Monday, March 24, 2008
This little article appeared in the local free newspaper that pops through my letterbox each week. It's one of those pieces that leaves you unsure whether to laugh or cry.
The event is a Freemason organised night. The guy in the middle of the photo is ex Scottish football referee Bobby Tait. A man who infamously requested that his last ever game as a Grade 1 referee be at Ibrox, as Rangers played Kilmarnock, in the midst of a historic battle for the title between Celtic and Rangers.
With Rangers desperately needing a win to maintain their chances of winning ten league titles in a row - thus beating Celtic's previously unassailable nine-in-a-row record - the game was of monumental importance. Victory in the title race would hand bragging rights to the dark half of the city for an eternity.
With the game heading for a draw, Tait decided to add an incredible five minutes injury-time at the end of the match.
On top of his previous performances that season - including more timepiece malfunctions that cost Celtic a win at Tynecastle - one could only conclude Bobby Tait valued Rangers wins above his own reputation for honesty and integrity, and would do anything to see them win the title.
Alas for Mr Tait, Kilmarnock had other ideas and scored a last minute winner that crushed Rangers push for a new record.
He must have been devastated. What a way to end your career!
Since retiring, the Celtic rumour mill has been rife with reports of Mr Tait's after dinner speaking. With boasts about never having awarded a penalty against Rangers at Ibrox being the supposed highlight of his act.
Given that he generally speaks at Rangers supporters events, Freemason events, or, allegedly, Orange Order events - in truth almost interchangeable as bastions of Protestantism and Rangers - it's hardly surprising he is a popular guest. Though presumably he focuses on earlier highlights of his career.
There you have it. A supposedly impartial - unimpeachable if the Scottish press are to be believed - figure who openly boasts of his pro-Rangers bias throughout his career. What would Donald McVicar make of it all?
I also wonder what the bookies and fraud squad would make of it. After all, isn't match fixing - which appears to be what that Ibrox penalty boast hints at - a crime?
Articles on the Freemasons and Orange Order are ten-a-penny in the Scottish local press and nobody bats an eyelid.
To be fair they can be a source of great amusement. Check our the 'surprised' eyebrows on the dude middle-back in the above photo. Does make one wonder where Bobby's left hand is!
But there's a more serious point to be made. The Orange Order in particular is a closed club - Protestants only - with an anti-Catholic agenda.
Yet it receives the same polite and sympathetic coverage in the local press that a bowling club might expect.
Imagine visiting Alabama and picking up a local newspaper with similar coverage of a KKK meeting. Or visiting Dagenham and seeing equally sympathetic coverage of a BNP event.
After a fine lamb dinner and some excellent red wine, those present were in full agreement with guest speakers who stated immigration was a blight on the nation, and those annoying blacks should be sent back to where they came from.
£200 was raised for charity.
There would be outrage. Sky News and BBC24 would be on the scene in hours. Questions would be raised in parliament. The tabloids would be foaming with righteous indignation.
Never mind the charity money. Listen to what those loons are actually saying!
Not so in Scotland. Another example of that not-so-secret shame.
Speaking of charity money, am I the only one who wonders how a night that features three 'esteemed' guest speakers only manages to raise two hundred quid? Seems more than a little on the cheap side to me!
I wonder how much was spent at the bar?