Big Jock Knew - The Shame Old Story


"[The Muses] are all of one mind, their hearts are set upon song and their spirit is free from care. He is happy whom the Muses love. For though a man has sorrow and grief in his soul, yet when the servant of the Muses sings, at once he forgets his dark thoughts and remembers not his troubles. Such is the holy gift of the Muses to men."
As the final few stragglers exited the now deserted and hushed terraces of Rugby Park, the occasional smack of a seat springing upright echoed across the grass, the pie-stall shutters rattled and crashed down for another week or two, ……AND Martin Bain obviously learning from his new found role model, Peter Lawell, issued a statement congratulating the Rangers’ supporters upon their behaviour.
As they slapped themselves on the back and merrily marched their way back to cars, buses, trains, planes and boats, the happy throng linked their limbs and broke into a resounding reprise of their new anthem…. “Big Jock Knew”.
  The promise of a new inspiring and imaginative aria had been in the air for a season or more, and now after months of ‘Lodge Idol’ selection shows and intense deliberation by selection committees, the choice had been made.
Clandestine practice sessions had been conducted in large white buildings up and down the less salubrious areas of some of Scotland’s most historic landmarks including Airdrie, Larkhall, and Bridgeton!
Places that will forever be remembered for having their twinning applications rejected by Baghdad, Carstairs, and ‘Somewhere in the Afghan Mountains’!
Their efforts now had paid off; and having memorised all three words and the correct sequence, the massed marching nation of Billy’s Bands of Brithers were now able to belt it out with guttural gusto.
They still had a problem with the melody, but surely the listening world would agree that the inventiveness, talent, enthusiasm and ambition of this musical masterpiece truly encapsulated the core of everything that Rangers Football Club was founded around and still stood for in the twenty-first century.
But this commemoration to Big Jock’s Knowledge didn’t just stop with their adulatory acclaim.
The campaign to recognise the great man’s mental prowess was accompanied by stickers on lamp-posts, banners hung over motorway gantries and bridges, and even the statement being promoted through the Steven McKenna Real Radio programme. (This last one was an obvious aberration as the remainder of the Scottish media knitted their own chunky woollen jumpers, pulled them down over their eyes, stuck their earphones in and once more ignored the toxic bile that sprung from the rancid well in Copeland Road).
And so with an open mind to the boundless limits of avant-garde theatre, the infinite scope of alternative comedy, and the stains on Tracy Emin’s mattress protector, I thought I might objectively and dispassionately offer a critique on this new offering to the vision of the muses! 
There is so much to agree with in the sentiments and accuracy of the title “Big Jock Knew”.
For a start Big Jock obviously Knew that a club mired in sectarianism (and lets be clear what that means – the approval and encouragement of baseless hatred) was a curse on civilisation and he wanted nothing to do with their organisation, their supremacist spine, and the insidious establishment support structure.
Big Jock also Knew about people and the innate virtues that fashion strong characters, champion progressive principles, and ensure that even in the most hostile of environments, those values flourish!
Then there was his unique and total grasp of football and what makes it the marvellous sport that it is. Simply winning was not enough! Winning while playing in with speed, skill, imagination and verve was the non-negotiable contract he made with himself, the team and with the support.
Undoubtedly Jock also knew from the moment he returned from Llanelli to Celtic, exactly where his destiny lay and with whom his ambitions would be realised.
With an insight and vision often referred to, but still to be fully appreciated, he revolutionised Celtic’s reserve structure and culture during the 1950s. He recruited lads with talent and turned them into men who lived, played, and carried themselves in the way that he knew men should live, play, and carry themselves.
When he returned to Celtic, many of those men were still there and the lessons that they had learned all those years previously, bloomed again in colours and freshness magnificently culminating on that match but also matchless day of 25th May 1967.
I think Big Jock Knew just how much that day would have meant to Brother Walfrid and his dream.
Even in the face of “you’re one of us” overtures from John Lawrence who tried to entice him across the city, Big Jock adhered with a passion to beliefs and standards hewn from the coalface and sculpted into a way of life.
Suddenly it had dawned on Rangers that as much as they liked to think they knew so much, Big Jock simply knew far more and was even cleverer in his use of that knowledge.
But what probably came as the most damning of shocks to the Govan Gentry, was that here was a man who realised that philosophy of honour and egalitarianism found no welcome, no respect, and no comprehension in the bowels of Edmiston Drive.
While probably he wouldn’t have shouted out his reasons in detail, Big Jock Knew that he would never have fitted into an environment where he couldn’t scout never mind pick the players he wanted; where he couldn’t associate openly with lifelong friends; and unacceptably where he would have to live a lie!
Big Jock Knew that Ibrox and its custodians, under the pernicious guise of institutional tradition, harboured a sickness and that anyone who took the road to that place paid a non-refundable toll that sustained, aided and abetted that illness.
Big Jock Knew that in being part of that cult, a man would no longer be able to look in his shaving mirror and see an honest and honourable face staring back.
But most of all Big Jock Knew, to the dumfounded chagrin and amazement of RFC that he was not, never had been, and never would be “one of them”. After all, having been ostracised by one community of closed minds in Burnbank, it would have been an anathema to even contemplate returning to such a shadowy and Stygian environment.
I don’t know what John Lawrence thought, but surely as he looked down from the apex, at the pyramid of bile beneath, he could see more than the reflection in his shiny brown brogues!
Not only had a genius of the stature of Jock Stein dismissively rejected his dishonest bait, but to those who were not deaf, dumb and blind Big Jock  had made it clear that Rangers feared and denied that the world had moved on from the dark days when witches were burned at the stake, young boys climbed chimneys, and your given or chosen faith was an indelible ‘stain’ on a your character that could impact the ability to play football, work in a bank, or hold out to those with faith, hope for entry into heaven!
Yes WATP ruled then and just how appropriately close is that acronym to the even sadder twin brand of WASP!
And now we have all this knowledge being so carefully and skilfully packaged into one simple song and one simple phrase, as at last nearly 40 years later we have a mass ‘mea culpa’ being performed as the reactionary legions of bigots.
Not only have they lain down their rusting swords of prejudice, but with an almost Paulian enlightenment they have recognised Big Jock’s skill, humanity, honesty and honour, and for all posterity have writ it in the annals.
I humbly spread my arms as I welcome you all, with no rancour or triumphalism, into the sunlight of magnificence that nourishes the countless varieties of flora and fauna that co-exist, cooperate, and share life’s ups and downs on our journey from the sudden ‘slapped-arse’ wakening at our birth to the dimming of the lights as our earthly eyes close for the last time.
From beyond that earthly veil, the big man has indeed worked his magic once more and opened the door to the resurrection that accompanies the realisation that indeed
......... “Big Jock Knew”……..!!!
But that damned grave-walker has just stood on my spine and the shiver suggests that this might not be a hymn of praise after all!
What the mighty masses of Mordor are all REALLY singing is a demeaning and slanderous attempt to destroy the memory, achievements and character of the single greatest manager to ever arise in Scotland.
What they are attempting to say is that Big Jock not only Knew about what was happening during the dark days of Jim Torbett’s perverted actions at Celtic Bhoys Club, but that in some way through his actions he did nothing about it and either covered it up or turned a blind eye to what was happening.
I won’t really deal with that in detail, for anyone with the ability to read or listen will know the true facts behind that terrible and terrifying corruption that was visited upon the young boys in Torbett’s charge.
They will know that Celtic Boys club was not part of Celtic Football Club.
They will know that when the rumours started Big Jock was THE ONLY MAN in Scotland who took any action when, irrespective of the lack of evidence, he summarily kicked Torbett out and banned him from Celtic Park.
They will know that many people, from the police to business associates of Torbett and acquaintances, did nothing to investigate or corroborate the rumours.
They will most importantly know that one of these people was most certainly NOT Jock Stein.
And the saddest thing is that even knowing all of this, there are thousands upon thousands who chant this putrefaction as their need to hate drags them back into their swamp of ignorance.
It would be a futile exercise to try to penetrate the fossilised dinosaur faeces that passes for a cranium in their cases. I will leave that to far brighter and far braver people whose mission will be to illuminate the many deep and dark areas of their psyche and neutralise those black primeval urges.
All I can do is pose a few questions and ponder upon possibilities.
The few questions:
Why do small brained primeval bigots expose themselves and their club that they profess to love, to ridicule?
Why does Rangers Football Club (among many others) allow their stadium to be polluted with the songs and banners of evil?
Why do the progressive media in Scotland not condemn the campaign and uphold the great man’s name? (On second thoughts, the phrase ‘progressive media in Scotland’ is being submitted to the Guinness book of Records as a candidate for the greatest oxymoron ever written). Have they learned nothing by their Nelsonian denial of almost a hundred years of bigotry? Are they again ‘innocently naïve’ of the bandwagon that will roll and the casualties caused if the deceitful menace of this new strain of hatred is not exposed and eradicated? Will they continue to share the wash-hand basin with Pontius Pilate?
Why the “decent Rangers supporters who are of the huge majority” not tear the banners down, drown out the chants, and point out the perpetrators? (Perhaps that ‘Huge majority’ is not quite as huge as some would like to pretend it is.)
The pondering possibilities:
It is patently obvious that the world at large has removed its blindfold and earplugs that isolated it from the prejudice that was not just celebrated by the Rangers’ support  and encouraged by the club, but was also the reinforced pillar upon which the whole rancid organisation placed its collective head and wallowed in dreams of supremacy .
It has been decreed that blatant promotion and celebration of sectarian hatred is now a ‘no no’!
“Aye, you there. Don’t pit yer fingers in yer ears and shut yer eyes. You wae the Lambeg, drumsticks, and picture of the Pope on the skins”
And in a flash all was peace!
Not quite!
Unfortunately the sudden drive to identify with the force of reason and the soul of decency has a nasty little edge.
Not once has there been a statement that the behaviour, the chanting, the beliefs or the culture are wrong. A declaration such as that only happens in places like South Africa and is now also happening in Sierra Leone and Rwanda.
The cries of bigotry having been ignored, condoned and tolerated for a 100 years are being muffled now ONLY because Rangers may be docked points, part of the stadium may be closed, and David Murray may lose money if he can’t sell the club on!
As a consequence of addressing the symptoms only, the hunger for hatred and the chase to satisfy it by feeding on another defenceless target rumbles on, as virulent as ever, in their distended bellies of pish and wind.
The search for a new song was no more than a cover for the quest for a new outlet to broadcast again the bitterness and the need to sneer, and mock.
Parasites gorged on and sustained by hatred know well that they need a victim to survive, and what more convenient and powerless a victim than a man who can not respond as he would have in life.
Aye full of hate, full of ignorance, and cowards as well!
That makes a stiff-run in the brag-hand of the bigot.
Is there some mutation of the DNA or genetic make –up of the marching legions of Rangers followers that so many of them exhibit the absolute need for hatred?
I am not here talking about people singing their support for Britain, the Queen, or even the historic battles that still grab the imagination of the dull but harmless. Within a relatively, albeit decliningly so, liberal society, that is an established right, and while I don’t agree with their basic ethos, I don’t hate them for it.
I am talking about those who find that their triumphal megaphone has suddenly been taken from them and they no longer can squeeze the evil puss of naked sectarianism from the open sores that pass for mouths.
Lies shouted long and loudly enough in the cloisters of isolated minds will eventually become accepted as truth, and disastrously will corrupt their own children who will eventually become indistinguishable from the zealots who tried to wreak havoc and destruction on Glasgow Airport.
In treating the children of the future as so many of the past treated their offspring, the singers, the chanters, and the condoners place themselves on the same plane as Torbett himself.
Must the future be the battlefield of history resounding to the clarion call of new wars, new victims, new reasons, but all conducted in a same old void of reason?
Or do we stop now?
Perhaps out there in other mutations are taking place.
Mutations that say ‘hold on, one day soon my son or daughter will be walking down the same side of the road as their son or daughter. They will be wearing the different colours of two sworn rivals for football honour.
They’ll sing their songs and we’ll sing ours and we’ll laugh and mock but when they’ve passed, there will be no need for the stonemason to chisel another name on the memorial to victims of hatred’.
Mutations that will say, “I’m not going to ignore this and not say something. I’m going to put this on the front page and lead the news with it.  If we want to be a country we need to act as one with decency to each other and a passion for the truth”
Our version of civilisation will then have taken a huge leap into the sunshine, and Scotland’s only shame will be that the bitter hatred wasn’t condemned earlier and the tumour excised much more quickly.
Even in the apparent ridiculous lies of this corrupt lyric lies an opportunity.
An opportunity to really examine that man that Big Jock was.
An opportunity to inspire many of us to be half as big, half as brave and know half as much.
Now that really would be a fitting legacy for our children!
And an even more fitting tribute to just how much ‘Big Jock Knew’.
Hail Hail


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