There have been certain comments from the superlative Scottish football press who seem to feel that Jon Daly, an Irish Catholic from Dublin signing for Rangers is something worth writing home about. It has been bubbling away for some time, referenced to either obliquely or obviously in the back pages of many of the national papers since the former Dundee United captain put pen to paper at Ibrox Stadium, the home of Scotland’s most successful club.
Hugh Keevins, the previously moustachioed, nasally challenged chief football scribe at the Daily Record, opined this morning that Daly will have to “win acceptance” from the Rangers support.
Allow me to show the audacity to challenge the insidious industry of bigotry which the likes of the bold Shug feed of off ; it suits Keevins and other journalists to create the hysterical myth that Daly will, more than any of Rangers other summer signings, have to be somewhat extra special lest he encounter misery from his own fans. Well Hugh, allow me to dispel this myth. The vast majority of Rangers fans, on forums, Twitter or in pubs are primarily concerned whether signing a target man in the style of Daly will result in more of the long ball football witnessed at Ibrox last season, not Daly’s heritage. He has already been accepted by the Rangers support, just as they have failed to bat an eyelid at the signing of a youth team coach and young goal keeper from the Republic of Ireland in previous years.
You will get the occasional “more orange than orange” dullard who might lament that “tradition n’that” has been compromised; however the only people who appear to care are those who have a vested interest in fuelling agendas and keeping the fires of sectarianism stoked. One particularly scandalous quote from Keevins is that Daly will have “have dubious prospects of success because of his background”. Provided Daly does what he has done consistently since he has arrived in Scotland, score goals, then I suspect that he will be as most footballers are, lauded by their support. When Daly charges towards the Copland Road or East Enclosure to rejoice in a goal, I doubt anyone will refuse to celebrate on account of him coming from the the Republic of Ireland.
Keevins is a regular on the very tired and staid phone-in on local radio in Glasgow, where he regularly derides the fans of Celtic and Rangers as being an ill-behaved, feral and bigoted rabble; in a previous example of ill advised hyperbole Keevins once compared attending a match at Ibrox as akin to attending a rally at Nuremberg, merely because Rangers supporters clubs from around the world were allowed to walk around the pitch at half-time to display their club flags.
Keevins and his ilk are faced with a difficult situation. The declining circulation of comics like the Daily Record force them to take a non-story like this and inflate it beyond all recognition. Perhaps Hugh could take his job a bit more seriously and focus on what a “football” journalist is paid to do, such as Player A passing to Player B who then scored a goal.
In the twenty years since Maurice Johnston took the euphemistically divisive decision to cross Glasgow since then Catholic players have passed through the doors of Ibrox in large numbers. Some became heroes, others were valued yet none were derided for their religion by the support.
The only people in Scottish football concerned by a player’s religion are those who need to obsess over it to justify their pay cheque, far removed from the original purpose of a strong Fourth Estate. Said estate is anything but strong in Scotland.