First Published 04.10.13 WeScoreWhenWeWant
Much like the way we all thought the kids up the lane who did wear Old Firm tops were ‘bad boys,’ those grimmer facets of fandom frequented by the firms new and old are being simultaneously revered and reviled. There is a debate, frivolous in nature, happening amongst certain supporters online as to whether or not a red and yellow Union flag is appropriate to be displayed at Firhill on Monday against Hibs. At least, I think that’s what it was about – the whole ‘debate’ wasn’t worth the pixels it was written on.
In football, as I’ve discussed before on this site, there is an inherent need to either find, or somehow reflect, your ‘identity.’ I wrote recently on here as well at my confusion as to the peculiar brand of mysterious ‘Celtic-ness’ being displayed and encouraged around Parkhead. Why did I feel on the outside of the circle? I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what values, behaviours and morals constituted ‘Celtic-ness.’ I’m sure plenty of people have their own ideas…
However the point with Thistle is this: there is no ‘Thistle-ness.’ None that I know of anyway, and it’s not something I, or any fan I know, is clamouring for.
Thistle are simultaneous reverential and irreverent. They’re earnest and sarcastic. Utterly wonderful and fantastically awful. Tolerant only to those who tolerate. Welcoming and exclusive.
The question that will split a country in two the coming year has no place at Partick Thistle. Thistle fans cheer Thistle, not independence or unity. Should there be a Union flag at Firhill? No, of course not. But nor should there be a Scotland flag with a big ‘YES’ on it.
For years many people have assumed quite rightly that Thistle fans define themselves by being anti Old Firm. For most that is true. But there comes a point when those who define themselves solely against another entity have to work out what it is they actually do stand for.
Nigel Farage faces that very question daily. So too Alex Salmond. When they get their way, their enemies vanquished, their fight won, how will they define themselves then?
Although Partick Thistle in many ways relish being the anti-thesis of Glasgow’s bickering twins, there is one crucial difference between them and us. Unlike Rangers and Celtic and their incessant, vacuous noise; their tiresome soap opera being played out in the red tops as they slowly drag each other to ever lower lows and ever murkier depths, leading, inevitably to their simultaneous destruction… – yes, unlike them – Partick Thistle would survive the pair’s demise. Thistle don’t rely on the other for money nor motivation. Thistle don’t really have an enemy. We sing ‘fuck the Old Firm.’ But it’s a flippant fuck. It’s a fuck that looks down on those being fucked. Not malicious or aggressive, not character building or identity affirming. It’s just a fuck. Four letters. Sometimes followed by ‘off.’
Partick Thistle then are perhaps the perfect embodiment of the Liberal Paradox. That’s why those middle class parents send their children there. You’re not assigning yourself a political party or an agenda. You’re neither anti- nor pro- anything. You’re decidedly undecided. And that’s fine. You’re there to watch a football game, to join with those who are different from you, in the superficial yet utterly glorious ‘devotion’ to your team. You don’t convert. You don’t even tolerate. You welcome.
Come to Firhill. You don’t have to be making a stand for anything. In fact it helps if you’re not