Tag Archives: old firm

‘…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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Why the term ‘Old Firm’ Domestic Abuse does not help

Domestic abuse is a frightening, disgusting reality in Scottish society. Many families are destroyed and ripped apart by domestic abuse and unfortunately there are many victims of this monstrous behaviour who are too afraid to report it to the authorities.

Strathclyde Police tell us that reported cases of domestic abuse rise significantly on days when Celtic play Rangers and it has become common to refer to this phenomenon as ‘old firm’ domestic abuse.

On Sunday, 142 cases of domestic abuse were reported to Strathclyde Police. This represents an appalling rise of over 100% in comparison to days when there is no ‘old firm’ match.

Without wishing to ignore the quite horrific nature of this brutal and unforgivable feature of our society, I think it is too quick, and too simple, to point to such a staggering increase and blame it on the ‘old firm’ fixture. The Scottish media, among others, talk about ‘old firm’ domestic abuse, as if it were an ill in its own right. It is not. It is a symptom of a more rancid trait in our society that is less topical to discuss and much more difficult to resolve.

It would be less profitable for the media to write about, and more complicated and expensive for politicians to resolve, the underlying problems of drug dependency and alcoholism that wreck the lives of families, many of whom live their lives in abject poverty, with little or no education and very low levels of emotional development, every single day of the year, and not just on ‘old firm’ match days.

The underlying shame that blights some strands in our society just happens to find an ugly outlet against a very public backdrop on such days, fuelled by excessive alcohol consumption before and after the match. Domestic abuse, like sectarianism and racism, would exist anyway and is too deeply embedded in our society to think otherwise.

Unfortunately certain occasions do tend to aggravate these problems, as the statistics clearly show, with innocent victims living in fear during the build up and aftermath. There is a real problem here and we need to work hard to support the victims, whilst at the same time find lasting solutions.

But it is quite unhelpful in this regard, and rather misleading, to talk about ‘old firm’ domestic abuse, as if the institutions referred to, and the occasions themselves, were to blame, such that removing them completely from our sporting landscape would suddenly make the problems disappear.

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