The Three Monkeys
I avoided the internet on Sunday, finally managed to wrangle a few hours to myself that night, grabbed a couple of cold ones and settled down to watch a game I was looking forward to.
90 minutes later I was shaking my head.
Celtic may have won, but football certainly lost.
The beginning is probably the best place to start.
For the first few minutes of pre match commentary I assumed I was watching a recording of RangersTV, no joke.
McCoist and Dodds (I think) as pundits, flat out blue. Then I noticed the Sky Sports logo, and I’m thinking this isn’t right, and it strikes me the broadcaster can’t invite any exCeltic player into the commentary booth because the person’s safety cannot be assured. Biased commentary for the biggest game of the season then, and first hint of the abnormal.
A camera pan then shows the phrase Old Firm getting splashed about here, there and everywhere. As if anyone needed reminding, but their board’s recent fetish for it is unsettling. We are the People, has become We are the Old Firm, they are even willing to take a financial hit for it, demanding its use for the fixture, or they walk. It’s almost as if they are clinging to it, somewhat desperately. It’s sad.
The atmosphere was electric, best in years claimed Ally, and then boom the early goal by The Great White Hope himself, and we genuinely looked there for the taking, with Juranovich seemingly ‘on the ropes’.
The early goal was the cue for an illegal song to reverberate, everyone involved judging by pictures and noise generated.
Our Captain then shows tremendous bravery going on a penetrating run past a few players, seconds later big Tam eases the ball home and a hush descends.
Some opening ten minutes indeed and it’s truly game on.
What followed was a very, very poor game from a footballing perspective. To say it was scrappy is a huge understatement, the amount of misplaced or intercepted passes for both teams was ridiculous, no team imposed themselves or their playing style on the other, there were almost no long periods of possession bar about ten minutes of blue pressure towards the end.
Mostly it was a case of you lose the ball, we lose the ball, rinse and repeat.
Pep or Jurgen would have cringed, it was a throwback, more a battle than a chess game, and an affair for the brave of heart rather than fleet of foot.
The biggest game of the season so far, the league’s flagship product screened around the globe, it’s a tragedy the derby fixture at Ibrox can’t evolve into a proper game of football after all this time, even with two football men at the helm. You can find football at Paradise because it’s expected, wished for, and appreciated much more than simply ‘standing tall’.
The Ibrox crowd spew venom, and almost demand full blooded tackles rather than flowing football, to the fixtures and the games detriment. The official usually responds to the roars but Willie Collum didn’t, was okay apart from a missed penalty.
Halftime comes and as mentioned only the blue take on things emerges.
So do the images of broken glass around Joe Hart, who of course wants a thorough check of his box just in case. It was evident some of the yellow jackets weren’t happy at the delay, the camera caught a few yelling at the big Englishman who just laughed them off and slowly continued his own appraisal despite their howls and presumably ‘there’s no more’ claims.
Player safety be damned then, despite it’s huge importance.
Can’t guarantee the safety of unwanted commentators or footballers, some flagship game alright.
Of course we took all three points and placed a hand on title, but since the final whistle I’ve learned,,,
There was a pregame display denigrating some Celtic legends.
Our physio took a bottle to the head and needed to be brought to hospital for attention, so we can add playing staff to the list above also.
The visiting fans had a terrible time getting inside the stadium, badly rerouted with no common sense involved, alongside being forced to enter obscenely early.
During the match they were subjected to glass bottles also alongside the usual spittle and piss.
I’ve seen footage of one supporter in blue attempting to storm the field of play with ill intentions judging by his face, only to be held back by a single supporter.
I’ve read of a cowardly attack on an older gentleman outside The Vogue which could have been much worse.
I’ve seen online calls for the refs windows to be smashed by fans of the home team.
Ally mentioned a rain of coins aimed at a Celtic player attempting to take a corner.
The First Minister had to address the sorry scenes, proving this goes beyond mere sport.
There’s screenshots going around of racist tweets towards Aribo by one of the home supporters.
This was another Shame Game in everything but name.
The sickness that pervades almost every facet of the Ibrox club is known, and it’s getting worse. Expect some hand wringing and cheap talk, but ultimately we shall all receive the three monkeys treatment as usual.
Tom English makes the claim in his BBC column that the SPFL don’t have it within their remit to punish that club for sectarian songs/chants. For once I shall assume he’s correct.
That’s staggering, simply staggering.
The member clubs make up the SPFL and can instruct it via voting, but if the 5 way agreement can trump the governing body then what’s the point?
One member is untouchable, so it should come as no surprise boundaries are pushed, and warnings go unheeded.
The SPFL board might issue a sizeable fine for the glass on the field of play, but shall ignore the Billy Boys and may or may not get paid, they need Rangers much more than Rangers needs them and don’t wear the trousers in the relationship.
That’s apparent by that club’s simple rejection of the Cinch advertising, still unpunished.
The SFA shall refrain from getting involved unless absolutely necessary, and even then shall be very wary of appearing toothless having been negated by a secret agreement, or appearing to be against the establishment club in any way, shape or form. The wrong stance could see a disastrous boycott of the cups by the blues support, and Hampden needs to be filled several times a year to pay the bills.
A flagship Old Firm semi or final without one set of fans could scupper much needed television revenue and affect the odds of finding sponsorship.
They won’t rock the boat.
I say much needed television revenue but we all know it’s actually a pittance. It’s not hard at all to see why SKY won’t cough up the big bucks, because of the nature of the product. It’s not a normal product in that regular rules of business go out the window, such as no Celtic commentators at Ibrox and no away fans for a while. They must pretend one of the duet didn’t die, and they won’t ever mention the banned Billy Boys song so as not to hurt feelings or their product.
They must be aware there’s a lot unsavoury with regards to this particular fixture, but it’s never aired or analysed.
It’s apparent our club of choice don’t use the term Old Firm publicly and the support shun the phrase, yet they cant say it enough in their vain attempts to drum up interest, or stay sweet with the Ibrox mob.
More than happy to air the football, their interest ends at full time. They draw the line at bringing news of any ugly events that take place before and after the affair, despite this falling under the bracket of sports news. The fact Ange’s homecoming cup pays more in five days than a nine month season does says it all, they are part of the problem and certainly not the solution.
A revamped and rejuvenated SPFL would be worth much more television income and the clubs might just demand it, the last thing SKY wish to do is fix Scottish football or they might not get it so cheaply next time. They like the current status quo and will fight change.
Together, SKY, the SFA, and the SPFL are the three monkeys, seeing no evil, hearing no evil, and speaking no evil.
The sickness at the root of the national sport shall continue to be ignored and dismissed, despite every second weekend delivering a hatefest. Many policemen and hospital workers would have been dreading a celebration march into George Square, perhaps the biggest winner on the day.
Imagine you’re a proud dad and son bonding through the national sport, enjoying the twists and turns of the season via their club, the fabric of football.
You don’t necessarily need to be a supporter of either club to have an interest in a title decider, just as I’ll watch next weekend’s big EPL title decider as a neutral.
Son asks dad, are we watching the big game?
Does dad explain it’s an Adults Only fixture, 18+ viewing only?
Or smash his illusion and tell him that fixture is bad news?
Try explaining either to a child.
Many father’s forbade their boys’ attendance, wished for them not to get involved, prayed for them when they did.
Some associations have their own troublesome fixture, Chelsea vs Millwall springs to mind as does Swansea vs Cardiff.
When your actual flagship game IS the trouble fixture that is routinely accompanied by a litany of sin/crimes such as those stated above, well, you’ve really got a problem.