Old Firm In A
League Of Their Own ? Yes
recent talk about the Old Firm leaving Scotland for the so called
Atlantic League has had many of us in London Hibs chuckling over our
pints. This has been a regular discussion point at our meetings over the
years and recently the consensus seems to be developing that the
Scottish League would benefit if the twin evil empires were to depart
the scene. I notice that our friends at Mass Hibsteria are also coming
round to the same perspective.
declare an interest here, - I hate the Old Firm ! This may allow you to
consider there may be a touch of bias in the well reasoned article that
all lets get rid of some of the myths. Young supporters complain about
the current Old Firm domination, even the legendary Bill Nicholson
recently complained to Eddie Turnbull that the problem with Scottish
football is that itís now only Celtic & Rangers. The truth is
unfortunately that this has nearly always been the case. In the whole of
the last century there were only 15 seasons when the league was not won
by either Celtic or Rangers. Hibs and Aberdeen had 4 successes each,
Hearts had 2 and there were single successes for the 2 Dundee teams,
Kilmarnock, Motherwell and the long departed Third Lanark. Motherwellís
title victory was in fact the only season between the 2 World Wars when
the league was not won by the Old Firm. There was only one brief period
when Scottish football competed on a fairly even playing field and that
was immediately after WW2.
economic conditions and the ongoing celebratory mood of the country
ensured huge crowds at all venues and denied the Old Firm the massive
economic advantage that historically has always been in place. To put it
in perspective we need only look at the astonishing crowd of 95,000 for
the Hibs-Clyde cup final of 1958.
also not coincidence that 8 titles were won by non Old Firm teams in the
period 1947 Ė65. In fact Celtic only won one league championship in
this time as opposed to Hibs 3.
may seem like a good reason for supporting the continuation of the Old
Firm in Scotland. Itís really the opposite however. Their overwhelming
domination has resulted in all other clubs slowly being strangled of
resources and money. In fact the loyalty shown by supporters of other
clubs is quite astonishing given the overwhelming lack of championship
success. How many fans do you think would be turning up at Ibrox and
Parkhead if regular trophies were not forthcoming? We all know the
answer to that, I can remember both these clubsí home gates dipping
into 4 figures after only a few years of non success never mind 36 years
in a row !!
here are a few reasons for saying goodbye to the Old Firm.:
would have a truly competitive league. At present, all other 8 teams
could finish 3rd or bottom.
home gates would not suffer and could improve. With current capacity
of 16,000 rising to 20,000 a successful team would have no problem
in filling the ground. (our home gates against Falkirk and Raith in
Div one last season were considerably higher than our recent average
attendances against the old firm.
would not have to put up with the minimum of 4 annual invasions by
the great unwashed. As per the point above many Hibs fans actually
avoid these games.
would no longer have to listen to songs about a 300 year old battle
or about a tattie famine.
football fans who are unable to follow their Glasgow heroes to such
Atlantic ports as Piraeus may start following their local teams.
would have great opportunities of qualifying for Europe albeit we
would be playing qualifiers in the Faroes etc
would be on television every week
thatís it Ė Iím sure there are some downsides but I really canít
think of them. The only caveat is that as soon as the Old Firm found
themselves in a league that they were not automatically winning, their
supporter base would disappear quicker than Jim Jefferies from a
weightwatchers meeting. At that point Iím sure they would quickly come
crawling back because I genuinely believe the Old Firm need Scotland
much more than Scotland need the Old Firm !