Football craziness ruins game
What are we like? We are obsessed with football – and it intrudes disproportionately on our lives.
Here in the cradle of Scottish football we have to suffer the angst that accompanies it into every living room and public place where there is a television set.
There is football on offer every night of the week, and all day on Sundays, much to the chagrin of many people.
I have, in recent weeks, been putting together a book about people and places in Dunbartonshire and Loch Lomondside, and naturally football has a prominent place in it.
The antipathy between Rangers and Celtic supporters which, despite objections from the clubs, who have a vested interest in the numbers coming through the turnstiles, and politicians, who want to turn a blind eye to it lest it offends voters, is forever with us.
It manifests itself in trouble such as happened at the end of Hibernian’s Scottish Cup victory over Rangers at Hampden Park.
That incident has, of course, been blown out of all proportion, and the media must shoulder much of the blame for that.
So, too, must the person who drew up the Rangers’ statement following this incident, and the directors who signed it off.
It was, as they say in football, well over the top and it will have dire consequences for all Scottish football clubs.
Celtic and Rangers and other prominent Scottish football clubs, such as there are, were about to be invited to join a new English league set-up.
After what happened at Hampden, on and off the field, that plan has been kicked into row Z in the grandstand.
One story I have in my book involves John Madden from Dumbarton, the first Celtic player ever to kick a ball against Rangers, and Neil McCallum, a Valeman who was the first Celt to score in an Old Firm match.
It centres mainly on Madden - I won’t go into detail here who was born in Dumbarton High Street, and whose relatives lived in College Street and Hill Street, Brucehill.
Madden is a legend in European football and became a hugely successful player and coach with Slavia in Prague.
The Czech club hadn’t heard of him though and had been trying to persuade another Dumbarton man, John Robertson, who played for Rangers, to take the job.
Robertson, who became the first ever manager of Chelsea FC, had his mind set on a career in journalism and declined the offer from Prague.
Then he and another famous Rangers and Dumbarton player, Findlay Speedie, put their heads together and came up with a scheme to put Madden’s name forward for the post.
They told the Czechs that Madden was one of their team mates at Ibrox Park and sent him off to Prague with a business card with his photograph on it in a swish bowler hat and expensive Crombie coat.
The card bore the legend “John Madden, Rangers”.
Although there may have been good, honest rivalry, it appears there was no antipathy at that time between the Old Firm players or the fans.
Whatever differences there may have been between Rangers and Celtic players were put to one side. These men were all Sons of the Rock and they stuck together.
The bigotry and sectarianism that taints the beautiful game in Scotland was to boil over later as the numbers of both Protestant and Catholic Irish immigrants swelled the workforce the Clyde shipyards.
In the newspaper business they talk about stories having legs. The story of Scotland’s shame is a marathon runner, the gift that to the media goes on giving to this day.
It is a pity therefore that this obsession with trouble on the terracing overshadows so many of the good stories about football and the vast majority of people involved in it.
Like the story of the Rev Ian Miller, who is probably the only minister in the Church of Scotland who supports Celtic and is included in his new book about his life as a parish minister in Bonhill.
And young John McGinn, of Hibs and Scotland, whose story featured in the Lennox Herald just a few weeks ago.
Since then John has received an international cap in the game against Denmark at Hampden and was voted man of the match.
He starred too against Rangers in the cup final and afterwards celebrated with his grandfather, Jack McGinn, who lives in Dumbarton.
Jack is a past chairman of Celtic and President of the Scottish Football Association and hasn’t a sectarian bone in his body.
Football runs in families and it is no coincidence that young McGinn’s forebears were highly skilled footballers.
One of them was John Madden, who became known as the Father of Czechoslovakian football.
They talk about stories having legs - the story of Scotland’s shame is a marathon runner
The generation game John McGinn with grandfather Jack