Spiers challenges fellow hacks to come clean on Old Firm allegiances

THE Times’ Scottish football correspondent, Graham Spiers, has challenged his fellow football scribes to come clean on whether they support either of the ‘Old Firm’ pairing of Rangers or Celtic football clubs.

His take on what’s an ‘old chestnut’ within Scottish football writing circles followed a public question-and-answer session he recently chaired with the new Scotland football team boss, Craig Levein.

He writes today: “There are hundreds of us involved in the coverage of the Scottish game, yet you are hard-pressed to find more than a few in my business who will openly admit to being a Rangers or Celtic fan. One or two colleagues even visibly squirm in their seats if you casually ask them if they have an Old Firm allegiance.

“The point is hit home further by the sheer noise and repetition of those reporters who will loudly proclaim their love of Airdrie, St Mirren, Falkirk, St Johnstone or whomever. In their keenness to assert their allegiance to one of Scotland’s provincial clubs what they are actually saying is: ‘Look, I’m clean, I’m clean!’ It is a standard joke of Scottish football that supporters are now extremely cynical of commentators who confess in this way.

“OK, well let me come clean, then. Having written like this, it wouldn’t do to then skive off without relaying my own football background. For the purposes of a book about Rangers which came out three years ago, I had to sit down and work out how many times I visited Ibrox as a boy between 1969 and 1982, and was taken aback to tot it up at in excess of 200 visits with my father to watch Rangers.

“Ever since this confession was made I have had to live with an element of flak as a consequence – as if I had once confessed to a murder. Ah well, tough. If you were brought up in the west of Scotland, and you loved football, then the chances are that Rangers or Celtic would be your boyhood team.”