STEVE Clarke raised an arm towards the bottom corner of the Broomloan Road stand when his name first rang out in the Ibrox air.

That’s where the noisiest Rangers fans sit these days. They made it clear what they thought of the Kilmarnock manager, already having a bad night as his team was torn apart from Alfredo Morelos.

Clarke didn’t mind. In fact, he offered a thumbs up in recognition of the banter, which is what he saw it as, in acknowledgement that this was not his night. It belonged to Rangers.

And then banter turned to bile, the other ‘F’ word was belted out, towards him, and that’s when the Kilmarnock manager had it confirmed that sectarianism is a way of life for some people.

Clarke said: “The Rangers fans have waited a long time to have a go at me. We’ve had words back and forwards recently between myself and Steven (Gerrard).

“On Wednesday, circumstances went against us and we were getting thumped. The Rangers fans are entitled to give me a little bit of stick if they want to do that. They called me a word rhyming with anchor and I gave them a little wave and a thumbs up.

“That was just to acknowledge them and say, ‘Okay guys, it’s your night. No problem’.

“Off the back of that, the next chant came and I think that’s unacceptable in this day and age. I could have let it go but if I do that, I am really no better than them.

“When the chants came at Kris Boyd at Rugby Park, it was maybe 25, 50, 100 people shouting and abusing him. At Ibrox, it was maybe 200/250 down in that bottom corner. But maybe the next time it’s 2000. Then it’s 20,000. Then it’s the whole stadium like it used to be.

“I have brought a lot more pressure and spotlight on myself now, and I have to live with that. But hopefully we can find a way to make it better. Will it ever go away? Probably not. But if we don’t address the issue, it will certainly get worse.

“All these problems are in society and manifest themselves through football because it’s such a popular game. But if we don’t address it through the clubs, the problem will always be there.

“If we try to eradicate it in football, maybe we can help make it less in society. Will we ever eradicate it? I’m not so sure. If we can get it out of football, it would be a start.”

Clarke was on a roll now.

He revealed Graeme Souness enquired about him when he was a St Mirren player in the mid-1980s, the former right-back eventually moved to Chelsea, and rather ironically, Clarke spoke to Rangers about becoming their manager when Pedro Caixinha was sacked.

He said: “I spoke about Rangers making a move for me at St Mirren. There were no Catholic players back then - they didn’t sign them. Now they do. It’s not an issue.

“When the club approached me to speak about if would be interested in the (manager) job, they assured me that for Rangers, as a club, it was no longer an issue.

“But obviously the other night, showed to me there is still something there’. There is still that undercurrent that unfortunately blights the west coast of Scotland, or the country as a whole...I don’t know.”

Clarke insisted that his background, and the reality of it being an issue with some, was not the reason that he remained at Rugby Park when Rangers asked the question.

He said: “It never got close to anything. I came back here and I said very quickly and clearly after I came back to Kilmarnock that it’s not my intention to leave Kilmarnock for any other Scottish club.

“At the time, it (the speculation) was going on and on and on and on. The story was just going to build and build. I chose to tell some small lies to make the story go away because I didn’t need it and the club didn’t need it at that time.

“The only way I could think to achieve that was to say there was nothing in it and that was the end of the story.

“So I apologise to Craig Swan (journalist) because he wrote the story. Sorry, but sometimes we have to tell little lies to make life a bit easier.”

Aye, but what about? That’s the automatic response of so many. Ironically, it is the one thing which brings together the two sides of the sectarian divide.

Instead of admitting there is a problem within their own support, the issue, in the minds of many more than we would like to think, is why the other lot don’t get as much criticism, which usually is utter nonsense of course.

“Yeah, that’s part of the problem and part of the issue,” said Clarke who has had to learn what whataboutery means. “Up here, if you say something about Celtic you have to say something about Rangers and vice versa.

“That’s not right. You should be able to speak about either club and not have to explain or go on about certain issues.

“I felt a little bit frustrated for Steven Gerrard when he was asked in his press conference about me being offered the job before him. That’s a load of nonsense. I wasn’t offered the job.

“Steven must sit in his office and think: ‘Oh jeez, not Steve Clarke again’. We sat after the game the other night and we had a beer. We did what managers do after a game. We talked around the houses. For me to go in there and say: ‘Oh by the way, Steven, I’ve just had a meltdown in the press conference’.

“They’ve just beaten us 5-0 in the cup, Morelos scored four goals, and they’re feeling great. Morelos was in there getting the ball signed by all the staff. I had a little bit of banter with him as well.”

The fear is Clarke was talking to the wind. That those who are guilty of sectarianism see nothing wrong with their actions and can justify themselves. It is thoroughly depressing.