Rangers TV commentator Clive Tyldesley has clarified comments about Celtic’s 10 in a row, he really shouldn’t have.
Where would sport be without rivalries? It’s the cherry on the cake of competition. Yes, having other decent to good teams to duke it out against accomplishes much the same, but a rivalry? That’s that two teams that are so vehemently against each other that form, and league position, is almost irrelevant. Obviously because in Scotland we do everything better than anywhere else, we handle football rivalries with the same dedication.
I had the opportunity to watch the Celtic, Red Bull Salzburg match in December 2018, supporting the visitors of course, at Park Head. The home crowd spent basically the entirety of the match alternating between moaning about their own inability to make inroads in Europe, Boli Bolingoli excepted, and singing anti-Rangers songs. The fact Rangers weren’t even on the pitch made no difference, this was simply a by-product of Bears fans living rent free inside their heads.
Of course, we do the same for them, that’s the rivalry isn’t it? Imagine, then, my surprise to wake up to the news this morning that RangersTV commentator Clyde Tyldesley caught heat from Celtic fans on Twitter and was forced to publicly apologise for comments made during the Kilmarnock match. As quoted by the National;
"“It has been completely re-reported from what I actually said. It obviously came off the top of the head. There is almost this dark, understood significance to this season that I have heard about and seen on my social media feed amongst Rangers fans.If the remark was directed at anyone, it was at any Rangers fan that is unnecessarily obsessing about stopping ten-in-a-row. I prefer to look to positive things to stimulate and inspire in general.The number 10 is the perfect source of motivation for Celtic because that is a positive thought for them."
Clive would also rule out, categorically, having any loyalty to Rangers above any other club and that’s totally acceptable and to be expected from a veteran and professional. Obviously off the record it’s only natural to prefer the club where the supporters don’t send you death threats on Twitter, but officially this is very much the norm.
Nonetheless, the fact he had to come out and clarify a throw-away comment made during the game is bizarre and moderately concerning. Leaving aside that some Celtic fan caught wind of this because likely they streamed RangersTV game illegally, and if they didn’t – thanks for the cash, he was commenting on a Rangers game on a Rangers platform for Rangers season ticket holders and MyGers subscribers.
What Tyldesley actually said during the game was;
"“Motivation for me is a positive energy, it’s what you can achieve not what you can stop – 55 should be the magic number for the season, not 10, Rangers weren’t even in the Premiership for four of the nine seasons.”"
Spot on, absolutely. First, Rangers should be looking to make it 55 and not simply to stop Celtic, it’s a goal we can achieve and positivity always trumps the opposite for motivation. Secondly, however, it’s not wrong to say that the Gers weren’t even in the League for 4 of those seasons, making the 10 in a row hollow by extent, that’s simply fact.
Why shouldn’t the commentator have a bit of fun? Why shouldn’t that fun be geared towards the viewer?
His point, of course, was that those four years are evidence that Rangers can’t do a thing about the Hoops and should worry first and foremost of their own affairs. Ultimately, some Celtic fan took offence at this statement of fact and decided to start a Twitter campaign against Tyldseley, which is sad but hardly surprising.
What is even worse is that Clive came out and clarified his comments, as if he needed to actually do that, backing down from stating something we all know but fear alerting the thought police to. This mentality is not only weak, it does a disservice to Rangers, it’s supporters and above all to the nature of the Old Firm and footballing rivalries itself.
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Why shouldn’t the commentator have a bit of fun? Why shouldn’t that fun be geared towards the viewer? This is no different than the in-stadium football announcer showing clear favouritism towards the home side, it’s not unprofessional – it’s just playing to the audience. As long as there’s nothing incorrect, unfair or genuinely hurtful in what is said, who really cares? With 30 years experience in the role, I think Tyldseley knows what he’s doing by now.
Of course, nobody wants Celtic to get any landmark or achievement, no matter how false, because that too is part of the rivalry. We all need a bit thicker skin with this, on both sides. This year promises to be the most dramatic in an age, with both teams looking hot and both numbers, 10 and 55, looming. Why not have that bit of fun with it? That, after all, is the cherry on the cake of competition.