Only last week I gave the opinion that some Old Firm fans had degenerated to the level of bickering over who was more offensive to each other to the level of making things up, and this morning my opinions were confirmed. One Celtic fan has begun a campaign to have an old Rangers favourite – Penny Arcade – banned over it’s alleged sectarian overtones.
Roy Orbison’s anthem became a favourite among Rangers fans many years ago and was until recently played in pubs and clubs before games until the club adopted it after it’s burgeoning popularity among the supporters and played it over the tannoy after Rangers’ 3-3 draw with Motherwell last June. According to RangersPedia, the song gained popularity after a singer from a group in Belfast sung it at charity events and the song stuck and was a firm favourite with fans ever since.
However, one supporter on Twitter, who set up an account for the sole reason to promote the notion the song is sung for sectarian reasons, is campaigning to have the song banned. @Cartonblanc (an anonymous account opened only yesterday) has linked the song to religious hatred due to the death of a Catholic man in Belfast in 1986 in an amusement arcade from a four-line story in the New York Times.
BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Sept. 17— Four gunmen burst into an amusement arcade here today and killed a Roman Catholic businessman, the 50th victim of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland this year.
The fan in question opened yet another account on Twitter to promote the ludicrous claims further – @BanPennyArcade, I assume to prevent his other account from being either banned for spamming or to distance himself from the claims personally and garner further support for this ’cause’. The Twitter account states:
Ban this song from Scottish football, sung about the murder if [sic] an innocent Catholic man
Ban the song that promoted sectarian murder groups from Scottish football grounds. Ban Penny Arcade. (tweet spam originating from above accounts)
So have Rangers fans been singing this anthem to celebrate the death of a man, as was also claimed of the song ‘The Bouncy’ despite it being sung for decades at Ibrox and not immediately after the death of someone? Or is it yet another ill-fated attempt at claiming a song is sectarian to cause problems and spread unfounded rumours to encourage hatred among fans? The latter seems the more likely, especially with the writer’s sectarian rants at a Rangers fan.
The accounts used have been mainly to spam this campaign to an assortment of Rangers websites and high-profile media outlets and figures such as various members of the STV journalism team, Graham Spiers, Ewan Murray, Brian McNally and strangely, even the Dalai Lama. Quite what he will do with this new found ‘information’ from his government headquarters in exile is unclear.
The whole thing seems bizarre to me. Almost as bizarre as the claim in the Sun newspaper that Rangers fans had planned to sing the Hokey Cokey at Ibrox to wind up Celtic supporters as it was sectarian. What I find even more bizarre is the need to behave in such a manner and waste so much time trying to influence narrow-minded fans that their rivals are singing things to wind people up and celebrate the deaths of others.
What exactly is to be gained from such campaigns, besides the obvious? Such flimsily founded rumours based on little more than a couple of lines from a newspaper 25 years ago unfortunately do have the power to eventually spread before sprouting arms and legs, if we let them. Before you know it, they have a life of their own and are eventually believed by those more interested in finding something to hate about the other side, no matter how ridiculous.
Exactly the sort of hatred and bile which stagnates in west of Scotland football culture. Exactly the type of hatred and bile Scottish football needs rid of, disguised as the exact opposite.
Sadly some of the outlets @cartonblanc has pushed this to, both Celtic websites and high-profile promoters of anti-sectarianism will jump on this. It will undoubtedly get some column space in some red-top rag in the morning. However they are missing the point entirely.
The point is that these silly campaigns cause more trouble and hatred in the days before an Old Firm game. I assume this was the intention of the origin of these claims given his apparent hatred for Rangers fans. The ‘fan’ wants publicity, wants to be known as ‘that guy who told the world Penny Arcade was sectarian’ and to perhaps revel in his minor fame which will disappear in the coming days. More likely, and more sadly, he probably is too narrow minded to believe it is anything but truth.
So is Penny Arcade sectarian? Don’t be daft. It’s as welcome as Celtic fans’ new anthem ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. It’s a song sung from the stands by fans bored of losing their old songs and adopting new ones. The last thing Scottish football needs is neanderthals making issues of these songs because they can’t vent their religious bile via the old ways.
Sadly this isn’t the first campaign and won’t be the last, let’s just hope the tabloids don’t pick up on this attention seeking claim to fame and make an issue out of what is clearly a non-story. I know we have given it coverage, but lets be clear – it’s for no other reason but to take a closer look at the mindset of a typical narrow-minded fan trying to gain infamy through their rather weak expose, or to cause hatred in the days prior to an Old Firm game.
Until the Dalai Lama gets involved and Roy Orbison is charged with sectarian abuse, let’s just enjoy the stupidity of the whole thing and that gladly, Old Firm fans are replacing their old sectarian repertoire with some new songs. Let’s just hope Rangers fans won’t retaliate saying Depeche Mode & The Saturdays are promoting terrorism, then I will have confirmation football fans have gone totally bonkers. Perhaps they should just to show how silly these childish Twitter campaigns are.