Months after Celtic won an ‘invincible treble’ and progressed into the next round of the Champions League qualifiers, Celtic fans should be united behind the Celtic standard being flown by Brendan Rodgers and his squad. But instead the support is split after the Green Brigade’s egotistical beliefs cost the club once again.
The Green Brigade’s pre-meditated decision to target Linfield fans with an inflammatory paramilitary banner and another disrespecting the Celtic manager based on the IRA ‘Sniper at Work’ road sign, has seen UEFA charge the club for the 13th time in the space of six years.
That punishment led to the club making the decision to close section 111 – referred to as the ‘Green Brigade section’ – for the next two matches.
Green Brigade statement
Predictably the self-styled Ultras group hit back in a statement. They accepted full responsibility for the pyros during the Hearts match in May and the paramilitary display at the match against Linfield on Wednesday evening – which the club based their decision on.
But rather than apologising for damaging the club once again, the group went on the offensive attacking UEFA and the Celtic board in a pathetic attempt to deflect and to rile support for themselves rather than Celtic Football Club.
They claimed that they will “refuse to allow a discredited and corrupt organisation like UEFA or a board which has welcomed Tory Lords to dictate our moral compass”.
But there was no mention of Brendan Rodgers criticism of the group after they used his image on their ‘Ira sniper at work’ inspired banner. In fact, they blanked Rodgers’ comments entirely.
The group’s statement, in full, read:
Following the club statement on Friday, we take this opportunity to accept full responsibility for both the pyrotechnics display to celebrate the achievements of the Lisbon Lions at the Hearts match in May and our ‘Brendan’s Undefeated Army’ tifo during the match against Linfield on Wednesday evening. While we are disappointed to hear of the impending two match ban that we face, we know that in the sanitised world of Scottish football the actions of an Ultra group like ours may have consequences for our members. We do however completely oppose collective punishment and a blanket ban on all fans in our block is disproportionate and unjust therefore we call on the board to revise this decision.
As a group we are defined by our style of support and our politics, both of which the club are happy to benefit from when it suits their agenda. Almost a year ago, after much immediate criticism, we brought worldwide adulation on the club for our show of solidarity with the people of Palestine and the subsequent charity fundraising which was endorsed by the Celtic support. What isn’t common knowledge is if it had not been for this incredible response, we would have faced the same punishment as we currently face. In light of this, and of the condemnation of banners and songs from Wednesday, we refuse to allow a discredited and corrupt organisation like UEFA or a board which has welcomed war criminals and Tory Lords to dictate our moral compass.
Our decision to mark the achievements of 1967 by using pyrotechnics was not taken lightly. We took the required steps to ensure that this was carried out as safely as possible and in the knowledge that we as a group may face potential consequences as a result of it. We believe the scenes that day and the response from the Celtic support proved it to be worthwhile. We have engaged in regular dialogue with the club over this matter throughout the summer and believed to be reaching an amicable outcome, however it seems as if events outside of our control on Wednesday have impacted upon the decision which has now been reached.
The Green Brigade exists to support Celtic in a positive manner and we believe that this current confrontation is unnecessary and avoidable. We welcome Peter Lawwell’s call for dialogue as we have been waiting on his availability for some time. One of our first talking points will be the unnecessary and unsafe policing operation carried out during Wednesday night’s match, which we believe must be the source of one of UEFA’s charges (blocked stairwells) and could only have been designed to antagonise fans in the area. As the evidence below proves, it is bizarre and shameful that the club have not only blamed the fans for this charge but have cited it as a reason for the ban.
Other pertinent issues to be addressed are the club’s response to the biggest cheating scandal to shame Scottish sport; the insulting of the Celtic support over the Linfield away debacle and negligence of the safety of those they knew would travel; and the silence over the racial and sectarian hatred directed at our player of the year and manager. Typically, the club are quick to bite the hand that feeds them yet reluctant to unite against common detractions.
We have built a positive relationship with the Celtic SLO however we are concerned that his position is nearly untenable due to the manner in which he is continually undermined by Celtic security staff. The SLO is required to ”collaborate with the security officer on safety and security-related matters” however has been deliberately excluded from discussions of this nature which is in breach of the UEFA SLO Guidelines, as per article 35. His exclusion is a deliberate tactic adopted by the police and Celtic security to facilitate the targeting of our members.
For over 10 years now the Green Brigade has withstood attacks from Police Scotland and sadly this will always continue. This also will not be our first ban or forced absence from Celtic Park. The Green Brigade has not only survived through the years but we have thrived – we are currently as large and strong as we have ever been. We can assure all that we will be back in Celtic Park soon enough and that we will never allow our style nor our politics to ever be diluted.
The Green Brigade claim that this row is ‘unnecessary and avoidable’. I agree with them on this, if they actually listened and learned from their continued misconduct then we would not be taking the emphasis away from the football on the pitch at Celtic Park – which for the majority of fans that support the Scottish champions is what matters. It is why they pay their season ticket money and buy merchandise for. They want glory on the football pitch.
Where does singing about the IRA or unfurling banners inspire the players or management to glory?
Where does its say in the ethos of Celtic Football Club that the club was founded to support republicanism and the IRA?
In fact Celtic was formed, at a meeting in St.Mary’s Church Hall in the Calton by Irish Maris Brother Walfrid on 6th November 1887, with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the East End of Glasgow through the Poor Children’s Dinner Table charity.
Walfrid was inspired to establish the club by the example of Edinbugh club Hibernian, which was formed out of the immigrant population of the city in 1875.
Neither Celtic nor Hibs were formed to support Irish Republicanism or the IRA. Their founders may have supported the Irish Republican cause but the clubs were formed to help the poor not celebrate violence and the killing of innocent men, women and children.
The Green Brigade also claimed that ‘events outside of our control on Wednesday’ had ‘impacted upon the decision’ by the club to ban them for two games. What events were outside of their control?
- The security around their section? That has been put in place to stop their hangers-on from entering the area as they had been doing for years. Which the Green Brigade refused to self-police despite demanding the right to do so.
- The Hearts pyro display? They admitted they knew that they would get in trouble for it – or should I say the club would. Yet took the decision to ignore all warnings and past experiences to do it anyway. Out of interest – how does holding a pyro in the air among flammable material celebrate the Lisbon Lions?
- After punishments over their previous IRA banner which depicted Bobby Sands, the club was fined by UEFA, yet they went ahead with their paramilitary style banner on Wednesday night. Knowing full well the club would be hit with another charge. But they didn’t care as long as they ‘got it up’ the loyalists in the away end.
I refer back to my previous article, would the Green Brigade be so ‘political’ in their views if they had to stump up the cash for fines which for Celtic has now totalled at over £140,000 before this latest charge has been decided. It’s easier for them to peddle their politics when someone else is paying the fines, how long would they last if they had to dig into their own pockets?
Not very long I suspect.
Hypocrisy of the IRA luvvies
The same Celtic fans who love and celebrate everything about the IRA and force it on other Celtic fans, who just want to celebrate Celtic and watch the team play football, are the same Celtic fans who criticise and condemn Rangers fans and others for their 1690 mindset and their Armed Forces Days at Ibrox.
I have been very critical of the Rangers aspects, but the hypocrisy among some elements of the Celtic support is unreal. Even more so given the widespread comments over the marching season of the Orange Order.
Despite the Good Friday Agreement being signed in April 1998 and effective from December 1999, which brought a much welcome peace to years of violence in Northern Ireland, wee Declan from Coatbridge wants to continue the struggle – from the comfort of his one bedroom flat videoing himself singing the rebs on youtube or when he dresses up in a khaki jacket and donning an Ultras beanie for matchdays at Celtic Park.
Most in Northern Ireland want to move on from ‘the troubles’ but it seems that some elements there and for the most part in the west of Scotland love the era of paramilitaries blowing up innocent men, women and children. Dragging innocent Catholics and Protestants from their homes in front of their family/children never to be seen again.
How is that glorious? How is celebrating an organisation – whatever the side of the divide it was – glorious when they blew up people or put a bullet in the back of their head? Or kneecapped them because they didn’t like what they were doing on their patch?
If they wanted to laud and celebrate the Irish Republican Army, why didn’t these hardcore ultras make the trip to Windsor Park? Celtic may have decided against taking up an allocation, but plenty of Celtic fans secured tickets other ways – if the Green Brigade wanted to celebrate their Irish Republicanism or penchant for the IRA and the paramilitaries, why didn’t they travel to Belfast?
Would it have been far too inflammatory to do it over there? Did their pocket money not stretch to a ferry ride to Belfast? Or was it more to do with the comfort of Celtic Park? Where they had thousands of Celtic fans, who had no part in their banners, between them and the Linfield fans they targeted that night.
Not only are the Green Brigade happy to cost the club money when they don’t have to shell out for it, it seems that they are happy to hide behind Celtic fans while shouting over their shoulders from a distance.
Brave lads indeed.
Signing off their statement with ‘Until the last rebel’ is akin to Club 1872 and previous Rangers groups peddling the ‘We are the People’ line that many in Scottish football mock. The Green Brigade are not rebels, they are not fighting the crown, they are nothing more than a jumped up street gang that stands on the corner drinking buckie and acting like spoilt wee brats thinking they can do what they like when they like and screw anyone who disagrees.
They use buzzwords like the ‘Celtic family’ in the same way as the Soviets used the phrase ‘comrade’ when peddling their propaganda. The Soviets were quick to turn on their ‘comrades’ when it suited them and the Green Brigade are no different. Labelling fellow Celtic fans as Green Huns, Quislings, soup takers and apologists for the board and even the British military and their crimes.
That is the mentality of the Green Brigade and it is no different to a teenager having a strop because he isn’t getting it his own way.
Celtic are an after thought to the Green Brigade & Supporters
Wednesday’s game against Rosenborg should have been about Celtic Football Club looking to progress to the next stage of the Champions League, but the Green Brigade’s self importance and pathetic antics have made it all about them once again.
The club took the correct decision to ban them from two matches over their misconduct. They have had enough warnings and their latest statement proves that the mindset of this rabble of neds will never change and they will continue to hurt the club’s reputation both at home and abroad.
Despite how many reach-arounds the Green Brigade get from their hangers-on in a show of solidarity, as long as they continue to allow their politics and style harm Celtic Football Club then they should not be allowed back into Celtic Park – even if the atmosphere disappears.
The Green Brigade don’t speak for me and they don’t speak for Celtic supporters. No fan or group is bigger than Celtic Football Club.