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Posts Tagged ‘Football’

The People’s Game Still? Games under the Shadow of Giants

Part Two

Gerry Hassan

April 12th 2012

The story goes like this. Scottish football has always been about Celtic and Rangers. Live with it. Get used to it. This is increasingly the way of the world: oligopoly, closed competition, success following money.

Leaving aside the early days of the Scottish game this perspective invites pessimism and fatalism. And funnily enough it isn’t true.

The economic, social and cultural forces of Scotland from Victorian times onwards favoured the dominance of Celtic and Rangers from the moment the game professionalised. But not to the suffocating extent of today.

The Three Waves of the Post-war Game

To illustrate the changing dynamics of the Scottish game and the drive towards greater dominance by the Glasgow two I decided to look at the pattern of the game over the post-war era. And split it into three distinct periods: 1947-65, the immediate post-war period which saw intense competition for all three domestic titles; 1966-86, the era of Celtic’s ‘nine in a row’ and the rise of ‘the New Firm’ of Aberdeen and Dundee United; and then 1987 to today, with the Souness revolution, Rangers ‘nine in a row’ and the transformation of Celtic under Fergus McCann. Read the rest of this entry »

The People’s Game Still? The State of Scottish Football

Part One

Gerry Hassan

April 11th 2012

This is an appropriate time to survey the state of Scottish football. Celtic have just been crowned champions and Rangers are in administration awaiting the next stage of that saga. It is the week before the Scottish Cup semi-finals, and that other important part of the Scots football tradition and fabric, the Scottish Junior Cup semi-finals.

In this piece and subsequent articles, I want to put the current state of our game in a historical context. I will examine changing patterns of competition, dominance, change and rivalry and in particular take the long view from the beginning of the Scottish game, look at the post-war era and the distinctive periods it contained, and at the nature of Scottish football attendances.
In covering such a broad sweep I will attempt to bring to the fore salient facts and patterns which are often overlooked in the pressure cooker, instantaneous reporting of much of our mainstream media. And in conclusion I offer some thoughts on how the game is portrayed and some observations about how the game gets out of its current position. Read the rest of this entry »

The Scotland of a Different Generation and The Last Game of ‘the 42’

Part Two

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 18th 2012

The whole day out to Peterhead was enjoyable and entertaining and made me reflect. This was a warm, sociable group of Celtic fans. There were no pub bores or people who dominated the conversation of the whole bus. There was leadership, organisation and a culture of soft collective discipline.

Some of the songs being sung on the way up wouldn’t pass the Offensive Behaviour Act 2011. But what do I make of that? Singing of the hunger strikes and Bobby Sands is not something I really want as part of modern 21st century Scotland, but I also don’t want to ban it in a bus. The song about the 1971 Ibrox disaster and making light of its tragedy is more than awful bad taste, but then the law shouldn’t be involved in the universal stupidity of football fans to sing offensive ditties about their main rivals.

Most of the young men on the bus lived in one of the poorest parts of Glasgow, and were a mix of guys in employment, often in jobs they openly expressed their hatred for or boredom in, and some who were unemployed. They were animated, articulate and intensely knowledgeable about football. In the course of an entire day, I didn’t hear one sexist or racist comment, or outwith their singing, a sectarian or offensive comment. Read the rest of this entry »

Football, Friendship and ‘the 42’

Part One

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 17th 2012

Many things matter to Scots: politics, culture, religion, the list is endless and varied. But to many nothing matters more in life than one thing: football or more accurately, their football club.

In the last few years myself and my best friend Eddie have undertake a tour of the Scottish 42 football teams, from the big grounds of the Scottish Premier League (SPL) to the once big teams making up Division One, and the struggling minnows of the lower divisions. Nearly all human life is represented here.

It has been a great experience, meeting fans, seeing grounds, speaking to officials, soaking up the atmosphere and watching teams who have survived against all the elements which modern life can throw at them.

Most of all it has been about having fun, Eddie and I celebrating our friendship, but also exploring the strange nature of Scottish football fervour which sits with an instinctual, deep lack of interest about clubs other than your own. Now this is a bit of a universal fact about football fans, but in Scotland it seems more ingrained and pronounced; particularly in ‘Old Firm’ fans who in their minds seem to inhabit a Scottish football and league of just two teams. Read the rest of this entry »

Argentina’s Dilemmas have Lessons for Scotland

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, July 30th 2011

For most of the last two weeks I have been located in Buenos Aires and its surrounding areas. This would seem at first glance to be as far from Scotland as you could imagine, excluding the ghosts of Ally’s Tartan Army of 1978.

I was there for the Copa America football tournament, which saw the favourites Argentina and Brazil knocked out, and Uruguay’s free-flowing football triumph.

Argentina in many respects felt very different. In the world of football, there was the celebratory nature of opposing fans, the humour, joy and strange lack of triumphalism. The games I attended had unsegregated fans, lots of families and even babies. People laughed, cried, argued and hugged one another including supporters of rival teams; missing was the sense of edge so prevalent in Scotland.

Walking to games with my friend Geoff in our kilts we were stopped hundreds of times for conversation and photos. One person asked whether I was from ‘Ecosse’ and when I replied in the affirmative, then stated ‘Rangers and Celtic’, and after I nodded, replied ‘battle of religion’. Another quizzed me about the popularity of golf and the quality of the St. Andrews and Carnoustie courses. Read the rest of this entry »

The People’s Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party
Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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