Lisburn man takes on the Old Firm in new book

A Lisburn man’s efforts to tackle the bigotry around Glasgow’s ‘Old Firm’ is taking centre stage in a new book looking at football rivalry across the globe.

Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 12:03 pm
Dave Scott
Dave Scott

David Scott who was born and raised in the city is one of the writers featured in a new book ‘Us and Them’, edited by the critically acclaimed football author Daniel Gray, examining the different ways rivalry can manifest itself in the sport, including a chapter focusing on Glasgow’s great divide.

Other places featured include the Basque Country, Channel Islands, China and Kosovo as well as analysis of tensions between fans on the terraces and the occupants of boardrooms.

Since 2011 David has served as Director of Scotland’s leading anti-sectarianism charity Nil by Mouth after moving to Scotland in 1999 to study at the University of Stirling. Nil by Mouth was set up in response to the brutal sectarian murder of Glasgow teenager Mark Scott in 1995 after he was attacked coming home from a football match in the city. The success of its campaign has been recognised in the Scottish Parliament and through a host of awards for its work in schools across Scotland.

The ‘Old Firm’ rivalry between Glasgow giants Rangers and Celtic dates back over 100 years and is one of the most controversial and dramatic fixtures in world football. In the chapter ‘City Rivals’ David goes in search of fans, players and managers who have built strong and lasting friendships from across the Blue and Green sides of Glasgow. However, ‘Us and Them’ looks beyond the bigotry and bile. David interviews legendary Scottish football broadcaster Archie MacPherson to learn about the respect between ‘Old Firm’ legends John Greig and Billy McNeill, meets fans who survived the Ibrox Stadium Disaster in 1971 and speaks with students who set aside sporting rivalry to become best friends.

David said: “Growing up at home I was well aware of how strong a connection existed between Celtic and Rangers and people here with supporters’ buses and clubs travelling over to Scotland every week to watch their heroes.

“These are clubs that form a huge part of peopled identity and sadly on occasion this has spilled over into aggravation on both sides of the Irish Sea. Football and sectarianism are inextricably linked in Glasgow but beyond the poison lies the passion and the thousands of fans who know where to draw the line between rivalry and hatred.

“In this book we choose to look at some interesting stories of friendship across the divide, both on and off the pitch, examining the relationship between Billy McNeill and John Greig as well as allowing supporters the opportunity to tell their own stories.

“The loss of football in recent months has had a deep impact on many people because the sport is so deeply entrenched in their lives and in the book we look at why the ‘Us versus Them’ narrative is so compelling and essential to so many people’s identities.

“As a charity we have always believed that the vast majority of fans are decent human beings, and we hope that when they read ‘Us and Them’ they will recognise what they see.”