I have it on very good authority that Rangers CEO Charles Green is apoplectic with rage over the behaviour of the fans who let the club down by singing inappropriate songs at Berwick yesterday.
It isn’t so much what happened as the media reaction to it that is so galling. Frankly, Rangers fans should know better in this day and age where any infraction will be amplified by a media all too ready to knock the club.
My understanding is that any fan found guilty of damaging the club’s reputation will have to do their supporting outside of football grounds and Green is all too aware that any season ticket holder foolish enough to risk his/her seat will be readily replaced by someone who isn’t and doesn’t.
Sadly, the Rangers fans were divided over the issue, though the overwhelming majority of decent Rangers supporters were appalled by the PR own goal inflicted on the club from those who deem it their right to shout and sing whatever they want.
I have always stated my own conviction that it is fine for Rangers to stand for values cherished by the Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist community, just as Celtic embody the values of Roman Catholicism and Irish Republicanism.
The problem is when both sides resort to hate and bigotry rather than support and identification. And it has to be faced that any songs or chants expressed by either side in favour of paramilitary groups is both offensive and antagonistic to the other side. A strong argument, it could be suggested, for leaving this vocal support out of football, particularly since it offends and appals wider society.
The Protestant-Catholic thing is, as I have stated previously, a phony war. Show me the Protestants and Catholics. I don’t see any debates breaking out on social media over the doctrines of Calvin and Luther or over issues like penance and transubstantiation between Rangers and Celtic fans.
While most Celtic fans who are Catholic are maybe likely to visit a chapel once in a while, actual practising adherents of the Protestant Christian faith are rarer than hens teeth in the Rangers support. I’m not talking about somebody who occasionally goes to church but genuine Christian believers.
There aren’t a lot of Protestants and Catholics but there are plenty of proddies and kafflicks – people who have a tribal affinity rather than a living faith connection.
People who think they are Protestant should maybe read this definition of Protestant taken from an online dictionary and work out which one applies to them:
1. A member of a Western Christian church whose faith and practice are founded on the principles of the Reformation, especially in the acceptance of the Bible as the sole source of revelation, in justification by faith alone, and in the universal priesthood of all the believers.
2. A member of a Western Christian church adhering to the theologies of Luther, Calvin, or Zwingli.
3. One of the German princes and cities that supported the doctrines of Luther and protested against the decision of the second Diet of Speyer (1529) to enforce the Edict of Worms (1521) and deny toleration to Lutherans.
How many Rangers supporters screaming abuse at the pope do so because of their opposition to the Edict of Worms?
Or because they want to be in the priesthood?
Or because they are thoroughly versed in the doctrines of Luther, Calvin and Zwingli?
From a theological viewpoint, the Protestant faith is based on a personal witness (the root of the word Protestant is teste which means “witness”) of Jesus Christ. In other words, true Protestants are practising Christians.
If Rangers fans want to identify as Protestants and sing Protestant songs, there are some churches I could recommend and there are hundreds of hymns to sing.
Tribal Protestantism is not true Protestantism, which is Bible Protestantism.
Many Celtic fans have an affinity with Ireland which is frankly laughed at by those who actually ARE Irish – it is a mythical and nonsensical concept of Irishness which bears no relation to the modern European nation.
For this reason Rangers fans and not a few real Irish people like to call these deluded folks “plastic Paddies” as they have no grasp of reality when it comes to what Ireland is actually like. Many of these plastic Paddies have never even been across the Irish Sea but identify more with dear old Oireland than their own nation of birth.
However, there are also more than a few plastic Proddies out there who “contend for the faith” when they don’t practise it or could even tell you the first thing about it.
As some Rangers fans shout the odds about their right to sing what they want and the Green Brigade across the city leaflet the Celtic support to say virtually the same thing, the question can truly be asked:
How much is plastic and how much is real in the ideologies of both sets of fans?
It seems to me that certain Rangers fans and certain Celtic fans want exactly the same thing – the right to hate and express their hate.
How sad they have to hide behind causes and faiths to mask their hatred.
Scottish football and wider society would be a whole lot better without plastic Paddies and plastic Proddies abusing civil liberties which they have nothing but contempt for anyway to continue their selfish, bigoted campaigns.