Scottish Cup Final 1980. I was part of the 70 000 crowd. Pitch invasion. Brought up in a deprived home where you always wanted the Indians to beat the cowboys, and Celtic to beat Rangers, no matter the odds and how many referees and masonic linesman they had in their pockets, I wanted one of those horses the police had. Cup-final win by a George McCluskey goal. My good mate Dav Prentice (R.I.P) was just the kind of arsehole that would say things like ‘you might have won the cup, but we won the fight’. He always did tell a lot of porkies.
Fast Forward, 1986, St Mirren 0 – Celtic 5 and a little help from God’s own Albert Kidd and I was involved in another pitch invasion. Yes, it was a glorious day at Love Street and I got to ruffle Mo Johnson’s ginger mop. If I’d have known how he was going to turn Judas, I’d have ripped it out at the roots. But this was not about aggro, or the background noise of the Huns ‘We’re up to our knees in Fenian blood, Surrender ‘till you die.’ Or the triumphalism of ‘Hallo, Hallo, We are the Billy Boys.’ This was unmitigated joy. The unbelievable believable had happened. Hibs victory was a bit like that yesterday.
The Hibees fans invasion of the park was an outpouring of joy. Pure and simple. Their season has been awful. Defeat after defeat snatched from victory. I put a bet on 35/1, Rangers to win first half, Hibs to win the game. Almost right. Almost winning is not winning. You don’t get any money back. Tough luck.
But let’s play the blame game. First up, Rangers. 2-1 up. Cruising. They blew it. Two corners. Two Hib’s goals. Terrible defending. If they’d have won there wouldn’t have been any crowd trouble, because victory was expected. Hibs fans would have drifted away. Rangers would have done their lap of honour. So the Ranger’s team blew it.
Let’s put this into context. There would have been no pitch invasion after the recent Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final, because the police were ready for it. Here they were not. The stewards didn’t do their jobs. And if the Celtic fans had invaded Hampden Park on that day it would not have been the Rangers players they’d have (allegedly) attacked, but Celtic players for being so feeble, clueless and pitiable in defeat to our greatest rivals. Rangers had their day then. Hibs had their day yesterday. Policing was at fault. But let’s not kid on it was anything like the riot in 1980.
And perhaps some Ranger’s fans will forget that before liquidation their supporters tried to liquidate Manchester. Do not come back was the general media consensus. Well, I voted for it anyway, and Rangers since then have done their best to make sure it never happens again by being so shite.
Sure Hibs had a few supporters that wanted to fight and scrap but the vast majority on the pitch were experiencing what I had at Love Street. Rangers don’t have any hooligan supporters. Aye right. Glasgow under -17,Youth Cup Final, at Partick Thistle’s Firhill ground, Celtic win, Celtic supporters ambushed. Let’s not kid ourselves. The police failed to do what they needed to do then and at Hampden yesterday. Rangers failed their fans, in the same way as Celtic failed us when, as overwhelming favourites, we failed to deliver. Some people should start looking closer to home. And smell the glove (whatever that means).