This time last year in Scotland’s largest city a mob almost got a book banned.
My book, to be precise, and they certainly made a decent fist of it.
For a few days it looked like some booksellers were having second thoughts about stocking Downfall.
In fairness, last summer there was a lot of threat to go around from the klan.
A year ago this week I knew that shop staff were being threatened and abused because Downfall was in their place of work.
The book had been on sale for a week at this point and the publisher and I were clear that there was an ongoing campaign to hassle the book out of the shops in Glasgow.
I felt for the workers as these people, just doing their jobs, would not be enduring that harassment if I had not written Downfall.
That wasn’t something I was comfortable with and I felt responsible.
They didn’t deserve to be caught up in that craziness, but the book, as Alex Thomson said, was “just the truth”.
When people react in a frenzy over the truth then it really is time for them to have a look in the mirror.
The banning of books, whether by state fiat or mob anger, is not the sign of a confident or healthy society.
I recently shook hands with my publisher that one year from now another book about FC Ibrox will be on the shelves.
It will be an entirely new work about an entirely new club.
We had originally thought that publishing a second edition of Downfall with an added Sevco section would suffice.
However, the extent of the Sevco sitcom is such that the added section would probably be bigger than the original book!
I believe that one year from now, looking back to the time that Charles Green and his colleagues bought the assets of Rangers Football Club from Duff & Phelps will be the first chapter of a truly appalling story.
How will that story end?
I cannot see any outcome that leaves a major football club playing at Ibrox.
An insolvency event and then a fresh tussle over assets are both highly likely.
Either that or austerity will be imposed on such a scale that the scenery collapses in on the turgid school play that is currently pretending to be Rangers (1872-2012).
As with any such production, the audience sits through the excruciatingly amateur performance out of obligation, not enjoyment.
The Sevco sequel will, just like Downfall, be the truth.
The klan almost certainly won’t like it, but they don’t seem too fond of reality at the best of times.
Their reaction to the new book will gauge the extent of their Sevcosis.
Many here in Ireland look back on the censorious past of the Irish state with a mixture of bemusement and shame.
Last year I was simultaneously amused and horrified that so many of The People could be in a lather about a book that had yet to be printed.
Indeed, they were posting one star reviews on Amazon when I was still writing it!
Their reaction to the truth about the club they had watched die said so much about them as a subculture.
Although they outwardly exude belligerence and defiance at the core, they are deferential and that was their undoing.
Their Herrenvolk swagger conceals deeply insecure people.
Despite the furore from the klan, in the year since Downfall went on sale there hasn’t been a single complaint about the content.
Even some of the most frenzied opponents who had frothed at the very idea of the book conceded to Alex Thomson on Twitter that “there wasn’t anything in the book”, as in they had no issue with the content of Downfall.
What they could not admit to the chap from Channel 4 was that they had an issue with the book’s author.
The thought of a Fenian in Donegal, who had once worked for An Phoblacht, gleefully uncovering the extent of the Rangers financial catastrophe in 2010 and 2011 was just too much for many in the klan.
But Downfall was always just the truth.
I had a freedom of movement that the mainstream hacks in Glasgow didn’t have; they were hamstrung because of where they worked and were they lived.
Although there was actually very little need for me to editorialise about the Murray years or Craig Whyte’s reign of error at Ibrox, it was important to put the death of Rangers into some historical perspective.
Murray had turned the Ibrox outfit into FC Lehman Brothers and Rangers floated along on a river of cheap credit. The banking crisis of 2008 called time on Murray’s tenure at the top of the marble staircase.
After that, Rangers were only of interest to a carcass ripper like Craig Whyte.
Smear and threat tactics employed by the klan did not push me away from matters Ibrox when I wrote about the Famine Song in 2008/9.
The People continued this approach when I turned my attention further towards the club’s finances, all the while expecting a different outcome.
As the book was being prepared for the printer the hostile ‘reviews’ piled up on Amazon when Downfall became available for pre-order.
Eventually, the online bookseller went through the comments and deleted the clearly defamatory postings.
These literary chaps couldn’t have much to say about a book that hadn’t yet been completed, but they professed to have a deep understanding of the author.
Of course, they didn’t.
They have never met me and they don’t know me or the reality of my life.
However, they had constructed a cipher in their minds about the person they wanted me to be.
Like Rangers defenders of old faced with a more skilful, more intelligent opponent, they played the man.
The high point of their achievement this time last year was when they pressurised the Sun into pulling a serialisation of Downfall.
The Sun smeared me to cover up their own cowardice and although they tried to row back in their submission to the Press Complaints Commission, they handed a victory to a fascist mob who had threatened their own journalist.
However, it was a victory that was Pyrrhic in the extreme.
Thousands of people realised what was happening and decided that buying the book was an act of defiance against the klan.
The week after the Sun capitulated to the mob, a single order from Amazon effectively wiped out the first print run.
Of course, had the klan been successful in their bid to drive Downfall out of the bookshops in Glasgow, it would still have been available to purchase online. The truth would have come out regardless of the klan’s campaign of intimidation.
One year on, my new book, Minority Reporter, Modern Scotland’s bad attitude towards her own Irish, is now on open sale in shops in Glasgow.
The klan were faced down over Downfall and they lost.
It has been pleasing to note that this time they haven’t even tried.
All that The People have been able to muster is a few one star reviews on Amazon about a book they haven’t read and certainly wouldn’t appreciate.
Minority Reporter, as the strap line suggests, is about anti-Irish racism in Scotland.
In an appendix are the words to two of the klan’s favourite songs, the Billy Boys and the Famine Song.
However, although their hymns of hatred are at the back of my new book, the people that they hate are no longer at the back of the bus.
In a modern, multicultural Scotland, perhaps preparing to enter the community of nations of the world, there is no place for the klan’s worldview.
The very people that rail against the idea that anti-Irish racism exists in modern Scotland are often the most likely to indulge in renditions of the Billy Boys and the Famine Song.
Once more, a mirror is urgently needed.
It has been quite a year and Downfall has become a bestseller in Scotland.
But it was a damn close run thing as the book really could have been bullied out of the shops in Glasgow.
Allowing a mob to effectively ban a book would have authorised and empowered the klan’s hatred and authoritarianism.
Thankfully, the booksellers held fast, though they did have cause to wonder if the book was worth the hassle that their workers had to endure.
Everyone in Scotland owes them for standing firm.
It is also the appropriate juncture to record my appreciation and gratitude to my publisher, Bob Smith Walker, of Frontline Noir.
When the outlook was at its darkest he printed more books and told the trade that Downfall was a bestseller in waiting.
He was correct, although the lack of mention of the book in the last year by the mainstream media would suggest that the klan still have the ability to silence some in my trade.
Not all journalists in Scotland were cowed and Kevin McKenna wrote this in the Scottish Review of Books:
“Three years ago Mac Giolla Bháin began to post blogs about the approaching perfect financial storm that was about to hit Rangers and which would eventually engulf it within two years. If Mac Giolla Bháin had been employed as a staffer on any of Scotland’s dozen or so national newspaper titles he would be a certainty to be crowned sportswriter of the year, news reporter of the year and journalist of the year for his work on the Rangers story. Yet not even the merest hint of his name will be breathed at the annual industry awards bash early next year. The reasons why not are not dissimilar to those that have prevented any review of Downfall yet having appeared in any Scottish newspaper at the time of writing.”
Of course, the klan are still with us, but their day has gone.
They are the remnants of a shameful past when anti-Irish racism was authorised by a ‘great Scottish institution’.
Those days are gone and only attitudinal discrimination towards Irishness remains.
They are on the wrong side of history and the self-destruction of Rangers from institution to a collection of corporate body parts purchased by Charlie and the boys to make Sevco shows the cruel side of Madam Karma.
Downfall has a postscript where I attempted to look forward into the future of Sevco.
I certainly underestimated the acute nature of the klan’s Sevcosis in the nether regions of Planet Fitba.
They continue to have a pain reaction to the truth about what happened to Rangers.
They have a Pavlovian response to any journalist in Scotland who is foolhardy enough to mention that Rangers (1872-2012) failed to get a CVA and were liquidated.
In the mainstream media it is still a high risk activity to tell the truth about what happened at Ibrox last summer.
In the Scottish media any mention of the reality of liquidation for Rangers is still verboten.
I trust that the BBC will support Jim Spence.
Moreover, I hope that others fail in their in the current attempts to silence a journalist for the sin of stating a legal fact on live radio.
In the depths of their grief the domestic football authorities and the local media have sought to bend reality to make the universe a more comfortable habitat for this brooding mob.
I’m afraid I can’t take part in that charade.
Rangers self-destructed through a mixture of hatred and hubris.
Moreover, they didn’t rise again, they’re dead.
This time last year, the klan tried to ban the truth in Scotland because they didn’t like it.
Failure is all they have to look forward to while they pretend that they are The People and that Sevco is Rangers.
If they continue to cling to these interconnected fantasies it will be their downfall.