In Praise of the Union Bears

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By Grandmaster Suck

They’ve been getting it tight the last few weeks – some justified, some not, much of it over the top or childish.

My own views on the UBs can be mixed but what in the end what matters is the balance – the weighing up of the good and bad.  Mostly it’s good, very good.

Before the Blue Order and the Union Bears were formed the support was crying out for an improved atmosphere.  Let’s be honest – before Souness, before a ground full of season tickets, before the Sky Revolution, before the ban on drinking – a midweek game in the Cup against St Johnstone with 18,000 or so in the ground was not a cauldron.  Those who say “We shouldn’t need them” are missing the point – those days are long gone.

Over the piece the UB have come up with some of the most eye-catching and innovative displays and chants ever seen in the UK – their choice of subjects, eye for a pun or catchy turn of words, the sense of history – all have been superb.  For that alone they deserve our unreserved support.

Do they go over the top at times?  Yes, they are mainly young men having the times of their lives!   That youthful enthusiasm does mean they go OTT from time to time.  The addiction to the ACAB slogan is a pain in the arse but it’s understandable when you realise it’s become a catchphrase across the European Ultra scene for decades now – do we sincerely believe that none of the UBs would call the cops if their homes and cars were broken into.  It’s youthful exuberance.  It’s a show.

Thirty years ago did you never sing “If you hate the Glasgow polis”?  This is the same thing.

On the question of pyro.  I’m not actively in favour of melting a teenager’s face with a firework nor burning a grandmother to a crisp should a giant sparkler get caught up in her parka.  To be frank I’m in favour of proper pyro like the Greeks or Serbs do it rather than some of the more limp displays we seen in Scotland – I like good pyro – I like big pyro.  Little pyro is worse than no pyro.

Young men have sang and fought and celebrated at football grounds for over 150 years.  I’m old enough to have glimpsed how old Ibrox was – magnificent in it’s scale and grandeur – when football on and off the field was wild.  It’s a different world now but if football is stripped of all risk, if it is purely a vehicle for sponsorship and moneymaking then it is nothing.   Football needs an edge. 

As the UBs are so secretive in their internal discussions they are impervious to most outside influences but I would ask them to remember this – not everyone is a fan of theirs, and some of the criticisms you hear may have some merit – everyone depends upon the pool of support they have to swim in.  Sometimes it is better to ignore an insult than to react to it.  Be flexible.

But lastly, taken as a whole their work has been superb and has been a credit to the club.  Cut them some slack.

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