Posts Tagged ‘Scottish football’

Why Does Football Matter So Much? And is it about something else?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 25th 2016

Football saturates Scotland. It fills numerous conversations and dominates spaces, both public and private – and affects attitudes, thoughts and emotions. According to some measures Scotland is the most football mad part of Europe; in others, it comes third behind Iceland and Cyprus.

This isn’t just an essay about football – so if you aren’t a football fan, don’t stop reading as this affects you. If you are a football fan – and a partisan follower – let me be clear. I do not hate or want to denigrate any of Scotland’s football clubs, Rangers and Celtic included, while I do not see any club as beyond redemption or above reproach.

The Scottish Cup Final last Saturday between Hibs and Rangers was a captivating game of football. Hibs dramatically won the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years and then all hell broke loose. Read the rest of this entry »

The ‘War ‘on Free Speech and Free Thinking in Scotland and the UK

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 24th 2016

Freedom of expression and thought are cornerstones of any ‘free society’. Who could disagree with such an uncontentious statement?

It is not quite as simple. There are always going to be tensions and conflicts, but more and more the issue of what is ‘free speech’ has become heated and controversial, with claims and counter-claims on what people have the right to say and shouldn’t say, and who can say it.

This can be seen across the UK and West, from the rise of ‘no platforming’ at universities to the emergence of pseudo-offence and challenge as in the recent Peter Tatchell case, and the definition of ‘hate crime’ into ‘hate thought’ in legislation such as the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act.

All of these are connected. There is a visible authoritarianism in public life, evident in the actions of governments, a systematic curtailment of civil liberties and gathering encroachment of the surveillance state. In places, there are highly sensitive attitudes about language, shaped by what groups can appropriate certain words. In a Western world which has been conducting a ‘war on terror’ for the last fifteen years, there are a host of tensions around terrorism, religion and race, as well as a variety of more esoteric Western privileged debates about identity. Missing from a lot of this is a sense of tolerance, dialogue and curiosity about the exchange of ideas. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s Football Revolution of Recent Years

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 6th 2015

The last few years have seen the natural order of things disrupted in Scotland.

The once dominant force in the land has been humbled, its traditional place and authority usurped by others, and a series of ineffective and incompetent leaders have promised salvation and then not delivered.

This is the story of Glasgow Rangers, although there are similarities with the recent experience of Scottish Labour. And yet until the last six months or so of the indyref, the big news story of our country was not political, but about Rangers.

To some people this was a period of joy: celebrating the toppling of the famous and once powerful Rangers. This was particularly true of Rangers haters, some of who were Celtic fans and some of who were fans of Scotland’s other forty senior clubs fed up at the predictability of the Old Firm’s historic stranglehold. Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of the Small: A Journey into a Hidden Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, November 19th 2014

Football is everywhere in modern life and no more so than in Scotland.

It is a partial story, concentrating on the theatre, drama and tropes of a very select few: the changing fortunes of Celtic and Rangers, the predictability of the Premiership, and an over-focus on a few clubs in the Central Belt (along with Aberdeen and the two Dundee clubs).

A whole array of football is missing from these accounts: the Scotland of the non-league game represents what is in effect a hidden Scotland. The biggest and most impressive part of this is junior football which covers 164 clubs in the country, and is nearly entirely absent from our media and public conversation, from the vast coverage of the game on TV, radio and papers, and which seems even beyond the reach and interest of Stuart Cosgrove and Tam Cowan’s ‘Off the Ball’, along with most football reporters.

At the start of January 2012 myself and my friend Eddie completed our tour of Scotland’s 42 senior football grounds and teams. We had deliberately undertaken the journey in a rambling, off the cuff way: to consciously not make it into a project or extension of work, and to do it with affection and love. It was also not just about football, but going to parts of our country with curiosity, as well as spending time travelling and blethering as friends. That experience concluded as I wrote about in ‘Scottish Review’ at the time, at a Peterhead v. Celtic cup game, and Berwick Rangers v. Stranraer. Read the rest of this entry »

The missing stories and, for some, the pain of growing up

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 8th 2013

On Saturday the Scottish football season opened in earnest with the first weekend programme of the new Scottish Premiership.

There has been little excitement amongst fans, followers and media, despite the final reincorporation of the league authorities into one body, the Scottish Professional Football League, and the ending of football as a closed shop with the agreement of play-offs in and out of the lower league. But it all seems to most the status quo by another name, aided by the continuation of the discredited Neil Doncaster-Stewart Regan MBA culture at the top of the game.

In all the words and talk expended, the psychologies of Scottish football are both fascinating and deeply entrenched, yet seldom explored. In this essay, I want to examine two dimensions: the historical dominance of Celtic and Rangers historically, and the recent implosion of Rangers.

Scottish football has, since its inception been shaped by the triumphs and tribulations of Celtic and Rangers. In the last 20 seasons, a mere eight other clubs have won a total of 12 trophies out of a potential 60. Yet, Scottish football hasn’t always been as lopsided as this. In post-war times, there were two very different periods and experiences, 1946-65 before the Stein era at Celtic, and the first decade of the Scottish Premier Division. These were highly competitive eras with a powerful Hearts and Hibs in the first, and Aberdeen and Dundee United in the second. Sadly, the Scottish Premier League has since the advent of the UEFA Champions League, been the joint most uncompetitive league in Europe, alongside Ukraine. Read the rest of this entry »

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