CELTIC v Rangers. The 1980 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park. One year before I was even born. Rioting on the park, sectarian signing from the stands and a poisonous undertone between two sets of bitter rivals.

It prompted the great Archie Macpherson in the midst of battling fans on the pitch to say, "Let’s not kid ourselves: these supporters hate each other".


Almost 40 years on from that day, have things changed? White elephants like the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, which was scrapped last year, have done nothing to change the sectarian underbelly that remains rife in Scotland.

This last week has really brought into focus the poison that still flows through stadiums – mainly, I must add, at Celtic and Rangers games. First, Kris Boyd had sectarian chants aimed at him by the Celtic support at Rugby Park, and is hit by a coin for good measure.

Then their bitter rivals' fans return the compliment to Stevie Clarke at Ibrox. It’s mind-boggling that this nonsense is still going on. We as a country should be ashamed because I certainly am. It’s time for the talking to stop because it has got us nowhere. We still have players and managers being abused by mindless bigots because they are Catholic or Protestant in 2019.


Guys like Neil Lennon have had to put up with years of abuse from the bigots simply because he is an Irish Catholic and playing for Celtic.

The type of abuse Stevie Clarke was subjected to at Ibrox, Lennon has been dealing with for years both as a player and a manager. It’s shameful and Neil Lennon has spoken out about it on numerous occasions but it was just brushed off. Thankfully now that Steve Clarke has done the same something hopefully will be done to rip this cancer out of Scottish football, but why has it taken for the Kilmarnock manager to rightfully condemn the chants at him to cause such a big furore?

Lennon was saying the same for years.


The chants against Kris Boyd were equally as bad and again totally unacceptable. This is not a one-sided argument as I can only imagine some of the other bile that was getting screamed at Boyd as he warmed up in front of the Celtic fans.


While I’m on the subject of singing what also really angers me is the other chants and abuse that both Celtic and Rangers fans sing not only at games within stadiums but subject current or ex players to in public. It’s shameful. Rangers fans singing that the ‘Lisbon Lions won’t see 10 in a row’ about a group of elderly men who deserve so much respect it’s untrue absolutely turns my stomach as do chants of ‘I hope you die in your sleep Nacho Novo’ and the idiotic Celtic fans who confronted him singing it at an airport.

I could go on and on. I mean, what is that all about? It’s a game of football. It just kills me inside. People spouting this poison should honestly be shouted down by other supporters as it’s bang out of order. It just fans the flames of hatred and encourages the whataboutery among both sets of Old Firm supporters – particularly on social media. The "well they are singing that so we can sign about this". It's the same with the fenian and orange b****** shouts. It’s so sad and pathetic and makes me and no doubt other decent football supporters cringe with embarrassment. Let’s not forget that these scenes and chants are getting beamed out not only all over Britain, but the entire world. What must they think of us? I dread to think.

READ MORE: Neil Lennon on why every Celtic manager has a shelf life

So what are we going to do about it? Yet again it looks like we are on the cusp of doing something positive to tackle this issue due to guys like Stevie Clarke speaking out. All the right noises again are coming out from the Scottish FA and, in particular, Dave King at Rangers who released a very positive statement.

But talk is cheap. So forgive me for being pessimistic, but I have seen this movie before. We simply cannot afford to let this momentum for change drift away. Fining clubs is a waste of time and does nothing. Docking points I think is a little extreme at the moment, but strict liability on individual clubs is the only way forward.

READ MORE: Former Stamford Bridge defender Joe McLaughlin feels Chelsea have lost their soul

If we are really serious of ridding Scotland of this then clubs need to be responsible for the actions of their own supporters. Stands or stadiums need to be closed and supporters banned from games for sectarian chanting or abuse of opponents. Period. The threat of playing games behind closed doors with no fans will soon have supporters self policing each other. I’m certain you will have the decent supporters shouting down the bigots. Coins being thrown on the park also means you play your next game behind closed doors. By your stupid actions you will starve the very club you love of much-needed revenue and deprive your fellow supporters of the chance to go and support their team. Clubs would soon clamp down if they were playing in empty stadiums. I think that would make every supporter think twice before bursting into singing sectarian songs, giving players and managers sectarian abuse or going into your pockets to throw a coin.

If clubs or indeed the government don’t vote in strict liability, I don’t see this issue ever being resolved. And that means the bigots win and still have free reign to shout and sing what they like for the next 40 years and beyond.

We have a chance now to do something good. It’s a chance we cannot afford to miss.