Very much a grandee of Scottish sport these days, Jim Craig is looking forward to supporting both his teams on what he hopes will be a momentous day for sport in Glasgow, but he has been less than impressed by an apparent attempt by the boss of one of the visiting teams to split the home support.

In fairness to Leinster coach Leo Cullen, he merely intended to have a bit of fun when suggesting that the host club’s supporters should favour the Irish side in rugby’s Pro14 final at Celtic Park because of the football club’s Irish heritage and the old Lisbon Lion is normally as ready to enjoy a joke as the next man.

However, he reckoned that the Dubliner had, doubtless inadvertently, over-stepped the mark in the context of the often humourless world of Glasgow football politics in offering something of a social history lesson.

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“It’s nonsense, like a lot of things like that, but you’ve got to put up with it.” said the Glaswegian, who was educated at a Catholic school in Govan.

“If I ever meet Mr Cullen I’ll have a private word with him. He got publicity over his words and maybe that’s what he was wanting.

“It’s very curious. In my own background on one side I’m an obvious Scot, the Craigs, but on the other side I have Irish background – but it’s from Ulster and Connacht, not from Leinster.

“I don’t think my antecedents would necessarily be supporting Leinster anyway. They would have been supporting Ulster last weekend but that wasn’t a very good day for them.

“I’m pleased to see it. I think it’s great for sport in Scotland in general and I hope we get a real good game out of it.”

He also took the opportunity to suggest that things have moved on considerably since his childhood.

“We’re hidebound by tradition, aren’t we. When I was a kid, unfortunately there was a religious bias against people of my religion playing for Rangers. Thank God, thanks to the unlikely source of Graeme Souness, that all changed and now Rangers will sign anybody and it doesn’t make the slightest difference where they come from,” Craig observed.


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“In my own case, my four sons and my daughter were all Catholics, but they all married non Catholics, so what’s the difference?

“I’m from a non-Catholic background, my father was a convert and it didn’t make the slightest difference. All my cousins are great, I love them very much and it has never made the slightest difference to me.

“If people could just treat it like that the world would be a better place.”

All four of those sons, James – who played for both Glasgow and Scotland – Mark, Richie and Nicky, were fine rugby players, leading to his own conversion and Craig welcomed the improved relationships between the two footballing codes that sees Celtic Park preparing to host rugby union for the first time.

“Nowadays the marketing side has become so important that they’ll play anything anywhere if you get a crowd and I think that’s an occasion that you’ll get on Saturday,” he noted, after indicating that he intends to head there directly after witnessing Celtic’s bid to complete the treble treble at Hampden Park earlier in the day.

“During the 2014 Commonwealth Games you got good crowds at Ibrox for the sevens and maybe that triggered off somebody’s idea and they thought ‘maybe we should put the final on somewhere where we would get a good attendance’ and it looks as though they’re going to get that.

“I’m organising tickets just now, so I hope to be here on Saturday. It’s a really big occasion and it’s going to be a great venue for the game, because the Celtic Park I played in was spread out, where the terraces were shallow. Now they’re sheer, which really creates a wonderful atmosphere for any game and they’re predicting 35,000 upwards, so it will be an amazing atmosphere here.”