask for the check, however, as they should only do so if a clear error was made and this incident did not reach that bar.
What then happened is a classic scenario where you can expect a wrong decision to be made. With VAR already erring, referee Euan Anderson approached the screen expecting to see something he missed. He probably knows the Rules of the Game better than you or me, but he is on the spot, flooded with adrenaline, when ordering his thoughts is difficult.
Was he biased? His grannie could come from Donegal for all I know, you may think otherwise but there is not enough evidence to substantiate a bias claim. What I can tell you is he was ill-prepared to referee Celtic v Livingston last night.
Topflight referees are out training most nights. It is a hard shift, they put a lot of work in, in order to be fit enough to get around a football field and keep up with full-time professional athletes. I cannot attest to how well they are trained or tested in the Rules of the Game. On this subject, there is abundant evidence that they are insufficiently trained to do the job they are paid to do.
That responsibility lies with Crawford Allan. He is not in position to oversee appointments and represent the SFA on the international stage, though he doubtlessly does this very well. His job is to make sure that referees know the rules, are given clear guidance and the reputation of our game is not brought into disrepute by the cold analysis offered by VAR.
I fear for what we will see at Ibrox on 2 January.