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or, Got those Puritan Blues again!

 

Plenty of other titles by the MenInBlack come to mind this morning after another night of dispiriting Scottish drunkeness/loutishness/hooliganism/complete innocence punished by heavy handed policing (delete according to level of delusion). Get a Grip on Yourself, Straighten Out, Hanging Around and maybe some advice our hoopy cousins should have listened to, Walk on By.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohRbJJohv6Y

 

But before we get any further on, I want to be clear that this is not a celtc-bashing piece. The target is Scottish people in general, although it may prove impossible not to let some shadenfreude through the editorial filter.

 

When we went to Manchester, I was amazed, on my return, to discover I had been amongst not Bluenoses, as I had imagined, but thousands of undercover celtc fans, all secretly taking notes and making detailed reports on the goins-on. How else to explain the hordes who bombarded the phone lines and newspapers with denunciations of our bestiality, our anti-social behaviour, our boorishness?

 

Having spent 8 hours in that dreary city as we lost the UEFA Final, I saw precisely no trouble. Zero. I did see loads and loads of steaming Bears, though, and I did have to pick my way through the ad hoc canals of pish which added a new, if not especially fragrant, item to the Mancunian tourist itinerary. It was just plain embarrassing. Like when you go on holiday and the wee dicks who are the most pished and the least able to handle it are always Jocks.

 

When the Tartan Army visited Paris for the game in which James McFadden scored that wonder goal, Youtube was ablaze with many clips of boozed up fans celebrating before and after. It also showed the City of Lights ankle deep in empty cans and bottles...it was a clash between the free market, desperate to exploit visiting fans for their last Euro, and the freedom from responsibility, a trip abroad and the throwing off of any need to act like an adult.

 

And now, when celtc descend upon Amsterdam, it looks (and probably smells) much the same.

 

And no doubt tonight the phone ins will be hot with callers either berating the police for beating the fans or berating the panellists for not berating the celtc fans. I won't be listening, for there's nothing to be gained on that ground. Either putting the boot in (metaphorically) or absolving the celtc support of any blame is equally useless: what's needed is a collective, society wide frown upon people aged between 15-75 staggering around blind drunk just because they have travelled a few miles to a football game.

 

I'm not calling for some Calvinistic temperance pledge here: I'm not teetotal. But I'm 42 and I know how much to have and when to stop. Anyone who likes football and doesn't know that, in 2013, if you are part of a big crowd which is pished up the cops are going to go in at some point is deluded. It always happens. The level of reporting may vary, but it always happens. Police forces, especially larger municipal forces, are conditioned to treat such crowds as the enemy and given the state various Scottish clubs and the national team's fans have left behind them, who can blame them?

 

The bottom line is that if we carry on treating European away days as a gigantic piss up we have only ourselves to blame when the coppers wade in. Any media excuses over the next few days will do nothing other than guarantee it will happen again, and again, and again. But the day the likes of the desperately proletarian Keith Jackson come out and decry excessive drinking in a footballing context there will be two blue moons in the sky: despite not actually being a manual worker, he and his like for some reason feel a desperate need to come across as connected to the horny handed sons of the soil who attend the game in Scotland.

 

Never mind that Scotland has been, for decades, a service economy. Let's play up to the hard working, hard drinking stereotype because that will make us more manly. Like some Bluenoses who automatically class anyone who doesn't buy the LUMP mentality as a handwringer, a wuss. It's pitiful and immature, no better than playground name calling, but when you have the power of the media behind you it is also dangerous.

 

Sad to say, the only media person who might actually oppose such behaviour would be Graham Spiers, but he would be unlikely to risk his special pet status amongst the hooped fanbase to actually have the courage of his convictions and speak out. We shall see, I suppose.

 

In the end, it's pretty black and white. You can go to Europe's famous footballing cities, get hammered on booze and then get hammered by the cops. Or, you can go, have a few drinks, and come home without a cracked skull. It's a simple, easy message and one which any media with an ounce of social responsibility would have been hammering home years ago. No it doesn't rule out being attacked by cops on the edge of a nervous breakdown but it does provide you with a hell of a better defence is you are actually able to stand up while being attacked.

 

Outside of ourselves, who are as we know an irredeemable collection of neanderthal knuckle draggers who ought to be put out of our misery asap, Scotland likes to think of its' football fans as a jolly lot, welcome everywhere and ambassadors for the nation. Short of putting forward The Krankies, Kevin Bridges and Craig Whyte I can't think a less funny line up, and the sooner we start reinforcing this message the sooner scenes like last night will be a thing of the past.

 

Something better change, indeed.

Edited by andy steel
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One thing that rankles me is the complaints about the mess that is left behind after these events, which also seems to be included in this piece. The pictures of the aftermath of the Manchester final was pure propaganda as the real culprits were the city council who didn't organise a clean up.

 

You will see the exact same type of mess after any New Years celebration in a large city - but the likes of Edinburgh have an army of people who start cleaning it up at about 4am and finishing before 8am leaving the city centre back to normal before people have got out of bed.

 

It's not actually a football phenomenon and certainly not a Rangers one.

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I was also in Manchester and like yourselves didn't see any trouble. And this despite staying at the Ramada in Piccadilly.

 

I did see a lot of drinking during the day I spent there. Lets be honest, there isn't much else to do in Manchester. However, ours was a family day out with my wife and two kids. So we had a nice lunch in Chinatown, walked around and enjoyed the spectacle of the crowds and the banners and then found a pub with a garden and had a couple of pints in there.

 

Walking back to the hotel after the game there was certainly plenty of mess in and around Piccadilly. But it would be unfair to criticise the manchester cleansing department for that given the numbers of people drinking in the streets and the fact that they hadn't the time, at that point, to clear up. Complaints about 'mess' need to be balanced with the economic benefit to the city and the availability of bins. After all, for each can that is dumped in the gutter, some happy shopkeeper has just rung up a few pence profit.

 

Not that I am excusing the drinking culture. Personally, I see nothing redeeming about going to a foreign city and drinking solidly morning to evening. But there you are. There is something in the Scottish psyche that believes this is the thing to do. And it is far from unique to Rangers supporters. Just ask Kenny McAskill.

 

Sadly, the negative aspects of our culture only seem to hit the headlines when it is Rangers supporters. For the rest it is just a bit of fun and these foreigners who object to it are just being boorish killjoys.

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I'm not blaming the MC council for not cleaning up that night, it's an overnight job and as I said, they start at 4am in Edinburgh. I blame them for leaving it a few days and then complaining about it and using it to make us look bad after our fans spent millions of pounds there.

 

Here's NY after NY. God those New Yorkers are a disgrace...

 

01cleanup_600.jpg

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If all fans left was wrappers, paper hats and confetti you might have a point.

 

If cities welcomed football fans the way they do New Years' revellers you might have a point.

 

But they don't.

 

In Manchester, there's no doubt that the number of people compressed into a small area and the total lack of facilities on offer by a council and police service who seemed hell bent on pretending it wasn't happening contributed to the temporary 'Mare Urina' which swept, like a warm yellow tsunami, through the Lancashire town that fateful day.

 

Nevertheless, the sight of so many Bears roaming the streets with a slab under each arm - a slab, for fuck sake, that's 48 cans - just about knocked me down, which is much the effect it seems to have had on the Bears in question. MCC & GMP's being utterly useless and, indeed, complicit, for a lot of what happened and how it was reported doesn't go so far as forcing the lager down those throats.

 

There's no comparison between the welcome or the culture of organised festive celebrations, even Edinburgh's boozy Hogmanay, and the behaviour Scottish fans display abroad. It's a false argument to defend what seems to me to be anti-social loutishness which, while I may expect it from them (actually I know loads of them who are perfectly nice people and wouldn't dream of behaving in such a way) I hate to see it from anyone in a Blue shirt.

 

No doubt the same people rolling about blootered imagine they are carrying on the traditions of Struth et al. I can't see it.

Edited by andy steel
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