‘…take this badge off of me, I can’t use it anymore’

Difficult endings that leave new opportunities in their wake are intrinsically valuable.

Scottish football has been heading towards one of these difficult endings for quite some time now.

One of the main problems with Scottish football today is that it offers very little to appeal to audiences outside of Scotland. In fact, it could be argued that there are days when it offers very little to appeal to any audiences whatsoever. It has been that way for quite some time now.

The standard of our game has failed to develop and improve at the same rate experienced in most other European countries; even in countries smaller than Scotland. But at the moment, this is the least of our problems.

It is impossible to talk about Scottish football without talking about the bitter rivalry between Celtic and Rangers. And sadly, it is impossible to talk about that without getting involved in a discussion about generations of racial bigotry and sectarian hatred.

The long standing rivalry, and at times deeply troubled relationship between these clubs, and everything that is associated with them, tends to be captured by the badge, the ‘old firm’. It is a badge of dishonour. It tarnishes one with the dirty brush that touches up the other.

Not only does it refer to the commercial dominance of Celtic and Rangers in the Scottish game; it is also a complaint about the ugliness of their relationship as it is perceived by the majority of other supporters, and by other people not even remotely interested in football.

Whatever happens in Scottish football over the next few weeks, the outcome of the situation at Rangers Football Club will be a defining moment. Whether we care to admit it, or are ready to accept it, it will be the end of the game in its current format.

It will also be an opportunity to ensure that the ‘old firm’ badge of dishonour is no longer used by rendering it redundant; but that will only happen if Celtic and Rangers are no longer perceived to be inextricably linked for the wrong reasons.

Regardless how Celtic and Rangers supporters view it, the ‘old firm’ badge will only be removed when the sectarian hatred that has ruined Scottish football for generations is dissolved.

But that will only happen when the histories that define these clubs are either reconciled, or removed.

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4 thoughts on “‘…take this badge off of me, I can’t use it anymore’

  1. Alan Crockert says:

    Good blog again Liam. One thing I find fascinating when I read the forums of both clubs supporters, is how similar their attitudes are in so many ways, yet they would be horrified to think that they had anything in common with each other. Now we have some from both sides avoiding the old firm tag as if it somehow connects them with the devil! A mirror image of each other in many regards, and it’s how I remember growing up in the east end of Glasgow, where despite others attempting to seperate “us” from “them”, the agenda, desires and passions were incredibly similar, however that’s an other debate entirely.

    We are set for major change, and regardless of who creates the changes, a new era is more and more certain by the day, and I hope that ultimately the game as a whole doesn’t suffer more than it currently does, we don’t have that margin for error.

  2. Liam Conway says:

    I think you are right Alan – there is probably a lot more in common than either would want to admit. At root it is about human beings finding an identity through supporting their football club. As you say, that is another debate, but definitely one that would be worth exploring. In the meantime, I hope that the change, when it finally comes, will lay the foundations to make Scottish football stronger. Thanks again Alan.

  3. thomas cochrane says:

    the game is being given a going over by some verry ruthless people,and thier fellow travellers.rules will be changed to help others.doncaster was a talking head on tv last night,when its over.the only change will be(the king is dead.long live the king)……i know you get my drift liam……media looking after their jobs….the same refs doing the same things .small decisions for some, big decisions for others…….yours in celtic T.C.

    • Alan Crockert says:

      I think the issue here is that there are no rules. This is new territory for everyone, and the SPL and SFA cannot win regardless. Some Celtic and Rangers fans think everyone is out to get them, but the authorities cannot allow that to stand in the way of such critical decisions. Wouldn’t like to be in their shoes!

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