Mar 162013
 

Dramatic Scenes On And Off The Park

 

The Greek Gazelle celebrates his dramatic late winner.

 

Earlier today, the Hoops fought back from two goals down at a rain drenched Celtic Park to snatch a late 4-3 victory against Aberdeen. Undoubtedly, this will have left many Aberdeen supporters feeling sick regarding what they witnessed in the last fifteen minutes of the match or so. The bad taste in their mouths will have been somewhat similar to that endured by the Celtic fans who travelled to Dingwall last weekend. However, whilst sport can do this to the supporters of any game or Club, it is sad to realise that the actions of a supposedly respectable body, such as the Police Force in Scotland, can leave a similarly sour taste in the mouth of the public.

And so, whilst an emphatic comeback culminating in a dramatic late winner from Georgios Samaras should be what today is remembered for, it is likely that the events involving the police and supporters prior to the match will live longer in the memories of many.

As a number of Celtic supporters gathered on the Gallowgate for a march in support of the Green Brigade, they were met with a couple of hundred police officers, between fifteen and twenty police vans, and a helicopter overhead. Upon the marchers having covered a short distance, their progress was halted by a line of police officers, who proceeded to kettle the group of a couple of hundred individuals, which included both the young and old. Age appeared to be of no consideration, as supporters were struck with batons, with some being thrown against walls or the ground beneath their feet before being arrested.

A fuller description of the events can be found in the following piece written by Angela Haggerty, who was in attendance as events unfolded earlier today – click here.

Now, the motto of Strathclyde Police is “Keeping People Safe”. With this in mind, one could presume that they felt the Celtic supporters gathering earlier today posed a threat to the safety of the Glaswegian public. This is, of course, somewhat farcical, but let’s stick with it for the sake of it for now.

 

A teenager, of school age, is pinned face down by three male police officers.

 

So, what could this “fear” be based on? The last major incidence of violence involving Celtic supporters (other than the infamous “Boxing Day Riot” at Dundee – please excuse my sarcastic tone there) was that of the 1980 Scottish Cup Final, over three decades ago. Since then, incidences of football violence in Scotland have decreased dramatically, so we can, perhaps, rule that out as a potential “fear” for the police. And so, presuming that wasn’t the issue, what was?

According to those on the ground today, police officers were quoted as saying that the reason for their presence was the lack of an application to Glasgow City Council regarding the march. Therefore, fearing a breach of public order, they had to be there.

Now, maybe I’m being cynical here, and perhaps an application should have been made to the council, but if someone were to unofficially organise a march online protesting about, for example, pensions, I doubt Strathclyde Police would see the need for there to be approximately one officer to one marcher. The story regarding a phone call reporting “a large gathering” on the Gallowgate is also totally farcical, as it is simply impossible to believe the police did not know about this event prior to today, especially when they pay close attention to several websites and unofficial outlets online. By all accounts, many of the police officers were there in advance of most supporters’ arrival, no doubts at great cost to the taxpayer.

Every year, thousands march through the streets of Glasgow, as well many surrounding towns, as they participate in the innately divisive “Orange Walks”. Of late, we have also seen thousands of the Rangers supporters march on Hampden. And yet, ironically, the police presence at these events is, proportionally, no where near as extreme. Below are two images, one from a TRFC march, and another from today – spot the difference.

 

Embedded image permalink

Blue? Check. Red? Check? Fluorescent Yellow? Nope.

Green? Check. White? Check. Fluorescent Yellow? Everywhere.

 

Fundamentally, nobody, regardless of who they are, or who they support, should have any presumption of guilt made against them purely because they are a football fan. To be a football fan does not make you a criminal. The tactics employed today by the police were both intimidatory and inflammatory, and they have only gone to worsen an increasingly volatile situation, when they should instead be doing all they can to defuse it. How can the Celtic supporters who travel to Celtic Park or any other Scottish stadia respect the police force that is meant to protect them, when they treat other members of our support with such disdain? In all honesty, I know I cannot, and I doubt I am the only one.

As I’ve highlighted before, I do not necessarily agree with everything the Green Brigade have done over the years. However, that is neither here nor there when it comes to such a basic issue as that of human rights. Simply because an individual describes themselves  as an “ultra” does not mean they are of any more threat than any other supporter. The group have no history of violence and this must not be forgotten.

It is also critical to note that not all of the supporters in attendance today were affiliated with the Green Brigade. Most were simply there to show their support for their group, whilst a few others were passing through and were caught up in the going’s on. The protest was wholly peaceful.  To discover a serious incident of violence within the Celtic support you must look back more than three decades ago, and this must not be forgotten either.

In Europe, the Celtic support is praised to the highest degree wherever it may go. Vast amounts of alcohol are consumed, and often the team loses, and yet this praise is almost continuous. Thousands upon thousands have travelled to more cities than I can mention, without disorder or trouble.

And so, why are large parts of our support vilified at every opportunity in Scotland? Perhaps the police believe that if they push the Green Brigade (and/or the Celtic support as a whole) far enough they will be able to force an uncharacteristic reaction which they could then use to justify their archaic treatment of football supporters in Scotland?

I’ll leave you to ponder that one.

One thing is clear though – this bullying has to stop. Now.

 

(Picture courtesy of TCN)

This picture says more than I can myself.

 

Please note: All photographs have been provided by “The Celtic Network” (TCN). I do not own them.

  11 Responses to “Heavy Handed Policing Overshadows Seven Goal Thriller”

  1. I was there with a10 year old who was pushed and shoved by cops, police who set out to intimidate fans and provoke reaction should be ashamed of their actions, many had removed their collars to prevent ID, thus preventing legitimate complaints

  2. […] supporters feeling sick regarding what they witnessed in the last fifteen minutes of the match […] …read more Read more here: […]

  3. i witnessed outside the stadium at full time , 2 mounted “dragoons” violently manhandling a child from horseback whilst ironically radioing for backup. honestly the horses were nearly crushing the wean against a wall..then the storm troopers arrived and nearly ripped the wee lads arms off cuffing him.
    all i saw the poor kid do was stand with his hands up like he was being held at gun point..my missus witnessed this as well…truely shocking..

  4. You misunderstand my friend a orange walk is just a harmless family day oot.
    singing sectarian songs,imtimidating locals and urinating in catholic churchyards is just part of their CULCHER!.
    But I agree with you completely this act must be repealed,and I wait on our club making a statement in support of the people who pay their fat salaries.
    The board have been silent to long on this matter,we have got rid of boards before and we can do it again.

    hail hail

    keith.

  5. I arrived at Belgrove yesterday around 2pm, unaware of the events a mile away. My 2kids and I, along with a few other fans were met by a line of Police on the platform and friendly was not a word you could use to describe their stance.
    Surprised by the volume and hostility of the ‘welcoming’ party, I wondered what was going on. Having been to many European nights and Rangers games at CP, I have never witnessed this level of police nor their intimidating stance.
    There were police vans full of officers all around the area and none were friendly nor approachable.
    On leaving the ground there was very little police presence until we arrived back at Belgrove. We were met again with a line of officers. As my 8yr old daughter approached she said hello to a policeman and her friendly words were welcomed with a filthy look. Role model? She is taught in school the police are there to help and she frequently says hello when she sees the police.
    I chose not to confront the officer as they were clearly hostile and I did not want to risk any confrontation while my kids were present.
    Celtic FC need to address this and urgently. I no longer feel it is safe to take my family to CP. A sad day in our history!

  6. Quote “The story regarding a phone call reporting “a large gathering” on the Gallowgate is also totally farcical, as it is simply impossible to believe the police did not know about this event prior to today, especially when they pay close attention to several websites and unofficial outlets online. By all accounts, many of the police officers were there in advance of most supporters’ arrival, no doubts at great cost to the taxpayer.”….If thats a true statement then they must have flown police cover up to glasgow from ayrshire as a lot of them on duty were from Ayrshire HH

  7. This is disgusting, something needs to be done. Everyone needs to take a stand against this savage treatment. This is not just about supporting ur team anymore. It’s is a clear political and religious statement being made by Strathclyde police, THEY have made this much bigger than football. Surely councillors and politicians needs to examine this waste of public money, they continually state how tight the public purse is so how can the cost of this type of overreaction be explained, plus the courts fees etc for cases that are not proven. We also need to question the credibility of this pitiful excuse of a police force. Clear Discrimination!!!! Feel as though we have been taken back in time looking at some of these pictures!!!

  8. I was in the middle of that. The police were way out of order pushing and shoving people and threatening arrest if we tried to leave , after I got out we were then told to go in different directions again with the threat of getting lifted if we stopped or refused to go the way they told us to . Scotland is becoming a police state and salmond has given them the power to do what they want without being answerable to anyone . P.s I’m not a GB member I only went to show support for a group of football fans

  9. I took my son to cp with 2 of my pals season books,got in,glanced at his row and seat number to locate my seats then was immediately pulled to the side searched and quizzed about where I was from etc.my six year old son simply asked why the police came to me,I don’t have any criminal record whatsoever so it was quite hard explaining to him,it’s getting beyond a joke

  10. how can the polis ban a 14 year old boy from the football when he was about a mile and half away from the game . The Manchester riots by the Huns were deemed by uefa nothing to do with the football game

  11. Seems a bit strange to me that Strathclyde Police can afford such expense to intimidate a few football fans.
    Its not as if they were responding to a reported incident? They were there to create a problem!!
    Whoever authorised their deployment should be sacked immediately.
    How many real crimes were being committed whilst tax-payers money was being wasted harassing a couple of hundred football fans?

    Note to naughty people in Glasgow:
    Do your stuff when Celtic are playing at home. You,ll never get caught because all resources will be deployed elsewhere.

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