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Casuals, Clatter an Clink

The FAS noo recast the wey fitba wis run in Scotland an in 1975 a 10 team Foremaist League wis stertit, an the Heid and Second Diveesions noo haed 14 clubs ilk ane. Bi the dowp-end o the 1970s Scots follaers o fitba haed come tae be regairdit bi the lave o the warld as a paircel of bitch-fou limmers. In the (noo) notour bawin atween Scotland an Ingland at Wembley in 1977, Scotland baet the Auld Inemie 2-1 an the Scots breenged the grund, teirin up the gress (for tae tak hame), an cawin doun the dale posts. The backgrund til aw this wis the passage o the hame ring bill for Scotland. Fae the stert o the 1970’s Scots haed stertit cryin doun God Save The Queen whan it wis played afore internationals at Hampden. Hoo cuid sic a sang, fowk threapit, that wis sung for the national sang o Ingland’s gemms, be coontit as Scotland’s forby? Tho it harled its feet, the FAS gaed doun the gait o the rugby team o Scotland bi noo playin Flouer o Scotland insteid. Scotland wis the ae kintra oot the Unitit Kinrik tae qualify for the hinmaist gemms o the Warld Tassie in Argentinie in 1978, but got baet wi Peru (3-1), drew wi Iran (1-1) an wis threw oot efter a defait at the hauns o the Netherlands (3-2). Forby this, player Wullie Johnstone wis sent hame efter appearinly failin a drugs test. In actual fact, Johnstone haed been on medication, but mony fowk at the time an syne wisna cantie that throu this the Soothron press haed a shot at dingin Scotland doun.  The ever waur disorders o the 1960s an 1970s cam til a heid at the Tassie Gemm o 1980 whan follaers o Celtic an Reengers haed a muckle fecht. The grund haed tae be redd-awa bi moontit polis. The affcome o this day wis the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act o 1980. This socht tae ban aw drink fae grunds an lat the polis mak searches o suspectit fowk. But, on tap o the disorder, a new kind o fowk cryin thairsels fitba casuals kythed - named efter the casual claes that tippie callants o the day wure - appearinly for the first time at the Aiberdeen-Dundee Unitit gemm o 31 October 1981 at Pittodrie. Soon the ASC - Aberdeen Soccer Casuals - wis born an ithers stertit springin up.[i]  Thir casuals gaed tae gemms, socht oot casuals follaein contrair teams, an focht wi them whaurever thay cuid. In ae speiring a Glesca Reengers casual brocht tae mind a fecht agin Aiberdeen casuals in Glesca. His patent pleasure is flegsome:

“We were the first mob ever tae dae Aberdeen, right? An’ that wiz up at Dundas Street. It wiz like winnin’ the pools. We jist - Ah wiz thrown in a butcher’s shoap. Ah cracked ma heid that day. An’ we went doon that street jumpin’ up an doon. It wiz like winnin’ the pools or the cup-final.” [ii]

The casuals in Scotland wis a brekawa fae the auld kind o bitter fechts o the bygane but thoumed thair nebs at the 1980 Act.  In the months efter, casuals got estaiblisht in ither touns in Scotland. Clubs sic as Celtic an Herts pit a stop tae the casuals sprootin in thair ain yaird but as the years gaed by thay did kythe. The idea wisna lang in spreidin til Ingland whaur it melled wi faur-richt Soothron nationalism. Ingland alane o the kintras o Europe noo shoudert an ill name - in parteeclar efter the deiths at the Heysel grund in Bruxells in Mey 1985 – tho fremmit kintras sic as Italy noo haed its Ultràs. In the lang term this haed a guid affcome for Scots fitba acause Scots gauin ootland gaed oot thair gait tae bide at peace an shaw that Scotland wis a different kintra fae Ingland: a wee tait o the unco guid, aiblins. It wis this differ wi Ingland that led UEFA tae gie the 5,000 Scots at the hinmaist gemms o the Heidship o Europe, in Swaiden in 1992, the ‘fair play’ award. In muckle pairt this speerit haed been gien a heize wi the Tartan Airmy, a name that first kythed in the 1970s tae descrive the organised follaers attendin Scots internationals baith at hame an ootland. Syne the Tartan Airmy haes grown namely an affen daes chairity wark forby lookin efter Scots ootland. In 1997 it even brocht oot its ain tartan. The Tartan Airmy haes aye been in the contrair o ony crack o makkin up a Great Britain team threapin that Scots players, an Scots identity, wad loss oot as the affcome, an ower the bygane 40 year mony o its memmers haesna been sweirt in booin aff God Save the Queen at Ingland-Scotland gemms. Deed, fechts atween the Scots an Inglis led tae the Ingland-Scotland bawin bein drappit atween 1989 an 1996. Anent this controvertit clash o twa nations in ae state, twa bodies haes commentit:

“The curious ambivalence, sometimes downright hostility, of Scotland towards England is so culturally and historically embedded...that this truly represents world football’s most intense ‘derby match’ at any level - civic, national or international.” [iii]

In the 1980s Aiberdeen wis at its hecht liftin the Scots Tassie three times in a raw (1982, 1983 an 1984), an won the European Tassie Winners’ Tassie efter thay baet Rael Madrid at Gottenbury in Swaiden in 1983. Hooanever, Aiberdeen’s (an Dundee Unitit’s) lowsin fae the strang grup o the Auld Firm didna last ower lang an bi 1991 Aiberdeen fund itsel on a sliddery brae. The Auld Firm haed a new wappon forby. Fae 1986 Graeme Souness, mair nor ony ither manager, stertit coffin Inglismen til his club an it wisna lang afore players fae fremmit kintras stowed oot the bigger clubs. This contert the auld flaw o Scots til Ingland (an forder) but mony fowk is feart that this pattren leas less inlats for Scotland’s ain younkers tae brek intae the gemm.

Aw throu the 1990s Celtic an Reengers haes warsled for owerance o the Scots gemm, wi a taiglesome affcome. Baith noo thocht thay haed ower skailt Scotland an cuidna mak the siller thay war wantin atween its sma mairches. The FAS an FLS stertit fouterin wi the foonds o the gemm for tae keep the big teams on side. In 1994 a new third diveesion wis makkit an aw diveesions wis taen doun tae ten teams. The FAS an FLS haed aye negotiatit richts an troke on behauf o the Foremaist teams, but noo the teams wis wantin tae dae it aw thair lane. Efter talks, the Foremaist teams brak awa fae the SLS an estaiblisht a Foremaist League o Scotland (FLS) in 1997. The split new League stertit in the season o 1998-1999. This League - modelled efter the Foremaist League o Ingland - negotiatit its ain televeesion richts wi BSkyB warth £24 million ower the fower year atween 1998-2002, an for season 2000-1 the League wis made up tae 12 teams. But, as Scots fitba first-fittit the new century, it wis on shouglie grund. The big teams threapit on growth an siller an socht tae brek awa fae Scotland awthegither. Glesca Celtic an Glesca Reengers baith played mair nor a chancie gemm in wantin tae demit the Fitba league o Scotland an jyne Ingland’s insteid. Some noo threapit it wis a ploy that held Scotland’s auld fitba sang gey cheap an gied a lift tae the norie that the shuid be ae League o Britain alane. This last owerture cawed furth – an aye caws - aw kin kind o argie-bargie.

Ae-time Labour First Meenister Henry McLeish wis appyntit tae heid a speir intae Scots fitba an it reportit back in Dezember 2010. His report recommendit that Scotland shuid hae ae league body wi the tapmaist league keepit tae 10 clubs – but fower o the clubs fae the SPL wis agin this. In 2013, efter a hantle ickerin an bickerin, 23 clubs votit for haein a new set up on 28 Juin 2013. The Scots Premiership an Scots Fitba Leagues wis melled in Juin 2013 tae mak the Scots Professional Fitba League wi fower grades. The tapmaist ane is the Scots Premiership wi 12 teams. The second ane doun is the Scots Championship wi 10 teams, stertit in July 2013. The third grade is the Scots League Ane wi 10 teams stertit in July 2013. The fort grade is the Scots League Twa wi 10 teams stertit in July 2013. Awthegither the’r 42 teams unner the SPFL. It is owned wi 42 memmer clubs as sharehauders that haes the can tae vote on rules an contracts. Thir clubs elects a buird o 6 guidars an thay in turn appynt a executive heid. The SPFL haes media pairtnerships wi Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Scotland an BBC Alba. In September 2015 the SPFL annoonced it haed stentit its greements wi Sky an BT the length o the 2019-2020 season. In November 2013 it gree’d a £20 million deal wi Cheena netwark PPLive Tu for tae shaw 58 live gemms ilka season for ten year. The twa maist recent captains o the Scotland national sqad haes been Dawkeith-born Darren Fletcher (b.1984) an Dumfaurlin-born Scott Brown (b.1985).

Anent the twa maist kenspeckle clubs in Scotland – Celtic an Reengers - in Februar 2012 Reengers wis taen in admeenistration and tint 10 pynts, an in the follaein Juin Reengers Fitba Club PLC wis liquidate. Strathclyde polis wis brocht in tae speir-oot hoo Craig Whyte haed bocht the club, an its siller becam the subject o a media stoushie. The club gaed doun tae the third diveesion for the season 2012-2013 but bi 2015-2016 haed wirkit its wey up tae the Premiership. At the hinnerend Reengers wis fined £250,000 for no kythin up documents sub til its Employee Benefit Trust, but in 2017 caws for Reengers tae hae teetles an tassies taen awa wis dung doun. Celtic, meanwhile, haed trouble ower the heid o some o its follaers uphaud for the IRA, but fowk swithers ower whither it shuid be clesst as releegious bitterness or as political jist. Authorities speirt-intae Celtic efter follaers sung sangs uphaudin the IRA at a European tassie gemm agin Rennes, in November 2011, but it gaed on tae win the Scots Premiership in the years 2013-2014, 2014-2015 an 2015-2016.

As ae instance o hoo muckle fitba haes chenged, an hoo muckle siller is noo made oot o the ‘bonnie gemm’, Kirkcaldy-born Oliver Burke, a 19 year auld winger, becam the dearest-bocht Scots fitba player whan he signed a deal wi German club RB Leipzig for a reportit £13 million in August 2016. On a warld whaur the’r bairns stervin, fowk will dootless haud-gauin wi arguments aboot undeemous feegurs peyed for kickin a baw.


[i] Richard Giulianotti, A Sociology of Scottish Football Fan Culture, (PhD thesis, Aiberdeen, 1996), p.214. The Aiberdeen casuals led the fecht at the Scotland-Ingland gemm at Hampden in 1985.

[ii] Richard Giulianotti, Norman Bonney an Mike Hepworth (eds), Football, Violence and Social Identity, (London an New York, 1994), p.115.

[iii] Gerry PT Finn an Richard Giulianotti, ‘Scottish Fans, Not English Hooligans! Scots, Scottishness and Scottish Football’, in Adam Brown (ed), Fanatics: Power, Identity & Fandom in Football, (London, 1998), p.190.