I often wonder where they would have been if we hadn’t have taken them in, fed them and washed them.
Imagine the scene. A leading club, one of England’s best-supported, reaches the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against a long-standing, bitter rival in a match televised live by the BBC. From an early stage, they look a distant second best and long before half-time they are a demonstrably beaten side. Their fans know this. And there seems little point in trying to urge their team on. Instead, they begin to sing “Pakis go home” alongside chants glorifying the bloody murder of Muslims. The songs are audible to the nationwide audience. There is also a banner visible from the opposition’s supporters, using a derogatory term for the leading club.
It could be any club (bar Bradford City, of course, as it’s on the Beeb). And it would provoke the outrage we have seen this week in response to camera-phone footage of three proudly racist Chelsea fans on the Paris Metro. In fact, given the national TV audience for the Wembley match, the outrage would almost certainly be greater. And if the football authorities were seen to be inactive in dealing with the issue, any media pundit calling them out for this would receive praise from all decent areas of society.
Thousands in Glasgow alone From Ireland they came, brought us nothing but trouble and shame.
In the world of Glasgow football, we are all regularly informed, they do things differently. And we are advised to find that acceptable when talking or writing about that world and to adjust our reactions and behaviour accordingly. The above hypothesis played out at Hampden Park for a BBC Scotland audience on February 1st when Celtic beat Rangers in the Scottish League Cup semi-final. Rangers were a distant second best and long before half-time they were a demonstrably beaten side.
Thus were Scottish football fans ‘treated’ to lusty, repeated renditions of songs such as The Billy Boys and The Famine Song. The former is a paean to Billy Fullerton, a 1920s Glasgow gang leader, whose ‘boys’ took vocal pride at being “up to our knees in Fenian blood,” urging such Fenians to “surrender, or you’ll die.” It is argued that Fenians is a derogatory reference to Catholicism in general. The latter is a call to all descendants of immigrants who fled to Scotland from the famine which ravaged Ireland in the late-1840s. “The famine is over. Why don’t you go home?” Both songs are illegal at football matches and the latter is also racist.
Now they raped and fondled their kids, that’s what those perverts from the darkside did.
After the game, with little football to discuss, some media attention focused on the mass singing of these songs (and if it wasn’t “mass” then some Glaswegians out there have VERY powerful voices). Criticism was also directed at a Celtic fans’ banner which read “at the going down of the hun and in the morning we will remember them” a parody of the famous line (“at the going down of the sun…”) from Robert Binyon’s 1914 poem For the fallen, a staple at remembrance services. ”Hun” is the main derogatory term for Rangers fans and the going down of same a reference to the belief among Celtic fans (and many, possibly most, Scottish football fans outside Ibrox) that Rangers ‘died’ when they went into liquidation in 2012 and that the current Rangers are a new club. It is also argued that ‘hun’ is a derogatory reference to Protestantism generally.
Their evil seeds have been sown, cause they’re not of our own.
However, the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) said they would take no action against either club because they took “all reasonable steps” to try and ensure acceptable conduct from their supporters, steps which clearly failed. And despite the songs breaching the controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, no police action has been taken, with SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan making a Grade One gump of himself in trying to justify this in a Twitter exchange with Guardian newspaper journalist Ewan Murray.
“Tell me how several thousand people could be simultaneously arrested,” Regan implored, in his previously unheralded role as a police operations advisor. And after Murray commented: “So the SFA has never charged a club based on the conduct of their supporters?” Regan said: “We do not have jurisdiction – it was the LEAGUE Cup.”
Now Timmy don’t take it from me cause if you know your history you’ve persecuted thousands of people In Ireland alone.
BT Sport pundit and controversialist Stan Collymore waded into this situation this week via Twitter. Collymore recently declared that the worst elements of Chelsea and Rangers fans were “made for each other.” And on Thursday, after the Paris Metro racist incident and the SPFL inaction, he tweeted footage of singing Rangers fans at Hampden with “Fenian blood distinctly heard in the song.” The responses were a combination of “whataboutery” (where “what about Celtic?” is the response to any criticism of Rangers), the straightforward abuse at which the Twitterati can excel and references many of the unsavoury aspects of Collymore’s past alongside his genuine mental health issues.
Rangers fans petitioned BT Sport to demand Collymore be sacked from his punditry role, where he was due to cover the Rangers’ game at Raith Rovers on Friday. Keen to show that “when issues of racism and sectarianism emerge, they need to be tackled and discussed in the correct manner”, BT Sport…removed Collymore from the game, because they “did not agree with the nature of the debate on Twitter.” A Rangers Supporters Trust statement, which probably makes more sense if you read it in the voice of a stroppy seven-year-old, called out Collymore for criticising Rangers fans only and cited his “mediocre career on the pitch,” and his “history of cowardly attacks on those he doesn’t think can defend themselves.”
It also included what must surely be a world exclusive that “Rangers have done significantly more than most other clubs, including Mr Collymore’s Celtic, to deal with issues around fans’ behaviour over the years.” And it dealt with the latest such issue by saying: “………” The debate quickly became dominated by the tiresome insistence on equating Rangers and Celtic fans’ behaviour, regardless of how appropriate such an equation might be. The Daily Record newspaper’s Euan MacLean was a rare exception, citing the SPFL’s “failure to take any disciplinary action against Celtic and, let’s not beat about the bush, particularly Rangers” for musical events at Hampden.
The Herald newspaper’s Graham Speirs has consistently highlighted the flaws in this equation and did so again this week. But the lack of support Collymore has received from what are, remember, industry colleagues, is shameful. So while BT Sport kept Collymore off its screens, they broadcast the latest rendition of the Rangers songbook, live from Kirkcaldy, alongside what has thus far been the factually accurate “we sing what we want.”
You turned on the lights, fuelled U boats by night, that’s how you repay us. It’s time to go home.
Collymore’s only mistake was to focus on the wrong song. The Famine Song has been formally declared racist and illegal – for reasons which the italicised quotes throughout this article make clear to any reasoned observer.
The famine is over. Why don’t you go home?
The concept of Collymore as moral guardian merits the question mark in this piece’s title. But it does not delegitimise his arguments. After all, by definition, a hypocrite – one of the politer charges levelled at Collymore this week – is right half the time. And none of the above excuses any of the following: the exoneration by the football authorities of Celtic and particularly Rangers after off-field events at Hampden; the exoneration by Police Scotland of all but a dozen arrested supporters for singing; and the lack of media outcry at – and the part-complicity in – the treatment meted out to Collymore this week.
Take your mind back to the hypothetical Wembley chorus of “Pakis go home.” If Robbie Savage spoke out against it, no-one would tolerate those supporters vilifying him for his disciplinary record as a player while ignoring the singing entirely; or at least if they did, they would attract heaps of opprobrium themselves. And BT Sport wouldn’t remove him as a pundit at that teams’ next game (not even with his latest hairstyle, which is so ludicrous it… suits him).
Instead, the condemnation would be all-but-universal, just as it has been regarding the Paris Metro incident. And if both sides, one in particular, were at fault that is how the football authorities would view it and how media coverage would be shaped. As I’ve written before, things are different in the world of Glasgow football. That doesn’t make them right. At the time of writing, the SPFL have announced that they will investigate Rangers’ fans singing at Raith. And if it takes a Stan Collymore, imperfect human being that he is, to expose the problem and shake the authorities into action, then things are very wrong indeed.
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