But what has also been noticeable is the quality of debate it has provoked among our online readers, with around 100 significant comments to date: many praising Graham, some criticising him, others putting forward constructive solutions to help eliminate the sectarian elements which still bedevil both sides of the Old Firm.
As one poster,
Ian Ramsden of Paisley, said of our debate: “The kind of stuff I expect here, measured well argued and balanced.”
Below we publish a selection of your best comments, but first
Graham Spiers gives his reaction to what you’ve been saying:
“I have been taken aback by the response to my column this week – though I realise that, in one way, I shouldn’t be. I appreciate that this is a very sensitive topic. Some have lauded me for my column while others have castigated or abused me over it. On this score I can only say: plus ca change...
“One thing I should make clear – Rangers are absolutely not unique in having a rogue element among their support. In fact, I made clear in my piece that, in my own experience of debating with Rangers fans (and I am surrounded by them) the context for the most part has remained civil and enjoyable.
“The reason I focused my column on Rangers was pretty obvious to me. They are the football club I probably write about the most and know best - and down the years there has certainly been a sinister element to some of the threats against me. I’ve been an intermittent critic of Rangers fans over this period – and, I believe, with absolute justification, notwithstanding that every critic is fallible.
“When Channel 4, a London-based broadcaster, aired a piece about ‘Rangers and intimidation’ which chimed with my own experience, it seemed an appropriate time to write about it in my HeraldScotland column. I’ve been grateful for all the feedback and have read every post, praiseworthy or otherwise. It is all further food for thought.”
Now here’s what some of you thought of the original column:
Robert Wilson, Stirling
"All praise to Mr Spiers for having the courage to write this piece. Given his fondness for Rangers & the implications of the subject matter, this would not have been easy to compose."
Jim Clarke, Guildford
"Graham, well done in publicising the intimidation which you and many other media guys are receiving when you put your head above the parapet."
Thomas Mason, Canada
"Any type of violence or intimidation is wrong. This is a much deeper issue. This is a social problem that involves a divided nation, it is not one club or another. It is amazing for TWO groups of supporters, both pretty much the same, who argue about religion - why are the pews in both the Catholic and Presbyterian churches empty?"
Gary Oliphant, Glasgow
"Graham, I have my every sympathy and respect for you with regards receiving any threats. On a human level, I just can't rationalise why anyone would want to commit such acts. However, I don't agree with your closing statement. Do you really think its Rangers fans have the monopoly in yob culture and threats in Scotland?? No me neither!!
Graham Wilson, London
"To Graham Spiers. It comes as no great surprise to me that you have been threatened by unsavoury and possibly dangerous (certainly in their own eyes) elements within the Rangers support. You have spent the last ten years confronting sectarian bigotry at Rangers head on and very publicly. The problem is, quite early on in your mission, you not only failed to make any distinction between bigots and sensible and reasonable Rangers fans, but you actually seemed to go out of your way to suggest we were all no better than them and that somehow we are equally as culpable for not sweeping them off the face of the earth ourselves…Like almost every issue surrounding Rangers, the issues of threat by individuals or groups is not straightforward or equally applicable to all circumstances."
Andrew Robert Gibson
"What is it that Rangers fans have to do that will be viewed as positive change, I'd be interested in all your thoughts. I go to Ibrox 10-15 times a season and in the main feel comfortable with going, especially with my nephews in the family stand where I don't witness any bigotry."
Damian Bray, Kirkcaldy
"Andrew - Stand up and speak out clearly and plainly about not accepting such behaviour on every occasion you hear a sectarian phrase, song or sentiment expressed in context with Rangers FC. Get a few like minded pals to join you - there must be a fair few if the bigots are indeed a tiny minority. Form a group to this aim, give it a name, register your group and its core aims with the Ibrox hierarchy, publicise the group in the press - they'll love it because it’s such an unusual concept, contact Nil By Mouth and ask for help and advice with the project, produce banners and display them prominently at games, bang on about fans self-policing themselves etc - I can think of hundreds more suggestions - good luck getting started Andrew."
Andrew Robert Gibson
I like your ideas Damian.
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