A Foul Too Far

In the world of Scottish football a celebration of Back to the Future Day was more akin to a re-visit of a fairly dark and dismal past. Without doubt much of the focus today will centre round the comments of Mark Burchill on Radio Clyde last night, which were rightly condemned by the Rangers Supporters Trust. To base a “plea of mitigation” around the respective nationalities of both offender and victim was never, ever, going to end well.

But Burchill’s inappropriate comments must not be allowed to dominate or overshadow this debate. The real issue at hand is the brutal treatment being dished out on a regular basis to Nathan Oduwa, which as we have all witnessed this season, was not confined to Tuesday night’s game. In this respect the comments of Berwick Rangers player Andy Russell provide a more valuable insight into the mind set at work.

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One is left to ponder what is “fair” about the sort of tackle which has the potential to end a playing career. Furthermore, is the expression of flair on the pitch the equivalent of “acting the big man and playing the clown” ?  Should we expect any player performing a nutmeg, exciting or entertaining the crowd during the course of 90 minutes to receive the kind of “summary justice” Russell alludes to in that tweet ? Heaven help us.

For a country which once cherished the tanner ba player it is perhaps indicative of the state of our national game that there has been so much fuss about a player arriving on the scene who has the “audacity” to serve up some flair and skill during his 90 minute outing. BBC Scotland even managed to break its self-imposed sabbatical on reporting all things Rangers with an online article as to whether the rainbow flick displayed by Oduwa against Alloa was a “Flick too far”.  And not an Operation Market Garden in sight.

http://www.bbc.co.uk…otland/33958315

This is the same Scotland which revelled, and still revels to this day at Baxter’s game of keepie-uppie at Wembley in 1967. Perhaps it’s the shade of blue on the shirt which determines whether the expression of outrageous skill is appropriate. And perhaps it’s the shade of blue on the shirt and erroneous allegations of favourable refereeing decisions which prompted Andrew Dallas to keep his cards in his pocket on Tuesday night.

One thing which is certain however that is the brutal treatment being dished out to Nathan Oduwa can no longer be allowed to go unpunished and it’s up to Scotland referees to do their duty without fear or favour.

Scotland’s reaction to the flair of Nathan Oduwa is worthy of a bookmark. One we can visit when we are doing nothing else during the Euros.

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A Ruth Dudley Edwards Far Right Hook

It would seem that a Ruth Dudley Edwards “punchline” has left Phil Mac Giolla Bhain dazed and on the canvas, if his latest offering in the Belfast Telegraph is anything to go by. It prompted the latter to lay out his credentials and qualifications for Irish citizenship followed by the inevitable low blow towards the Rangers support which we are all too familiar with:

I would point out to Ms Dudley Edwards that it is the job of journalists to prise open cracks and let in the light.

Moreover, it is my intention to continue to do that, whether I am writing about the fascist underclass who gather at Ibrox, or the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Well let’s prise open Phil’s crack and see what kind of light pours in.

It could be that the bhoy Phil has been writing about Rangers for so long that he has committed the cardinal sin and forgotten the history, but there is a certain irony when you mix together his claims of nationhood and his accusations against the Rangers support.

A terse paragraph in the Irish national dailies on 3 May 1945 started the avalanche of international protest. Under the heading ‘People and Places’, the Fianna Fáil-backed Irish Press reported laconically that the Taoiseach and Minister for External Affairs, Éamon de Valera, accompanied by the Secretary of External Affairs, Joseph Walshe, ‘called on Dr Hempel, the German minister, last evening, to express his condolences’. The condolences were for Hitler who had committed suicide on 30 April.

He certainly got something right in that article – “History remembered is a weapon and sometimes in history it has been the time for weaponry”

Of course the thousands of Scots and Ulstermen who gathered at Ibrox on Saturday to cheer Rangers onto their 10th straight win can claim their own line of ancestry.  I doubt very much there would be one amongst them whose distant relatives were not affected by the Clydebank or Belfast Blitz. As a support we are only too well aware of the product and consequences of fascist regimes.

It’s a support who cherishes our armed forces, well evidenced by our celebration of Armed Forces Day, an event we all know Mr Mac Giolla Bhain pays particular attention to.  Had his square mile source been operating at full capacity perhaps he would have caught this expression of support for a fascist regime amongst Scotland’s football support.

 

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It is vitally important we recognise that neither of the foregoing weapons of history are reflective of the Irish people nor the majority of the Celtic support, and attempting to stereotype or demonise a whole group of people accordingly should remain the exclusivity of the preachers of hatred.

Their “sermon” is based on carefully manipulated selection and omission – I’m sure Joseph Goebbels would be extremely proud of them.

You’ll like this – Not a lot”

“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

(Aristotle)

In terms of anger, it is difficult to calculate which would be the most infuriating. Whether the writings of blogger John James are part of an ongoing battle between two PR companies where our club is both the battleground as well as recipient of collateral damage, or, as has been alleged, forms part of the latest campaign by “Celtic minded” individuals to de-stabilise our club. Whilst both possible scenarios are particularly unedifying, history has demonstrated that many are willing to tread the unedifying road in order to inflict damage on our club.

There exists, of course a third possibility. That John James is entirely accurate in his assessment and that the various allegations he makes about our current board, and in particular Dave King, have some merit. However, having witnessed our good friend PZJ completely usurp a number of Mr James’ claims when he posted on the now extinct Rangers Supporters Loyal comments section of their website, I would have my reservations. When I use the term “completely usurp” I refer to the presentation of facts in such a way, which quite literally ripped Mr James a new one. Of course, should Auchenhowie be closed this month, or Admin 2 befall us, I will be forced to review my assessment of his accuracy.

Those who read my articles in WATP magazine will be familiar with my use of the word “vigilance”. It’s a double edge sword in as much as that vigilance should be exercised not only to the custodians of our club but also to those who seek to undermine them. There are still a lot of bruised egos out there following the not so distant power struggle and it has become clear that it is not only scorned women for whom hell hath no fury. As a Rangers fan I find it impossible to reconcile any wish or desire to see this current board fail. That viewpoint is held not because of an unswerving loyalty to the current incumbents but from a stark realisation of the consequences for our club were they to do so.

There is perhaps a lesson in all of this for our board, or it may well be the lessons have already been learnt. But promises made to the support require to be realistic and actionable as well as delivered. There may well be bona fide reasons why the promised Nomad is still not in place, but does that not deter from the fact it was an assurance given which has not yet come to fruition. Whilst it may well be that has been caused by circumstances beyond the control of the current board that in itself serves to underline that the original assurance should have been tempered somewhat.

Fortunately there is an antidote available to our board to counter the effects of those intent on spreading poison – it’s called actions speak louder than words. It would be refreshing and reassuring for the support if the man with the magic hat was able to pull the promised investment from it in order to strengthen our squad in preparation for next season.

Would our detractors like that?

Not a lot. But we would.