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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