Celtic 2 Barcelona 1
I normally don’t give much of a toss about Scottish football, to be honest; except for the Scottish 3rd Division which features the only English team to play in a Scottish league: Berwick Rangers from Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. I have a fondness for Berwick and follow what I consider to be the REAL Rangers because I spent quite a bit of time in Berwick and environs when I was England.
That said, I found myself rooting for Celtic this Wednesday as they took on mighty Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League at Celtic Park in Glasgow. I had the game the TV in my hotel room, with the sound off because I was watching the Chelsea/Shaktar Donetsk tilt on my computer. Celtic, despite doing well so far in the Champions League group stage, were a big underdog to Barça, even at home. But Celtic jumped out to a 1-0 lead, then a 2-0 lead, and never looked back. Messi’s goal during stoppage time was merely a small consolation. (Chelsea, meanwhile, won 3-2 at the death on a header by Victor Moses off Juan Mata’s corner kick—quite likely the best Chelsea match of the season so far)
Rangers, on the other hand, have been deservedly purged down to purgatory amid their liquidation earlier this year and plenty of ugly partisanship….Ranger fans hurling death threats at Celtic coach Neil Lennon…partisan slurs again the heathen Catholics. An ugly but deserved tumble for one of Scotland’s two Old Firm teams. While Celtic was basking in Champions League glory, Rangers had to play host to a plucky squad from Peterhead down in the Third Division. The match was played at the Ibrox in Glasgow in front a crowd of 48407.
Under normal circumstances, Peterhead could play 48 away tilts in the 3rd division and not see that many people in that span of time. Peterhead’s main rival these days is Elgin City, who sit two points back of Rangers in 2nd place. While 48,407 watched Rangers 2-0 defeat of Peterhead, Elgin City toppled my Berwick Rangers at Borough Briggs 3-1 in front a mighty crowd of 790.
But this is not normal circumstances.
Rangers fell through their own devices and divisiveness. When they went into administration and were banished from the Scottish Premier League down to the Third Division ((The First Division and the Second Division didn’t want them by the way)) it was the karma of bad management and ugly partisanship. A 2-0 win over Peterhead is no big deal, bittersweet in light of Celtic’s big win over Barcelona. The aforementioned Elgin City topped Peterhead by that score earlier this season. And East Sterlingshire, Ranger’s next opponent beat them 2-1 before a thunderous home crowd of 296.
A lesson I’m compelled to draw here is that narrow-mindedness and craven bigotry and greed never amount to much in the end. Ignorance might be strength for awhile, but the forces of nature have a way dragging such things level. Partisanship and the politics of hatred never result in greatness. Celtic won this larger battle. Rangers and their fans, are the losers, and hopefully their battle to regain their once renowned status is long, hard and miserable. They will learn their lesson, if they ever do, in no other way.