Was anybody else as gobsmacked as me that Rangers surliest-ever manager (by a very short head, mind you – there’s been a few of them) kind of let his side down a bit in the interview he gave the other day, as the latest impending UEFA sanction storm broke?
It’s not as if he was telling us anything new. No, we all knew he was likely to have been a prominent cultural chorister in his more naive terracing days – but was it really wise to fess up to it on prime time television?
And where was the outright condemnation of the sectarian bile that spewed then and now from the collective mouths of “ra peepel” and that was … and is … downright wrong, pure and simple?
Where was the authoritative, unequivocal demand that Rangers fans expunge all the age-old prejudices from their match-day songbook, simply because it’s WRONG – just as their club jettisoned its loathsome, bigoted, sectarian signing policy back in 1989 (albeit, arguably, more as an act of one-upmanship and for commercial rather than moral considerations) – in order to shake off the pariah status that now hangs like an albatross around their necks.
None of that. The best he could muster was something about unacceptability; that, wiser now, he would not put himself into the position of singing such stuff (a rather strange way of putting it, I thought – as if he couldn’t quite bring himself to condemn it outright); and a whimpering, wounded warning that if the follow-followers don’t ditch the banned songs, the club will face increasingly heavy penalties.
Not good enough, Walter!
You see, that’s the nub of the problem, if only they could grasp it – there can be no absolution without the contrition of facing up to simple, unpalatable truths. Only after truth can come reconciliation. Just like an alcoholic cannot begin to recover without first admitting he has a problem, so Rangers cannot live down past and present shame without first acknowledging it for what it was and is – an abomination that should be flatly and unreservedly denounced.
There always has to be some sort of quid pro quo, though; and we should not fall into the trap of thinking we don’t have a part to play in all of this.
While I do not for one second suggest that our cherished songs of suffering and struggle fall into the same vile category as those despicable anthems of hatred, bigotry and intolerance, perhaps, in the interests of total self-vindication (not to mention abandoning them to the ignominy they seem to crave); and to further frustrate those who desperately seek to drag us into the sectarian cesspit on whatever flimsy pretext, we could now finally consign some of them to the dusty annals of match-day history.
I think you all know which ones I mean – and they most certainly do not include the likes of the Irish national anthem, or, to name but one, “The Fields of Athenry”, which are, respectively, rousing and beautifully haunting examples of the legitimate affirmation and commemoration of the ethnic origins of our club and the hardships endured by the forebears of much of its core support.
To be brutally honest, though, in the modern climate of inter-community tolerance and mutual respect, provocative and yes, to many, not all anti-Celtic, offensive political singing and chanting really has no place in the football ground; and we are blessed with such a wealth of legitimate ancient and modern club anthems that we have no need of the sort of contentious or controversial material that only invites official opprobrium and widespread condemnation.
So, let’s collectively embrace our proud heritage of tolerance and inclusiveness, huddle together on the moral high ground of social justice and responsibility and abandon the time-warped cohorts to their inevitable and richly deserved fate.
Surely it would be a small price to pay – and would be well worth it to see them denied even the flimsy sanctuary of their traditional, feeble defence of “whataboutery”, cast adrift on a heaving sea of their own spit and venom.
Unless, of course, the moronic “minority” actually come to their senses and mend their ways.
Hell might freeze over first, though!