Football: Only losers in Old Firm disorder

Players must bear brunt of blame for Glasgow's disgrace.

GLASGOW PICKED up the pieces yesterday morning after the Old Firm derby the night before. Broken bottles and shards of glass that littered streets throughout the city were the debris not of celebration but of conflict.

Rangers may have clinched the Scottish Premier League championship, but there were no winners, only losers. Celtic lost, Glasgow lost, the Old Firm lost, and, most importantly, football lost.

Celtic paid the heaviest price. Gone was not only their title, but also their pride. A club whose supporters have nurtured such a reputation for good behaviour that they are overwhelmed with offers from England to play testimonial matches, simply could not turn the other cheek when faced with the prospect of surrendering their crown to their bitter rivals on their own ground.

The four fans who tried to invade the pitch to attack the referee, Hugh Dallas, have already been banned for life by the club and face criminal charges, while close circuit television is being studied in the hope of identifying the culprit whose missile inflicted a head wound on Dallas.

Such numbers are a drop in the ocean when set against the 53,000 other Celtic season ticket holders who did not break the law, but after Dallas had been hit and then awarded the penalty with which Jorg Albertz gave Rangers a 2-0 lead, there was a dark period when the tide of hate sweeping down from Celtic Park's huge stands threatened to engulf the evening. The players must take a long, hard look at their actions in that period. Other matches may be able to contain three sendings-off and 10 bookings, but in an Old Firm game such indiscipline sends out ripples that provoke waves of trouble far from the pitch.

More than 100 arrests were made in Glasgow on Sunday night as fans fought in streets near Parkhead and rival bars were attacked. The police riot gear was not an overreaction, with more than 100 officers coming under attack from 150 Rangers fans in one incident.

"Disgrace" declared the Daily Record headline, while the Sun's front page screamed "Bloody Mad." Its back page headline was more apt in its summing up of the occasion: "90 minutes of pure poison!"

Glasgow has seen it all before. For 110 years this tribal mixture of football and religion has spilled on to its streets. The world, however, had not seen the Old Firm at its worst. Until Sunday night.

Television coverage of the match was beamed via satellite to more than 120 countries, and it hardly presented a pretty picture. The former Celtic and Arsenal player, Charlie Nicholas, who is now a Sky commentator, could only shake his head and say: "For the first time in my life, I felt ashamed to be a Celtic fan. I have never seen an Old Firm fixture plumb such depths and I can't begin to tell you how embarrassed I am."

The players from many nations who made up the two sides did not seem to appreciate that their actions carry consequences on the streets. Nicholas grew up on those streets and knows that the hostility needs no foreign aid. The three men sent off on Sunday - the Frenchman Stephane Mahe, the Norwegian Vidar Riseth and the Englishman Rod Wallace - betrayed little appreciation that their behaviour could have a direct effect on the crowd. Mahe, in particular, could be said to have sparked the subsequent trouble for Dallas. It was three minutes before Mahe could be persuaded to leave the field, after he fought against the efforts of his team-mates and club staff who tried to pacify him. It was his second sending-off in an Old Firm game. The Italians Sergio Porrini of Rangers and Celtic's Enrico Annoni also threw punches at each other when Wallace's dismissal threatened to spark a mass brawl.

Such behaviour is not acceptable in a place less than half a mile from where a teenage Celtic fan was stabbed to death four years ago simply for walking through the wrong area.

The last decade has seen a dilution of local knowledge among the Old Firm players, but sadly the evidence is that the newcomers offer little in the way of a cosmopolitan influence. In 1997, Paolo Di Canio was sent off amid gestures of reprisal; in 1991, Rangers finished with eight men in one derby after the English trio Mark Hateley, Terry Hurlock and Mark Walters were dismissed. The Scottish courts do not view such incidents lightly. Terry Butcher and Chris Woods, then England internationals, were fined for breach of the peace in 1987 for a punch-up that also involved Frank McAvennie.

The Rangers coach, Dick Advocaat, was fined pounds 1,000 last month for a tirade against a referee that was not unlike Mahe's and some of his antics around the dug-out this season have been an embarrassment.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments