I knew we were one country separated by two different languages when the caller was describing on air his reaction to the Scottish Cup draw that paired Celtic with Rangers in the semi-finals.
“I was heavy buzzin’,” he said. This is, I understand, a description of high excitement and keen anticipation over a fixture that will emphasise the vindictiveness and malice that underpins the rivalry between two sets of supporters. I don’t know how long Michael Beale spent in that pub along the road from Ibrox on the day he came up to visually demonstrate that there was a viable alternative to Giovanni van Bronckhorst as manager of Rangers.
You are reading: Celtic and Rangers Scottish Cup buzz is based on how much suffering might be felt on the other side – Hugh Keevins
But it must have been long enough to be told the fundamental ground rule that applies to games between his club and their greatest rivals. Satisfaction over a derby win is never complete without the undeniable knowledge there is suffering being felt on the other side.
This might be symptomatic of an insular frame of mind but it is an accurate representation of how the fans of both clubs feel. Those who buzz heavily for less innocent reasons than the radio caller have unnerved Police Scotland – because there will now have to be three Old Firm derbies in quick succession.
They will underline in triplicate the lengths people will go to in order to prove their dislike of the other side. And it will highlight the depths to which they will sink for the purposes of getting their point across. The law-abiding, meanwhile, will exert emotional pressure on the clubs that intensifies the need not to disappoint in an atmosphere of rapid-fire consequences.
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Celtic fans want to win the semi-final because it would mean the Rangers supporters would have to live with the full and certain knowledge Ange Postecoglou’s team would complete the winning of the Treble against Inverness Caley Thistle or Falkirk at Hampden on June 3. The long wait for the inevitable to happen would feel like a form of strangulation.
I know you’re supposed to tie yourself in mannerly knots and talk about anything being possible on the big day even if Celtic are playing a lesser side. But that would be an insult to your intelligence best left alone.
The manager of the Japanese national side Hajime Moriyasu appears to have put the Premiership in its place by leaving Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate out of his squad for two friendlies. But we’ll all get over it if we practise self-examination.
Livingston manager David Martindale admitted last week the average wage is £900 a week for his players. Finance creates the imbalance that divides the Old Firm from the rest and stifles competitiveness.
We can take small consolation from the fact two German sides with recent form for beating the Old Firm, Eintracht Frankfurt and RB Leipzig, went out of the Champions League last week while losing a total of 13 goals over two legs to Napoli and Manchester City. Does that mean the Bundesliga is hopeless as well?
It’s best to deal with the practical side of life as we know it. And the truth is a team from the bottom half of the division beneath the Premiership, or one from two leagues away, can’t live with Celtic or Rangers on cup final day.
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Their fans get a jolly, followed by a severe beating at the National Stadium and then a sing-song on the way home. End of, as the heavy buzzers would say. If Rangers’ manager was the one who distorted that reality by losing the final, he would, given the air of militancy that presently surrounds his club, pay for his mistake with his job.
If Beale doesn’t even get that far there would still be calls for him to go if he had also lost the league match at Celtic Park on April 8, which precedes the cup tie. What if Postecoglou lost both league and cup matches to Rangers? He could go to the bank of goodwill and make a withdrawal from the considerable resources he has deposited there over the last 18 months.
The fans would blame VAR, the match officials and cite the allegedly historic denial of natural justice that impedes their team in this country. But Ange would need to win the title in order to maintain his supporter-backed progress towards canonisation.
This is how it is in the world of heavy, light or even moderate buzzing. It might be a claustrophobic world but it is the world which will, pre-split and post-split, ensure this country, and many others beyond our borders, are fixated on what happens next.
Even the man in Japan, who left out the two best players in Scotland, will be watching because they illuminate our football and contribute towards the lavish drama that is uniquely ours and has still to come.