Tonight I am left with 1 question on my mind:
Am I a Celtic supporter, or a Green Brigade supporter?
This is straightforward for me. When I go along to Celtic Park, I go to watch the 11 men on the park in green and white. I cheer when they score and win, I scream advice as if I could do better when they play poorly and I speak to a complete stranger around me about how the intricacies of an ankle injury have robbed us of a 10 million pound left back.
From time to time I admire the artwork and choreography of the section in the corner that houses our own little “Ultras”. But that’s it for me. They are a sideshow. The last time I checked a Green Brigade season ticket wasn’t on offer.
Allow me straight away to say this; this is not an attack on the Green Brigade. I can’t for the simple point that I don’t necessarily understand them. I’ve mentioned before, for me the list of times where politics and football meet can be very comfortably written on a postage stamp. They fight the good fight more often than not.
I do not for a second doubt that each and every member of the section loves Celtic Football Club. I’m certain that they take great pride in entertaining both home and visiting supporters. And I’m certain that tonight they are all hurting at today’s events.
The biggest problem with them, and to be fair not their fault is that with all things successful, idiots follow. And it is this that gets my back up! Those long held members of the Green Brigade who had nothing to do with the F**K UEFA banner in Udinese, or the bangers in recent games are probably as angry at both these incidents as the rest of us. They probably despair that the good name of their club and indeed of their group is tarnished by idiots who want to fight authority. It is perhaps these fools who have caused today.
It is them that go to away grounds and try to slip in a certain 3 letters instead of the name Samaras in a song. It is them that look to go head to head with the Police, Peter Lawwell or anyone else who dares point out what they’ve done wrong.
5 years or so ago I went to a Serie A match In the San Siro. By sheer accident I found myself within the Ultras section. One of the first things I noticed was that there were no stewards or police. I did a little research and found out that this is due to an understanding with the club. The area is yours, but you are responsible for EVERYTHING that happens there, and that has to apply to section 111.
10 years ago, somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 fans (more if you believe everyone who says they were there) went to Seville and helped create a legacy for our support. Forever more we had something to be proud of. We are the most welcoming, and welcomed support in the footballing world. No hostility, no invasions. Just good old fashioned “here pal, gies a pint and swap scarves” mentality. And that is to be cherished.
But with recent events, that image of our support is changing. The appearance of hoods and scarves over faces has replaced the cuddles and scarf swaps. The banners protesting against wars have replaced sombreros and beach balls. And I’m sorry, but when parents are afraid to take their children to the football, or sections of our disabled fans are inconvenienced simply cos some tube wants to let off a banger, then the club need to act. And that is what they have done.
Is it harsh? Possibly!
Is it unexpected? Never.
The warnings were there. If you bring UEFA to our door, then it is too far. I’ve heard cries of, “they’re picking on us” and “They’re corrupt!” What is this based on? On each occasion that UEFA have looked our way lately, they have had good reason. The club HAD to be seen to be doing something.
And here is my message to all those people threatening to boycott the club over today’s decision.
When the board start affecting ON the pitch, I’ll join in the fight. But does anyone genuinely think that without reason, Peter Lawwell and Co have decided to pick a fight with their own money spending supporters?? Of course not!!
I hope that some talks take place in the future and perhaps section 111 can return. The hairs on my neck go up when I think of the pre match display versus Barcelona. We all enjoyed the many Craig Whyte and Rangers mockery banners. And on a rainy Tuesday league cup match, having them create an atmosphere is certainly a great thing.
But, they have to toe the line. No politics, no pyro, no problems. Support the 11 players on the pitch together.
If they never return, will the club suffer? I don’t think so!
We all follow the club because of what’s on the park, not what goes on around it. And that applies to North Stand, Main Stand, Dugout and Boardroom.
The Newton Sammy (@TheNewtonSammy)