Aaron Ramsey, Hibs-Hearts moment, Celtic: Why the past week ended up being good for Scottish football - despite the David Goodwillie situation

At a recent derby, Hibs fans paid tribute to a teenage Hearts fan who died last month.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)At a recent derby, Hibs fans paid tribute to a teenage Hearts fan who died last month.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
At a recent derby, Hibs fans paid tribute to a teenage Hearts fan who died last month. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
There is a brilliant Limmy sketch where he is at the Armadillo in Glasgow looking at the regeneration of the Clydeside when one character interjects “but at what cost?” in reference to the city’s shipbuilding past.

Despite its presence in an amusing bit of comedy, it was that phrase which kept coming into my head the more the saga developed around Raith Rovers’ signing of David Goodwillie. In a civil court Lord Armstrong ruled the player had raped a women in 2011 with then Dundee United team-mate David Robertson.

Right from the moment Rovers made the egregious error to sign the striker from Clyde, through the radio silence by the club's board before they eventually put out a statement which had a similar effect to putting a Mentos in a bottle of Coca-Cola.

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“The management team is familiar with David’s career and background and – in particular – his footballing ability," it read. “That is our foremost consideration.”

Raith faced a severe backlash for signing David Goodwillie. PIcture: SNSRaith faced a severe backlash for signing David Goodwillie. PIcture: SNS
Raith faced a severe backlash for signing David Goodwillie. PIcture: SNS

‘But at what cost?’

Limmy’s voice was a brief moment of levity amongst the most embarrassing, and grim, episode in the club's 139-year history.

However, it was a pertinent question. This community-club was not just being spoken about within the Scottish football bubble but the story went worldwide. People with no connection to the game in Scotland were discussing it, left scratching their heads. In a week where Rangers signed Aaron Ramsey (AARON RAMSEY!) and Celtic played their rivals in a top-of-the-table clash it was the biggest story in the SPFL says a hell of a lot.

Mobilising a support

Now, views that the signing of Goodwillie could finish the club were extreme. But such a stupid decision, made by four board members and manager John McGlynn in pursuit of Premiership football, divided a fan base, drove supporters and sponsors away and, despite the club finally admitting they got it wrong and confirming the striker won't play for the club, has left a black mark which will be etched to Raith Rovers for a very, very long time. A scar which can't and shouldn’t be covered up.

While it has been an utterly terrible week for the Kirkcaldy club, there have been huge positives and high points, at Raith and around Scottish football

The response from many within the club’s support, its staff and volunteers, sponsors and the women's team should be commended and act as a warning sign to other clubs. Not just in Scotland, but worldwide.

Football clubs, for a long time, have been and largely continue to be perfidious beats. Unmatched in their ability to express the importance of fans, pulling at the heart strings in times of crisis or difficulty, then, in the blink of an eye, completely disregard the views, needs and desires of the people who pay a lot of money to support the club. You only have to look at Raith ignoring the backlash which emerged when Goodwillie’s signing was first touted.

Rovers fans, with support from many on the outside, informally mobilised and made their feelings clear to the point chairman John Sim issued an apology statement. One which he didn't put his name to. One which he mentioned the ‘Raith Rovers family’. Something he referred to in the original statement about bringing Goodwillie back to Stark's Park.

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At the time of writing more than £12,200 has been raised for Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline, a fundraiser having been set up by Raith fan Martin Glass in the aftermath of the signing of Goodwillie. A hugely heartening response, albeit from a grim situation.

Harnessed for good

Away from Raith and Goodwillie, the Edinburgh derby on Tuesday brought a moment which may go down as one of the most memorable of the season. Hibs and Hearts fans came together at Easter Road to pay tribute to 13-year-old Devin Gordon who tragically died last month.

Hibs supporter group Block 7 unfurled a banner in memory of the teenager, who was a big Hearts supporter, which read RIP Devin with a maroon and green heart. The emotion around the stadium grew and grew as the clapping got louder and louder from all four stands to the point play stopped and the players joined in.

Despite all the rubbish which can occur, football can and should be harnessed for good. The week previously Hearts and Celtic players wore special FC United to Prevent Suicide jerseys in tribute to Devin before their Scottish Premiership clash.

FC United is a movement which has tapped into football and Scottish sport in general to help prevent suicide.

It has been backed by Billy Gilmour, Ally McCoist and Andy Robertson amongst others.

Kicking a ball about

Then there was the football action. So often for fans it can be frustrating. But other times it can be so, so fulfilling. Just ask St Johnstone fans as they bounced out of the Tony Macaroni Arena on Tuesday. Bottom of the Premiership and without a win in 12 games, Saints defeated Livingston thanks to a last-minute winner. Few things bring more joy than a late winner.

The following night, Celtic put in one of the most defining performances of the season as they blitzed Rangers with an exhilarating first-half display of how football should be played and enjoyed. Pace, verve, intensity, slick movement and a desire to attack and attack.

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No away fans at Old Firm games is never something that should be accepted but the atmosphere created by the Celtic fans added to the spectacle their team were delivering on the field.

David Goodwillie and Raith Rovers may well have dominated the headlines, causing plenty of consternation and for many Rovers fans, a stressful dilemma around their support of their club. But it is also important to remember the good. The response to the saga, Hearts and Hibs fans coming together and, it can sometimes be overlooked, but the joy which comes from 22 boys or girls kicking a ball about.

To donate to Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline visit HERE

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