Big Jock Knew - The Shame
"[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
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
Places that will forever be remembered for having their twinning
applications rejected by Baghdad, Carstairs, and ‘Somewhere in the
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
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
They will know that Celtic Boys club was not part of Celtic Football
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
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
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
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
And in a flash all was peace!
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
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
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
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
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
Even in the apparent ridiculous lies of this corrupt lyric lies an
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’.
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