Drinks, Doings and Damage in Dundee

In a recent blog on this site, I championed the Celtic away fans and told how I thought they were treated poorly on their travels, especially by the police.

But it’s come back to bite me firmly on the arse, as reports filtered through of violence and absolute drunkenness at Celtic’s away day in Dundee on 26th December. It seems they really did put the Boxing into Boxing Day.

I know the internet can be an electronic form of Chinese whispers but from what I’ve read on various sites, including Dundee fan sites, the evidence seems to be fairly convincing and corroborative.

One Celtic fan wrote: “I’ve never seen anything like it from our support. Men and women, all drunk, fighting with each other. Elderly fans being knocked over & injured.

“Running battles in the food court under the stands. Disappointed so many drunk people got in as it ruined the game for me. Bangers going off all around & people falling over seats on top of others.

“I felt I had to have my wits about me at all times in case something kicked off. It was meant to be enjoyable but I couldn’t watch the game for watching the crowd.”

This is inexcusable behaviour. What’s worse is that this quote was from a female on a social networking site.

It doesn’t sit easy with me when she proclaimed that she had to have her wits about her. It was Dens Park,not the Bronx. It was a football game, not a war-zone.

Celtic fans come with an excellent reputation and often shove Manchester down the throats of Rangers fans with gallus glee. I’m not in any way saying that this is anywhere near that scale but it’s damaged the Hoops supporters reputation. We can all dine out on players and managers of other Clubs saying how good the fans and the atmosphere is at Celtic Park, and we, as a unit, won the Fair Play award for exemplary behaviour in Seville. Again, we’ve sat the dinner table throwing scraps to the Rangers fans.

Not succulent lamb right enough!

I can only re-iterate that the away fans are the lifeblood of the club. Men and women who make sacrifices in order to back the team, spending most of their disposable income in doing so.

I am not going to make any excuses either, but it is worth asking who in their infinite wisdom scheduled a Boxing Day fixture for 7:30pm? The SPL, Celtic, Dundee and ESPN should have known better. A lot of people were merely topping up from Christmas Day boozing, and let me tell you, this was bound to happen.

I was in my local off-licence, hours before the game, and there were a group of young fans buying absurd amounts of booze. An older guy said: “It’s Dundee we’re going to, not Durban”.

The authorities will simply say that the fans should be able to control what they drink and should act in a manner befitting of their club. Who can argue with that? Yet wasn’t it the predictable result of the scheduling?

I can see some reasoning as to why Rangers and it’s fans have been critical of Stephen Thompson’s plans to sell tickets to individual supporters despite the boycott. I’ve a feeling that the authorities and the Clubs are out to exploit as much cash as possible. Celtic and Rangers are the big pull and top dollar can be charged and fans will play no matter the price. This is the one area where Celtic & Rangers fans are completely united.

But to return to the point. These events have cast a dark shadow over the Festive Season. I’m not going to criticise them too much, because I’ve been to a few away games in my day and have been worse for wear, although admittedly I never got lifted or go into fights. I’m just glad this fixture wasn’t at the powder keg that is Tynecastle. That would have been pouring neat whisky on the flames.

Maybe it’s not football fans per se, as much as it’s the social problem, and one that government needs to take a long, hard look at, this whole Scottish mentality over booze. Get as much down your neck before the game, the dancin’, weddings, funerals, barmitzvahs. Any excuse really.

I enjoy a pint before the game, it’s a part of the whole social occasion. But I don’t go to the game steaming drunk. I really don’t want the Missus getting a call from London Road Police Station to confirm my details. Nor do I want barred from Celtic Park. Perhaps I’m older and wiser but every time you go near the ground with a good drink in you, chances are that 1 or 2 of the latter scenarios will occur.

With that in mind, this looks like a one-off, considering most supporters will go to games with a drink in a good mood.

I don’t want the good guys and gals demonised for Dundee. Nor do I want Celtic fans turning into the Green Tartan Army – the away support has a certain edginess about it – often sticking two fingers up to the Singing Police. I was actually laughing away as the archives were opened and the De Boer song was re-released to the public. That’s all good, clean fun – banter – what football is about. Some Dundee fans commented on sites that it’s the best atmosphere at Dens for years despite the pre-match violence.

I also read that people were urinating on people’s doors and in gardens whilst women walked by and not giving two hoots. What happened to the good old days when someone kept the “edgey” as you took a pee behind a wall or somewhere discreet?

There is an element in every support who just can’t behave, just as there are members of the public who like to start fights in pubs. I’ve never understood the whole football hooliganism bit either. I don’t get their psyche. It was also glorified by the likes of Danny Dyer, who in Kevin Bridges words is the “prick’s prick”.

There’s an element of this that seems to be creeping into modern day supporters, of a lot of clubs. Many say that they are the sons of the the casuals of the 80s and are trying to emulate their father’s youth. I hope not. It’s the last thing football – the last thing Celtic – wants or needs.

All in all, I really think this was all down to alcohol and in some parts, recreational drugs. Young guys are travelling to all parts of Scotland and Europe high on cocaine which turns them in He-Man and the bravado is ripping out of them.

It’s something that’s ingrained in Scottish culture and it seems is a long way off being “cured”.

I’m still backing the away fans all the same. Booze-fueled incidents will always happen at any given ground and any set of fans where all-day trips are on the cards. It’s a recipe for disaster and the authorities need to take heed.

In summation and to put my Oscar Wilde hat on,

“Drink is the curse of the supporting masses”.

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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 “Drinks, Doings and Damage in Dundee

  • 28 December, 2012 at 7:42 pm
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    What a badly written, ill thought out rant. And someone who describes himself as a dipsomaniac blaming alcohol – is this a poor attempt at irony?

    So you were not at the game, haven’t talked to anyone who was – but have read a few internet sites? Brilliant. Is this an audition for a job with The Sun? And what’s with the attitude to woman – why is it somehow worse that a woman sees a fight? Or perhaps they should be at home like your “Missus”?

  • 30 December, 2012 at 6:35 pm
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    I can’t understand why, if the scenes were as bad as you claim, there were only about 5 arrests.
    Was it really as bad, and if so, what did the police / stewards do about it?
    I’ve been to Dundee on many occasion to watch Celtic and found the police to be anything but fair towards the Celtic fans – this would appear to have been right up their street and we should be talking about arrests in the dozens, why so few?
    I wasn’t at the game (gave up going to away games about 15 years ago when I got sick of being treated like scum and ripped off royally just for wanting to follow Celtic), so no idea how accurate the reports are, but find it strange that the level of disorder talked about didn’t lead to a lot more arrests.
    Would like to hear more evidence from the travelling fans before I make my judgement – do agree that the scheduling was always going to lead to serious drunkenness.

  • 31 December, 2012 at 4:16 pm
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    The number of arrests at a match is a poor indicator of how much trouble there was.

  • 1 January, 2013 at 1:56 pm
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    I spoke with several people. Some witnessed it. Others didn’t. I spoke with Dundee fans I know as well. It was researched believe me.

    If you read the wording, it says that I’m not overly criticising. But people just pissing anywhere is not on. Especially when women and kids are present.

    I’m open to criticism, not a problem. My view can differ from others. I believe that we should always look to uphold our reputation.

    My tag line is merely a play on words, a joke. Some fun. At least I can do it without anonymity.

  • 3 January, 2013 at 7:33 pm
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    I wasn’t there so can’t actually comment strongly on what did or did not happen. However, knowing the way the dundee police have behaved in the past, I’m sure if there was a “riot” there would have been a lot more than 5 arrests (and not all Celtic fans I believe).
    By all means do your best to uphold the Celtic fan’s well earned reputation, but be careful to only comment when you really do know all the facts, otherwise you are in danger of turning into a Keith Jackson (who also saw fit to write a column about the match although he was not in attendance) or a Bill Leckie (who hears organised coughing fits at games).

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