It may be indefensible but Old Firm final is unrivalled
HOW does one become “woke”? For those not in the know, the word is a new way of describing people who don’t like racism and injustice. The type who want the world to be a better place. Bloody snowflakes . . .
Adolf Hitler was pretty woke, and he was a Nazi. Sure, he was the most evil person to have ever lived but, credit where it’s due, he loved animals and never ate meat.
Ah, but I ought not to laugh. I’m pretty woke but just like many a woke fanatic, this football fan is a hypocrite.
I hate bigotry; religion is not for me; the way working-class people turn against one another for reasons they couldn’t with all honesty explain is depressing. That they do so at a football game, indeed they use the game to express appalling, blinkered views of the world, is a national scandal that nobody knows how to solve.
Yet I can’t wait for Sunday’s cup final.
Yes, I’m a woke fan of the Old Firm. It’s been eight-anda-half years since the two ugly sisters met in a final. It’s been way too long. I have been counting the days since the two won their semi-finals.
The atmosphere is going to be poisonous. Banners will be held aloft that would shame those responsible if they had any shame. Songs about paedophilia – as if it was something to celebrate – will be chanted, the Troubles will get a few mentioned (lads, it’s been 22 years), Steven Gerrard’s family are to be fair game, as will Scott Brown’s.
It’s as if Oscar Wilde was still with us and today fed patter to the supporters of Celtic and Rangers.
For those of us who are woke – is the plural wookies? – this is the sort of sordid event we should avoid, and those fortunate enough to have a platform get the chance to be all high and mighty about the Old Firm.
Me? The hours are now being chalked off before Sunday. I have the day off. There was no way I would miss it. Don’t judge. There is something about Glasgow’s two giant institutions going head to head that sends shivers down the spine like no other game in football.
Folks, this is the best and without question the worst match in world football. It can be impossible to defend. It is impossible to ignore. It means so much. It means too much. It is too much. And yet there are so many of us who can’t get enough.
Those hacks who bang on about how the world would be a better place without this fixture are always at the games. Strange, that.
The Celtic fans who claim the Old Firm “died along with Rangers” don’t bother with these matches – so they say. I don’t believe them. My guess is come Sunday there won’t be a single empty seat in the Celtic end at Hampden.
My journalistic career has taken me all over the world. The question asked more than any other has always
Villa, Liverpool v Everton
– – Amazon Prime Video 1830; Ligue 1, Toulouse v Monaco – BT Sport 1 1800, Paris St Germain v Nantes – BT Sport 1 2000; Coppa Italia, Udinese v Bologna – BT Sport 2 2000 Golf PGA Tour, The Hero World Challenge – Sky Sports
Main Event, Sky Sports Golf 1800
Snooker UK Championship – BBC Two 1300, Eurosport 1 1300, 1845
TOMORROW Football Premier League, Arsenal v Brighton, Sheffield United v Newcastle – Amazon been: “What is the Old Firm game really like?” Nobody ever asks about the derbies on Merseyside, Manchester and London. Or about El Classico. That’s the God’s honest truth. It’s on the bucket list of every football trainspotter. Nobody involved has ever talked down the hype. Nothing compares. The games themselves can be terrible. Even the good ones, in terms of excitement, often lack quality. But in America or Africa, they don’t ask about Davie Cooper’s goal in the Dryburgh Cup Final. Henrik Larsson doesn’t get a mention, even in Europe. It’s about the hatred, the songs, what is Glasgow like on the day? And I would duly recount tales of various crazy days, almost boasting about the time Rangers won the league at Parkhead in 1999 and a Celtic fan fell from the top to bottom tier who was then carried away by the medical people while clapping his hands. As the great Tom Shields
Prime Video 1900; Coppa Italia, Cagliari v Sampdoria – BT Sport 1 2000
Golf Emirates Australian Open – Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Golf 0630; European Tour, AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open – Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Golf 0830; mused at the time: Did he fall or was he pished?
Politicians occasionally lift their noses from the trough to stick it in the national game whenever lines are crossed – contributing nothing apart from vacuous comments written by PR people who take their lead from Twitter. They know nothing. Look, this is not me giving a pass to much of what goes on. A lot of the behaviour is inexcusable. The way certain supporters groups on both sides pompously defend what they get up to demonstrates an inability to see beyond their own attitudes and prejudices.
However, what cannot and will never be taken away from any Old Firm match, but especially a cup final, is that it matters. It really matters. Rightly or (mostly) wrongly.
And that is why Sunday is going to be brilliant.
I’m a Celtic supporter so, sod it, I want my team to win. It feels good to say it. And to do it at Hampden always makes it that bit more special. Hell, I’d rather win than be woke.
For all its ugliness, the Glasgow derby is a wonderful thing. Bring on the madness.
PAUL Gascoigne was back in Glasgow recently. By all accounts, that’s every single one, he was drunk and offering selfies in return for more drink.
Nobody likes anyone feeling sorry for us. However, it’s next to impossible not to have anything but sympathy for how his life has turned out.
I got a lot of flak last year for suggesting the last thing Paul Gascoigne needed was to be at the Scottish football Hall of Fame. Not that he didn’t deserve the accolade, but putting him in a drinking and fawning environment would be a bad move. Tragically, nothing has changed.
Ladies European Tour, Kenya Open – Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Golf 1330; PGA Tour, Hero World Challenge – Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Golf 1800 Snooker UK Championship – BBC Two 1300, 1900, Eurosport 1 1300, 1845.
Scott Brown and Walter Smith lead sides out in 2011 cup final