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The Hun finally comes on board

October 19, 2007

Rangers against Fascism – who’d a thunk it?

I’ve been criticised on this blog before for betraying a pro-republican bias and portraying Rangers football supporters as a bunch on inbred fascists.

I challenged the reader to try Googling the phrases “Celtic anti-fascist“, and “Rangers anti-fascist“. The result: 21 500 hits for the former, including the excellent anti-fascist fan site, Tiocfaidh Ar La. At the time, there were no results for Rangers (except for anti-fascist sites reporting on Ranger’s fans activities), because, I suppose, the idea was a contradiction in terms. By being anti-fascist they’d be alienating all their support.

Well, that’s changed. There’s now a Ranger’s anti-fascist site.

“This site has been set up in response to ‘Celtic Fans against fascism’ and a number of other sites that have been slandering Rangers fans, falsely accusing us of being racists, fascists and nazis! We support celtic fc and their fans in any effort to tackle bigotry, racism and sectarianism, but we will not accept them lying about our club to do so! Like most football clubs we have problems with a minority of fans, as do celtic, but the kind of propaganda and defamation levelled at Rangers fans, Unionists and Loyalists only serves to worsen divisions and create resentment and hostility.”

It’s a start, I suppose, though they still appear to be jingoistically pro-British. Still, I hope the trend continues.

OK, background for anyone reading this who isn’t from Scotland: there are two major premier league teams in Glasgow, Rangers and Celtic. They dominate Scottish football, and are collectively known as the Old Firm.

Celtic was founded in 1888 as a football club for Irish Catholic immigrants, based on the success of a similar club founded a few years earlier in Edinburgh, Hiberian (that’s the team that the characters in Trainspotting support).

Catholics faced discrimination in Scotland until quite recently, and Celtic was a football club, a social network, and a political force against discrimination. While it still has strong links to Irish republicanism, it is broadly considered to be a progressive force, and has a good reputation for anti-racism and support for national liberation struggles (There are some scary Celtic pubs in the East End of Glasgow full of hard men, with walls covered in flags from Cuba, Catalonia, Palestine, Basque separatists and more).

Celtic is also the natural home for a wide range of political movements, from Antifa to the Republican Communist Network. And it is unusual to find a trade unionist who is not a Celtic supporter.

Of course there is also a dark side, of plastic Paddies and IRA supporting thugs, but broadly the team has a good reputation.

Rangers, on the other hand….

Rangers are the Protestant and unionist club. They fetishise the British Empire, and see themselves as British rather Scottish (just as many Celts see them themselves as Irish, it has to be said – when are we going to get a team that sees itself as Scottish?).

Rangers is the natural home for a wide range of political movements, including the British National Party and some extremely dubious Loyalist groups.

Rangers-supporting Orange bastards still march through Catholic areas in an attempt to intimidate people, but of course that’s just culture now. These bastards used to march passed my house all summer, whistling on their little flutes, pissing in the streets and generally making a xenophobic nuisance of themselves.

While I am not particularly a football fan, I am anti-Britain and anti-fascist, so you can imagine where my sympathies lie.

Of course, you can’t generalise about fans: there are some real pricks who support Celtic, and some sound rangers fans.

But….

Football is political in Europe, and there are fraternal links between clubs with a similar political outlook, such as the close relationship between Celtic and the Hamburg team St Pauli, aka The Anarchists, favourite of both The Sisters of Mercy and Einsturzende Neubauten.

Rangers, of course, has links with rather more dubious clubs, such as St Germaine, Red Star Belgrade (favourite of Serb war criminals) and Real Madrid, which was the favourite of the fascist dictator Franco.

Rangers symbolises everything I like least about Scotland (and the Britain it identifies with), and I have always felt it needs to be defeated: on the football pitch (preferably by Celtic or Hibs), on the streets, and in the battle of ideas.

For some political football merchandise, check out Philosophy Football.

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