Honestly, the sun always shines on the Glencoe Car Park Run.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The World is Not Flat

There are those at the SPL, SFA and SFL who still believe the world is flat. They believe that without Rangers in any shape or form Scottish football will sail right off the map.

But will it?

Well, first we might determine what map they think we’re actually on in the first place.

I grew up watching Scotland in every World Cup since 1974. It was a terrible shock to not be competing in the 1994 World Cup in USA. Of course, normal service was resumed in 1998 and we took our rightful place back among the game’s elite.

The 3-0 gubbing from Morocco showed us the game was changing, and so was our place in it.

1998 now seems many lifetimes ago.

We have continued to slip down the rankings at an alarming rate but, you’ll be pleased to know, we’re still just ahead of some of the giants of the game: Libya, Mali, Zambia and our arch nemesis Iran.

In Argentina in 1978 drawing with Iran was a major shock and played a big part in Ally McLeod’s team failing to qualify for the later stages of the World Cup…even though we beat Holland…with that goal. Yes, that one. God bless Archie Gemmell.

No one would bat an eyelid now if Iran beat Scotland.

We are, in the eyes of rest of the world, a diddy team not on any footballing map.

But at least our club sides continue to fly the flag in the European competitions. Well, no, unfortunately those flags are limp and never seem to get by the preliminary qualifiers.

In recent years our provincial clubs who qualify for a shot at Europe usually go out to teams I’ve never even heard of.

Sure, both Celtic and Rangers reached a European final in the last ten years, but the game’s finances, as well as Rangers’, have collapsed since then, making a repeat highly unlikely.

So what are the game’s ruling bodies and the mainstream media trying to protect by bending over backwards to keep Rangers in the top or second top league?

Is it just themselves?

But the game needs a strong Rangers, doesn’t it?

Well, no, not really. If anything the game needs a more level playing field where more clubs have a chance of actually winning the league.

However, there is still a minority who believe the game needs a strong Rangers.

What they really mean is this.

They believe a strong Rangers will stop Celtic from winning the league all the time. Or, to put it bluntly, a strong Rangers will stop the Irishmen winning the league all the time.

When the call first went out for someone to stop the Irishmen it was Rangers who stepped up to the plate and took the challenge.

It was around that time they headed down a path of sectarianism. They weren’t formed with the policy of not signing Catholics. Moses McNeill and his friends loved the game of football, the exercise and fresh air.

Sectarianism was introduced much later to cash in on the growing resentment of an immigrant team being the best in the country.

But, of course, that was 100 years ago. The country has moved on, hasn’t it?

Well, most of us have.

Rangers eventually signed a Catholic in 1989, and many other Catholics have now played for Rangers over the preceding years. I’m sure many of their fans have also moved on from their sectarian past, including, maybe, some of those filmed burning their scarves and season tickets on the day Maurice Johnston signed.

But, unfortunately, many others haven’t. Many still see the Irish immigrants from the East End as outsiders, papists, and tinkers. This sizeable section of supporters believes they are superior to these, and other, immigrants in every way.

This master race attitude has been banished in most countries around the world.

In Germany it was the seed of their own destruction and the lives of many millions.

In South Africa apartheid was shown up for what it was as almost the whole world boycotted South African goods.

In the USA black civil rights have come so far they even have a black president.

In the former Yugoslavia it led to ethnic cleansing.

So why does a large section of Scottish society still think it’s acceptable to adopt a supremacist ‘We Are The People’ attitude in this age of equality, enlightenment and social mobility?

One of the main reasons is their loyalty to the British crown and the Union.

But why are these Scottish citizens so subservient and keen to pay homage to an English monarch? Haven’t they seen Braveheart? Do they not sing Flower of Scotland when Scotland play England? Do they support Scotland? What side would they be on if there was a replay of Bannockburn?

The British monarchy remains one of the last bastions of sectarianism. The head of state is a symbol of Protestantism and anti-Rome power. In what is a remarkable example of discrimination for this modern age, it is still written that no Catholic can hold the position of king or queen of Great Britain.

One reason given for this is that the head of state is also head of the Church of England, and there can’t be a Catholic as head of the Church of England. The monarchy has fought too many battles through history to gift the crown to a Catholic who pays homage to Rome.

This fuels the bigot fire and gives legitimacy to narrow-minded, out-dated views.

Until a Catholic can be head of state in Great Britain they will always be seen by some as outsiders and inferior.

Until a Catholic can be head of state in Great Britain Catholics will view the monarchy with suspicion and disgust…and rightly so.

If a black man can be president of the USA and South Africa then sections of this country need to take a good look at themselves and be honest about what they see.

But what has this got to do with Scotland needing a strong Rangers?

By being the biggest and strongest team in the country Rangers provides legitimacy and a platform for their fans to shout about being superior to other citizens of Scottish society, which is, unfortunately, where they see themselves in relation to others.

In today’s Scotland we have refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world. We are a multicultural society. We are a nation of immigrants. Those who sing about certain segments of society going home because the famine is over are in the minority. They think it is their country and no one else’s.

These same people also prefer to be British rather than Scottish, because Britain’s sectarian monarch policy also keeps them at the top of their imaginary tree, from where they can spend their lives looking down on others.

Well, I’d like to think there’s hope for them waking up one morning and realising how wrong they are to promote discrimination in any form, but I don’t. They lack basic education skills and the ability to learn new ways. Perhaps that’s the fault of the schools, or the parents, or the environment in which they have grown up and become accustomed.

I’d like to think they’d grow out of it, but they won’t. The wannabe terrorists who sent letter bombs to Neil Lennon and Paul McBride were in their forties.

I’d like to think that with Old Rangers gone they wouldn’t have a platform to congregate in large numbers and spout their bile and hate, but I don’t. They will flock to Orange Lodges and march around our cities and towns banging war drums and playing battle tunes.

I don’t believe there is hope for this group of parochial people who think they represent Scottish Protestantism, but there might be hope of a new beginning for a Newco Rangers in whatever shape or form they re-emerge next.

Ironically, the only people who might be able to rid the club of their poisonous element are other Old Rangers fans, but it won’t be easy, and one must wonder if the desire to do so is really there.

Old Rangers are dead. Everyone now knows it, including those players who are walking away instead of signing for Newco.

Newco Rangers need not be a carbon copy of Old Rangers. In fact, if it’s to prosper, it needs to be different, if only for commercial reasons.

The dilemma for Newco Rangers is turning away customers at a time when every penny coming into the club is of vital importance.

Latest owner Charles Green has been vociferous in his requests for funding. He said in the beginning that he doesn’t care where the money comes from. His Newco Rangers aren’t going to survive much longer without a financial injection, but where is it going to come from?

Season ticket sales? Not likely when legends are in the press telling fans not to part with their cash.

It seems likely that his Newco Rangers will enter administration before the new season starts.

Soon we will be on to Rangers Mark 3.

Rangers Mark 3 might have no star players and no stadium or league to play in, but it might be owned by the fans.

So what direction will the fans take the new club? How loud will be the voice of the supremacists and unionists compared to the moderates who only want to support a football team? Will they have an open and honest debate about the direction of the new club, or will it be business as usual, with the moderates afraid to speak out against the bully boys of Follow Follow or Vanguard Bears?

They have sung about how they don’t care that no-one likes them and called the fans of the so-called diddy teams an irrelevance. But, in a tremendous victory of fan power over Murdoch’s coin, those irrelevances have persuaded their respective clubs to vote no to Newco in the SPL.

Maybe if the antagonistic Old Rangers fans change their ways and join some of their own supporters and the rest of us in the twenty-first century they might find they have more friends than enemies the next time they’re in a crisis and needing the help of the diddy clubs.

Unfortunately I wouldn’t hold my breath; too many of them seem to revel in being social pariahs, and most of them will be right behind Rangers Mark 3 as if they’d been following them since the war cries of Bill Struth.

Whatever happens, the good ship Scottish football will continue to sail with or without any form of Rangers. The world is not flat.

Sure, clubs will lose financially and Celtic will stand to lose the most. The playing field will be more level, but will never be even. Some clubs will always be bigger than others due to fan base.

One wonders what size of fan base Rangers Mark 3 might have, and in what direction they will attempt to steer the club. They might find themselves better off with a smaller fan base in Scotland that would make them more palatable to the world beyond their own guarded walls.


  1. Excellent article on a theme which I have been recently thinking about a great deal. It's time for a fresh examination of where we all are, how we got here and who was driving.

  2. Afternoon Henry. Your blog about the detoxification of a brand inspired me to put this one together. There are divisions among the newco's support so it will be interesting to see what elements win the heart of the club. To be marketable newco must take a tough stance and boot out the bullies and bigots, but I think they'll find that will be impossible, as that section might well be the majority.