As The Cup Final Draws Closer, the Media Disconnects Further from Reality

False narratives in Scottish football aren’t just an annoyance, they can also be dangerous.

As I write this, it’s still a couple of days away from Sunday’s League Cup Final. Once again the Scottish press are hard at work, dredging every bog they can, in pursuit of something, anything, to take the shine away from Celtic’s scintillating form of late.

Of course, the Scottish Red Tops’ other weapon of choice is also in full view this week, and with all the subtlety of a Green Brigade Banner about Douglas Ross. I refer of course to the ultimate false narrative, the great lie, the final delusion that sustains what little readership these rags have left: “It’s an Old Firm Game, so anything can happen.”

Those of us who have maintained a grip on reality for the past decade know, of course, that “The Old Firm”, as an entity, died along with Rangers FC in 2012.

In the eyes of many Celtic fans, it died long before that. Being so closely associated with Scotland’s Shame, and the fascist fantasists that attach themselves to them, has never sat well with many among the Celtic support.

However, let’s set that aside for now. Ultimately, we are dealing with a mindset that will not change no matter how much evidence is presented to it, or how ridiculous their claims may seem. These are, after all, working class people who vote Conservative!

Instead, let’s look at the remainder of the above quote, the notion that “anything can happen” simply because of the two teams on the park.

This simply doesn’t add up.


If Celtic avoid injuries between now and kick off, we will, in all likelihood win, and win well. History shows this. Form matters, and aside from the occasional blip, whoever is on top that year, will, most likely win the game.

During Martin O’Neill’s tenure at Celtic, we famously beat Rangers 7 times in a calendar year. No amount of hard graft, staunchness or “derby day atmosphere” could alter that. We were vastly superior to our opponents in those years. Whenever they did get a result against us, it was a one off, a sporadic occurrence. Only when Rangers had a commanding lead in the championship, did they dominate us with the same degree of consistency in head to head matches.

Of course any kind of one-off game, especially with the ongoing assistance of the “honest mistakes” of the refereeing brotherhood, has a degree of random unpredictability to it.

However, in giving the Ibrox hoards false optimism, in feeding their grossly misplaced sense of self-entitlement, the Scottish press not only does the truth a disservice, they also endanger the general public. Yet the press will accept none of the responsibility when the mob they did so much to wind up all week, goes on the rampage yet again.

These are, after all, the same people that decided to trash much of Glasgow’s city centre when they won their first ever title.  Where was the media condemnation of this?


Well, it was there, eventually, but muted. To this day, the club calling themselves Rangers have never formally condemned the actions of the thousands who descended upon George Square that weekend. Have the media in Scotland done anything to highlight this? No, of course not. In today’s fast food news cycle, the editors know all too well that it’s all about the headline. Minor details, such as the truth, can’t be allowed to get in the way of a good front page.

As anyone with a cursory knowledge of recent European history will tell you, when fascist mobs go on the rampage, the failure of wider society to condemn them serves only to further embolden these people. Like the school playground bully, when they see the consequences of their actions to be, ultimately, inconsequential, what’s to stop them from doing it again?

Instead, this week our media have yet again set about actively encouraging this kind of behaviour.

We’ve had former players wade in with their usual predictions. We’ve also had managers and officials from other clubs do likewise. Not the slightest hint of journalistic inquiry was applied to any of these claims. The likes of David Martindale (someone whom, until recently, I actually had a great deal of respect for, for turning his life around as he did) said that Celtic and Rangers were “basically equal”. When he did so, this was printed verbatim. Not even a shred of evidence or statistical analysis was offered to back up this nonsense. In truth the journalists in question probably didn’t even ask for it.

Remember, to the hacks it’s all about the headline, first and foremost. Facts can sit on the sidelines until later. This kind of stenography masquerading as journalism would almost be comedic, were it not for the darker side it also empowers.

More recently, we’ve had Rangers players referring to Celtic as “that other mob”. Disrespectful, but again those lapdogs with laptops lapped it up, so to speak.

Now, in fairness, do I think Fashion Sakala actually holds any genuine animosity towards Celtic’s players or fans? No I don’t. He was clearly saying what he had been told to say, and the media applied their usual embellishment.

Yet when some poor wee guy in green and white gets attacked on his way home from the game on Sunday night because he’s one of “that other mob”, the media will take no responsibility.

As there was in 2011, when Celtic knocked the previous Rangers out of a cup competition, there will be much hand-wringing in the Scottish press. There will talk about the “blight on society” of “old firm fans”. Once again, the silence from the Ibrox board room will persist.

I sincerely hope there is no violence on Sunday. Come the final result, whatever it may be, I hope it is a good game, and both sets of fans get home safely. However, we do not need our press pouring gallons of petrol onto an already white hot fixture.

I will close with this simple analogy. As a journalism student some 20 years ago, one of my lecturers said to me: “One source might tell you there’s a torrential downpour outside. Another may tell you there’s bright sunshine. But as a journalist, your job is not to report both these statements, without critique. Instead, you need to look outside and see if it’s raining!”

I wonder, when was the last time anyone at The Sun or The Daily Record sports desk bothered to look outside their window?



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