After (another) terrible, upsetting and divisive week in British politics some solace has been provided by an outbreak of respect in the normally fractious world of Scottish football.
Fernando Ricksen’s death rightly demanded that people should come to their senses and forget about club loyalties for a while. Team-mate turned pastor Marvin Andrews’ address at Ricksen’s funeral at Glasgow’s Wellington Church is recommended viewing and is on Youtube, as is the whole service. “Fernando shows us no matter what team you support… you are a human being first and foremost… what’s the point in fighting and quarrelling?” he says.
Continuing this spirit of kinship is the rare case of a scheduled league match being lent alternative context over and above the battle for three points thanks to the agreement of the visitors, in today’s case Celtic at Easter Road.
Hibs wanted to use the occasion to mark Pat Stanton’s 75th birthday following a fans’ event at Usher Hall three weeks ago. Of course, it’s easier to get the cooperation of another club when the intended honouree happens to have starred for them too, if much too briefly.
Stanton won the league and Scottish Cup with Celtic in just over a season at the club before injury forced him to retire, with both teams contesting his testimonial in 1978. He’ll receive another guard of honour from both teams before kick-off today.
The Easter Road entrance is flanked by large images of Stanton and the match programme is dedicated to Hibs’ legendary former skipper, who sounds genuinely touched by the renewed attention. “I’m just a man from Craigmillar,” he says in an interview within its pages.
He’s also on the front cover – scoring against Celtic in the 1972 League Cup final. Ouch. Unity and friendship can only stretch so far when there’s a need to climb away from second bottom of the table.