Tag Archives: Glasgow Rangers

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?

Celtic, Rangers and The Old Firm: the Enlightenment of a Leeds Fan – by Rob Atkinson

Old Firm - healthy rivalry?

Old Firm – healthy rivalry?

Following on from yesterday’s Old Firm piece which was provoked by an advert placed by Celtic fans in the Scottish Sunday Herald, I find myself one day on having taken quite a lot on board. I’m somewhat bewildered by the strength of feeling on both sides of the argument, considerably better informed as to the legal position insofar as it defines the status and existence of Glasgow Rangers FC – and not one whit persuaded away from my original position that trying to wish or argue a rival football club out of existence is just plain wrong.

I’ve been accused of many things by those outraged over yesterday’s piece. Some of these people have been Leeds fans – the very last people I would expect to support the idea of football fans wishing the worst that can happen to rivals – to lose their very history. One Leeds guy asked me why I was speaking up for the Rangers end of things “as Leeds have far more links with Celtic”. It’s difficult to know whether to take people seriously at times. Am I really to be guided by the irrelevant fact of which clubs are closest or more nearly linked to my own team?

I should say yet again that I am not a Rangers fan. I’ve never really been able to decide who to back in Old Firm games, but I’ve always watched them for the sheer spectacle. So I’ve tended to hope that whichever team seems currently to be playing the better and more attractive should prevail. I’ve generally enjoyed the blood and thunder of these fixtures. From now on, though, I’ll probably be hoping (vainly, I’m sure, on Sunday) for Rangers success whenever these two meet. I’ve just been so shocked and horrified by the sheer spite and malicious venom displayed by the majority of Celtic fans who responded.

The thing is, I know what it is truly to hate another football club. I find it hard to describe the depths of my loathing for Manchester United. I despise them and all they stand for – I feel they’ve been instrumental in bending our game completely out of shape this past two decades. But wish them out of existence? No, not at all. I want that rivalry, I want them there so that I can carry on hating them. I’ve published articles decrying their debatable achievements since Murdoch bought the game and skewed it in their favour – but I wouldn’t want to be without them. They’re the gift that keeps on giving for someone who relishes a bit of sporting hatred.

So the attitude of so many Celtic fans simply baffles me, as well as leaving me a bit cold. I can’t relate to such dog-in-the-manger lack of empathy with fellow fans, it is alien to me – and I hope to most proper fans of the game. I’m also persuaded by a lot of what I’ve read in an extensive comments thread that not only do Rangers have a tradition and history case for claiming to have survived as a club – this appears to be the legal position too – despite the wishful thinking clung to, against all logic and precedent, by so many Celtic fans.

I hope the Old Firm game tomorrow is a good one. I expect Celtic to win – and it will be interesting to see the fans’ reaction when they score, against what they are claiming is a new club with no history and no tradition of rivalry with the Celts. And yet I’m willing to bet there’s not a ticket to be had with a sold-out Celtic allocation – and that they’ll celebrate with joyful abandon any goals scored against a team they now deny makes up the Old Firm of glorious tradition.

Hypocrisy, a lack of feeling for the game and what it means to be a fan – and rank, vicious hatred not just for Rangers FC, but for their history and the fact that they have out-performed Celtic over the century-plus of the Scottish League. That sums up what I’ve gleaned of the green and white psyche this past twelve hours or so. It’s not something I’d have thought anyone could be proud of – whereas everything I’ve heard from Rangers fans has rung with pride and passion – despite their long fall and slow climb back.

Enjoy the match tomorrow, may the best team win. And may we have many more Old Firm games in the future.

Celtic Fans Open to Ridicule Over Rangers “Old Firm” Claims – by Rob Atkinson

At Leeds United, we’re no strangers to the unwelcome feeling and experience of your club in crisis. We’ve seen our beloved Whites pushed to the brink of actual expiry and ejection from the league; we’ve seen administration and League sanctions. Spectacular collapse and the plummet from the heights of the game to the depths of despair was a process raised almost to a perverse art form by United – to the point that it became known as “doing a Leeds”. So we know what crisis, despair and poverty are all about – the only thing that can really surprise a Whites fan these days is to see a club in straits even more dire.

Which brings me on to Glasgow Rangers FC. There is no need for me to re-hash here exactly what has happened to them over the past few years. In short, it was a precipitous fall, and an unprecedented reduction in status. From being permanent members of a top two cartel, Rangers were sent spinning into the gloom and obscurity of Scotland’s lowest major league. The journey back is well under way, but problems beset them still. On Sunday, for the first time since their fall from grace, Rangers face Celtic in the Scottish League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park. The Old Firm rivalry is back, right? Well, not according to the hardly unbiased fans of Celtic FC. Take a moment to look at the rationale espoused by a group of their fans in an advert placed recently.

Celtic fans - are they kidding?

Celtic fans – are they kidding?

Now, surely – these Celtic fans cannot be serious? It’s a wind-up, right? Are they quite barking mad, these loose-lipped Bhoys? What are they worried or insecure about, that they should resort to this? The whole “argument” stated above smacks of trying too hard, a mean-spirited attempt to cast back down a club trying to recover from an almost terminal decline. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Rangers’ fall – and without declaring any particular affiliation on either side of the Old Firm divide – this blog has to state in the strongest possible terms that what we have here is a bunch of partisan yet clueless fans talking fluent rubbish.

Whatever arguments you might summon, whatever contortions you might go through, leaning over backwards to show that black is white – surely the one thing any set of football fans must agree on is the major factor in any football club’s identity. It is the fans, it has to be. The fans embody the tradition and continuity of any club. Football shirts might change colour, as with Cardiff. Ground moves are commonplace these days and have never been unknown. Players, directors, managers and staff come and go, without necessarily having any real connection to the clubs they serve for a time.

So what is the one thread that runs right through a club’s very soul and being? It is the fans, the loyal supporters who follow, follow, through thick and thin, passing on the supporting tradition down the generations, wedded to their club in good times and bad. And it is those Rangers fans, the ones who have stuck by the Rangers FC as they sank to the depths and rose again – they embody Glasgow Rangers and in so doing, they give unquestionable continuity to the institution that is Glasgow Rangers FC. They also make a total mockery of this laughable stance from a set of fans who feel just as passionately about their club – and who have thus allowed themselves to go out on a limb, in trying to kick a club when it’s down, succeeding only in making arrant fools of themselves.

I wouldn’t particularly care, normally, who wins on Sunday at Hampden. I miss the Old Firm games for their passion and spectacle, it’s for those reasons that I always tune in to watch and would one day like to attend one of these occasions. The tradition of atmospheric support from both sets of fans, with tempers frequently running high on the park and referees praying for the final whistle to come with as little as possible actual violence – that’s so much of what football should be about. These are factors which are gradually being marginalised in the modern game as a whole, with increasing gentrification everywhere and a diminution of the raucous passion we of a certain age remember. But all of that is still present at certain fixtures – Leeds against Man U is one, Newcastle versus Sunderland bears a mention – there is el Clásico, of course. But the grand-daddy of them all is the Old Firm game – even if a lot of the cause and reason behind this fact isn’t of a particularly savoury or relevant nature.

So where do these Celtic fans get off, trying to defuse, deflate, diminish all of this? Don’t they realise how much the game north of the border needs its return, and in full rude health at that? For goodness’ sake, Celtic need it. Surely, these pompous, paragraph-quoting fools are kidding. If they’re not, then they deserve the ridicule that should be coming their way. And, for the record, against my normal neutral Old Firm stance – I would say to them “If you really do mean this – then you’re idiots; and I hope you get stuffed out of sight on Sunday”.