Celtic-Rangers reaction: sectarian marring of Ron Gordon tribute; racist slurs in dear seats; defence of Michael Beale's quick exit

We need to talk about the behaviour of some Rangers supporters following runaway league leaders Celtic tightening their grip on the Scottish game with a warranted, if patchy, 2-1 victory in the Viaplay Cup final.

Abhorrent sectarian marring of Ron Gordon tribute

Hibs owner Ron Gordon was a force for good in the Scottish football. He made serious missteps with managerial firings and hirings at Easter Road – as he admitted – but the American’s commitment to growing the game commercially for the betterment of all clubs was incontestable. His death from cancer last week should have made the first silverware decider an occasion for the Rangers and Celtic followers to acknowledge warmly a significant contribution to our national sport by a decent man and enthusiastic convert to it.

It was abhorrent for thousands – many thousands – among the Ibrox faithful to reject the opportunity to take part in a minute’s applause and instead belt out sectarian – and actionable – abuse and ditties. The Billy Boys, with its line about being “up to our knees in Fenian blood” midway through it, was sung. I have written in the past about some Celtic supporters denigrating minute’s silences for the Ibrox disaster, the Remembrance Sunday commemorations, and the late Walter Smith. This, though, was on a different scale. On a day when abusive chants towards the Pope and the Vatican were also heard, this was another example of objectionable, bigoted behaviour from certain Rangers supporters. It remains a major stain on the club.

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The minute's applause for former Hibs owner Ron Gordon was disrupted by sectarian singing.The minute's applause for former Hibs owner Ron Gordon was disrupted by sectarian singing.
The minute's applause for former Hibs owner Ron Gordon was disrupted by sectarian singing.

There are Celtic followers who do not escape censure in any way either. A vile version of Super Trouper that glories in the death of Rangers figures was audible before kick-off. Then there were go-to sectarian choruses of Orange Bs puncturing the air at various points. Indeed, it was little wonder Rangers manager Michael Beale and his players vacated the scene immediately after receiving their runners-up medals when the Englishman was then being subjected to calls of “sad Orange B”. As must forever be recorded, Orange and Fenian are rightly decreed proxy words for Protestant and Catholic by the courts in considering potential cases of religiously aggravated breach of the peace.

Racist slurs in dear seats

My position at the extreme left of the press box placed directly behind me Rangers supporters availing themselves of hospitality directly. One of those was a truly vile individual. For the entirety of the afternoon, every Celtic player was abused as a Fenian B. Reo Hatate was subjected to a racist slur of the unrepeatable kind, with a racist Irish trope that is mercifully rarely heard in this day in age also given an airing. What was truly upsetting was that none of those around this person called out the incessant stream of bigoted, racist invective. It is a desperately sorry state of affairs when so many consider that a supposedly global sporting event to be celebrated provides them cover to spew such bile publicly.

Supine Scottish rivals

Former Hibs owner Gordon passed away last week.Former Hibs owner Gordon passed away last week.
Former Hibs owner Gordon passed away last week.

The flaws and limitations of our two best football teams were exposed by a final that, in the main, was of indifferent quality. Even as Celtic were superior when it came to any glimpses of the aesthetic as well as dealing with the arm wrestle that characterised stretches of the contest.The shortcomings betrayed – and okay finals can be edgy, and therefore error-inducing – just how supine the rest of the Scottish game has become. No-one expects other teams to challenge for the title, but challenges over 90 minutes against Glasgow’s big two are dissipating to an alarming degree. In the past 15 months, Celtic and Rangers have lost only once each outside of their derbies - the champions beaten away by St Mirren in September while the Ibrox men suffered defeat to St Johnstone in Perth in November. While Celtic are enjoying a period of sustained domestic excellence under Postecoglou, in this recent era Rangers are considered to have endured a trough, one which cost Giovanni van Bronckhorst his job three months ago. Yet, when it comes to third force Hearts, illustrating the chasm is that the Ibrox men boast an 8-0 goal differential in their three wins against the Tynecastle men this season.

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