I suppose having written about the dehumanisation of our support for the last 20 years yesterday’s events at Hampden should have come as no surprise to me. But they did, and then some. As our bus made its way back home from Hampden we listened to Stuart Cosgrove on the radio. It was something of a masterclass in defending the indefensible. I would urge every Rangers fan to listen to it on the BBC website – it will give you valuable insight into exactly what we are up against as a club and support.
Despite co-presenter Tam Cowan’s obvious disgust at what had just been witnessed at Hampden Cosgrove attempted to minimise every aspect of what had transpired, repeatedly telling both fellow presenters and listeners not to become “morally over reactive”. When Chic Young gave a live update confirming the disgraceful scenes Cosgrove went into whataboutery mode asking Young if he had invaded Wembley in 1977. It was pointed out to Cosgrove that those doing so back in 77 didn’t assault players or engage in violence. But to no avail.
We have now had “over exuberance” “celebrations” and this preposterous nonsense from Gerry Hassan:
“Seriously: can you tell if these are assaults? Or aggressive, stupid, OTT behaviour? Not good either way but diff.”
The aforementioned from Hassan was in response to ITN Reporter Peter Adam Smith on Twitter providing both eye witness testimony and mobile phone footage of the assaults on Rangers players.
Such scenes and testimony of course do not fit with a poisonous narrative which has been festering for far too many years now in Scotland – neither Rangers nor their supporters are allowed to be victims. While the world was rightly engaged in an outpouring of sympathy for the Hillsborough victims following the verdict of unlawful killing, Rangers staff were cleaning off graffiti from the stadium surrounds as the deaths of our 66 absent friends was mocked.
The invasion at the end of the match by Hibs fans caught no one by surprise – except for Police Scotland – its utterly farcical that this organisation claims to pride itself on “intelligence led Policing” Let’s be honest, having won the cup for the first time in 114 years who would deny the long suffering Hibs fans an element of over exuberance and a little dance on the hallowed turf? But over exuberance is not running the length of the pitch to the opposition fans end and challenging them to fight, as I witnessed. Nor is it assaulting players and staff from the opposition team.
Photographs, videos, neutral credible eye witness accounts and yet still it appears to take a standard of evidence over and above beyond reasonable doubt to convince some of what transpired yesterday. Can you imagine what the narrative would be today had such a record of events not been so readily available?
It would be a serious oversight to look at yesterday’s events in isolation as they were only a manifestation of the much wider problem of bigotry and hatred towards our club. How many of those committing criminal acts against Rangers players and staff were spurred on by a hatred of the “Klan”, “the underclass” or the “Huns” – terms used by journalists or presenters apparently with impunity. It was not only those on the pitch yesterday who should hang their heads in shame.
Having been the whipping boys for so long in Scottish football it seems we have now progressed to becoming the punchbag. What will be the next stage? Perhaps the columnists who continually urge Rangers fans to forgive, forget and move on would do well to address their remarks to others.
The powerful statement yesterday by the club shows that the narrative has to change.
Quite simply – Enough is enough