Are Celtic Just a Scottish Version of Man U That Leeds Love to Hate? – by Rob Atkinson

The Old Firm divide

The Old Firm divide

Wisely or not, this blog decided over the weekend to stick its nose into the current kerfuffle between those two friendly members of the “Old Firm” – Celtic and Rangers, both of the Glasgow parish (I use that word in its loosest possible sense). This latest spat has arisen from the decision of some Celtic fans to take out an ad in a Scottish Sunday paper, announcing to the world that they don’t recognise the post Ibrox crisis Rangers as the club that has existed since March of 1872 (they somehow managed to survive those first 16 years before Celtic were formed to give their lives some meaning…)

For these bright, media-savvy Bhoys, who invested a cool three grand into said advert, the team currently playing as Rangers is a new one that the mighty Celtic have no history with. Old Rangers are dead, they say. The Old Firm is dead. 126 years of history can simply be wished – or advertised – away, apparently. All specious nonsense, of course – but understandably, feelings are running high on both sides, as each attempts to out-justify the other.

My main aim in writing the original article (and one previous follow-up) was simply to highlight the advert nonsense, point out my quaintly romantic notion that a football club is about fans, history and tradition and not money, corporations and receivers – and then leave the combatants to get on with it. Which they did, and at some length too. They’re still at it, you can faintly hear the hullabaloo, just a few blogs back. And I have to say, wading through all that comment and counter-comment has opened my eyes to the depths of the mutual hatred up there. At times, it was like bobbing for apples in a cesspit.

I also have to say that, of the two, my sympathies are more and more with the Rangers lot – whereas prior to all of this, I always struggled to decide who I wanted to win a particular Old Firm match. I watched mainly for the blood and studs spectacle of it all – real old school stuff that you don’t see in England outside of a women’s hockey international.

It became clearer and clearer to me though that the Celtic side of things reminded me, more and more, of the attitude struck by those old foes of Leeds United from the Theatre of Hollow Myths – on the wrong side of the Pennines. You know the sort of thing – biggest and best, greatest in the world, don’t you dare say a word against us, blah blah blah. The fans of the Pride of Devon – as we fondly refer to Man U hereabouts – have swallowed all the propaganda, hook line and sinker. They really believe all the merchandise market-inspired guff the media feed them, and they recycle it as fact. Laughable, if irritating. We all know a deluded scum fan – so you know what I mean. But the club itself is just as bad, always wanting an unfair advantage, always demanding the benefit of the doubt, always cynically cheating, lying and manipulating – even now that Ferguson is history. And so, to an extent, it appears to be with Glasgow Celtic.

The quote below is from a Rangers fan in the thick of the argument that has been raging on this blog for a few days now. There is so much there that reminds me irresistibly of Man U and the way they try to go about getting the best of everything and sod everyone else. It’s a really, really harsh thing to say – but aren’t Celtic simply Man U-Lite?

“So, did Celtic play by the rules when they signed Juninho using the same EBT scheme that their support slaughter Rangers for. Did they play by the rules when we got to the UEFA final and asked for an extension to the season to avoid playing four games in one week? I think your CEO said that you were going on a Far East tour and couldn’t agree. Did those matches ever take place? What about the game you got cancelled following the death of a player who had left you years previously? If you can’t remember it then it was when you were in the middle of an injury crisis. Remember the qame where you had to beat our score to win the league and your star striker accused the team we beat at home 6-1 of cheating while his team mates accused the goalkeeper of the team you were beating 4-0 at the same time away from home of trying too hard. I think you even missed a penalty that day. What about when you caused a referee strike in Scotland and we had to import refs from Europe because you said they were all cheats?

Oh you play by the rules all right. That’s why you ran to the SFA to try and get titles and trophies stripped from us so that you could jump from our shadows. You knew the rules all right when you got the Swiss team thrown out of Europe who had just humped you and then a few years later your knowledge of the rules came to the fore again when Legia had to get thrown out of the CL after also humping you because a player they had assumed had served a suspension played two minutes when they were 6-1 up on aggregate. Remember a few weeks later when you signed the guy on loan and you went to the SPL and said I know we signed him late however it is just a technicality …..don’t be sticking to them rules.

Playing by the rules…..pass the sick bucket.”

I’ve purposely posted that in blue, so that no Celtic eye will be able to read it and thus suffer some hurt to their tender feelings. But, for the rest of us, there’s this ineffable sense of one club trying to run the game – of the tail trying to wag the dog, north of the border, just as it has been over two decades in England. It’s all so undesirably familiar, so tiresomely reminiscent of the way in which Man U have gone about dominating English football ever since Murdoch bought it for them in 1992, after one too many failed title bids, thwarted by our own beloved Whites.

Given the tradition whereby Celtic fans tend to have Man U as a second team, their “English” team (Rangers are more yer Liverpool), I suppose most Celts won’t be in the least offended by a comparison between them and the Pride of Devon. But believe me, it’s not intended in a good way – most football fans who haven’t swallowed all the market-driven media pap would confirm that it’s a mortal insult to be compared to such a plastic franchise. But there you go – none so blind as those who won’t see.

A footnote to the original issue of whether or not Celtic fans genuinely consider there is no history between their lordly selves and Rangers FC in the here and now: I said it would be interesting to see the reaction among the packed Bhoys at one end of the ground if and when their favourites scored. And it was interesting – if utterly predictable. They celebrated, of course – and they celebrated wildly, exploding with delight, as though their team had defeated Real Madrid themselves in a Champions League Final. The noise damn near knocked out one of my trusty LG flatscreen speakers as the hooped hordes yelled, screamed and cavorted in triumph. Not that they were remotely bovvered, of course. Because Rangers FC means nothing to them now. Right, Bhoys?

Talk about posturing for effect. Talk about self-delusion, and striking an attitude that doesn’t stand up to any serious examination. Talk about being exactly like the intrinsically detestable Man U – the club we routinely refer to as “the scum”. Ask yourselves: can Celtic really claim to be any better than that?

22 responses to “Are Celtic Just a Scottish Version of Man U That Leeds Love to Hate? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Diplomatic as ever Rob. I predict a humble response from our friends across the border .(I hope)


  2. Fantastic piece. What an eye opener too.


  3. You appear to be on a mission to whip up hatred of Celtic among Leeds fans where none has existed before. Clearly you have an agenda judging by your previous articles on the subject and I am not surprised that you are now coming out as a Rangers fan. Extremely disappointing as I used to enjoy your Leeds United related blogs and I really can’t fathom out why you are on this mission. I know many Leeds United fans who support Celtic as well and it is possible to buy Leeds / Celtic halved scarves on Elland Road just as it is to buy Leeds / Rangers halved scarves. Articles such as this serve no purpose other than to divide Leeds United fans when we should all be sticking together. God knows we have enough real enemies to focus our energies on rather than imagined ones.


    • Bit of a daft comment really. Over three articles, I’ve made it entirely clear where I stand and how that’s developed with this Old Firm story. I started out ambivalent and now I’m decidedly in favour of Rangers. You can believe that or not, it’s up to you and doesn’t bother me. I’m always sorry to lose a reader but, by your logic, most of what I write would result in someone taking his bat home. If you’re the sort of person who gets extremely disappointed whenever something is written you don’t happen to agree with, then this blog is clearly not for you.


      • Last time we played them a load of rangers fans decided to have a good drink in headingley rather than city centre / around the ground.

        Of course nothing to do with it being traditionally an Irish neighbourhood.


      • Your stance was obvious from the beginning Rob – as a team who had the phrase “doing a Leeds” named after them you want to preserve your team’s glorious history in the face of financial mismanagement, which means you side on the “unbroken” premise and I don’t blame you. The difference between Rangers’ liquidation and applying to join the lowest tier of the SFL and that of the administration of Leeds and other teams, is I would have hoped obvious.

        I remember the post you quote in its entirety when it was posted previously and I posted rebutting many of those claims made. It’s disappointing you chose to just repeat those accusations with no rebuttal.

        The suggeston that Celtic, a team founded off the back of immigrants 125 years ago (the time of “no blacks, dogs or irish”), is somehow the establishment team is ludicrous. “Sir” David Murray claimed that Rangers was Scotland’s “second most important institution in Scotland after the Church of Scotland”! Celtic are the anti-establishment team, the anti-Rangers. It was summed up in two lines by Fourfourtwo’s comparison thus:
        “Celtic : Bohemian, Underprivileged.
        Rangers : Dour, Establishment.”

        Celtic are successful – second to Rangers in terms of domestic trophies, but have a much higher profile in the world game, winning the Big Cup, playing football in an expressive and entertaining way etc. We all perceive of our own teams as being “the best” – heck Rangers theme song is (was?) “Simply the Best” – what is that if it’s not arrogance?

        As to your other points: Celtic fans celebrated beating NewGers? Oh, excuse us. We beat Dundee in the other cup today and celebrated that. I apologise for that too!

        And some fans support Manchester United as well as Celtic? And that offends you? A lot of fans support Liverpool as well as Celtic – I am one – think Dalglish, think immigration from Ireland into Liverpool, though others support my local team, West Ham, East London has a lot or Irish & Scots too (I see no link between Rangers and Liverpool, other than perhaps relating to shipyards, please enlighten me as to that… There are certainly links between Rangers and other English teams: Chelsea and Millwall – the self styled “Blues Brothers”).

        Simple summary: you couldn’t be further off the mark on this one.


      • Sez me, sez history, sez public opinion, sez their own former players and managers, summed up by Murray’s “second most important institution in Scotland after the Church of Scotland” and Walter Smith’s belter “There is a Protestant superiority syndrome around this club . . . you can feel it.”

        We’re not int he English Premiership – we don’t claim to be Mancs, we’re not Scouse or north London. We are Glasgow Celtic – a Scottish team founded by Irish immigrants. We’re a big fish in a small pond. The Scottish SPL Champions get £2.4m TV money, the bottom club in the EPL got over 25 times that amount. No bones about it, we’re a selling club. But we (now) live within our means as shown by those figures for financial stability (Celtic were third in Europe after Ajax & Arsenal) and, Ghod willing, we’ll be here for another hundred years, same club, uninterrupted.

        Finally I do hope Leeds United stay up: bizarrely given I’m a jock and live in London I have three very good friends who are Leeds’ fans and I would be disappointed for them if their team went down. Good luck.


    • red_headed_animal

      Why would it come even remotely close to dividing Leeds fans? Don’t you have an opinion of your own? We are allowed to be different and don’t have to all decide on who we like and don’t like based on the team we support. Otherwise we’ll all end up like Huddersfield fans, hating a team without even knowing why – because “that’s what we’re supposed to do”

      As it happens I have a big soft spot for the Bhoys and will always cheer for them in front of rangers – or am I not allowed to say that for fear of exacerbating the divide, started by Rob?




  4. andthefoxsays

    I don’t know any Bear who likes Liverpool. (I cannot stand them, myself.)

    Other than that, pretty solid comparison.


  5. I think the Bhoys are still in bed nursing a hang over rob , not that beating a team with no history meant anything to em !!


  6. Absolute tosh. To claim that you are unbiased is bad joke. Also, I assume you’re not from Glasgow so I’ll let you know from my own experience (born and bred there), that your assertion that most Celtic fans support Man U and Rangers fans are more aligned to Liverpool is nonsense and serves only to suggest you’re not quite as non-partisan as you would have everyone believe. It’s the opposite case, if anything. Another thing in this blog that made me laugh was that your quote from a RANGERS fan was supposed to be some piece of damning evidence against Celtic orchestrating the sfa/spl. Based on the three poorly written blogs you’ve written on the Old Firm it’s clear to see you are a closet Rangers fan with a chip on your shoulder. Cheer up :(!


  7. Rangers fans have a love in with Chelsea rob, not Liverpool.

    Anyway I dislike all that sectarian bollocks that goes with Scottish and particularly Glasgow football.

    Leeds as a city has a simmilar catholic / protestant demographic as Glasgow, but thankfully we’ve never gone in for that shite.


  8. Definitely true re the fondness for Chelsea. It’s also true that Man Utd fans thought they were thick as thieves with Celtic fans, until they went up there for a Champions League match a few years back & got a serious kicking!


  9. Rob As a Leeds first Glasgow Celtic second supporter and without getting dragged into this ‘Celtic Rangers morass a couple of quotes from the late great Jock Stein, ,Jock, if there were two players, one Catholic and one Protestant. of equal ability Who would you sign?”
    “The Protestant”
    “Because I know that Rangers would never sign the Catholic”
    (winding up Rangers FC over their bigoted signing policies) also One time being accosted by one of the knuckle-draggers:
    Rangers fan: ‘You only won the European Cup because you had 5 Protestants in your team’,
    Stein (himself a protestant) responded: ‘Well you’ve never won it and you’ve got eleven’, To finish, were it not for Graeme Souness threatening to resign
    as player manager over the Ranger’s board’s reluctance to sign a black player for fear of upsetting their fans they would not have signed Mark Walters in 1988, also remember the stink he raised when he signed Mo Johnson, former Celtic player, it just shows that bigotry runs both ways, your still my favourite blogster Rob, keep ’em coming.

    johnson it’s just to show that bigotry runs both ways


  10. Thank you, I just know this will rumble on and on but that’s the beauty of democratic intelligent ” sometimes “debate.




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