Hospitals brace themselves for the carnage that follows on the streets with supporters of both sides staggering in to be stitched up after a 'discussion' that has resulted in someone being assaulted. Domestic abuse rates have been known to increase on the day of an Old Firm game and, lest we forget, the singing of so-called 'party tunes'.
While Hampden 2012 is nowhere near as serious and far-reaching in the grand scheme of things compared with Versailles 1919, a new sense of defiance was borne out of a grudge as Rangers had to start from the fourth tier. Last week was their return to the big stage and for some in the stands clad in light blue, this was their opportunity to stick two fingers up at those who they deemed had wronged them. Sadly this came in the form of showing off the sectarian songbook which has hung heavy over the Ibrox club from time immemorial.
Before the referee blew the whistle to start the game itself, the following song, "The Billy Boys", was struck up:
We are the Billy Boys
You'll know us by our noise
We're up to our knees in Fenian blood
Surrender or you'll die
For we are the Brigton Derry Boys
This would be performed at various intervals during the match as would another ditty - one that some would say is even more explicit in its anti-Irishness, titled "The Famine Song":
I often wonder where they would have been
If we hadn't have taken them in
Fed them and washed them
Thousands in Glasgow alone
From Ireland they came
Brought us nothing but trouble and shame
Well the famine is over
Why don't they go home?
Celtic fans for their part were not exactly without blame with a section of their fans displaying a banner referring to their rivals as 'Huns' - a term which has been classed as being sectarian by Nil By Mouth, a charity which is dedicated in trying to eradicate sectarianism in Scotland.
So, what was the official reaction to this? Surely the authorities would take action? After all, there has in the past been a conviction for the singing of "The Famine Song". In the case of William Walls v. the Procurator Fiscal, Kilmarnock, the High Court of Justiciary held on appeal, in an opinion delivered by Lord Carloway, that:
"...the song calls upon persons of Irish descent, who are living in Scotland, to go back to the land of their ancestors, namely Ireland ... they are racist in calling upon people native to Scotland to leave the country because of their racial origins. This is a sentiment which, once more, many persons will find offensive."
The appellant, who was convicted for Breach of the Peace racially aggravated and aggravated by religious prejudice having sung the Famine Song and made a number of other remarks during a football match, had his appeal denied and his conviction upheld.
Unfortunately, the inclination to be just as robust against such behaviour had been posted missing. Police referred to the singing as just being from "a minority" of supporters when the high level of volume suggests it was more.
As for the Rangers fans themselves, the Rangers Supporters Trust instead of speaking out against those within their own ranks who had sung these songs, preferred instead to release a statement designed to deflect attention away from them and onto the behaviour of Celtic fans. While they were right to speak out against the banner mentioned earlier in this piece and also the disgraceful assault by a Celtic supporter on a 10-year-old Rangers fan, to shy away from their own support's misdemeanours was equally as contemptible.
And what of the custodians of the Scottish game itself? The Scottish Football Association had strangely been quiet on this issue. So much so that you got the impression from them that ignoring it would make the whole furore go away. That is until the SFA's chief-executive, Stewart Regan, found himself embroiled in a spat on social media site Twitter on Friday night with Guardian journalist, Ewan Murray. What unfolded was Regan performing his party piece as Scottish football's answer to Pontius Pilate:
The following dialogue is from Celtic fans website: www.videocelts.com
Murray tweeted: “Scotand’s football authorities really are pathetic. Week over, total radio silence over the belting out of sectarian songs on Sunday.”
Responding on his official SFA account Regan sarcastically tweeted: “@mrewanmurray so what’s your solution Victor?”
Responding to that Murray tweeted: “@StewartMRegan so the SFA has never charged a club based on the conduct of their supporters…?”
When asked by another Twitter user as to why the SFA had not taken any action Regan appeared to take the cop-out route with: “@wurzie82 we do not have jurisdiction – it was the LEAGUE Cup.”
Murray was quickly on the case with: “@StewartMRegan @weehairy as I said- pathetic. Cowardly silence and inaction from the SFA.
Regan replied: “@mrewanmurray dear dear Ewan. Tell me how several thousand people could be simultaneously arrested?”
Murray asked: “@StewartMRegan are you a police official? Did I ask you for arrest commentary or reasoning?
Murray added: @StewartMRegan do you purport to speak for the police now? You are bad enough at speaking for your own regime.
Regan responded: “@mrewanmurray no, we have been working with clubs, government, leagues, agencies to improve.”
Murray replied: “@StewartMRegan clearly working well. When a scenario like Sunday appears- you don’t say or do a thing.”
Regan then asked: “@mrewanmurray what’s your suggestions then Ewan?”
He added: “@mrewanmurray Ewan, would you be prepared to join the working party?”
Murray pointed out: @StewartMRegan what was really telling about Sunday was rest of country saying “What the **** happened there?!”.. Governing bodies go mute.
Later on Murray summed up the exchange and Regan’s priorities saying: “Enjoyed that exchange. Think it rather proves my point about pitiful leadership.....”
Instead of releasing, at the very least, a sentence along the lines of: "We at the SFA condemn all forms of sectarian singing, regardless of which side it is from, and we will be working with both the clubs and police to determine who the perpetrators are", Regan instead tried to defend his organisation's silence and proceeded to tie himself up in knots in the above exchange with Murray.
First he tries to pass the buck on to the Scottish Premier and Football League (SPFL) as it was under their competition, the League Cup, that the match - and the incidents that happened in the stands - took place. Then he tries to hide behind the "you can't arrest them all" excuse - a hollow line of reasoning if ever there was one.
Regardless of whose competition the League Cup belonged to, Regan should have spoken out against what happened as should Neil Doncaster of the SPFL. Yet the Armageddon Brothers by their silence conveyed the strong impression that they condoned the sectarian singing.You would think, if they had any moral decency, that they would be quick to show the world that both of them are strongly against bigotry.
As for the making of arrests, I'm sure Glasgow's police stations don't have the resources to lock up thousands of fans in one fell swoop. However, surely detaining a number of fans who do this would send out the strong message to the others that they sing these songs at their own risk? Maybe all can't be arrested but some could still be going off to the clink anyway and maybe fans will think twice before putting themselves in that particular firing line.
Regan has the power to try and push through other sanctions. Making clubs close off a section of their stadium for the next three home games, thus depriving them of revenue, if they can't control their own fans. Make them play behind closed doors even. If the offence happens in a cup game, throw them out of the tournament and the following season's as well. If that team has won a cup final but their fans have sung sectarian songs, strip the trophy away from them and either hand it to the runners-up or declare that season's competition void. If the singing occurs in a league game, then deduct 10 points or more from that club's tally.
The message would soon filter through that those running the game are doing just that. If any club's supporters do not want to cost their own team points, trophies and much-needed revenue at the turnstiles, then they had better behave. After all, who would want to proudly boast that their singing of a so-called party tune cost their team a cup?
Unfortunately, when you have pseudo-Neville Chamberlains such as Regan who do little more than wash their hands of the whole thing, the sectarian deviants will continue to win unless somebody in authority stands up and decrees, "anymore of that and we will punish both you and your club".
But in the case of Rangers, Regan has form of trying to appease them. After all, it was he who tried to carpetbag the reformed post-liquidated club into the top flight and subsequently the second tier. It was he who tried to scare the other clubs into approving this footballing version of gerrymandering with apocalyptic warnings of Armageddon for the Scottish game and social unrest from certain supporters if the Govan club were not given special treatment. The clubs of course sneered at his poor attempt to cry wolf and booted out his plan.
As for the sectarian singing that a large television audience heard during last week's game, Regan seems to have become deaf, dumb and blind to it all.
He must be a wizard on the pinball.