celtic fc

The Scene of the Crime(s)

I got  a surprise yesterday looking on BBC site and it reminded me of a couple of incidents.

There was this picture of the Daejon World Cup Stadium in South Korea and a story about match-fixing involving the team that plays there.

I used to live right next to that stadium. Do you see the Green bridge at the bottom of the picture? I lived on the near side of that, about 20 metres out of the picture.

Occasionally I would go and watch Daejeon play. They weren’t very good but there you go. However, I used to frequent a bar where some of the Daejeon Ultras used to hang out. In very bad Korean and quite bad English we used to have a chat. They were some of the nicest people I met in my time in Korea, always friendly and willing to chat. I wish more people had been like that there.

One of the stories that this BBC story reminded me of was meeting one of the players. Most teams in the Korean league are not very good and each team always seem to have a Brazilian and a couple of Croatians that weren’t good enough to play in Europe.

One day, with the 어머니 and 아버지 of all hangovers I was in the supermarket/hypermarket thing, trying to buy some decent speakers and I ran into the Brazilian who was buying a computer. He saw me, and non-koreans being something of a rarity in that city, foreigners tend to speak to each other or at least acknowledge each other. He nodded and I said hello, then he asked me where I was from and I said Scotland and he asked

“Celtic or Rangers?”.

 “Celtic, obviously”.

“Ahh, good team, good team”

“I’ve been to see Daejeon play a couple of times as well”.

“Really? What did you think?”

As I previously said I was a royally hungover and my next statement, if factually accurate, represented a complete loss of tact…

“They’re not very good are they?”

Immediately after the words came out I realised that I hadn’t been entirely dimplomatic. He mumbled

“I suppose not, I would like to play in Europe.”

And then with both of us too embarassed to continue the conversation I made my excuses and left and I went for a walk along the river to clear my head a bit.

We Don’t Care If We Win, Lose or Draw

Whatever happens today I am happy about what we are all about.

I did a volunteer project in Nepal some years ago but these guys are amazing.

It says everything about what it is to be a Celtic supporter.

Please support The Good Child Foundation. Read about their history here or listen about it here.

Win or lose, we are Celtic.

PS, you can take the heaven line anyway you want, I am atheist that went to a Catholic school that did a project in a Hindu country who supports a non-exclusive club whose supporters are doing wonders in a Buddhist country. It’s nice to be a Celtic supporter -you just don’t need to have all the hatred.

Disgusted

I am still shocked by the events of last night where the Celtic manager was attacked by a member of the crowd.

No amount of calling it a “West of Scotland problem” an “O** F**m problem” or anything else can disguise the facts of what has happened to the celtic manager this season.

To recap (and leaving aside the farcical actions of the SFA), he has had bullets and bombs sent to him in the post, any number of other death threats, people have been arrested trying to get into Celtic’s training ground carrying a gun (a replica), the team bus has been attacked and now this.

That is not to mention that in previous times he has been seriously assaulted in the street and threatened on numerous occasions.

When all this is happening, the media frenzy begins and all discussion is of an “West of Scotland problem” an “O** F**m problem”. This neatly allows the other people in Scotland to brush it off as “they are all as bad as each other”. The general attitude becomes a prevailing “I wish they would all just fuck off” and “He must have done something”. The media attitude seems to be that if they throw enough shit in every direction no one will be able to see where it is coming from. This attitude from the media is an obstacle to resolving the problem.

What has been done to managers of other teams by Celtic fans? Go on, tell me. If you can’t, why are you referring to this as a “West of Scotland problem” and an “O** F**m problem”. Wasn’t it a Hearts fan last night that attacked the Celtic manager and isn’t it at every ground he gets abuse and the same happened to James McCarthy when we decided to play for Ireland? Why then are you referring to this as a “West of Scotland problem” and an “O** F**m problem”.

This nonsense about Lennon being a combative player and provoking it is disingenuous at best. Ian Black the Hearts player is a combative player and nothing happens to him. Roy Keane was a combative player and none of this happened to him. In fact, Alex Ferguson was a combative player and has always been a mouthy manager to boot, none of this happened to him. Can you imagine how different the reaction would be if this was happening to him? Would it be “a Manchester problem” or a “North of England problem”. I doubt it. Would they say he has provoked it? I doubt that too.

Another suggestion was the thing about Lennon cupping his ears to the Rangers support in their stadium. In the light of everything that has happened this is an incredibly brave act by a man who was having “What’s it like to live in fear?” sung at him the whole game.

The tone on the message boards after Celtic’s 3-0 win earlier in the season said a lot. So many Celtic boards were saying “watch yourself on the way home tonight”, “don’t take any chances”. I have certainly experienced that feeling many times and won’t wear Celtic colours in Scotland for fear. Things have happened too many times. This is why I have to finish this by saying…

pic from here

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I didn’t mention also that the Hearts statement did not actually apologise.

P.S. I changed the original picture I had here because I thought this was better.

THE GREEN BRIGADE

Here is the article I had published over at Bella Caledonia a little while ago which I never got round to sticking on here.

“The Scottish Cup Final of 1988 was marred when Margaret Thatcher made an inflammatory gesture….she turned up”.
– Only An Excuse

“Maggie Maggie Get tae ****”
– Hampden 1988

“The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.”
– George Orwell

This applies equally well to sport.

Like a lot of football fans, I have always been very worried about the idea of banning certain chants, even if I find them disgusting or not. In Scotland this is tied up with sectarian issues. Political songs are not banned but fans often try to cast a political song of a group of opposition supporters as sectarian and consequently get it banned. This is often done because genuine offence is caused and often just to wind-up the opposition supporters.

At the moment Scottish football is full of controversies, intrigues and allegations of corruption and lies. I have no doubt some of the allegations are true. One website in particular is promising that there is more scandal to come.  The referee business is going to rumble on and hopefully some big shake-ups will come as a result. You might say we have learned a thing or two from the Godfather of corruption in football which is FIFA itself.  Corruption in football is common throughout the world and one of the myths of our little nation (and not only in terms of football) is that “it doesn’t happen here”. Spain, Germany, Italy and other nations have all recently had problems. Why would such things not be possible in Scotland?

Conversely, one of the good things about all this intrigue in the game is that it all helps to cover up the fact that the football is poor.

But apart from these controversies there is something else going on that is a fairly simple free speech issue. Celtic (the team I support) are trying to ban  the fans who made the display against the poppy being put on the Celtic shirt for the upcoming matches. The group who made the display made a statement of which this is part….

“Earlier this year, the Saville Report on Bloody Sunday confirmed that 14 unarmed civilians were murdered in Derry in 1972 by the Paratroop Regiment. They were among hundreds killed by the British Army during the most recent phase of conflict in Ireland. More recently, the British Armed Forces have murdered and maimed many thousands more innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. The poppy remembers not just our grandfathers who fought the Nazis but also those who sank the Belgrano and brutally occupied the streets of Belfast and Basra. While we recognise the right of individuals to remember their dead and that many within the Celtic support will wear the poppy in memory of family and friends lost in WW2 and other conflicts, we cannot accept the imposition of the poppy onto our shirts.”

You can read the full statement here.

In the aftermath of it all (incidentally, using the word “aftermath” makes it sound like a disaster of some sort…it was a banner, nothing more) I was quite surprised to see many people on supposedly leftist sites attacking the group and calling them “thugs” and so on. They are not thugs and are in fact known to do work in the community with refugees and so on (no, I am not a member).

Whether you agree with what the banner said or not, and I would like to say that I have no problem with what they wrote, to ban the people who did it is clearly a form of political censorship. This shouldn’t come as a surprise from a club with John Reid as chairman but why is it acceptable to stop such people from airing their views? How could it possibly be acceptable?

By way of illustrating my point I would like to provide another example. Right in the middle of Poll Tax time, Thatcher made an ill-advised visit to present the Scottish Cup trophy to the winners of the 1988 Scottish Cup final.

The match was between Celtic and Dundee Utd and thousands of supporters of both sets of teams had one of these…

Fans of both teams took the opportunity to vent at Thatcher and the song that is the title of this article was probably the most sung on the day along with a couple of other ditties.

Should this display and song have been banned or is it ok just because most people agreed with it? It was actually a great day with a real unity in the crowd… a singleness of purpose if you will – despite the set-up of one team against another that you always have at sporting events.

It was also spoken about in Prime Minister’s question time with Alex Salmond scoring a couple of points off Thatcher a couple of weeks later in Prime Minister’s Questions

Q4. Mr. Salmond

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 16 June.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Salmond

Is the Prime Minister aware of the findings of last week’s Glasgow Herald opinion poll, which showed that the political effect in Scotland of her visit to the Scottish cup final and her epistle to the Caledonians was to increase Scottish National party support to its highest level for 10 years? Will the Prime Minister demonstrate her extensive knowledge of Scottish affairs by reminding the House of the names of the Moderator of the General Assembly, which she addressed, and the captain of Celtic, to whom she presented the cup?

567

The Prime Minister

I had a very good day in Scotland. Whatever the Hon. Gentleman tries to say, Scotland’s economy and people are benefiting enormously from the way in which the Government are handling them.

Note that last sentence from Thatcher there. I think the people in the Stadium that day were telling her that they weren’t benefitting. Should they have been denied the opportunity to say it?

JUST BECAUSE WE ARE PARANOID, DON’T MEAN THEY ARE NOT AFTER US

This is the first thing I have done about Celtic (fc) in a while and it is just a small comment.

Watched the game today and saw Robbie Keane our new superstar score the winner.

I also saw his disbelief at the yellow card he got. I shared that.

I know he is only here on loan for a few months so if he is the big Celtic fan he professes to be then the best thing he could do for Celtic and Scottish football in general when he goes back to England is to make a comment on the Scottish game.

I don’t mean about the quality. He can call it great or terrible and I don’t really care. What I would like to see him talk about ia the quality of refereeing..which is poor…but strangely always seem to be poorer on one side.

There are just too many examples to go into right now but if Robbie wants to leave a legacy then that should be it.

WELL DONE BARCELONA – NOW WIN THE FINAL

Well done Barca. I was absolutely delighted to see Chelsea lose yesterday. It was about negative football against positive football. It was also about different modes of organisation and guess what – the good guys won [dodgy decisions aside].

When I am asked what team I support I obviously say Celtic. When asked what other teams I like I usually use the old joke ‘Celtic reserves’ although nowadays that should be Celtic under 21s I suppose. Most Scottish supporters are the same about their clubs. This is in marked contrast to somewhere like Italy where people support their local team but will also choose one of Milan, Juve or Inter to support.

However, I have a soft spot for Barcelona for a few different reasons.

• One of their managers [Jack Greenwell, 1917-24] shares the same name as me and may be a distant relation as he comes from the same neck of the woods as one of my grandfathers [long dead so I can’t ask him – we also have a Champions League/European cup winner in the family but he is a very distant relation from me and I have never met him].

• I like the way they usually play an attacking and exciting style of football.

• There is a similarity with the Catalan political situation and that of Celtic with the Irish-English Scottish-English problems.

• They succeed despite the best efforts of the establishment in the state they currently play in.

But in particular, I like the way that the club is organised. Yes, they have overpaid, spoilt idiots running about on the pitch like every other big team but it is a team that is owned by the fans and the president of the club is decided by an election.

This leads to something like them having UNICEF on their shirt and actually PAYING UNICEF for the privilege and giving them other money besides.

This is what I have always wanted Celtic to be like. The fans of Celtic see it as a community. We all feel that our club is different from others. From the history and the beginnings as a charitable organisation, the way the fans behave and the way people rally round when we lose one of our own – it is a very special thing for us.

But I think I am not the only one with whom it rankles that our club is run by some pretty ruthless people. I am fairly sure that John Reid would not have been appointed chairman if the fans had a vote. It made me fairly annoyed that when I was watching the otherwise fairly good Official History that the club recently produced that in the early part of it they seemed to be trying their best to shoehorn the words ‘business acumen’ or similar in so much that it sounded like a New Labour party political.

Some Celtic fans have shares in the club but about the most they get for it is better opportunities to spend money and the chance to have a question fudged at the AGM. Recent efforts to have fans representatives on the board have been rebuffed.

Unfortunately the way the club is currently run means that a system like Barcelona’s is a long way off for Celtic but it is something that the fans should be shooting for.

One look at Barca will show you that there is more than one way to run a club and that a community or supporter controlled model is no barrier to success.

It was reported yesterday that the fans of Stirling Albion are trying to buy the club at a price of 40 quid each. I dearly hope they succeed. If they do, I might change my second [well ok, third] team to Stirling Albion.

And well done again Barcelona – truly more than a football team.

HILLSBOROUGH & RELATED

Before you read this please find and read some of the testimony from witnesses and those who lost family or friends that day [appropiate links at the bottom of the article]. I am not a Liverpool supporter and I never lost anyone I know that day.

I can’t write about the event because I wasn’t there but I do know what I have heard thousands of football fans who went to games at that time say, and it includes me, which is simply “that could have been me”.

I also know that although some of the problems that led to the disaster that day have been greatly improved upon, others have not.

The things that have been improved [not perfected] are stadium safety and the general policing of football matches.

The things that haven’t are the police and the media’s reaction and attitude to crowds in general and their reluctance to admit it when they get it wrong.

As a University of Glasgow Media group study about the media and peoples reaction to the miners strike found…

Everyone who had been to a picket line (both police and pickets) believed that most picketing was peaceful. But a majority of those who relied on information from the media believed that it was mostly violent.

And so it was with football.

The attitude of the people in control at football matches and their lack of concern could be seen in earlier incidents like the Ibrox Park disasters and the Bradford City Stadium fire in 1985. In Bradford the fire was started when [probably] a cigarette was dropped and fell through the wooden stand and ignited the rubbish below.

However…

There were no extinguishers in the stand’s passageway for fear of vandalism, and one spectator ran to the club house to find one, but was overcome by smoke and others trying to escape. Supporters either ran upwards to the back of the stand or downwards to the pitch to escape. Most of the exits at the back were either locked or shut, and there were no stewards present to open them, but seven were either forced or found open. Three men smashed down one door and at least one exit was opened by people outside.Geoffrey Mitchell said: “There was panic as fans stampeded to an exit which was padlocked. Two or three burly men put their weight against it and smashed the gate open. Otherwise I would not have been able to get out.At the front of the stand, men threw children over the wall to help them escape. Most of those who escaped onto the pitch were saved.

So the people were penned in, with many escape routes closed and no way to put out the fire because the authorities believed they might misbehave. What is more, similar to the Hillsborough disaster, the media have reported the actions of fans unfavourably…

American television network FOX TV controversially aired footage of the disaster in the programme When Good Times Go Bad 3. They incorrectly blamed supporters for deliberately starting the fire; and the program used punning language such as “as rabid as American fans can get, they can’t hold a candle to soccer fans around the world”. David Pendleton, the editor of Bradford City F.C.’s fanzine, stated that the programme was “a vile and callous piece of journalism”  Copyright of the TV footage of that day’s events is strictly controlled by Yorkshire Television and the footage is only meant to be used for fire awareness training purposes.

Distasteful to say the least.

Interestingly, after other incidents like these in other countries such as Heysel Stadium disaster and the collapse of a stand in France, as THIS documentary explains, there were prosecutions and sackings. That just doesn’t happen in Britain.

I was fortunate never to see anything like this but any Celtic fan who was there will tell you that the day Celtic played Dundee the year before Hillsborough could easily have been a major disaster as most Celtic fans agree that Celtic FC at that time had a somewhat creative attitude to giving attendance figures and the stadium was dangerously overcrowded. I imagine most people who went to matches at that time have a memory of a game where it was particularly dangerous.

The season before Hillsborough I went to a few games. The Hillsborough season I went to almost every Celtic home game and occasionally to Aberdeen games if Celtic were playing away. This was because I had one brother that supported Celtic and another that supported Aberdeen . Our father didn’t like us to go to games without him so there was a lot of sneaking out involved. My Aberdeen supporting brother would take me along to the Aberdeen games sometimes because I think he wanted someone to go with and it gave him a better excuse. Usually I would go to the Celtic games with the Celtic supporting brother and sometimes I would go alone.

Conditions at most Scottish grounds were primitive at the time and in some of the early matches I went to I made the mistake of standing with my chest in front of the crush barrier. When a goal was scored and everyone jumped forward I got wrapped around the barrier and had to wait till everyone pushed back before I could disentangle myself. I realised how dangerous this was fairly quickly and from then on got to the stadium early and stood with the barrier at my back so that when they all rebounded after jumping down I could at least see them coming and try to position myself in the safest [or least dangerous] way.

The day of the disaster I watched it happening on BBC as Celtic were playing on the Sunday. I remember how the initial thoughts about the crowd fighting or being disruptive melted away. Those were the first thoughts of many people that day because there were some problems with hoolignanism at that time although, as usual, there were no serious attempts to consider sociologically why, except to blame the victims along with the perpetrators and to  treat all football supporters like animals. The Thatcher government with the ID card scheme and the media had in tandem demonised the supporters. Just as the government and the media had done with the miners and just as they now do with the protestors.

So just a few days after 96 people had been crushed to death and many more injured due to police incompetence to, the bereaved, injured and traumatised were treated to this…

And this was after TV cameras showed supporters ripping down advertising boards to stretcher away the injured.

I can’t remember exactly but I think the next game I went to after the disaster was Hearts V Aberdeen at Tynecastle [Hearts’ stadium]. It was unlike any game I had ever been to. There was a greatly reduced number of fans and for most of them, even though Aberdeen were seriously involved in the league race, the game was mostly an irrelevance. People sang songs supporting the Liverpool fans, abused the police in general and mostly directed their anger against the fact that a similar kind of fence to the one that had been used to pen people in like animals at Hillsborough had still not been torn down. “Get your fences to f*ck” and so on were the songs of the day.

It was a great show of solidarity and I daresay it was replicated at many football grounds in the UK and elsewhere at the time. That and the memorial game with Celtic V Liverpool a couple of weeks later showed me that the fans cared about the bigger picture even if some others didn’t, as is illustrated by this from David Conn in the Guardian

In a dusty library at the far end of the Houses of Parliament, among 10 boxes of documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster which were made available by the South Yorkshire police following a government order some years ago, is a statement from a police constable on duty that day.

On the front page is a handwritten instruction from a more senior officer. “Last two pages require amending,” it notes. “These are his own feelings. He also states that PCs were sat down crying when the fans were carrying the dead and injured. This shows they were organised and we were not. Have [the Police Officer] rewrite the last two pages excluding points mentioned.”

So although today is about an anniversary for the people who died at Hillsborough and their families, it is also about the others who died not at the same incident, but from the same disease.

For the Hillsborough disaster and so many other appalling incidents in the UK, no one has been brought to account.

Justice for the 96 and others.

Here are some links about the disaster..

Hillsborough Families Support Group

Hillsborough Stories

Sean’s Posts about it – Sean has a serious involvement with the disaster.

and the HILLSBOROUGH JUSTICE CAMPAIGN

GIE’S ME A SAIR HEID

One of the ways in which Scotland is kept away from itself is language.

From day one we are taught that sentences like the title of this article are vulgar. I used that particular sentence because of something I remember very clearly from primary school.

My friend came in late one morning. The teacher asked him where he had been and he replied that he had a ‘sair heid’.

He was then ridiculed in front of the class for saying it in this way. It was all quite vicious too.

That little display taught me a lot when I was old enough to think about it properly [we were only 7 at the time].

We are always told that the language of Scots is nothing other than a bastardisation of English, which simply isn’t true.

I have a friend in Ireland who teaches Scots as a language to kids. Yes, you read correctly. That is in Ireland, in Scotland we are still told it is wrong. We are told to mend our pronunciation and speak in the ‘queen’s english’.

F*ck that.

We need a formulation of the Scots language. There are dictionaries and so on but original Scots is probably more different from English than Italian is from Spanish [that is the opinion of two linguists I spoke to] and we need to formulate and teach it.

I know that this could lead to arguments about which dialect is correct and so on. I know that this could lead eventually to the same kind of arguments as the one I have just said about Scots/English but it needs to be done for our independence. Very much the same thing happened in Ireland when they were trying to formulate Irish for teaching in schools and it hasn’t done them any harm.

We need to do it.

“Language is memory and metaphor.”

Storm Jamieson