Rangers fans are not the enemy and unfair coverage is helping no-one
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Rangers fans are not the enemy and unfair coverage is helping no-one

As Saturday approached, there was not a Rangers fan this side of the Western Hemisphere who at the very least didn’t see the mass gatherings at Ibrox and George Square happening.

In fact, the prospect of symbolically reclaiming Glasgow via its central square upon securing a long-awaited 55th title was one etched into the mind’s eye of bluenoses everywhere since the events of 2012.

Rangers fans made no secret of their intentions to celebrate their league title victory. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

If a pandemic wasn’t going to stop us, any suggestion the comments of politicians who’ve shown themselves to be unfairly contemptible towards the club and its fans in the past ever would was extremely fanciful.

We knew a party was going to happen – and so did the government. Yet they did very little, it would seem, to help facilitate this safely.

By the same token, the end scenes at George Square were almost just as predictable as the party itself and sadly, in Scotland, we have become used to mass events descending into alcohol-fuelled chaos.

But in the days after the celebrations, the fall-out and commentary have been tinged with an alarming sense of bitterness.

Let’s pretend like partygoers don’t get arrested at concerts. Let’s pretend that even worse scenes didn’t happen on the day of the Royal Wedding in Kelvingrove Park in 2011.

In fact, let’s pretend that Celtic fans didn’t celebrate similarly – with fighting amongst neds in their support aplenty – when they won their treble-treble.

No wait, let’s pretend that this is a Rangers problem, that it is Rangers, the football club and the supporters, who need to take a look at themselves and somehow solve the age-old issue of Nedism and alcohol-fuelled violence in Scotland.

Rangers fans were not only celebrating a first league title in a decade but also number 55 and an unbeaten season. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The notion that Rangers need to change or something needs to be done specifically about the carnage we bring is unfair – especially given the wonderful progress made in many respects over the decades – and it feels orchestrated and backwards.

Even in George Square, there were a few ignorant people there, hurling insults to the sky and – believe it or not – being ignored by the overwhelming majority who were there for a good time.

At least, I can say this for the time in the afternoon I was there. For most people, leaving before it turned hectic, I’m sure this will be the same.

It goes without saying, we have nothing but condemnation for scenes of violence and bigotry.

This was one of the most momentous occassions in the lives of Rangers supporters. They were not going to let it pass them by. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Most Rangers fans are not knuckle-draggers, most Rangers fans are not evil, most Rangers fans have Celtic supporting pals alongside whom they have a disdain for intolerance.

The overwhelming majority of people who took to the streets to celebrate Rangers’ title victory are good, honest, hard-working, sensible, tolerant and passionate people.

They are fundamentally not bigots.

What happens when you judge an entire group like this is you subjugate them, isolate them, and perhaps most dangerously, urge all corners of society to pile on them.

What many are doing in the aftermath of this title victory – not least in trying to soothe the open wound of 55 and the collapse of 10IAR – is deliberately judging Rangers and the support via the fringes in order to further their own agendas and, in many cases, justify their own intolerance.

There is no doubt that Rangers deserve to be the Champions of Scotland the club’s players earned their end of season party. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Look at this utterly disgraceful article written by Helen Martin (who?) which somehow got past the editors of the Edinburgh Evening News.

This is dehumanising, imbecilic trash. It’s also wildly defamatory. There’s no other way to describe it.

Then there’s the continuing nonsense surrounding a video uploaded to Tik Tok – of all places – involving the Rangers players singing Sweet Caroline.

This team of players from around the globe – many of whom are Catholic – stand accused of bemoaning the pope in an undecipherable chant that clearly sounds like “doo, doo doo”.

The video has apparently been doctored in the first instance, but this hasn’t stopped two leading SNP figures from bemoaning it.

First up was James Dornan, a known Celtic fan who has had historic run-ins with the Ibrox club.

Not only did Mr Dornan try to give credence to the video, but he also described the appointment of proud Northern Irish-man David Graham as head of communications at Ibrox as “dog-whistling”.

Anti-Irish bigotry only exists if you’re a Catholic then, I suppose? Reference Helen Martin’s article for other needless dig at the Northern Irish heritage of many supporters.

Then up next was yet another Celtic fan in Humza Yousaf, the justice minister incredibly failing to wait until justice has been served before pandering to the baying mob and demanding Rangers players lose their jobs over something they patently did not do, if they’re shown to have done it.

Rangers have even reacted with astonishment to this suggestion as the club seeks “legal advice” and surely gets ready to apply it.

This is without mentioning the Covid-19 based condemnation of this gathering but encouragement, acceptance and celebration of others, whatever the motives.

This isn’t all there is – there’s the saltiness of the Daily Record and BBC Scotland, still at loggerheads with Rangers and now front and centre on the tacky tabloid warpath against the club and its fans.

That fake Tik Tok video – from user “wulliew*nker” – made the BBC’s main news bulletin.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but they did not say it. Please drop it.

Rangers fans showed up to George Square to celebrate. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

What’s sad is that there are so many Celtic fans, so many in nationalist politics and so many journalists who would be delighted if Rangers players did chant this; their vehemence justified, their irrational anger and misconception realised.

“Even if they didn’t, who cares? That’s what they’re all like anyway.”

As a Rangers fan who abhors sectarianism, racism and any other form of needless, knuckled-headed bigotry I feel let down by the government and the press.

But I am not naïve.

The history of sectarianism in Scotland persists to this day and in many communities anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant or in many respects anti-British sentiment continues to fester.

There were 28 arrests throughout the day on Saturday. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

But in my experience the people and the places that represent the biggest proponents of this ignorance are from amongst the poorest communities in the country. This is no coincidence.

If Scotland as a society is truly to heal the scars of the past and move on from sectarianism and bigoted sentiment then surely we need to work together.

We have seen absolutely nothing constructive in the way of properly challenging sectarianism and until we understand the root and reality of these prejudices this will not change.

Instead, we have rivals telling us what we are, what we stand for, what it means to be a Rangers fan, but then entirely excluding us from the conversation.

I am genuinely taken aback by the number of people on social media who have attached accusations to me by proxy because of the team I support without the chance of recourse and zero evidence.

For the club’s support, this is why they were so happy this weekend. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

I imagine this is a similar feeling others feel about the bigotry they have often had to endure and which forms the foundation of their own intolerance.

As a Rangers fan it is important I say that I am not the enemy of this cause – but those stoking sectarianism for political gain or because their football team got beat on the park may well be.

Humza Yousaf has come in for particular criticism from Rangers fans for his reaction and comments in the aftermath of the celebrations.

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