Sporting weekend – Old Firm madness

It was one of the mainstays of my childhood, so much so that I made a career out of writing about it… the Glasgow Old Firm football match.

Between Celtic and Rangers… just for those who don’t know.

The two tribes go to war on Sunday, and unfortunately that is not a euphemism.

On average one person gets killed, actually killed, not Glasgow slang, surrounding this match every time the two teams meet.

As a cub reporter training with Reading

Which they have been doing since 1888.

Being of the Catholic variety I grew up supporting Celtic.

And that despite my Dear Old Dad’s efforts to guide me away from them.

Not because he had not been a supporter. How could he not?

He was born within spitting distance of Celtic Park.

No, it’s a Sporting Lisbon top

And his great-uncles had helped build the original stadium.

It was just that he knew the religious problems associated with Celtic, the club created by Irish monks for the poor immigrants of the East End of Glasgow.

And the Establishment Scottish Protestant club, Rangers.

Neutral stance

And so I remember there being three football tops in the sports room of our house, Clyde, Kilmarnock and Hibernian.

Alas, going to a Catholic school (yes, only in Scotland, and Northern Ireland are kids separated by their same religion) pushed me towards Celtic.

And being raised in a Catholic bubble I never met a Rangers supporter until my life took a different turn.

It’s only a game

When I had a disagreement with my school and ended up going to the local Protestant school.

And kudos to my Dad for doing what was best for me educationally.

I have mentioned it before but the tolerance and welcome I had there was an education… in life.

And so to this weekend’s big game.

A football disease

The Old Firm is the tag given to Celtic and Rangers on account that the bigotry was seen as being in the financial interests of both.

Things have changed, and for the better, over the years.

With Rangers’ unofficial policy of not signing Catholics now 31 years in the past.

And yet, both Rangers and Celtic fans cling to their ‘traditions’ of support for the Protestant and Catholic sides of the Northern Ireland and Scottish divide.

They manifest this with flags, symbols, songs and antagonism and violence to the opposite side.

Yet it is seen as an unpalatable truism that it can never be changed.

While there have been great efforts and successes in England against racism, it is considered impossible by some that we weed out the bigots in Scotland.

An impossible problem?

There are just too many of them, we are told.

And every time these two monsters of the Scottish game meet the morbid fascination for them is raised to fever pitch.

And the commentariat wax lyrical about it being the ‘greatest derby of them all.’

My pal Billy, and Fenella

I’ve been to enough of them to say categorically that it is not, for spectacle, skill or fervour.

But there will be plenty who disagree. And I welcome that.

Just maybe not mention my religion, though, and I won’t mention yours.

And Julie didn’t care about the football scarf

Because there are, in fact, people who support both sides who don’t.

And many of them my very good friends.

But for a better impression of my home city https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/.

And for the best wee country in the world… all of the above aside…. http://www.visitscotland.com.

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