Cabbages and Kings
After what occurred in 1989 when Maurice Johnstone led Celtic fans on before jilting them at the altar for Souness and the lure of more money, I never count any chickens until they’re hatched. But as I type it is officially announced by Celtic that they have signed Scott Alan from Hibs. They will be getting a promising young midfielder and a player Ronny Deila no doubt believes he can train further and mould him into an effective player. The player’s boyhood affection for Rangers is well known but that has never been a problem at Celtic who have always looked to a man’s footballing qualities rather than any other prerequisite. The club of Stein, Evans, Dalglish and McGrain ask only that a man gives 100% for the team and the fans too will accept Allan if he shows the appropriate level of commitment. Kenny Dalglish recalled ripping his Rangers posters off the wall of his bedroom as Sean Fallon knocked on his front door to sign him for Celtic. He needn’t have worried, Celtic is an open club and the vast majority of our support know the contribution men from all walks of life have made to our history.
Scott Allan has of course raised the blood pressure of the less cerebral element among the Rangers support. One hopes the lad is left to get on with furthering his career without suffering any of the bile and belligerence we know ‘Rapeepo’ like to dish out to those who displease them. Some threads on the internet have among the more sane and sober comments the sort of anger filled rants we’ve sadly come to expect. One was furious with Hibs role in the Alan transfer saga and stated…
‘I don't expect anything less from the spoon boilers. Bhitter rangers hating tarriers. Their fans can be catogorised as poofs hoors and junkies.'
The anti-Hibs backlash contained some rather ironic comments about discrimination from supporters of a club which refused to sign Catholic players for 70 years…
‘Think this must come under discrimination laws. Saying publicly they won't sell to Rangers but will accept from other teams. If I was to put up a sign in a window saying no Celtic supporters welcome at B&B I think I would be up in court?????’’
One poor chap even thought Alan Stubbs was refusing to sell the player to Rangers for ‘religious reasons’ despite the fact Hibs had explained many times that as their main rivals from promotion, there was no way they would be selling Allan to Rangers. They were also far from impressed with Rangers paltry offers and use of media friends to try to pressure a deal. Do people seriously believe in 2015 a professional football club would block the sale of a player to a rival for ‘religious reasons?’ The rather deluded supporter said…
‘I commented a week ago in the daily record hotline it is for reasons other than football he will not be sold to Rangers . Did anyone here Stubbs tonight when asked about Celtic’s approach He was then asked about Rangers. Listen to it on Sky and tell me it's not for religious reasons.’
The paranoia knew no bounds for some who seemed to react like a spoiled child not getting what they want. The knee jerk reaction of some slipped into the realms of fantasy and sought to portray the Allan saga as another piece of proof that Rangers are dealt with in this way because they are hated…
‘This is absolutely nothing to do with not selling to a rival. E.g. Cech to arsenal, Van Persie to Man Utd, Sterling to Man City, the Dundee Utd first team to Celtic. This is about a rabid hatred of our club, based on bigotry and jealousy. No one likes us, we don't care. WATP we are Rangers with or without this player.’
The truth of the matter is rather more prosaic. What exactly is there to be jealous about a phoenix club which followed on from another entity which collapsed in debt and disgrace? A club which despite having the second highest budget in Scotland failed to gain promotion after finishing third in a league described at the outset as a one horse race. Scott Allan chose a better, healthier club who will offer him the chance of regular silverware and European football as well as a higher salary than the Ibrox club could hope to offer.
I hope we have all moved on from the attitudes prevalent when Maurice Johnstone signed for Rangers. It was in some ways a very painful humiliation for Celtic supporters and a few were guilty of uttering comments which went beyond the pale about the player. But in those pre-social media days it was relatively contained and low key. Today the keyboard ‘tough guys’ can be re-tweeted around the world and some of the comments about Allan from his erstwhile followers among the Rangers support are quite simply unacceptable. The decent majority need to disown these fools and tell them bluntly on the forums that threats, abuse and vitriol bring shame on no one but themselves and the club they claim to follow.
Whatever the future holds for Scott Allan, I wish him well. He has overcome diabetes and serious injuries to give himself a fighting chance of having a good career. He does not deserve every lowlife crawling out from under their proverbial rock to abuse him and make his life difficult. We saw the public and shameful persecution of Neil Lennon in this country and we want no repeats of that episode again. Perhaps Lennon ticked more of the hate boxes for the lunatic fringe but Allan has ruffled their feathers by making a decision they will find hard to digest. Yes, some Celtic fans will wallow in the anguish of their city rivals just as Rangers fans did 26 years ago when Mo Johnstone signed for Rangers but such banter is part of the game, threats and vile abuse are not.
A footballer has unexpectedly signed for another club when he looked certain to join his boyhood favourites. It happens all over the world and in the big scheme of things it is no big deal. The Rangers fan who posted that he will be like a ‘Turnip among cabbages’ at Celtic Park is wrong. He will be welcomed by the club and support and given every chance to improve himself at the home of the current Kings of Scottish football. I think he is an exciting young prospect who will in time get his chance in the team. Celtic are very cannily buying young, talented Scottish players at the moment and with the wealthy English clubs casting an envious eye over some of our established players it’s a sensible policy. The future’s bright, the future’s green.
Welcome to Celtic, Scott.