Barry Ferguson and Neil Lennon battle for the ballThe dear green place remains a dear mean place for an unsuspecting football player washing up at Celtic or Rangers. Having a night - or day out - in and around the sometimes manic environs of Glasgow city centre can very often leave a football player dishevelled, abused or bloodied.
Much has been made about Neil Lennon's plight in trying to keep his eye on his day job managing Celtic while the mentally unhinged try to bring him down with bullets, bombs, physical violence and death threats. Lennon has been kicked up and down a street in the city's west end, but several players are not finding the business of living near Scotland's biggest city a heartwarming experience.
Wearing the badge of either of Glasgow's two biggest clubs must feel like entering a bullring with a red cape on. They reap greater rewards than more traditional callings, but there is a price to pay for footballers playing in Glasgow. Unlike at other venues, watching one's self does not stop at the full-time whistle, or when the boots are done with after a training stint.
A night out in Glasgow can be akin to running the gauntlet for a Celtic or Rangers player. They say you should never mention politics or religion when out and about in mixed company. A liking for a particular football team in the west of Scotland can be akin to inviting a whole heap of woe on to your shoulders.
Having chatted to the amiable Anthony Stokes in the bowels of a Glasgow boozer on Saturday night about his prospects of representing the Republic of Ireland at the European Championships, one was immediately struck by the perils of his situation. Stokes is an Ireland international playing for a club with Irish roots. Unfortunately, in a country that cotinues to harbour an anti-Irish racism in some backward pockets, this makes him a sitting duck if he comes across the wrong characters on a night out.
Blethering to a friend a few moments later, I could hear a couple of guys spouting their displeasure when the player's name was mentioned. Threatening overtures were made, despite failing to mention who or what team I enjoyed watching.
They obviously were not wanting to hear about Stokes, but it did make one think what situation would have arose had the Celtic player been isolated at that moment in time? Stokes would have been in a spot of bother if he came across the same figures. Would they have been asking him whether or not Giovanni Trapattoni was right to omit him from the Ireland squad?
Stokes's home has been attacked twice since he joined Celtic, the second time coming when a window was smashed with his pregnant girlfriend home alone.
"If you are going to play for the Old Firm you have got to expect that," he said at a press conference last week. "Being Irish as well probably... doesn't help either. It's just the way it is up here... if you bump into the wrong person walking down the street then you know you're going to get a bit of abuse. It's just the way it is."
Of course, this rubbish is not confined to one half of the city. Kyle Lafferty, a Northern Irishman turning out for Rangers, has been subjected to similar attention. Lafferty's car windows were smashed at a petrol station near Glasgow while he paid for his fuel. This may not be comparable to Lennon's treatment, but can hardly be bracketed as tomfoolery.
The Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot apparently confronted a section of his own fans after members of his family were verbally abused in Kilmarnock after a match on Sunday.
George Boateng, the Dutch player, was at Celtic for a training stint over a year ago when his BMW car wheelnuts were apparently undone at the club's training ground. He was fortunate to avoid serious injury.
The list goes on and on, and is probably endless. Paul Gascoigne, Fernando Ricksen and Barry Ferguson were singled out in years gone by, but at least they were comforted by the cushion of Premier League wages that the Old Firm clubs can no longer provide.
There has always been an appeal of London to a footballer. Fulham's Damien Duff has apparently hankered after a move to Celtic for some time, but even if Celtic could meet his wages, there are doubts whether or not it would enhance his lifestyle.
There is the passion of the Old Firm derby matches, 60,000 crowds and the chance to win medals, but could this really entice a performer earning more money from facing some of the prized names in the European game? With the contribution of Celtic and Rangers outside of the Scottish Premier League neglible in recent times, a Fulham player can enjoy his lifestyle in relative anonymity without being subjected to the vile taunts of the mob of hate.
"When you play for the Old Firm one half of Glasgow hates you, and the other thinks it owns you," said the late former Celtic player and manager Tommy Burns.
Clubs in the SPL are disadvantaged by lack of finance, but it is probably a sad fact of life that Scotland's biggest two clubs continue to miss out on players who are fearful of the baggage that comes with such a move.