Acceptable In The 80’s

gb1Calvin Harris, the famous Scottish DJ, singer, songwriter, and record producer penned the top-ten single “Acceptable in the 80s”.

It was on in the car the other day, and it reminded me of what life was like then, and in particular what parallels we can draw between football then and football now. I was in my youth and was granted permission to attend Paradise on my own, on the 18 Corpy Bus. It’d be rare now to see 12/13 year olds making their way to the game on their own. Kids today are wrapped in cotton wool. A sad indictment of society as a whole. Kids need that protection. It’s not the result of over-zealous parenting. It’s necessary.

Mind you, as I grew to 15, my old dear would have went ape had she know that I spent my paper round on a half bottle of Peruvian Brandy (Devon’s finest) and a few cans of Tennnet’s for the game.

There was no SPL back then. It was the Premier Division, governed by the SFL under one body. We’ve come full circle

There was no Sky TV. We had Scotsport and Arthur Montford.

There was no major partners. Back then these were called sponsors. Mullets were acceptable in the 80s especially among players – latterly the Duck’s Arse – thanks to Charlie Nicholas.

Sitting at games was for the suits. Only Pittodrie and Ibrox were all-seated, barring the east and west Enclosures. Songs were sung in the 80’s that were acceptable, but would now see you promptly ejected from Celtic Park, with an immediate taxi to London Road Police Station courtesy of Strathclyde’s finest.

I remember being in 1st year at school, in East Kilbride, and jotting down the words to Sean South of Garryowen in Mr. Clark’s geography class. I’d be damned if I was going to the Jungle unarmed. There was no way I was going into such a fierce environment only to mumble the words of a war song. I’d have been eaten alive.

The Jungle makes Section 111 look like a Scouts Jamboree. We stood on terraces, we swayed up and down, back and forth. Jesus, sometimes we fell, and if you were lucky it wasn’t into pish or spew. I believe the latest phrase for it is “lateral movement”. All this whilst gnawing on your spearmint chewing gum.

Politics were firmly on the agenda. Especially referring to The Troubles in Ireland.

I grew up Scottish rooted firmly in Irish Catholic backgrounds. Feelings ran high at that time – and for good reasons. The songbook then certainly wouldn’t be acceptable now. Pundits are often quick to tell us that football and politics shouldn’t mix. But football and politics has always mixed. You’re a mug to think that 30 years on the Irish are fully accepted, and back in the 80’s it wasn’t even close.

Anyone who grew up in this era will remember when the now defunct Maggie Thatcher introduced the Poll Tax to Scotland, amidst civil uproar from its residents. Thatcher took her seat at Hampden for Celtic v Dundee Utd in May 1988. The whole arena joined in unison, with a chorus of “You can stick your Tory Poll Tax up yer arse.”

That was acceptable in the 80s. Nowadays, should anyone, or any group, dare to say anything political, or make their feelings known they face being castigated, by not only the media but their own fans. It also says a lot that many of the same football fans who stood there on that glorious sunny day, holding up red cards, have no problem at all with a man who divides his time between the Celtic Park boardroom and working as part of a government inflicting devastation on millions across this country.

And people think it was the 80’s that were backward? That this is “progress”?

Football stadiums used to be the domain of the working class man. You could walk up to the game, can or bottle in hand, and leave them empty at the turnstile. It was acceptable in the 80s. Today, you’d get nowhere near London Road with any alcohol. People go to the games wary of being turned away from the ground as stewards and police can be tight on anyone deemed to be under the influence.

Football, for me is still a social occasion. I like my pint before, and after, the game. I like being in the company of males. My mates. I like being “one of the boys” and I am not ashamed or embarrased to say that the air is often littered with dirty jokes and navy like language.

I’m not justifying any of the above; I’m merely highlighting how sanitised our football game has become. There are times that I’be bite my lip, or sat on my hands, at goings on within Celtic Park. I remember standing, and giving a Celtic player an utter bollocking for being poor. It was, granted, laced with expletives. As silence fell I heard someone “tut”. I nearly burst a blood vessel. I care passionately about my team. How dare someone “tut” at me? Is this what it is coming to? I’m fearful that the day will come when we’ll be sponsored by Werther’s, and all we’ll be allowed to do is rattle their sweetie wrappers.

Of course there needs to be decorum. Otherwise it would be anarchy. Rules do need to be applied, but I think there is an over-exuberance by the politically correct faux intelligentsia who lurk amongst us, awaiting the next person to step out of line.

Take the Green Brigade, and the accusations that they let bangers off at the Cliftonville game. The group, who look to have sung their last “political” ditty in Section 111, distanced themselves from it. Now, the last I heard no-one was rushed to the Vicky. There were no third degree burns or need to call the fire brigade.

Could it get Celtic into trouble? Yes. This is why it was thoughtless. But it wasn’t, as some have suggested, driven by ego.

This is what I’d refer to as boisterous. Daft boys letting off fireworks. But oh no, the PC Brigada want them up in front of the Children’s Panel. People used to light fags with bangers in the Jungle and I’m sure there were a few impromptu circumcisions as the patrons peed into empty cans of beer …

We, as Celtic fans, are spoiled by the environment we have at Celtic Park. Of course it’s miles better than what we had back then. So are cars, TVs and the like. But what’s not better is the atmosphere outwith the European nights and the old Glasgow derbies. Catering is miles apart. You can have a bet in the concourses and even buy merchandise. But what’s all this without the edginess we were afforded in the 80’s?

Take the reaction to the Elfsborg physios, by journalists Angela Haggerty and Phil Mac Golla Bhain. Both firmly rounding on their own fans in broad condemnation of a pocket of people singing “Get yer tits out for the boys”.

Of course it’s wrong, and their arguments are hard to shout down. Would I want that sung to my wife, daughter, sister, mother or friend? No.

Yet what they fail to remember is that football, and many of its male fans, are still hanging on to the last bastion of a male domain. Not everyone is free-thinking, and educated to degree level, or indeed capable of stringing a sentence together.  To them it was harmless fun. Most will know it’s not.

But to bang the drum so loudly on blogs and social media merely emphasised their propensity for grabbing the spotlight. Miss Haggerty often retorted to anyone who dared question her with “Welcome to 2013.”… surely referencing that times have moved on.

Time has moved on. Nowadays, football stars pose half naked for the attention of females. Many of said females – and self important bloggers are not immune to this – will post said photos on social media with “Phwoar” underneath.

Perhaps certain players chose to do this, as their choice. But is it not akin to an internet wolf-whistle by accompanying it with “Phwoar”?

What concerns me most about 2013 is that in a so-called developed society, kids in this country are going without meals. People are borrowing money to feed themselves and their families. Everything is going up except wages and the general standard of living is probably worse than the 80s. So in essence, I’m less concerned about Swedish physios receiving some wolf-whistles than others are.

But I wouldn’t want to bring politics into football would I?

Welcome to 2013.

References: – Calvin Harris

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Gavin McCann

A dipsomaniac funambulist steadying himself on life’s tightrope through the medium of writing. I “suffer” from diphallic terata with mild polyorchidity. Like a dug wi’ two dicks.

5 thoughts on “Acceptable In The 80’s

  • 13 August, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Absolutely spot on mate. Couldny have put things any better myself. I’m sick of modern football. It’s for the middle class now and the snobs. I don’t know how many times I’ve sat at my seat in parkhead and just sighed, waiting for the game to be finished. Football is much better when the crowd is standing, they’re a bit more on edge. I remember the woman behind me kept tapping me on the shoulder because everytime we had a shot on goal I would sort of do a half effort to stand – ALMOST blocking her view. Away games are the best and the occasion where we can actually be ourselves.


  • 13 August, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    True enough in parts.Though wasn’t the Poll Tax introduced in 1989 in Scotland?
    Saying you’re not able to justify something you’re neither ashamed nor embarrassed about, bit of a contradiction. But yes modern football is both rubbish and soulless

  • 13 August, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Poll Tax was indeed 1989 but the Scots had wind of it well before then and she got pelters.

    The whole point is that is being sanitised to a point where, personally, I may have to review my Season Ticket status. I don’t want to but I find there is a culture of fear among fans – not just Celtic. What was acceptable in the 80s is a virtual lifetime away.

    Celtic, like most Clubs want the families with 2.4 Children there, buying food and merchandise with the odd song sung. All about “Revenue Streams” you see.

  • 13 August, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    The most galling part about the Poll Tax is it was introduced into Scotland a year earlier than in England; there were Tory MP’s who voted for it being brought in to Scotland, but AGAINST it being brought into England; and it was only scrapped (within a year of it being in England) when the Tory government realised it was likely to lose them the next general election. Scotland didn’t matter to them – there were less than 10 Tory MP’s in Scotland at that time, who influenced nothing.

  • 17 August, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Way more to be concerned about with modern football than living up to the faux GFITW tag. What a load of total corporate bollox. Im sick to the back teeth of our “reputation”. We all know there are arseholes in every support. We also know that any transgression amongst ours is highlighted far more than any other team and used as a stick by those of a necromantic sevconian persuasion to beat us. Im sick of people saying “why give them the ammo? ” . Why should we care? The press and establishment despise us anyway. We police our own at Celtic Park and abroad. We have always done this. What we dont need is impressionable Jimmy-cum-lateleys telling us politics has no part in football (always has been part) and we cant sing a certain song cause it might cause offense to an apron-wearing police chief or a BBC-influenced armchair fly-by-night. If you are racist,sexist, homophobic, bigoted or anti-vegetarian then Celtic Park has (mostly) always been a hostile environment. We have had huge abberations, Mark Walters and Protestants being the chief victims. There are too many women who attend CP for it to be a hotbed of sexism. There are too many people who are black, white, yellow, brown or somewhere in between for it to be a bastion of racism and too many Protestants (and other religions or none) in our heritage, both cultaral and football for it to be inherently bigoted. So to the self-serving Celtic-minded publicity-seeking, self-serving journalists among us i say get off your high horse, drop your pen and keep it in-house. If you are at the game and you find an arsehole then shut his/her mouth there and then. Dont wait till you are back home in the safety of your internet-connected, affront-fuelled command bunker, where you can unleash your heightened sense of fury/disgust/regret/abhorrence ( delete as appropriate) from the comfort of your west-end des-res and watch as the gullible amongst us champion your cause with mock outraged fervour. We have enough enemies on the outside (and within the CP boardroom) without the green branch of the fourth estate sticking it in our backs ( oh, and by the way, I do get the irony of this being posted on a blog – my names gav, you can find me in Irish Murphy’s, Brisbane most lunchtimes if you want to discuss further) Rant Over.

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