Ever since the rise of social media and various political movements divided us, Scottish society has been pretty fractured. In fact, it’s become downright hostile and Scottish football has followed suit with an escalation in nastiness that we thought was a relic of the pre-late 80s.
No, in the past year (six months?) alone we’ve seen vicious banners aimed at Ryan Jack, fans throwing coins at Kris Boyd, sectarian chanting from all sorts of fans including our own, invitations by Celtic fans for their ex-manager to die, St Mirren fans spitting on and throwing missiles at an unconscious Dundee United supporter, and now Dons fans suggesting Alfredo Morelos’ mother has questionable morals.
The reality of the sinkhole our game has plummeted into is staring us in the face – our game reflects our society, and the hard truth is it’s a cesspit – a cesspit in which hate has taken over and fans have lost their minds into carrying out immoral behaviour like it’s quite acceptable.
And let’s ditch this ‘handful of fans’ rubbish – the more it happens, the more it becomes clear that it’s a very big minority indeed – it’s a sizable chunk of various clubs’ fanbases be it Rangers’, Celtic’s, Aberdeen’s or indeed Paisley’s finest.
The horrible problem is how this festering cancer has been left to grow – in fact, arguably, encouraged by an apathy at top levels to truly tackling it – and it’s thrived, flourished and is now the dominant scene in the Scottish game.
It’s not just the west of Scotland – it’s a big problem there, yes, but Edinburgh and the north of Scotland have become polluted too – and no one has the power to stop it.
Dave King, as patronising and ‘tell off’ as his statements over the topic may seem, is right – we don’t want this garbage among our fanbase and we want to dignify the club with a support fitting of it. Enough of the sectarian piffle. And St Mirren and Kilmarnock were correct to condemn the ugly behaviour at their grounds too. And in fairness, Celtic too have committed statements such as these at their own supporters as well.
But it’s evidently fallen on deaf ears – it will take more than lip service to encourage supporters in this fine land of ours to behave themselves.
Is it a social issue? Of course it is – Scottish society has been ill for a long time and our national game shows the symptoms under a microscope – we have alcohol, health, mental illness, poverty and gambling plagues blighting us, as well as a hundred other unwanted characteristics.
But the game could and should do more because it’s getting worse.
Five years ago fans spitting on someone who was unconscious would have been unthinkable.
Back in the 90s and the Shame Game which changed society in Scotland was seen as the watershed moment which enforced alterations.
But events in the past year or less have shown the SPL has gone right back 20 years and probably further still.
How do we fix it? What constructive ideas do we have to help resolve these issues? Unfortunately, it’s something that will take decades, and generations. But that it’s getting worse now rather than better is a terrible sign for the potential of progress.