Yet another video has emerged of Rangers supporters besmirching the memory of Tommy Burns and Scott Brown’s sister.
The contents of the video don’t need repeating, but suffice to say it’s another disgraceful episode from a fan base that has set low standards and continually fails to reach even those.
The latest video shows a number of fans spewing their poison on a bus. If social media allows you to witness the inside of a person’s head, what you have here is the equivalent to a bucket of vomit right swilling behind their eyes.
It’s inevitable in football that a number of idiots cross the line between what is and isn’t acceptable, even taking into account the nature of football rivalries and its the traditional animosities, as well as the tendency and inclination for people to amend their behaviour for the worse when part of a crowd.
Celtic have had several high profile incidents that have rightly been condemned as crass and disgusting. Every support carries a cross-section of society and within that, just as within the confines of your favourite pub for example, there will be people whose behaviour, beliefs and attitudes are repugnant.
Fortunately in Celtic’s case, these incidents, such as the Lee Rigby chant at Sunderland, are isolated and confined to small numbers of a couple of people.
The problem Rangers has is that this is not restricted to a few morons on a bus. In the immediate aftermath of the deaths of Billy McNeill and Stevie Chalmers, you could clearly hear Rangers fans at Ibrox mocking the Lisbon Lions.
This was no small minority. This was a large crowd of thousands of people, clearly heard on television.
Billy McNeill and Stevie Chalmers were two of the greatest players to ever grace Scottish football and, with their teammates, achieved what no other Scottish team will ever do.
They were genuine people, humble about their achievement, and men who had close friends among their Ibrox counterparts.
To sully their name in such a way is the lowest of the low.
Tommy Burns was another Celt who never had a bad word to say about anyone, who played the game the right way, and who even talked Rangers midfielder Derek Ferguson through his first match against Celtic, as revealed by the Ibrox player himself.
Scott Brown’s late sister has nothing to do with football. Her only connection is that her brother joined Celtic. He may well have opted for Rangers at the time (they wanted him to do so, going by the way they serenaded him at Easter Road) but he joined Celtic.
He’s a 100 per cent player, the type you love to hate, as the saying goes, when he’s up against your side. But actual hate?
Brown could quite easily have been an Ibrox legend and they would have held him up there with their best. But they’re acting like a bunch of scorned psychopaths, dishing out ‘retribution’ for the slight of choosing another club to play for.
Just as players should not be expected to be taunted over their race, players should not have personal tragedies thrown at them when they represent their clubs.
Celtic fans have for years had to put up with a litany of sectarian and racist filth flowing from the section of the ground holding Rangers fans.
It takes UEFA to act as a moral barometer on that because the SFA wash their hands. How could they do otherwise when they allowed this “institution” to build its empire on the cornerstone of apartheid?
What does it say of a society that spews up 40000 people to sing the ‘Famine Song’, an abhorrent racist and sectarian diatribe? And those are only the ones who managed to get tickets.
The reason it’s not ‘small minority’ of fans at Ibrox indulging in such behaviour is precisely because of how they built their power base.
It was one of a number of society’s institutions that openly discriminated against a large section of the population because of their religion but, football being what it is, it was more in your face than that of banks or certain publishers; Rangers and their fans were their blunt weapon of domination.
The Ibrox club may today be a modern multicultural employer but, because of that history, intolerance runs through its hardcore fan base like a stick of Blackpool rock. As their domination crumbled, so the need to shock and offend grew in proportion and was passed from club to club like a base-instinct right-wing baton of bigotry and superiority. Need money? Don’t forget the orange strips.
When Neil Lennon and his family were literally being terrorised, there was a tiny bit of hope that perhaps a visit to Ibrox would show that the people who sent bombs and bullets did not represent the whole support. Reality set in when the entire stadium sang: “What’s it like to live in fear?”
The abject lack of empathy among the collective support was dispiriting, but if they looked in their cold, dark hearts they would know the answer to their own question.
No one expects to go to a football game and not get ‘offended’. In Scotland, politics comes into all of this and a unique tribalism is on display. There are things said and sung that would no doubt be better kept away from the ground. There has to be a line, though, that your humanity prevents you from crossing.
But the large-scale acceptance of, and participation in, the likes of the Lisbon Lions song or the Famine Song is the kind of behaviour that emboldens a teenager to wait behind for Scott Brown after a game solely to deliver an emotional gut punch, such as we saw in September.
The 800 or so fans who get their hands on tickets for Celtic Park are going to be among their most hardcore. They will see it as a duty to plumb the depths in order to “win” that particular battle and if that means going through their entire sick repertoire for 90 minutes they will do it, as they have done time and again. Players targeted with this do not need to hear it nor should they be expected to.
Rangers need to do more than “not condone it”. They need to condemn it.
As for their fans, really, the game loses nothing if they’re not allowed in to see it. It can only gain from their absence.