History & Blood Editorial: Don't Forget 'This Is Silly'
Last weekend Hibs defeated Rangers in a thrilling game that saw Rangers battle back from going down a goal early to take the lead in the second half only to see Hibs tie it up late in the game and eventually take the lead for good in stoppage time.
As the final whistle blew and Hibs secured the Scottish Cup for the first time in over a century, thousands of fans flooded the field. But what at first appeared to be little more than over-exuberant celebrations quickly devolved into riotous mayhem. Rangers players and staff were attacked by Hibs fans, which led to a few dozen Rangers fans jumping onto the field. Fights broke out as the majority of the remaining Rangers fans were taunted by Hibs fans in what looked to be a massive escalation of the treatment they received last year from Motherwell fans.
I wish it could go without saying that of course some Rangers fans did not behave in an appropriate manner. Or that some Hibs fans, even some of those who rushed the field, were well within the realms of acceptable behavior.
It’s easy for us to look at this and see it as a Scottish problem, something that would never happen here. And to be sure we do not have the history of sectarianism but we are certainly not immune to acts of fan violence and idiocy.
The same day as the ugly scenes unfolded at Hampden Park there were fans in New York trying to act out their Green Street Hooligan fantasies. NYCFC and RBNY fans seem to have developed an astonishing amount of animosity towards one another in the short time that NYCFC have existed. And while I fully enjoy a deep and undying hatred for another team, the idea that you have to “stand your ground” against their supporters is idiotic and seems to completely miss what we’re all doing here.
Even still we could look at this and say that this is just a New York problem. Polite and reasonable midwesterns would never have such problems. But just this past Thursday morning the management of Rayo OKC felt the need to issue a notice that they will not be selling blocks of tickets to the Grid for their match against OKC Energy in the Open Cup. This decision came after what they said were concerns with the “language and the general sentiment” that leadership of the Grid were expressing towards Rayo OKC. For anyone who has spent much time in the USL Fans group on Facebook or followed Twitter rants between members of the Grid and the Roustabouts from Tulsa we know exactly the kind of “language and sentiment” Rayo are referring to.
Of course we could say that this level of tension could come from having two teams in the same city with a contentious history before either one ever kicked a ball. And they’ve got another team just a short drive away in Tulsa. Yet, even here in Missouri, with our own beloved Saint Louis FC we’ve seen a few problems with the behavior of visiting fans.
For months leading up to our inaugural clash with Swope Park there had been one or two internet ultras, calling themselves the Zoo, trying to stir things up with the St Louligans. For the most part the Louligans refused to take the bait and just allowed them make fools of themselves online. Even on game day they took the wise tactic of more or less ignoring the Zoo. But after the game we started to hear reports of the Zoo’s reprehensible behavior. They had to be told by the police to watch their language and they actually spit on one of the Louligans as she walked by. There are few things more offensive and purposefully humiliating than spitting on someone.
But over in our corner, in sections 8 and 9, the Louligans just continued to do their thing. They sang, they banged on drums, and of course they danced with somebody. And while the Louligans are no saints, they do take their motto “This Is Silly” very seriously. Because that’s what it’s all about. The whole point is to go and have fun.
If you’re looking for a fight you’re just using your team as an excuse. You’re not a fan, you’re a thug.
Since the Scottish Cup final fiasco there has been a lot of debate about whether or not the acts of thuggery were premeditated. Surely people were caught up in the moment, but if you run on the field and the first thing you do is punch an opposition player, then you were probably just waiting for your chance to do that.
The real roots of this violence started long before this particular game. They’re not even really about religion, or class, or anything quite so grand. What it is really about is people being more concerned with hating another team than they are about loving their own.
And yes it happens here. Even to us.
During the Open Cup game against Cleveland, some of us took a quick look to see what other teams were doing that night and saw that Louisville were losing to Detroit. Of course we were giddy about this fact. But then we continued to check the score at Louisville tied it up. The score was shouted out and even the capos were giving updates. When Louisville eventually won it in penalties we all finally put our phones away and gave our undivided attention back to our own team.
Why did we care so much about the Louisville score? Whether they won or lost made no difference to us. We weren’t battling them for a playoff spot or a position in the standings. We couldn’t even potentially face them in the next round. We cared because we hate Louisville and we wanted a chance to make fun of them. In that moment we hated Louisville more than we loved our own team.
It does go without saying that not everyone at the Cleveland game cared about the Louisville score. But a lot of people did. I was one of them. And I was wrong. If I care more about hating the other team than I do about loving my team than I really don’t know what I’m doing here. -TR
photo by Will Bramlett workinthemorning.com