The biggest threat to the enviably good reputation of the Celtic support isn’t the number of idiots who attended the game at Dens Park against Dundee in December, it’s complacency.
You can’t take a good reputation for granted. It has to be worked at and maintained.
If a number of Celtic fans spent their entire Boxing Day getting into a drunken state which left them unable to tell if they were in Dundee or Derry, never mind watch a game of football, what is the big deal in saying so?
Celtic supporters are world-renowned, globally welcomed and respected by other clubs and cultures. There is not a bit of that worth risking for the sake of protecting a minority group of wannabe-rebels who, more often than not, need a sturdy dose of Buckfast to help with the bravado.
Being a rebel involves being clever. It does not involve a booze-fuelled rendition of IRA songs. In 2012, with a peace process in Northern Ireland and thousands dead as a result of The Troubles, it’s an insult to stamp feet at a football ground and belt out songs in a manner which can only create tension. It’s highly disrespectful.
The biggest threat facing Ireland’s sovereignty right now isn’t the British. Will we hear songs about the IMF and the European Union at Celtic Park anytime soon?
Celtic fans should be careful they don’t become immersed in their own hype. A small observance of Twitter over the last week has highlighted a point blank refusal by some of the club’s fans to accept that the support isn’t perfect. Any trouble and complaints of chants are simply blown out of proportion, they say.
It’s not as bad as the events at Ibrox earlier in the month when eight people were arrested, they say. Nobody stopped to think that the very making of this comparison should have been the most uncomfortable thought.
I spoke on Twitter of my opinion on matters. Some of the hard core rebels in a Celtic shirt worked up the courage to tell me to where to go. Classy, intelligent debate.
Celtic Football Club prides itself on being inclusive, it doesn’t demand its fans come from any race, religion or political background. That is a concept lost on those who abuse fellow Celtic fans for offering an alternative opinion.
I assume they are of the same ilk as the “rebel” in a Celtic jersey I witnessed ripping the wing mirror from a moving bus just outside Celtic Park after the bhoys beat Spartak Moscow and sailed through to the last 16 of the Champions League. On a freezing cold night, a bus load of Celtic fans were ushered onto dangerously icy streets thanks to that little freedom fighter, who ran away quickly afterward.
The neds who behave in such manners are being protected by the wider support because of a fear that an attack on one is an attack on all.
The truth is, if the Celtic support becomes complacent about the minority, however tiny it may be, it will become a bigger and harder problem to deal with in the future.
Forget the media coverage, forget what the rest say and remember what Celtic stands for. The pressure on anyone who risks those principles should come, in the first instance, always from within. That has always been a Celtic strength.
The next generation of Celtic fans need to be taught the Celtic way, and, importantly, they need to be led by example.