Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bishops' PR Calls For Break Between Catholic Church And Celtic FC

Bishops' PR Calls For Break Between Catholic Church And Celtic FC

Faith shouldn't follow a football team, says leading catholic

By Jenifer Johnston

The Catholic Church should question its 'outdated and offensive'
relationship with Celtic Football Cub and stop 'maintaining old
ideas in young minds'.

Peter Kearney, the official spokesman for Scottish Bishops, has
told the Sunday Herald he is 'sick and tired' of priests offering
prayers for Celtic victories at the end of Mass and the team's
players visiting Catholic schools.

He also wants an end to Celtic souvenirs being offered as prizes at
church events, saying the continuance of linking Catholics with
'one particular Glasgow football team' is 'outdated and offensive'.

Kearney, speaking in a personal capacity, said: 'It angers me when
I go to Mass and there's an announcement urging parishioners to buy
raffle tickets, perhaps for church repairs, and we're supposed to
rush forward because first prize is a football signed by all the
Celtic players.

'I've even seen football shirts from Italian clubs being offered as
prizes. Are we supposed to believe they're desirable because Italy
is a Catholic country? It would be laughable if it wasn't so

'Why do so many priests and Catholics still believe because we are
Catholic we're all card-carrying Celtic supporters? I've often
heard priests offering up prayers for a Celtic victory against
Rangers. Even if it's meant as a joke, it's still aligning
Catholics with one team.

'It also angers me when Catholic schools invite Celtic players to
address assemblies and have a kick-about with pupils. It's
maintaining old ideas with young minds and should be stopped. We
may as well tell Catholics to drive one particular model of car
because that's a Catholic car.'

Kearney's comments come two weeks before a conference to be held by
the anti-bigotry group, Sense Over Sectarianism .

The Catholic Church has been accused of political blackmail in
recent weeks for announcing that it will advise worshippers in the
run-up to the Scottish elections to vote against candidates who
oppose denominational schools.

A spokesman for the Nil By Mouth anti-bigotry group said Kearney
had made 'serious and valid points'.

He said: 'Celtic were of course founded by Irish Catholics and were
one of the few teams to accept Catholics as players. They have
since then gained fondness in the Catholic community.

'However, Celtic have stated in recent years that they are a non-
religious and non-political institution. I think Kearney's comments
are understandable if he thought this behaviour by priests is
inappropriate or unprofessional. There is an issue about
stereotyping supporters of one team or another.'

Kearney added that the Scottish Catholic identity should not be
continually linked with supporting Celtic.

'We should be proud of our Irish history, we should be proud of our
Scottish history, but we should be ashamed of linking our faith
with a football team, whichever it is.

'There is a parish I know where the altar boys are Rangers
supporters. I wonder how they or their parents feel when they hear
prayers being offered up for a good Celtic victory on Saturday. I'd
rather we got away from promoting football altogether. It's a
minority pastime which gets far too much attention.'

Kearney denied Catholics with a strong Irish background would be
offended if Rangers souvenirs appeared in parish raffles. He said:
'I'm from an Irish background and it would not offend me or many
others I know.'

Yesterday, Celtic Football Club expressed surprise and bemusement
over Kearney's comments. Spokesman Iain Jamieson said he was unsure
what had prompted Kearney to lash out at the association between
club and church.

He said: 'Since our formation in 1888 Celtic have been open to all,
regardless of race, religion or political persuasion. Celtic make
charitable donations to a range of organisations based solely on
each organisation's aims. I would also stress that the club are
involved in several initiatives that aim to promote tolerance and
combat bigotry in all its forms. We already work with churches in
that respect and look forward to doing so in the future.'

Jamieson added that Celtic players were involved with sports
education programmes that brought together children from all faiths
(and none) in order to promote the sport of football.

The Rev Alan McDonald, convener of the Church Of Scotland's Church
And Nation Committee, said he could not comment on Kearney's views,
but added: 'The issue of bigotry, sectarianism and improving civic
life in Scotland is still very high on the agenda for the Church Of

Celtic have a historical link to the Catholic Church from their
founding days. In order to alleviate some of the poverty and
discrimination faced by Irish immigrants, an Irish Marist Brother
in Glasgow's east end set up a team to compete with the already-
established Rangers side.

Brother Walfrid established Celtic Football Club with two aims: to
raise funds to provide food for the poor in the east end; and to
halt the growing friction between the Irish community and native
Glaswegians. In his mind Celtic was a club to be supported
Protestant and Catholic, Scottish and Irish alike.

It was a source of great frustration for the priest that Celtic was
pronounced with a soft 'c' by the Irish immigrants who were
unfamiliar with the word, but he had chosen the name as a symbol of
both the Scottish and Irish identity.

Copyright © 2003 smg sunday newspapers ltd. no.176088

Ireland's fury as Celtic stars bar stages anti-queen demo

THE dad of Celtic star Anthony Stokes has hung a massive banner above his pub to protest at the Queen's visit to Ireland this year - claiming she "will never be welcome" in the country.

John Stokes put up the huge sign at his Dublin boozer saying Her Majesty and the royal family were banned from his bar.

And the 54-year-old has already been hit with complaints since erecting the hate-filled protest outside his Players Lounge pub earlier this week.

Last night he said: "I'm just warning her that she won't get served if she decides to drop in for a drink, to save me the embarrassment of having to tell her if she turns up, because it's a well-known pub and she might.

"I don't believe she has any right coming here whatsoever.

"When you hear the figures being thrown around about how much it will cost to bring her over, it's a disgrace. Surely money can be better used elsewhere?

"My mother died of a brain haemorrhage when she was just 51 and they told us she could have been saved if she'd had a hospital bed. Why are we spending that money on this visit when we could invest in hospital beds?"

Stokes - whose son has scored 12 times for the Hoops this season - admited: "I've had a few complaints already.

"One guy told me that his father had fought in World War One and that I was a disgrace, but it's my opinion. She has no right to come here."

But Irish Labour politician Ciaran Lynch said: "People should be positive about the visit. If you look at the last number of years, we've had Tony Blair visit, the Irish people voted overwhelmingly for the Good Friday Agreement, and times have moved on.

"In terms of international exposure it will be a fantastic way of promoting Ireland as a welcoming country. We should all be very welcoming of the visit."

The row is not the first time that Stokes' dad has been at the centre of controversy.
In January he faced jail if he didn't pay a £2,075 fine.

He was hit with the bill for refusing to pull down a shed at the pub - where a bouncer and two customers were shot last July.

Following the attack, Dublin City Council ordered the publican to remove the "unauthorised" shed and a wooden pole.

Read more:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Scotland fans accused of throwing banana in Brazil's Neymar racism row - Celtic Fans have previous

Mark Walters talks about debut at Celtic Park

A black day for Scots football

The Scotsman
30 December 2007


Bananas greeted Mark Walters on his Rangers debut at Parkhead 20 years ago
MEMORIES do not always marry with the moments they capture.

When it comes to Mark Walters and his Rangers debut in the Old Firm derby exactly 20 years ago this Wednesday, that may be deliberate.

"It was a good day for me; a special one," recalls Walters, who signed for the Ibrox club from Aston Villa in a £1.3m deal on New Year's Eve 1987. "It was a great experience to play my first game for one of the biggest clubs in the world in front of 50,000 at Parkhead – the largest crowd I'd known since earning a schoolboy cap for England. I have shut out anything other than the positives of that day, because it was so exciting to make a fresh start at 23, after two years when my career was on the slide."

On January 2, 1988 Walters became the first black player to turn out for Rangers.

The abuse he was subjected to that day, and at Tynecastle two weeks later, ended any foolish notion that, while Scottish football was blighted by religious bigotry, it was at least immune to the vile expressions of racial intolerance then infecting the English game.

Whenever Walters' name is mentioned in this county these two afternoons are seared in the mind. They have come to define the winger's three-and-a-half years north of the Border; more than his artistry, more than a stash of medals or a goals to games average of one-in-three during his 100 matches.

"People ask me how on earth I could get through that first game and enjoy it," says the player, who made little impression that day as Rangers were beaten 2-0. "To be honest with you, being abused wasn't that much of a rarity in Britain at that time, even if it was more than I was used to.

"I am single-minded. I was brought up by my family to see every experience as to be welcomed because you can always learn from it what you need to be better for it."

Scottish football did not demonstrate such insight – either in terms of the authorities or the media. Clips on YouTube make plain the grim extent of the monkey noises and banana throwing Walters' presence at Celtic Park prompted.

Yet, though Celtic slammed the perpetrators, the Scottish Football Association remained silent. And oddly, in the press over the days that followed, there was scant acknowledgement of a virulent new strain of racism at football in this country.

It was just viewed as another manifestation of the contrariness that Old Firm hatred spews forth. "Only a handful of fans hurled fruit," said a comment piece in the Sunday Mail.

The match reports in The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald made no reference to the treatment received by Walters. Indeed, the most vociferous condemnation of those who indulged in racist behaviour came in the form of letters printed in Celtic's own newspaper that week.

It wasn't simply in the written press that the issue was skirted around. Archie Macpherson, in his commentary for the BBC, was forced to explain a stoppage to clear bananas from the Celtic Park pitch. He did so by stating, matter-of-factly: "The game has been slightly held up… some assortment of fruit has been removed… you can see it in front of the Jungle."

Two weeks later, Rangers faced Hearts at Tynecastle and Walters was struck by a banana and was met with what the Glasgow Herald described as "deluge of fruit" (contrasting with the "mild outburst of fruit throwing" a fortnight earlier). On television that evening Macpherson famously held up a banana and stated what he had witnessed "made him ashamed to be Scottish".

Macpherson puts down the difference in tone to the obsession with picking away at the sectarianism woven into the fabric of the Old Firm rivalry. Throughout his long career, at least he is one of the few who can claim to have an admirable record on denuding those who would clothe themselves in such tawdry dress.

"There is a conditioning process with these derbies," he says. "We would listen out for sectarian chanting, scan for any disturbances in the crowd and consider the possible implications for public order if there were any violent incidents on the field. Racial taunting didn't enter my head as a contentious issue. I had been brainwashed by the religious divisions. I do not say this as an excuse for failing to acknowledge the infamous nature of banana-throwing but merely as explanation.

"On reflection, I should have been more vocal about it, as I have always been vocal about the other evil aspects that have attached themselves to this fixture. I, wrongly, saw the banana-throwing as in essence puerile; an insipid form of the Celtic support's capacity for a wind-up, at which they are the best in the business. If more had been made of Walters' treatment at Celtic Park, he might not have had to put up with so much at Tynecastle."

It is the very collision of sectarianism and racism that probably left the SFA and the media in a quandary over how to react to the abuse suffered by Walters. The governing body could hardly punish a club for their fans' racist actions when they had never dared bring followers of any side to book for any bigoted behaviour. Equally, how could the issue be highlighted in print without similar weight being given to the fact that, then, Rangers were still 18 months away from a first high-profile Catholic signing in the modern era?

To this day, predictably, there remain pathetic attempts to point-score among the followers of the Glasgow clubs over how much baiting Walters received. Gerry Britton was on the ground staff at Celtic back in 1988. Now manager of Stranraer and a leading figure in the Scottish Professional Football Association – work that involves schools' education programmes on sectarianism and racism – his testimony cannot be disputed.

"It was one of the very few days I fell out with fans of the club I grew up loving," Britton says. "It was bad enough having to hear it, and hearing that a fruit shop near the ground sold out of bananas, but it was truly sickening when our job the day after the game was to clear them away. There were dozens of them, scattered everywhere."

The mood in the country changed following Walters' treatment at Tynecastle, which came after he had made incident-free appearances against Dundee and Morton. SFA president David Will said all would be done to stamp out racism with the hope that "sensible supporters will let the minority know they shouldn't be so stupid in the future".

Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer condemned the banana-throwing as "intolerable social behaviour" and that his club "must be seen to take a stand against racism". Rangers also spoke out, operations executive Alistair Hood demanding the SFA act to "cease" "this kind of despicable behaviour".

"Mark Walters was struck by a banana and no matter how you look at it, this is missile throwing," Hood said.

In forcing Scotland to confront latent racial prejudices 20 years ago, Walters made life at least a little easier for the black players who followed him within these borders. Yet, the treatment meted out to Celtic's Paul Elliott only 18 months later, and the fact that since the turn of this century racist abuse directed towards Hamilton's Brian McPhee, Celtic pair Bobo Balde and Momo Sylla and Rangers' Marvin Andrews has resulted in court cases, suggests as a nation we are not as mature as we would like to believe. As does what happened to Paul Omoniyi, taunted with monkey chants while playing for West Park United under-11s in Dunoon in October 2005 – a case highlighted by this newspaper.

"I am not so shallow as to believe I made a real difference," Walters says. "If it hadn't been me it would have been someone else. If I made one person realise it is wrong to abuse a person because of the colour of their skin, that is something. But football reflects society. Prejudice is based on ignorance and many of those guilty of it have probably become educated because we live in a more ethnically diverse country. As well as that, there are laws now in place and CCTV cameras at all grounds. That means supporters just can't get away with the same abuse and behave at games as they might have done years ago. People might still say and do things in private, but in public..."

It is depressing to think that enforcement as much as enlightenment might account for Walters being the only black footballer in this country to have had bananas thrown at them.

Mark Walters joined Rangers from Aston Villa for £1.3m on December 31 1987 to become the first black player to play for the club. He was signed by Ibrox manager Graeme Souness.

He made his debut against Celtic at Celtic Park two days later, a match Rangers lost 2-0. During the game Walters was subjected to monkey chanting and some Celtic fans threw bananas on the pitch.

Gerry Britton, then on the groundstaff at Celtic, was one of the apprentices charged with clearing the bananas from the pitch the following day. "It was truly sickening," he recalls. "There were dozens of them, scattered everywhere."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Celtic player dodges National Service by pretending to wet the bed

Extract from Patrick Crerand's autobiography.

"When I got called up to National Service I didn't want to go. Somebody told me that a good way of getting out of it was to explain that you wet the bed. I said that I was a bed-wetter on my application form and then I had to go for questioning at an office in Buchanan St. The official asked me how serious my bed-wetting problem was. I told him that it was driving my mother to despair. So I was deemed unfit for National Service."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Police probe Celtic boss Neil Lennon 'race remarks' allegations
Police are investigating allegations that racist remarks were made by Celtic manager Neil Lennon during Wednesday's controversial Old Firm game.
Mr Lennon's lawyer Paul McBride said the allegations were defamatory with no substance whatsoever.
The Scottish Cup replay saw touch-line and tunnel confrontations, 34 arrests inside the stadium and three Rangers players sent off.
The police investigation follows complaints from members of the public.
Mr McBride said: "These allegations are defamatory and outrageous with no substance whatsoever.
"This is a concerted campaign by malicious and despicable individuals to cause distress to Neil Lennon.
"Celtic Football Club and Celtic fans stand by their manager in the face of these vicious and unacceptable attacks."
A high level summit to discuss the Old Firm fixture, which Celtic won 1-0, is to be held next week.
The summit will involve ministers, Rangers and Celtic, the police and football authorities.
A spokesman for Strathclyde Police said: "We have received complaints from members of the public regarding allegations surrounding the events during the Old Firm match on Wednesday, which we are currently investigating."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Celtic in yet another racism scandal

Black footballer El Hadji Diouf was racially abused form the second time in as many weeks at Celtic park last night after being hacked down by a Celtic player close to the Celtic bench.

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