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Hayley Wheeler - Old Firm rivalry goes way beyond football

Published: 10 Mar 2011 - 11:14:35

The Old Firm games are notorious for their hostility, but the cup replay that took place last week has highlighted the extreme levels of unacceptable behaviour associated with the game, on and off the pitch.

All football fans relish the local derbies. The teams not only play for points but for pride, and for the fans, bragging rights are just as important as the points. But for the Old Firm game especially, there must be a point where passion should not spill over into violence as the beautiful game is being ruined.

On the pitch, the behaviour of the players was totally unacceptable. Manhandling the referee and trying to put his cards back in his pocket when they disagreed with his decision was disgraceful. These players should know better and must remember that they are role models and should set the standards of how to behave on, and off the pitch.

Three Rangers players saw red and there was no surprise that El-Hadji Diouf was in the midst of the aggression. It wasn't just the players stepping out of line. The managers were squaring up to each other and a mass brawl followed between the managerial staff and the players in the tunnel. If the players can't keep themselves in line, you would at least expect a little more maturity from the managers who should endeavour to be the epitome of responsibility, and not have a 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude.

The violence overflowed into the West of Scotland streets - 34 fans were arrested and the sound of football fans singing, chanting and cheering was replaced with the sirens of police cars and ambulances. It's a sad state of affairs when increasing levels of violence have lead to discussions between Strathclyde police and politicians to decide whether the game should either be played behind closed doors or to scrap the game altogether.

The violence on the streets has become increasingly difficult and expensive for the police to manage and there are also ongoing discussions on a change in alcohol licensing around the grounds and the rest of West Scotland.

It strikes me as obvious that the fans themselves could have, and could still prevent such drastic action from being taken against them. If they don't want the flagship games on their calendar from being cancelled or being played behind closed doors they need to take more responsibility for their actions.

People should not have to fear for their lives when walking onto the streets after an Old Firm game. And this is no environment for children to be a part of and it is a massive shame that the younger generation should be restricted from games because of what the older generation are doing to it.

I hope the fans make a change themselves rather than having such drastic measures sanctioned by the police and the government.DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Hayley Wheeler
Despite being born and bred in the country, Hayley is a football-mad Tottenham Hotspur fan. Away from the beautiful game she has been eventing her own horses for over 20 years, having previously been a human and equine sports therapist. She has now turned her hand to sport journalism and hopes to one day be gracing your television screen broadcasting the game she loves. Follow Hayley on Twitter @Hayleywsport

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