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The Alternative Histories of Celtic and Rangers. ep2

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Simone Byrne Simone Byrne | 14:38 UK time, Monday, 9 August 2010

The Alternative Histories of Celtic and Rangers is a 4 part series which offers alternative opinion and discourse of Celtic and Rangers from Tom Devine, Graham Spiers, Ruth Wishart and Lesley Campbell.

In the second episode of the series, award-winning sports journalist Graham Spiers examines the changing relationship between both the clubs and their fans.

Graham Spier: image courtesy of Times Newspapers

Graham Spiers

I was hesitant when first asked to contribute a programme on sectarianism to Radio Scotland's Alternative Histories of Celtic and Rangers, simply because the subject tends to make people either touchy or jumpy. Having written much about sectarianism in my newspaper work, I was also aware of the overtly aggressive responses which the subject can provoke in some circles.

But having got involved in the project, I quickly came to find it both enjoyable and illuminating. I've always said that sectarianism is not to be exaggerated in Scotland - it is far less prevalent in my view than it was, say, 30 or 40 years ago - but nor is it to be ignored. And the fact is that the problem remains inextricably linked to Celtic and Rangers.

I have always happily ignored one of the traditional and cowardly rules of Scottish sports journalism - the rule which says, always apportion equal blame to Celtic and Rangers when talking of bigotry - by pointing a much bigger finger of blame at Rangers, the club I grew up supporting. To me, the evidence for this is obvious. So we explore this and other issues in the programme.

I have to say, the Rangers and Celtic fans I spoke to in my research were all incredibly helpful and generous with their time. Maybe there is hope after all.

The Alternative Histories of Celtic and Rangers continues Wednesday 1130 on BBC Radio Scotland.


  • Comment number 1.

    Nice way to finish the programme.

    Rangers fans went to lay strips outside Celtic Park when Tommy Burns passed away.

    So everything is all right then?

    The only way to rid us of this cancer at the heart of Scottish Society is to close these two odious institutions down - for good.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well no surprises there considering it was the mighty champion of Celtic and hater of all things Rangers, Graham Spiers and the discredited Nil By Mouth, always willing to comment on sectarianism just so long as it doesn't involve the Celtic Minded being portrayed as the bad guys.

    I suppose it would have been too much to ask of the BBC Scotland bhoys that we have some views from the other side of the divide or how about even someone who is completely balanced, Prof Steve Bruce perhaps? No, that wouldn't suit your agenda.

  • Comment number 3.

    Mr Spiers gets one thing right, when he indicates that the extent of sectarianism in Scotland has been exaggerated (see the work of Prof Bruce and his team at Aberdeen University). There is little real, serious sectarianism in Scotland. On the whole people from different religious backgrounds coexist extremely peacefully and harmoniously. Football fans singing offensive songs is to be deprecated but it is more to do with neddish tribalism rather than being a sign of a society where there is widespread discrimination.


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