Three and a half months ago I wrote in dismay about the return of the Old Firm fixture. It demonstrated how little Scotland had progressed since the two teams had last been together in top flight football. I had wanted to ask about hospital admission rates and police call-outs for domestic disturbances on the evening proceeding the 'sporting' encounter. Alas, I did not have to ask anything or get any statistics to help form a view. Social media was awash with film and photo footage of disgraceful scenes inside the ground with toilets wrecked and, even more crass, effigies hung from upper terraces by supporters on National Mental Health Day. Compounding it all, the police were insisting in the morning papers that the powder-keg clash had been a non-event.
'Move on Sir, nothing to see.'
What could be worse? Surely things must have improved and a litmus test of Scotland's shame being quelled might be evident with a Hogmanay match oozing festive spirit and goodwill to all men. Well, the last fixture of 2016 again plumbed the depths of vulgarity. And so-called supporters of both sides have equal blame attached to them by all accounts.
In Paisley, quiet neighbourhoods saw kerbstones painted red, white and blue and RFC daubed on pavements. What punishment will await them once traced? Will they be forced to remove it with the same creative hands? Furthermore the memory of 66 fans killed in 1971 was besmirched with shouts over the minute silence. One of those shouts allegedly, 'I hope you die.' A handful of shouts admittedly but still ones who believed the culture allowed for a minute of dignity for the dead to be disregarded.
However, fear not. The police are reporting in the media that only three arrests took place. An improvement on the last time I wrote? Not so: only one was arrested last time. However, we now know the reality behind that initial headline.
As we ended 2016, we might have looked disdain at Brexit, presidential elections and the Middle East. However, we have much still to fix here. Intolerance, hatred and thoughtless acts still persist. What is more, those who should know better, or at least have a duty to progress these matters, seem unable to stop the national shame. Worse still, they are prepared to brush the issue under the carpet on some occasions and take high-stakes risks on others.Cafe is SR's readers' forum for short articles or responses to other articles. Send your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org