The rivalry of Scottish heavyweights Rangers and Celtic is revered all around world football. Their Old Firm derby is one of the most heated matches in the football calendar every year. There is a genuine sense of hatred among the fans both clubs and they love to get one over another in any way possible.
As a result, Rangers’ fan group Union Bears decided to show off their ability to legitimately light up games in their recent Scottish Premiership clash against Dundee. Rangers, who are currently five points behind Celtic in the title race, had to desperately win that match to stay alive in the race.
They did so in rather dominant fashion at Dens Park, scoring five goals and getting a huge win right after their dramatic late win over Hearts at the weekend. The Union Bears group, which is often situated right behind one of the goalposts, decided to bring out the fireworks for the game.
The fan group decided to do an early celebration for the win with Rangers already leading 5-0 in the second half. Suddenly out of nowhere, hundreds of red pyro fireworks were lit up in one of the stands. For a moment, it almost looked like the stand was lit on fire because of just how sheer red the colour of that place had gotten.
The match officials had to pause the game because of the smoke making it impossible for the players to be on the pitch. The fans refused to listen to reason, absolutely smoking out the ground with their pyro and causing a major delay. Ultimately, the match had to be suspended for 19 minutes before it could be resumed.
Scottish football has been troubled by the excessive use of pyrotechnics, even though fireworks are banned in the stadiums. In more than one way, this was a show of defiance from the Union Bears and also one to rub salt into the wounds of Celtic’s Green Brigade fan group.
That is because the famous Celtic group that is over 250-member strong was recently banned by their own club. The reason for that was basically because the fan group had surrounded Celtic Park with Palestinian flags in their recent Champions League game against Atletico Madrid as a show of support for Palestine amid their ongoing conflict with Israel. UEFA has banned such flags being displayed in their matches and Celtic had to take action.
The club has decided to revoke the season tickets and membership of all the fans that were involved in this public showing of support for Palestine. As a result, the section filled with the Green Brigade was visibly empty in Celtic’s recent match against St. Mirren.
A spokesperson for the Green Brigade has slammed Celtic’s attempts to silence them, saying: “The club are very clever and cynical. They want to sanction us, they want to punish us. They want to send us a message to try to keep us in line and deter us from doing further action.
“But they know very well that on the issue of Palestine, they’re not on strong ground as they don’t have a lot of support amongst the wider fanbase on that issue. So they’re using other issues that they think they will have support on to sanction us.”
Some fans feel that Union Bears’ actions were a way of mocking the Green Brigade and trying to rub salt into their wounds, even though this might get them suspended too. However, the fan group is also being slammed – even by some Rangers fans – for their unsafe actions and how they might put the matches into jeopardy with the use of pyrotechnics. With that being said, they are unlikely to care about the jibes.
The Union Bears are focused on acting as Rangers’ ‘12th man’ and do whatever is necessary to rattle the opposition side into losing their focus and helping them win.