“Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips, and spreads slander, is a fool”
What a week this has been of self-discovery, where in the period of just 7 days I was able to diagnose what my doctor had been missing for years – that I am suffering from a mild form of paranoia. That’s how long it took an army of opinion leaders, journalists and headline writers, a representative of the Scottish Police Federation and 2 or 3 bobbies as yet (and conveniently, ho hum, never to be) identified, to turn the most shameful scenes witnessed in Scottish football these last 30 years or so, into a story about Rangers fans and their singing. My mild a paranoia stems from the fact I had expected them to achieve this in just 5.
Many have had their say since last Saturday, including many who were not even there, so if you don’t mind I’d like to offer a short reprise on what transpired. I was standing just to the right and behind the goals in what was the traditional “Rangers end” and for those who saw them there, I was just a few feet to the left of Jorg Albertz and Nacho Novo. Within 60 seconds of the final whistle there was a young Hibs fan no older than 25 standing in the 6 yard box inviting me and other Rangers fans to enter the field of play and fight. There was a complete absence of thought or mannerism commensurate with someone who wanted to celebrate (exuberantly or otherwise) his sole intent clearly a penchant for violence. He was quickly joined by others who had run past and well beyond the majority of Hibs supporters celebrating in their own half of the pitch and they in turn attempted to incite and goad the Rangers support into violence.
At this point it was also clear something was happening with our players, though from my very low vantage point it was impossible for me to determine exactly what that was. When I saw the match officials forming a protective cordon around Andy Halliday I feared the worst. I was absolutely perplexed by the total absence of Police numbers and their total inability to prevent what was unfolding before my eyes. I was unsure how our support would respond to this and noticed a small number to the left of me had already decided for themselves and were entering the field.
It was at this point that the Billy Boys received its first airing of the day. I have written often enough about this song in the past, my last offering being only a few weeks ago for WATP Magazine, so those who regularly read this blog will be more than familiar with my thoughts on the matter. Furthermore I’m not going to suggest that this song acted as a kind of anti-inflammatory for some in what was a highly volatile situation because I really don’t know. What I do know however is that those who have chosen to twist and distort Stewart Robertson’s comments on this song have no idea how close we were to an unprecedented full scale battle last Saturday, capable of turning all the “moral over reaction” in the world into something akin to a war zone report. Be under no illusion it really was touch and go for a few minutes.
After what seemed like an eternity the mounted Police arrived like a regiment of 7th Cavalry and managed to restore some semblance of order. I headed up the stairs to a pre-arranged rendezvous point with other members of our bus and after a couple of minutes with the detail complete we made our way out of Hampden stopping briefly for a call of nature before exiting the stadium for the long bus trip home.
On leaving the ground we saw the arrival of the convoy of Police vans. Bemused by their late arrival I checked my watch and noted it was a full 15 minutes after the final whistle. The only “barricades” they encountered took the form of a cacophony of sarcastic cheers and angry Rangers fans wishing to make official complaints at the abject Police failings. With a gruff “You’ll need to do in writing” they were off – resulting in a delay time of something approaching 2.8 seconds.
To quote the unofficial, unsubstantiated, (with the exception of Scottish Police Federation representative Calum Steele) as yet unidentified Police source “they were pointing at their watches and shouting you’re too late”
No bloody wonder.