Sometimes, if you were particularly unlucky, you'd get stopped by a gang, who'd ask you what team you supported. The fact that no matter what you said (if you said, 'Celtic' they'd claim to be Rangers supporters and vice-versa) you were going to get at least a punch, showed that the bastards weren't in the least bit interested in football, just violence. But that's neds for you!
I also remember local neds getting ready for an Old-Firm match by filing the edges of old pennies to make them sharp. One guy got his hands on some kind of metal ring with evil-looking spikes sticking out of it. He tested its viability as a weapon by throwing it at a garage door up at the Viewpoint high-rise flats. When he managed to pull it back out it brought a good chunk of the door with it, making him smile in delight. No wonder my da refused to take us to matches and no wonder I wasn't that keen on going anyway!
My point is that neds are neds no matter what scarf you wrap round their necks or what team they ostensibly support. The guy that picked on me and threatened to beat me up when I was a wee, skinny, seventeen-year-old student working at Greggs for the summer, didn't do it because he was a Protestant an Orangeman or a Rangers supporter; he did it because he was a ned and a complete cunt!
Our media, especially the Daily Record, seem determined to prove that Celtic fans are solely the ones at fault when it comes to all the hatred and thuggery. Not that I'm downplaying the violence suffered by that ten-year-old boy or the man that was beaten up outside a pub, but there has been far more coverage of this than there was when Rangers supporters ran riot in Manchester. A Celtic supporter has started a fund for the boy that was hit with a bottle; that piece of news, however, is hidden away among all the outrage and condemnation.
McMurdo and his disciples are glorying in all this, even though they still try to convince themselves that the media is somehow burying these stories away! They've got their usual shite to say. You know the kind of stuff, "If that'd been Raynjurz supporters that done that they'd bae aw ower it!" On the contrary, however, we don't know if there were any of The Peeppul involved in acts of violence because, ironically, nobody is telling us! One of the disciples tell us that it's all to do with the schools; apparently we're all taught to hate in Catholic schools! All that does is betray the filthy bigotry of the one claiming this!
The reality is that all schools struggle to eradicate sectarianism and bigotry; at least, most of them do. Let me, however, tell you about a couple of my own experiences. I was doing supply at a Catholic primary in Glasgow for a couple off weeks and, while I was there, a bit of a stooshy happened. Like all Catholic schools this one had many pupils that weren't Catholics. One of them brought a Rangers bag to school. His teacher remarked that he couldn't understand how anyone could support such a bigoted team. The boy's mother complained and the teacher found himself hauled before the head teacher and a couple of high heid-yins from the education department, from whom he received a written warning. He wasn't too chuffed but he was left under no illusion that such remarks would not be tolerated.
A couple of years later I was working in a Glasgow ND school. I was quite shocked to see pupils turn up to school wearing Rangers jerseys; football tops were banned in every other school I had worked at. There were a few Catholic pupils at the school, which the school auxiliary, an ex-policewoman, wasn't too happy about. She was quite vocal in her belief that 'they' should stick to their own schools and she had plenty to say about what she thought of Catholics in general. I complained to the head teacher, who simply shrugged and refused to do anything about it. She also refused to act when any of the pupils said anything bigoted, especially if they happened to be on the football team, which seemed to be all she cared about. Fortunately she is no longer there; the teachers had had enough, put in an official complaint and her useless arse was kicked out. Her attitude, however, had already corrupted many of those children and God knows what they've grown up like!
This brings me nicely to what causes all the hatred in the first place and is used as a rationalisation for violence. On Sunday we heard the whole of the Sevco support singing about their hatred of Catholics, the Irish and anyone descended from the Irish. No word of condemnation has appeared in our media and the SFA appears reluctant to do anything about it. In fact, the whole thing seems to have been buried under a carpet of blaming Celtic supporters for everything. And yet, it is precisely this in-your-face hatred, which seems to be tolerated in our society, that underlies all of the violence that has happened. And, despite what our media tries to tell us, this hatred is a one-way street. You don't hear Celtic supporters singing about hating Protestants, do you?
I don't mind admitting that I hate all that bigotry and it is difficult not to hate the perpetrators as well. Like many others, though, I am not a violent person. I will express my disgust through my words. There are plenty of folk out there, however, who are violent and, unfortunately, they feel perfectly justified in acting the way they do because of all the hatred that is allowed to fester without anyone doing a thing about it. I'm not excusing the behaviour of the thugs that attacked that minibus or the ones that beat up the man outside the pub; the explanation for it, however, is there for all to see. Sadly, though, our politicians and our media either try to pretend that it doesn't exist or keep peddling the myth that 'one side's as bad as the other'. Until they man up and confront the problem head-on then these horrible incidents will keep occurring.
Meanwhile, Ashley has done what some of The Peeppul have been begging him to do and brought in five players on loan from NUFC. The financial implications of this for Bisto FC and the probability of Ashley increasing his stranglehold are outlined here by Phil Mac Giolla Bhain. More concerning for the rest of Scottish football, however, is what one of these loan players, Remi Streete, has to say. He's in the same position as Hatem Ben Arfa, who was blocked from moving to Nice because FIFA rules say that you can only play for two clubs in the same season. Streete, however, sees no problems. He says, "Different federations in different countries have different rules. I know France stopped Ben Arfa but from what I’ve read on the internet and been told from my agent the Scottish FA have allowed me to make the transfer. So hopefully it should be fine." I wonder if the same would be true if it was another Scottish team that he was signing with. Hearts or Hibs would probably be blocked from doing the same thing, and we all know the reason why!
The likes of Jackson and McMurdo would have us believe that Scottish football can't secure sponsorship because there's no Rangers in the top tier. In reality it's probably more to do with Scottish football being a laughing stock due to its bending of the rules for the benefit of one team. If the SFA is going to flout FIFA rules in this way then we might find that Scotland is banned from FIFA and UEFA competitions. It's this possibility that no doubt makes potential sponsors hesitate. Scottish football is going down the pan not because there's no Rangers in the top tier; it's because our authorities are determined that there will be one, no matter what the consequences are!
So what about the players? Kevin Mbabu is prone to injury and it is this that has kept him on the fringes at Newcastle. Haris Vuckic is another one that has been plagued with injuries and he has never managed to live up to all the hype surrounding him. In fact, none of these players has managed to live up to their early promise and first-team football at St. James's seems to be beyond their reach. The Magpies are probably happy to get shot of them, especially if Bisto FC has to stump up their wages. The media are already saying that these loan players virtually guarantee that Bisto FC will win promotion. It remains to be seen, though, if ten legs of glass can stand up to the rigours of life in the Scottish Championship!
One thing seems certain: if these characters get to play week-in, week-out (if they can) then it puts a question mark over Kenny McDowall's authority. It also shows how much influence Ashley holds at Ibrox and raises the question of what the SFA is going to do about it. At present, he's supposed to appear before the beaks at Hampden in March but I've a sneaking suspicion that he'll refuse and the meeting will be postponed. No doubt if these five NUFC rejects do make a difference to Bisto FC's prospects then the SFA will take no action until the end of the season, when it'll be too late. And we all know what the punishment will be like - the five will be banned from playing for Bisto FC next season, when they've already gone back to Newcastle!
Finally, remember to get your copy of 'Fear and Smear'!