A round of applause for the traditional minute's silence.

Last updated : 03 January 2008 By Grandmaster Suck
For those who have suffered loss in the family tragedies they bring home the essential lessons in life and focus on what is important. Often such scenes prove that the old cliches are true and that in moments of crisis humanity either rises to the peaks or falls to the depths.

Stephen McGowan in the Daily Mail today -

and Stuart Bathgate in the Scotsman yesterday -

SPL needs a policy on postponement to let clubs know where they stand

have been virtually alone in the Scottish media in handling the issue of marking Phil O'Donnell's death without descending into insincere mawkishness.

Arsenal had a minute's silence for Phil O'Donnell at their London derby versus West Ham on the 1st of January. The Radio 5 commentator reported that our old English rivals had marked the occasion "immaculately." Arsenal are a club in a new home, with a foreign manger, with many foreign players, a club most modern in their approach to sports science; and yet they retain their British traditions in such matters. That's as it should be.

Yet in Scotland we, the paying football public, were stampeded into ditching 100+ years of tradition recently by the introduction of a minute's applause simply to appease the fans of two Scottish clubs, I need hardly name the Gruesome Twosome, whose behaviour in recent years has seen them disfigure silent tributes to George Young, Davie Cooper, Jim Baxter, the Queen Mum, the Ibrox Disaster victims and the dead of the 9/11 outrage. To my mind the introduction of the minute's applause is akin to giving someone a sticking plaster to cover a mole rather than treating the underlying cancer.

Which brings me to the current events in Kenya. Tonight we've watched people burnt, stoned and macheted to death on our TV screens and seen churches go up in flames. The lack of the most basic features of humanity is common to the bully, the murderer and those who would desecrate a minute's silence. I could easily point to my upbringing - my dad being both a boxer and a church elder - and say that it was his example that makes me recoil in revulsion when confronted with the lack of humanity in the bully, the liberty-taker, those who would dream of attacking a House of God or the degenerate loudmouth. But I think there is something in most of us, whatever our backgrounds, which is repelled very naturally by such odious creatures. There are things human beings simply don't do.

When you observe cruelty in small actions you can detect the same lack of morals which creates the conditions in which other forms of inhumanity can thrive. In this regard we as Rangers fans should consider ourselves lucky that we support a club whose traditions are resolutely opposed to such behaviour.

I recall being in the away end at Tynecastle during the minute's applause for Jimmy Johnstone. I stood in silence as did the gentleman beside me and many others. At the end of the applause the gent turned to me and shook my hand and said "old school" - a nod was all that was needed to establish what he meant.

Whatever misgiving we had about Jinky's domestic behaviour did not overshadow the basic decency of marking his passing when asked to do so. And likewise with Phil O'Donnell - a decent lad off and on the pitch by all accounts - his being a Celtic fan or former player makes no difference.

I do have to say however that I'm extremely disappointed that the Rangers directors have announced that they will mark Phil O'Donnell's passing by having a minute's applause as I think it's an undignified way to mark a tragedy and flies in the face of our club traditions and smacks of pandering to the latest fad.

What motivates many of our directors is not any moral compass or appreciation of the culture which formed the club - but a simple drive to 'not offend.' To this end they will adopt whatever they gauge to be the path of least resistance on any given subject, standing their ground is simply not an option. They are terrified of doing anything which will 'cause trouble.' It's a simple Pavlovian reaction to every given issue - if the chattering classes degree that a minute's applause is a good thing, Rangers directors and club officials will trip over their own feet in the rush to adopt it. Forget that in the UK a minute's applause was only recently introduced to pander to the gross inhumanity of fans at a handful of clubs (and one in particular, but I need hardly labour that point) - and I say that is not merely pandering, but surrendering.

A minute's applause in the UK - as opposed to Italy where applause at some funerals is a custom for those who had, say, rendered the state especial service in life - is not a new innovation; it's a pathetic 'solution' to the decline in standards of behaviour. It's an attempt to cover up any vile disruption of a silent tribute by hoping that the applause will drown out the neanderthals. By doing so you surrender to such behaviour - there's no other conclusion.

I fully understand that some Bears wish to have the Disaster marked by a minutes silence on Saturday and some may pay their respects at the statue. However, such silences have not been an annual event at Ibrox and I feel that the proper course would be for the club to institute one inside the ground for the game nearest the anniversary rather than the shameful indignity of having three grinning club officials pictured on the video screens holding a wreath in front of the Disaster memorial.

On Saturday I shall be inside the ground at 3pm. If other Bears want to mark Phil O'Donnell's passing by taking part in a minute's applause I'm not going to berate them for that. I myself will show my respect for him and his family in the traditional manner befitting his tragic passing. At the same time I'll also be remembering those who perished in the Disaster in the solemn manner in which such tragedies should be marked.


I'd suggest fans who feel strongly about this issue take the time to write in your own words (standard letters are often counter-productive as they don't appear genuine) to the Chairman to ask in sensible terms that the club adopt a formal policy of marking the death of fans, players or figures of national importance by the holding of a minute's silence.

Write to him at Ibrox:-

Sir David Murray
The Chairman
Rangers FC
Ibrox Stadium
Edmiston Drive
G51 2XD

Whilst others may hold other views equally sincerely, we should note that over 800 fans have already today respectfully added their names to a petition started by one of our posters - Marc_dGris - calling for a return to showing respect in the traditional manner -


An opinion poll, granted it's not an independent or scientific one, on the site is showing at 10 o'clock tonight a 98% vote in favour of silence over applause.


Grandmaster Suck