‘O would some power the giftie gie us tae see oursels as others see us.’
I don’t claim any great allegiance to the work of Robert Burns, but there’s no denying some of his classic lines are as relevant now as they ever were, if not more.
Of course, self-understanding is one of the great mysteries of life, but many either fail to fully grasp it or reject the idea completely, basing the thoughts and opinions of others as weightless.
Yet without self-understanding, as seen through the eyes of others, we can float through life in a cloud of self-deception, fooling ourselves and frustrating others.
In recent months vociferous supporters of Rangers Football Club have continually refused to listen to the opinions of others, claiming everyone was against them and their collapse was part of some dastardly Timmy plot orchestrated by Celtic’s Peter Lawwell.
This kind of outlook smacks of the spoilt child syndrome where everyone is to blame but themselves.
Instead of opening up to outside opinions during their time of need they closed ranks, which history shows, has always been the Rangers way.
In the past all Rangers problems, if and when any occurred, were dealt with in-house, away from prying eyes. If the club made any statement it was always just to confirm the matter was being dealt with, and that was that.
There was a culture of not speaking about or criticizing the club in public.
The club was always right, no matter what.
Anyone who said anything against Rangers, no matter how true, was labeled as anti-Rangers.
That still is the Rangers way.
David Murray managed the Scottish Press with considerable skill during his tenure as Rangers supremo. Few, if any, doubted his spending policy over the years. That same spending policy was to play a significant part in the downfall of Rangers.
Graham Spiers says he was frozen out by Mr. Murray after questioning his financial management of Rangers. Others, like James Traynor, continued to play by Mr. Murray’s rules and were rewarded with countless exclusives over the years.
When BBC Scotland ran a documentary last year exposing the truth behind Rangers’ new owner Craig Whyte, the call to arms went out.
How dare anyone criticize the Rangers?
Fans of the club marched on the BBC Scotland studios claiming not only were they biased against Rangers, but also that they were pro-Celtic and Irish.
Unfortunately, for the at times blindly loyal fans, everything in Mark Daly’s BBC expose turned out to be true.
By the time the majority realised this it was too late. They became the biggest story in town for all the wrong reasons.
In truth, they were years too late. Most of the damage had been done in the preceding decade.
Doubly unfortunately for them was the lack of information management and realisation that the world had changed. New forms of media had replaced traditional sources and many millions could now see, through the investigative Rangers Tax Case blog among others, a different side to what had gone on at the club over many years, not just the Craig Whyte era.
Rangers were being attacked from every corner, apart from the many staunch allies the club still had in the mainstream press. The same staunch allies who, had they not been asleep at the wheel, just might have been able to save the club from further unnecessary troubles had they done, or as some have suggested, were allowed to do, their job right in the first place.
But no-one was speaking on behalf of Rangers. Their owner flew out the country saying it wasn’t his fault.
Any directors left ducked for cover.
In their hour of need Ally McCoist stepped up to the plate and became the voice of Rangers. He spoke in a language supporters could understand. He didn’t claim to be an expert in high finance or boardroom manoeuvres. To him, and to the army of supporters, it was what happened on the field of play that mattered most.
At first he spoke well, capturing both the hearts and minds of supporters, as well as gaining lots of sympathy from neutrals who remembered Ally as being the cheeky chappy from Question of Sport.
His ‘we don’t do walking away’ statement will go down in Rangers folklore, and his place among the Ibrox legends was further ensured.
For many, he was, and still is, Rangers Football Club.
But then, in the eyes of the rest of us, it all went awry.
Rangers were getting a hammering from many sides for the club deliberately avoiding paying tax over the previous year.
The club needed someone with excellent people and communication skills to help guide them through this minefield, but with no money the public relations was left to people like Ally McCoist and Sandy Jardine: two playing legends on the field and previously great ambassadors for the club in the wider world.
Unfortunately, in their haste to protect the club from what they perceived as external threats, they made matters worse.
Rather than build support outside the club, at a time when it became patently obvious the club was going to need allies along the way, they resorted to the Rangers tradition by closing ranks and then, astoundingly, tried to intimidate others.
McCoist’s outburst demanding, not asking politely like the true gent he is supposed to be, the naming of the three man panel who sat, in accordance with agreed SFA rules, anonymously, was one of the most shameful episodes in recent times, especially when it became apparent that Rangers officials already knew their identities.
Once the names were out in the public domain these panel members were subjected to a hate campaign.
McCoist, however, claimed ignorance and was adamant that he can’t be held responsible for the actions of the ‘lunatic fringe’.
This excuse, coming from a manager who’d been briefed by Strathclyde Police about making what could be regarded as inciting remarks on the run up to old firm games, was rather irresponsible and weak to say the least, and downright dangerous and spiteful at worst.
One of the supposedly anonymous panel members, Eric Drysdale, had TV cameras camping outside his home and received death threats from various factions connected to Rangers. These same fans also threatened to burn down Starks Park where his club Raith Rovers plays.
This, at any time, never mind the twenty first century, is not how you win friends and influence people in a positive way.
When the time came for Scottish Football League (SFL) clubs to vote on a proposal which would allow Rangers to parachute into the First Division, at the expense of other clubs sporting ambitions, Raith Rovers Director Turnbull Hutton said the SFL would be doing a deal with the devil if they voted yes.
He also reminded clubs that Sandy Jardine had publicly called for repercussions against those clubs that refused to support Rangers.
Mr. Jardine said, ‘Rangers should be treated differently because of the club’s stature and that the outcome had implications for other clubs, including direct action taken by Rangers supporters groups. Rangers are a special case mainly because of the size of the club within Scottish football and what it delivers. The size of our club and the size of our supporter base, it can be a powerful weapon.’
However, not even the threat of financial Armageddon could persuade Mr. Hutton to ditch his principles.
The positive response he received from supporters of every club apart from Rangers speaks volumes about the mood of fans throughout the country.
This, in effect, is how those outside of Ibrox saw those inside.
The more threats people connected to Rangers dished out the more resilient opposition towards them grew.
Those clubs who had initially expressed sympathy for Rangers changed their minds as each day, and each public relations disaster, passed.
More wood was thrown on the Rangers bonfire as old media stalwarts lined up to cry how the world would come to an end if Rangers weren’t returned to first the SPL and then SFL Division One.
Legend of the lamb James Traynor led the way both in his Daily Record column and on BBC Sportsound. The more hyperbolic his diatribe became the more readers and listeners seen through his thinly disguised agenda of saving Rangers at all costs.
Others, like Chick Young, who tried to make an analogy about Rod Stewart getting special treatment if he wanted a table at a restaurant, made a complete fool of themselves.
Gordon Smith ran from studio to studio and camera to camera looking like a man who had completely lost his way, reminding me of Andy Carroll’s substitute appearance for England against Italy in the recent Euro Championships.
These are but a few who put personal allegiance to Rangers before professional integrity.
They have shown themselves to be out of touch with their readers and listeners and, in the case of Gordon Smith, left most of us scratching our heads as to how this man ever landed the job of SFA Chief Executive.
Then we remember Stewart Regan is the current SFA Chief Executive and we reassure ourselves that being an imbecile isn’t necessarily a barrier when it comes to running our game.
Mr Regan tried everything but cast the votes to get SFL clubs to ‘do the right thing’ and vote Rangers into SFL Division One. When it became clear his strategy was one of creating fear any respect he had among fans or club chairmen withered overnight.
Even Rangers fans were, and still are, disgusted by this man’s efforts to bully the smaller clubs. After all, that appears to be their job.
All in all, the Rangers saga this summer has been an unmitigated public relations disaster, not just for the club and its fans, but also the game’s ruling bodies and those in the mainstream media.
Their propaganda and bullying might have worked in a previous age but, in this age of 24 hour social media where some terrific bloggers and activists produce factual accounts that dispel many of the media-spun myths, their time is up, as falling sales continue to show.
So what have we learned from this?
Most of us have learned how the problems at Rangers ran much deeper than one dodgy owner, no matter what Mr. Jardine may claim.
We have also learned that Mr. McCoist isn’t the cuddly buffoon loved by many a bored housewife who wish he was their Mr Gray.
Rangers learned that when they needed others to help them escape prolonged hardship, those others turned their backs on Rangers.
This is why they feel the burning desire to punish everyone and anyone who didn’t support Rangers at this time.
But what they haven’t asked themselves is why.
Why did everyone turn their backs on their mighty Rangers?
Perhaps, by going back to the words of Burns, they might begin to understand the answers.
‘O would some power the giftie gie us tae see oursels as others see us.’