Rangers fans have been hammered this morning after shameful scenes in George Square saw police officers injured, a number of fans arrested and the need for an urgent clean-up job after litter and bottles were left strewn across the city centre landmark in shameful scenes that marred the celebrations – but the attempts at ‘othering’ the overwhelming majority of Rangers fans who had nothing to do with the trouble seen is equally as disturbing.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf have both promised swift retribution for the actions of a tiny minority with the usual finger-pointing at the club and the wider fanbase in full effect.
Most of what we’ve seen over the weekend has done little but highlight just how passionate our support is about Rangers and there won’t be many fans who will condone the violence in George Square but the immediate response from politicians, police and the chattering classes has been one of shameless finger-pointing and attempts at dehumanising a huge swathe of football fans who done nothing wrong.
The pictures that emerged last night of a litter-filled George Square definitely didn’t look good but judging by pictures from this morning, there doesn’t appear to be any damage beyond some marks on the ground caused by smoke bombs.
The biggest problem is the unwillingness to tackle what is an issue that goes far wider than simply Rangers fans or football fans and the double-standard that exists when it comes to how fans are treated.
What happened in George Square, sadly, is seen any time there is a mass gathering in Scotland when there is alcohol involved. Kelvingrove Park is often the scene of similar when the sun is out and the carry-oots are flowing yet there is never the same sort of condemnation and broad-stroke vilification.
T In The Park was a constant magnet for similar disorder while its replacement TRNSMT doesn’t exactly fare much better – but for some reason, those are treated with kid gloves and someone, somewhere looks for a way to blame it on the big, bad Rangers.
Rangers fans like myself who watched the game at home are somehow expected to be embarrassed and ashamed by the actions of complete strangers miles away on the basis of something as arbitrary as supporting the same football club. 99.999999% of fans should have no reason whatsoever to feel any embarrassment because of what happened last night. No more than any person living in Scotland should feel ashamed because it was fellow Scots involved.
We make up a massive section of society and are represented in virtually every facet of Scottish life. Whether it is someone like me – a mid-thirties, white, male who grew up in a cooncil scheme and left school at 17 to get a job – or not, Rangers fans aren’t some sort of homogeneous group where we all look, think and act the same way.
We are the people you work with, the people you live next to, the people you see every day and there is far more similarities than there aren’t when it comes to Rangers fans and the rest of the country.
Trying to group us into one giant, faceless Union Jack-waving blob that walk, talk and think the same way will never get to the cause of the problem and instead leaves us seeing the same outcome time and again.
While those who were involved in fights and throwing missiles at police should be seriously criticised and pursued by the authorities, those involved do not represent the average Rangers supporter – and the attempts to portray it that way are divisive and damaging.
People will have their views on whether Rangers fans should have gathered in such numbers at all yesterday (personally, I’m still torn on whether it was a good idea or not) but those who went along, enjoyed their day and celebrated before going home were a credit to the club as a whole.
But suggestions that the club should be held responsible for the actions of a relative few are as ridiculous as the idea that the club would have been showered with praise had there been no trouble.