Celtic title-winning reaction: Ange Postecoglou and his team inspire while fans' Jimmy Bell chant plunges depths

The accolades warranted by Ange Postecoglou and his squad for their title-winning endeavours this season go beyond baubles; even go beyond commendations how they overcame on-field adversity to do so in fashion rarely witnessed across the annals of the Scottish game.

The culture of a football club, indeed any organisation, is set by those at the very top. Postecoglou has proven himself to be an outstanding man, never mind manager, with the estimable values he both exhibits and has instilled in his personnel. As a result, it is a group that adheres to the best playing principles, respects those in their orbit and eschews so much of the grumbling and excuse-making that can often seem standard in their competitive domain. The upshot is that Celtic are a hugely likeable team under Postecoglou.

In the immediate aftermath of the cinch Premiership being secured with the 1-1 draw at Tannadice, the Celtic manager exposed his human vulnerabilities as he attempted - even while acknowledging he was “overwhelmed” - to articulate his feelings on turning Celtic around from outrageously unpromising beginnings. The swirl within his mind that led to him invoking his Greek-Australian heritage and the family and friends that have made sacrifices to support him on his life’s journey, made for an address infused with empathy and honour, and genuinely affecting. Such traits consistently shine through in the 56-year-old.

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If only the same were true for a support becoming increasingly unlikeable and corrupted by sectarian elements. The ‘Orange b…….s’ chants attached to the name of Rangers’ recently deceased kit man Jimmy Bell were putrid. As putrid as the acrid air caused by the lighting of smoke bombs that had young supporters burying their heads in their scarves to stop eyes streaming.

Eardrums were left bleeding, meanwhile, by the consistent return to the “Orange b……..s” invective - sectarian all ways up, Orange in this context used as shorthand for Protestant the way that Fenian is deployed for anti-Catholic vituperations that cause Celtic followers to moralise so aloofly. It wasn’t until about 10 minutes from time that sections of the away support at Tannadice turned their attention to the actual football occasion, and the impending winning of the league again by their club. Until then, the IRA songbook was giving full vent, with the Roamin’ In The Gloamin’ chant, unquestionably sectarian with its abuse of the founder of a church, heard at several moments.

In the noxious Glasgow football rivalry, Celtic’s support no longer dare seek to race on to any moral high ground. A high ground, in contrast, that those that represent them in the playing arena can proudly sit atop…just as with the Scottish Premiership.

Celtic players celebrate in front of their fans after clinching the Scottish Premiership title with a 1-1 draw against Dundee United at Tannadice. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
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