AS many as a hundred thousand people took to the streets of Edinburgh for the All Under One Banner event to show their support for Scottish independence. Whilst I find this admirable, a post on my Twitter feed got me thinking.

A proud nationalist posted about his pride that so many people stopped to take a picture of his banner and how Police Scotland had to move people on, such was its popularity with people wanting to take a picture. The banner in question was Rangers Fans Yes For Independence. The club crest replaced the letter “e” in Yes.

My thinking is that football affiliation and colours have no place in the march for independence. Having posted my thoughts on the matter, I was met with a deluge of tweets telling me why I was wrong. Pensioners for Yes banners aimed at dispelling myths about specific groups being against independence was one good example given. Partick Thistle for Yes was another who messaged, but went off on a tangent about the Tartan Army giving to charities abroad and how football has a place in politics and societal issues.

READ MORE: All Under One Banner sets out plans for eight more independence marches

Now, the two points I was attempting to make are that sectarianism is Scotland’s shame, I do not think it is wise to mix this issue with the cause for an independent Scotland and that we need to be concerning ourselves with greater matters of importance, which I will go on to.

Unionist thugs with affiliation to Rangers FC and Britain First descended on George Square in the aftermath of the referendum in 2014. Violence and mayhem ensued. I don’t think anyone would argue that there is a large element of the Ibrox club’s support who are Unionists. Various people posted to me that these banners would help dispel the myth that all Rangers supporters are Unionists and may help change some minds. Do we really believe that the people who descended upon George Square back in 2014 will look at a banner such as the one which resulted in my post and have a change of heart? Do we really believe that the people who march with the Orange Lodge are open to such a dramatic change in their belief?

Should we be highlighting and applauding people who marched on Saturday for not being bigoted? There appears to be lots of people on social media who marched on Saturday thinking so. Is there scope for changing the minds of football fans with a certain affiliation to the extent that it could make the difference required to turn around the result, if and when there is another referendum? Should we really be applauding Rangers Fans Yes for Independence, patting them on the back for believing that their country is capable of standing on its own two feet? Is there a place or a need for individuals to take football scarves and banners along to marches? I fail to see what it is achieving.

READ MORE: AUOB Edinburgh march biggest pro-independence event in Scotland's history

Surely the point of these marches is to show Scotland’s appetite for change and to change the opinion of a large proportion of the 55% who voted against? In my opinion, the SNP and those who organise these marches need to box clever and think bigger. They need to win the hearts and minds of the average rational person in the street. Not a minority group of people with ingrained opinions, and some who use football and politics as a convenient smokescreen for violence. Pensioners Say Yes To Independence? I get that. There are far more pensioners living in Scotland whose votes could make a massive difference.

Yes, march for your cause, but leave football affiliation, colours and banners out of it and target the people willing to listen to sound and substantiated facts. It is going to take a whole lot more than highlighting the existence of and patting the backs of football fans of a particular persuasion for believing in independence.

We are a small nation, let’s not be small-minded. Think big, not bigotry.

Martin Geraghty