HISTORICALLY, Rangers and Celtic have been not just football clubs but totems of religious and cultural identity. By contrast, Glasgow’s ‘third’ team, the much less successful Partick Thistle, has no such sectarian baggage. Located just beyond the city’s artistic and educational enclaves, the club is instead parodied as the preferred choice of right-on students, hipsters and the local chattering class.
This caricature explains why, in the BBC Scotland comedy sketch show Chewin’ the Fat (which spawned the long running sitcom Still Game), ‘The Jags’ attracted the attention of comic characters James and, er, Gary – an effeminate pair whose thrills come from eavesdropping on the ‘Glesgae banter’.
The flamboyant duo envision a trip to Thistle’s Firhill Stadium which they imagine will be ‘burstin’ wi’ the banter’ of everyone from ‘the pot-smoking philosophy student to the p**s-stained jakey’.
However, even happy campers James and Gary would not have dared fantasise that Partick Thistle will next season wear a change strip which features the LGBT rainbow down each side of a white shirt.
Football authorities in Britain previously have imposed fatuous gestures such as rainbow laces, and last season Altrincham even played one fixture wearing a multi-coloured strip ‘based on the LGBT flag’. This, though, is the first time that the kit of a senior Scottish club has formally incorporated LGBT insignia.
Here’s a closer look at the new away kit, inspired by the LGBT+ movement. ?️? pic.twitter.com/ocgKwrVhwA
— Partick Thistle FC (@PartickThistle) June 18, 2019
Former centre-forward turned chief executive Gerry Britton explained: ‘We wanted to make a statement about inclusivity and that’s what inspired the rainbow feature on the away shirt . . . Partick Thistle is one club open to all, we will not accept discrimination in any form and I sincerely hope that this shows that . . . if we can use this sport that we all love to make all of our supporters feel welcome, even if that is through something as simple as a band of colour on a shirt, then it’s a simple decision.’
Why ‘all of our supporters’ do not already ‘feel welcome’ is not explained; nor is it clear what practical difference ‘something as simple as a band of colour on a shirt’ is expected to make to Thistle’s ‘inclusivity’. Unsurprisingly, fans’ opinion is divided between those ‘proud to see my club giving out a positive, inclusive message’ and others uneasy at what they see as political posturing.
Doubtless the critics will be condemned as unreconstructed homophobes; however, one can be opposed to prejudice and discrimination but also object to exhibitionism. All Partick Thistle supporters will wish their team to be top of the league, but not everyone wants to be champion virtue-signaller.