A Guest Blog by Martin Lennon
Wednesday night’s display before the Barcelona game was without a doubt the Green Brigade’s finest hour so far. The sixty thousand piece mosaic was breath-taking in it’s design, it’s execution and it’s sheer scale. It set the tone for an electric atmosphere, unlike anything I have experienced in my twelve years as a season ticket holder; an atmosphere which I am certain played a huge part in Celtic’s performance and our historic result. However, as I look forward to Sunday’s match against St Johnstone my enthusiasm for the Green Brigade has begun to wane.
Remembrance Sunday represents the anniversary of the Green Brigade’s lowest ebb. The misspelled banner displayed before Celtic kicked-off against Aberdeen in 2010 was an utter embarrassment to the Celtic support. It displayed a lack of maturity, sensitivity and moral consistency which someday could well be the downfall of the Green Brigade.
Let me be clear from the outset, I do not mean to apologise for the actions of the British Army or indeed any army. In my firm view armed warfare is a social disease and I am very thankful that it is one which is getting less and less common around the world. We are, in Western Europe, currently enjoying the longest period of continuous peace in recorded history. Although in absolute numbers it appears to be on the rise, once you factor in a rising global population you realise that our generation are less likely to die in war than any previous generation, ever. However my distaste for the glorification of war and of armies is not shared by many in the Green Brigade.
Theirs is a distaste for the glorification of specific wars and for specific armies. They were utterly appalled by the appointment of former UK Defence Secretary John Reid as Chairman of Celtic, but I suspect that Northern Irish Deputy First Minister and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness would not have been met with the same moral indignation. Their regular choruses of the Ballad of Aiden McAnespie express a righteous horror at the death of an innocent young man at the hands of the British Army and yet, no such horror can be heard when they sing about graffiti on the wall that says “ooh ah, Up the ‘RA!”
Indeed, when the club was fined by UEFA as a result of that particular chant, the Green Brigade did not apologise for embarrassing the club. They instead unveiled a petulant “F**k UEFA” banner at the next Europa League match, meaning further fines and further embarrassment for the club.
On this blog’s Facebook page today I read a comment that argued if Celtic is to be a club open to all we must reach out to those who have suffered at the hands of British Imperialism – I whole heartedly agree with this sentiment. However if we are to be a club open to all we must also reach out to those who have been the victims of all armed conflict. Those who have been the victims of the IRA, the UDA, the PLO, ETA, Hamas, Al Quieda, the IDF, the Taliban and the myriad of others. We furthermore must reach out to those whose brothers, sisters, children, parents and grandparents have been sent to war to die. We must recognise that even soldiers who survive are victims of war. We must see the very idea of violence as a means of conflict resolution as the enemy.
I hope I do not witness a disrupted minute’s silence at Celtic Park today, but not because I will be wearing a red poppy. I hope I do not witness it because it is a shallow, juvenile point to make. I will be wearing a white poppy.