As we approach what is always the most sensitive clash involving Celtic and Rangers , I notice that some Celtic fans are calling on our support to respect the minute’s silence which will be held to remember those Rangers fans who died in the Ibrox disaster of 1971.
This post is written by an unapologetic Celtic fan who likes nothing better than seeing my footballing rivals put to the sword by our brave bhoys. However I echo the calls put out on social media in the last 24 hours to respect the silence and honour the memory of those who went to a game that morning and never made it home.
I make my case by stating that I come from a family which had members at both sides of the stadium on that fateful day. So much as I loathe the orange and unionist position of so many Rangers fans I can understand where it comes from in the same way I can understand Celtic’s Irish tradition as without the migration of Irish workers to Scotland my dad’s side of the family would never have arrived in the city of my birth and I wouldn’t be the Kirk attending Celtic supporting SNP member I’ve went on to become.
As someone who was a 9 year old at the time of this tragic event I have vague recollections of listening to the radio commentary of the game and feeling just a wee bit sick when Colin Stein equalised for Rangers just 30 seconds after Jimmy Johnstone looked to have won the game for Celtic with his goal in the last seconds of normal time. Trust me if I’d felt sick at Rangers equaliser that was nothing compared to how I would feel 20 minutes later as news of what had happened began to filter through.
The tragedy of the events of that day and what happened on stairway 13 will never be forgotten by the families who were robbed of brothers, husbands, nephews, and sons and communities who were deprived of friends and neighbours. Now almost 50 years on (this year marks the 46th anniversary of the tragedy) it will to some seem like just another distant event in our city’s history. For those who were around at the time however it has without doubt a far greater significance.
You see I may only have been a 9 year old at the time but you have to remember that in the days before mobile phones families had no way of knowing if their loved ones would make it home until they actually did. The relief when my relatives particularly the Rangers supporting ones who included my godfather made it to our house for the New Year gathering was clear for all to see and irrespective of our loyalties, we could get on with our lives. Other families were however not so lucky and when they got a knock on the door it was from the police informing them on the loss of their loved ones.
If I can conclude this post with only one message it would be this. We as Celtic fans have always said and I believe with some degree of justification that we are a club like no other with the best support in the world. This minute of silent contemplation gives us the chance to prove it to the rest of the world particularly the British nationalists who misreport every little detail with regards to our club in what passes for the Scottish mainstream media. Make no mistake these people are no friends of Celtic and one word or whistle out of place will give them the excuse they were looking for castigate our club and our supporters. Let’s not give them that opportunity let’s keep a dignified silence and as we do so let’s walk a mile in the Rangers fans shoes by imaging that Colin Stein had opened the scoring and it was Jimmy Johnstone who had equalised for us. It could have been our fans who had been mourning the loss family, friends, and relatives. Remember that and for one minute honour the memory of those who went to a game never to return. Then when the silence is over sing at the top of your voices and inspire the hoops to victory.
Love And Best Wishes