Why Rangers are right not to give Celtic a guard of honour

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Rangers won't give Celtic a guard of honour on Sunday for their Scottish Premiership title success. Joel Sked explains why they are right to refuse.

Looking for positives in Dundee's season. The ball dropping to Aberdeen's Stevie May in the box. Another long throw from Hearts' Michael Smith.

Rangers won't give Celtic a guard of honour. Picture: SNS

Rangers won't give Celtic a guard of honour. Picture: SNS

Let's add another pointless situation from the current Scottish Premiership campaign to the pile: the guard of honour.

The Scottish Sun have reported that Rangers WON'T applaud Celtic onto the pitch when the sides meet at Ibrox on Sunday afternoon. Yet, somehow, the world continues to revolve.

Steven Gerrard's men are well within their rights to refuse to stand in a line and clap their rival's entrance. It is a gesture which is both false and cringeworthy, and should be left for those at Murrayfield or Scotstoun.

It is not the first time discussion around the guard of honour has hit sports pages.

When Hearts were confirmed as Championship champions in 2015 it seemed the club and its fans expected to be given one before every game until the end of the season - there were seven games left. They then appeared to be affronted that Hibs, in the fourth fixture after the title was won, rightly refused to do so at Easter Road.

A year later James Tavernier - now Rangers captain and potentially looking a bit sheepish - posted a tweet, thanking Alloa for their reception. Not only that but it was a pointed dig at Hibs who, for the second year running stood firm and refused to line up.

Now we go to Ibrox this weekend and the idea that Rangers would line up to congratulate Celtic and pay their respects for their rival's eighth successive win.

But, really, what is the point?

Sportsmanship some will say. Others will talk of respect, as Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd did.

For this writer, however, Boyd's most amusing comment was: "Over the years, it has always been the case that Rangers have held themselves in high regard and rightly so, because of the way they have conducted themselves."

Let's have a gander at some of the statements issued by Rangers over the past few years, namely the handling of Mark Warburton's sacking/resignation/parting of ways.

Anyway, the guard of honour is nothing more than for show, there is no actual respect. Many of the players will grin and bear it, hating every second. Last year, when Hearts gave Celtic a guard of honour at Tynecastle, the players could not hide either their indifference or contempt.

There could be the suggestion that having to take part in it will inspire players, give them that fire in their belly to be the ones being applauded onto the pitch next season. Yet, it is likely the games in which they lost, seeing their rivals celebrate with the trophy act as a greater catalyst.

For those lucky enough to be walking through Apathy Avenue, do they actually care about the opposition clapping them, when they know in five minutes time they will likely be kicking lumps out of one another?

Surely the idea of being a champion, winning more games, lifting silverware is more gratifying than walking through what looks like a guard for the most miserable of weddings.

For supporters it is another chance to both points score and be hypocritical - there are few things football fans do better.

Given the chance fans will get angry seeing their team clapping another onto the pitch. When the shoe is on the other foot they go radge that the opposition are not paying their respects.

The guard of honour is nothing more than a silly little gimmick.

It may be said that Rangers' stance is of the petty variety, and let's face it there is a certain amount of truth - and humour - in it. But what is more cringeworthy is the need for a guard of honour.

It is not as if there are other ways in which the winning team and players are celebrated.