Sunday, 24 April 2011

Rangers v Celtic and the Neil Lennon parcel bomb

Rangers v Celtic, Celtic v Rangers, is always a fascinating fixture - even if you (like me) have no real interest in the perpetual two-horse race that is the Scottish Premier League. Obviously, the standard of football skills on display is hardly an attraction either, but there is no question about the commitment and excitement.

Even when the teams are largely composed of players from beyond these islands, there is a frenetic edge that you just don’t get anywhere else in Europe – with the possible exception of Barcelona v Real Madrid. Even Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians, Manchester United v Manchester City, Arsenal v Spurs, and Everton v Liverpool are in the ha’penny place.

And speaking of Liverpool, one of that club’s former managers, Bill Shankly, once said that football wasn’t a matter of life and death… it was “more important than that”. It is a quote that Celtic manager Neil Lennon might appreciate, having been attacked in the street, had live bullets sent to him by post, and had threats against his own life and that of his family’s.

More recently Lennon, who was capped 40 times for Northern Ireland, and was its first-ever Catholic captain, received an explosive device by post (as did his lawyer and a former Scottish MSP who had worn a Celtic shirt on her last day in the Scottish Parliament).

Lennon was forced to end his international career when he was subjected to abuse by a sizable section of the Windsor Park faithful after he made the move from Leicester City to Glasgow Celtic. He even received a phone call from somebody purporting to be from the LVF (Loyalist Volunteer Force) saying that he would “get seriously hurt” if he turned out for Northern Ireland’s match against Cyprus in 2002.

Even living here in Dublin, it is very hard to get your head around such fanatical bigotry. Lennon was not the most skillful or quickest of players, but he was the kind of combative, determined midfielder that any team would have been happy to call on. Someone you would really want playing on your side. For a “supporter” of any team to boo and barrack such a player – their own player – simply because he is a Catholic who plays for Celtic is breathtakingly stupid. But to threaten his life too???

Not surprisingly, since Lennon withdrew from international football, many Catholic players who were born in Northern Ireland have opted to play instead for the Republic of Ireland. And who can blame them?

Ironically, the Old Firm are like Yin and Yang - they could not exist without each other. Nobody outside Scotland could be bothered looking at an SPL match without them, if only out of guilty fascination with the anachronistic nature of the fixture, with its overtones of historic and religious antagonism, and the displays of bigotry on the terraces.

Celtic has its “Boys of the Old Brigade” contingent, whereas some Rangers fans' favourite ditty celebrates a sectarian gang that went about Glasgow slitting the throats of random Catholics (The Billy Boys). The same club had an official policy of not having Catholics on its books until relatively recently.

But even against that backdrop, sending a parcel bomb to a football manager is a new low in backwoods, hick, stupidity.

It finished 0-0.

Back to Gombeen Nation main page


anna said...

Many causes of sectarianism in Ireland Scotland- even England ( I met a 55 yr old COE Englishman who crossed the road , as a boy when near a catholic church- and the monarch can’t be catholic etc).
Plantation of Scots in Ulster displaced the rights of native irish (300yrs ago).
BUT IT Wasn’t all clear cut: Presbyterian church wasn’t part of establishment, SO Presbyterians Once rebelled in the 1798 Rebellion. THEN the Irish custom with mixed marriages was girls took mothers religion- and boys the fathers. BUT that sensible idea swept away by the Appalling catholic church doctrine of around 1880?? ( not sure of date) that the catholic partner in a mixed marriage Must endeavour to bring children up Catholic. Where is the Christianity in forcing a Belfast family in a powder keg loyalist area to baptise their children catholic- making the family a target ? And forcing internal tension between a couple.
Belfast Mushroomed @ 1880’s - and its first Catholic church was built with Protestant support- the city was not so intolerant then. Sectarian was stoked in late C19 Belfast by Hanna, a preacher who made Paisley look a wuss, etc…it’s easy to look up the history- so HOW do you BURY the past??
Well sectarianism in NI and Glasgow sport Always had at heart those most disaffected in the bottom strata- and the poor are always more violent,( is it exasperation at long fight out of poverty )?,
This tendency to violence has complex root which must be tackled at source etc. Violent young men will always find some target- Root causes must be seriously tacked etc.
BUT here’s an interim solution!!
The hatred generated by these teams Should have under the same Racial hatred laws as |national front. LOGICALLY when racial hatred laws are applied the source ( i.e. a newsletter, poster ) must be closed COMPLETELY. YES!!! Completely. OK bullets Might not be an issue every day- but the teams are fomenting hatred JUST BY THEIR PRESENCE in the life of these islands-.
HOWEVER I Gather they have the only competent players in Scotland- so my solution is AMALGAMATE them.
RADICAL?? NOTATALL!!!! Didn’t France and Germany do JUST that after WW2?
As that would make them so intertwined they Couldn’t not go to war ? OK- I Don’t think they amalgamated their football teams ( My footie knowledge is sketchy) - it was the French and German coal and steel industry that was amalgamated :
*1) Just 1 big team ‘Celtic Rangers’ whose games would involve hammering all the other Scottish minnows- well a Glasgow fans would see Their team most likely win Every time.
*2) Or allow Both teams to carry on - BUT with a quota of 50% of the ‘Other side’ renamed as Glasgow Ranger Celtic ( team 1) and Glasgow Ranger Celtic (team 2) . So for Catholic/ Protestant fans in Glasgow , no matter Who won , half their co-religionists would Always be on the winning side.
LOOK I know Nothing of Football- but I am fed up of these sectarian teams- Why ARE they allowed to exist- when race relations laws should be applied ? AFTER all if 2 new teams s appeared in Glasgow with the same culture- the Government would be properly concerned-- and would close both .

Bernd said...

Anna's comment lacks a few bits of reality, I think - I profess of being a footie-non-fan, but having lived "in Glesca fer a wee while" I am quite familiar with the sectarianism rampant there between Catholics, Anglican Protestants and Presbyterians. It goes way beyond "fitba" ...

But, and this is a HUGE BUT ... "I am fed up of these sectarian teams- Why ARE they allowed to exist- when race relations laws should be applied ?" misses the point completely. Both Rangers and Celtic are actively working (and together) against the sectarianism connected to the "Old Firm" rivalry, as even a cursory glance at their websites will show. The clubs are, by now, non-sectarian and all-inclusive.

The problem lies within fandom - all footie fans seem to like dissing the other team, and in Glasgow this is done on a 19th century basis with an Irish undercurrent. Which is, I admit, pretty use- and brainless. But: These days you cannot blame the clubs for it, it is ingrained (or should that be inbred) in their "supporters".

As to race relations (do they apply to religious and political relations as well, I am confused here) - the UK, Scotland and Glasgow have already hit out with the strong arm of the lawmaker against sectarianism in the stands. With the success that the showing of the Irish tricolour by Celtic fans was considered sectarian and a ban on the tricolour was instigated. Which was quickly ridiculed ... anyway, it is too complicated for a quickie solution and scrapping Rangers and Celtic would be about as popular as a Baptist preacher in Fallujah's central square.

Anyone who wants to have a glimpse into Glesca fitba should read Christopher Brookmyre, he has some choice comments. As a St Mirren supporter he watches amazed from the sidelines. Our very own Colin Bateman also has penned some choice comments on Northern Ireland soccer, particularly Linfield ... "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" and all.

anna said...

I totally agree with Bernd and I was only joking there, and I agree it's far too complicated for a quick solution. At heart the real problem is that undeclasses exist in the British isles, and their growth and existence was never checked as much as in other EU countries, and in Scotland and NI underclasses tend to sectarian violence. And it's only when you allow undeclasses a chance to get on with the life of the mainstream that problems of violence diminish.

Dakota said...

Stupidity is stupidity doesn't matter what your religion. There is as many one braincelled organisms on both sides of the religious divide on these islands. Sad.

Bernd said...

Mmmmh ... underclasses do exist in other European countries as well, they are just different. In Germany and France, for instance, you would encounter huge migrant populations that form their own society apart from the mainstream. They, however, would often see sports and especially football as a way of integration - witness the multi-cultural national squads.

What you won't find in both countries are teams called (for instance) Mekka Paris or Polonia Potsdam.

The Gombeen Man said...

I was only in Glasgow a couple of times (when I lived in London) - both passing through it on the way to the Isle of Skye, once by motorbike, once by car. I didn't hang around, which is probably indicative of a prejudice of my own. But like Belfast during the "troubles", I felt it was a place where someone would make a judgement on you - one way or the other - as soon as you opened your mouth.

Mind you, I suppose that's something that happens day to day, wherever you are... just on a lower level.

But the sectarianism still evident among some 'Weegies is something else... though I know there is large element that makes the trip to Old Firm matches from this island too.

Bernd said...

In defence of the Second City of the Empire ... I lived in one of the roughest parts (Red Road Flats) along with folks from all over the world and we never got stick for being "ferreners". More than likely for being lazy students (which had some truth in it), arty wankers (again ...) or rich bastards (compared to the folks on the dole around us we were).

Then again Glaswegians are great equal opportunity arseholes if they feel like it - you'll get glassed for a Celtic shirt or for no reason at all if the mood takes the drinker. "Yer lukin queer at me? Taik this ..."

Still love 'em, though ... Let Glasgow Flourish!

Anonymous said...

The Irish in Scotland would be much better off going home... the Irish play the victim but most of criminals and thugs in Scotland and NI are Irish cats. If an Irishman gets is face slashed stabbed beating and his house robed... 95% of the time it’s an other Irish man than have done it Fact! Just like Irish people terrorise and rob form their own in the republic

All the underclass areas in NI and Glasgow are Irish areas and the protestant areas are much safer and cleaner

All the Irish ever done for Glasgow is fill it up full of Neds criminals and thugs, they have no loyalty to the country they ware broth up in whatsoever... most support the IRA and every anti British terrorist rag going. Most of the smack heads and house breakers in Glasgow are Irish Catholics. In fact most of the chavs in the UK come from an Irish catholic bloodline! just look at liverpool! Its in the breed....Scotland and Glasgow can do with out a race that has criminal tendency and prone to drug abuse and alcoholism...

The Gombeen Man said...


Are the people sending parcel bombs to Celtic's manager - because he is a Catholic from Northern Ireland (who had to end his international career due to sectarian abuse) - Catholics, do you think?

21 May 2011 16:23

Anonymous said...

I would never justify violence in any way or form on any side.... but the Irish bring everything on themselves as a whole... When are the Irish Catholics going to show loyalty and love for the country they are born in Scotland? Nobody’s is asking them to wear union jack underpants... just see themselves as Scots not tricolour waving republican supporting apes...most of the attacks on cats in Glasgow are mainly by other cats anyway. Irish people just love to whinge and play the victim at every opportunity. Don’t you know by now the Irish will attack and terrorise their own kind anyway ? Like they do all over the republic!

And as for the beef between prods and cats you run a far higher chance of getting violently attacked and your house robed by an Irish catholic in Ni or Glasgow fact! Not so long ago an old Irish catholic man In Ni was violently robed and his heating oil stolen by none other than Irish cats... Irish Catholics commit most of the crime and violent assaults and not to mention most terrorist activity in NI Fact

The Gombeen Man said...

I do not know about Glasgow, as I have never lived there - likewise I have not seen crime statistics from there. Do you have proof of what you purport to be "facts"?

I do know that you do not have to be a "Republican supporting ape" to be a Celtic fan. Billy Connolly and Sean Connery are two high-profiles Scots who support Celtic.

Also, there is no doubt that there was discrimination against Catholics in NI and in Scotland. Why else would you have a song called "The Billy Boys", which celebrates sectariansim. Perhaps the detachment you perceive stems from alienation?

As further proof of this, Rangers themselves were proud never to have a Catholic on their books up until Mo Johnston. Jock Stein, on the other hand, was a Protestant manager of Celtic and the club have never discriminated on religious grounds when it came to recruitment. Rangers also have a comparable Loyalist supporting ape contingent among their fans.

I lived in London for 9 years, and many of my friends were Arsenal or Spurs fans. The former spoke of having occasion to visit Ibrox for a friendly, and being stunned by what they discribed as a poisonous atmosphere there. They were English "Protestants" (like I am a "Catholic" atheist) who felt more comfortable in Parkhead!

I, however, find Scottish Football incredibly boring due to its perpetual two-horse race. In a funny way, its only the sectarianism that makes it any way interesting (as in the Old Firm matches) - like watching people caught in a time warp.