I confess; I`m a football fan….not a fanatic but its diminutive. I`ve been to games north and south including Scotland. In the distant but not dimmed past I`ve experienced bottles smashing into nearby heads but missing mine. I`ve witnessed fights when terraces were standing only. I`ve descended from the top exit to the bottom exit of a stadium`s terracing without my feet touching the ground. And latterly I`ve sat in front of a large T.V. watching Arsenal beat Barcelona and Celtic beating Rangers.
Over the years amongst the places I`ve spent my hard earned pounds are Glasgow and Belfast. Glasgow has been described by some wits as Belfast “lite”. That`s as pithy and accurate description of a city as I can imagine. But the “liteness” still does not apply to the unequalled rivalry between the two large football clubs which dominate the scene nor to their supporters.
Whilst it`s common to see very young children in the crowds of Premier League matches it`s less obvious at Old Firm matches and judging by the post match violence reported in today`s Daily Record it`s not surprising and just when you thought it was safe to go into the maelstrom of a Celtic v Rangers derby again. The average number of arrests in that city on Sundays for offences of violence, disorder and antisocial behaviour is 182; an astounding number in a city of half a million with a history of Calvinistic abstinence by half the population and Sunday Mass for the other half. But 230 louts were arrested after the match. There were also 51 arrests for suspected domestic violence offences. If you can`t kick the cat when your team loses just kick the old woman…..Of course the numbers found guilty are still to be determined. To add to the Keystone Cops scenario, if it weren`t so serious, it appears that Strathclyde Police ran out of cells in which to hold their suspects. It is surprising that the force`s Assistant Chief Constable is quoted as saying he doesn`t blame the fans. Perhaps it was, to quote the late former prime minister Harold MacMillan, “the wind of change” blowing through Celtic Park.