“People will come”

“Ray. People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. “Of course, we won’t mind if you look around”, you’ll say, “It’s only $20 per person”. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

There will be many of you who will recognise this James Earl Jones speech from the film Field of Dreams. For those who have not seem the film the story involves an Iowa corn farmer who has a succession of visions and voices urging him to build a baseball field on his farm. Struggling financially the farmer, played by Kevin Costner, ultimately takes the leap of faith and builds the baseball field, encouraged by Jones’ assurance that “People will come”

But a world away from the corn fields of Iowa there is another story. It too deals with an assurance that “People will come”. However unlike it’s Hollywood counterpart this story is rooted in fact. Yet, in terms of essential story telling it lacks for nothing in terms of plot, as it tells a tale of devotion, loyalty, faith and triumph over adversity and against overwhelming odds. Furthermore it is a story which embraces the heroic and the brave and shames the villainous and cowardly.

Rangers Football Club had been brought to her knees by a series of extraordinary circumstances. A negligent former owner, a crooked current owner, malicious individuals spreading lies from behind the cover of anonymity afforded by the internet, football chairmen who deferred decisions to the equivalent of a lynch mob, motivated not be a desire to see truth and justice upheld, but to feed their own personal hatred jealousy and bigotry. Add to the mix football authorities who not only abdicated their responsibility, but also the principle of a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and you can begin to appreciate the adversity that supporters of Rangers football club faced in their attempts to save their club.

Unlikely new owners emerged following administration, individuals with no former connection to the club. As time marched on and a new season approached the Rangers support were asked to invest in season tickets, entrust their hard earned cash to a collection of unknowns only months after    the revelations of the trauma and carnage of Craig Whyte’s tenure. An additional obstacle to the selling of season tickets was the club now rested in the lowest tier of Scottish football, the consequence of a pre-judging of guilt by others, of allegations the club in due course, would subsequently be vindicated of.

“They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon.”

And The People came. And came in their thousands in the clamour for season tickets. It was an exercise in faith, not in logic or rationale, just like a certain corn farmer in Iowa who built a baseball field in his back yard. It was not so much voices in their heads but a feeling in their hearts. Rational thought became a welcome victim of passion and desire for not just a football club, for a way of life, a badge of identity. The prophets of doom were silenced by a force of passion rather than rationale, and to this day those doomsday soothsayers still don’t understand. They never will for it is far, far beyond their comprehension.

“They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.

Grandfathers pass down stories to grandchildren, and fathers to their  sons. The wing wizardry of Alan Morton, the courage of Captain Cutlass, the day a 16 year old boy ended a trophy drought of 4 years, they all live as a result as of stories passed through generations of the Rangers community. In a time of adversity those memories became all the more cherished as their true worth and value was realised. The one footed winger who played for the club he loved and of course, the day a helicopter changed direction.  When I think back to that one footed wingers goal in the Dryburgh Cup Final, I too have been dipped in those magic waters, and no brush however big, will ever erase the smile from my face when I reminisce about that moment.

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

Rangers were there when I wore shorts to school and drank free school milk from a  milk bottle. They were there when Tennents had girls on their beer cans and Pans People graced our televisions on a Thursday night. They were there when I left school to pursue a military career. They were there on the day I got married. The birth of my children. The death of my parents. The birth of a grandchild. Friends, loved ones have come and gone but Rangers remain as the ever constant throughout all the years. Not just for me but for thousands like me. Did they really think we would just walk away from such an intrinsic core part of our lives ?

But other people came too. Reporters from all corners of the globe, Japan and Europe amongst others to report on a phenomenon which defied logic, which was an exercise of faith, loyalty and devotion. Perhaps those editors who tasked those reporters wanted a story which would allow their readers to dip into those magic waters and feel refreshed.

World records were set, games had to be cancelled such was the demand to see the Rangers. The Rangers support took on the haters, the doubters, the prophets of doom, the intransigent and conspirators and duly routed them.

For they failed to understand the most fundamental of lessons.

So long as there is a Rangers – People will come.  So long as People will come – there will always be a Rangers.

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There was something remarkable about Leggo’s blog today, and it had nothing too do with the possible return of Dave King to the Ibrox boardroom. No the real pearl of wisdom in todays blog was his observation that the Easdale brothers had sealed their fate with the Ibrox faithful by giving an interview to BBC Scotland. If confirmation was ever required just how toxic this organisation has become amongst the Rangers support, then this proved to be the meat on the bones. What a damning indictment for the once respected BBC. The Rangers support could perhaps forgive the fact that one of the interviewees had a previous conviction for fraud, but to give an interview to BBC Scotland was beyond the limit of this supports forgiveness.

Those who follow my articles will be eminently aware that BBC Scotland have long been the target of my angst. What is interesting however is the change I have seen within the Rangers support towards this organisation. My early articles suggesting an anti-Rangers agenda within BBC Scotland caused a mixture of responses. Some agreed, some vehemently disagreed, while perhaps the vast majority were unconvinced by my argument. Perhaps that legal juxtapose, which is unique to Scotland, best summed up the opinion of the vast majority – Not Proven.

But fast forward today and the position is entirely different. The doubters are gone with even the most stalwart of sceptics grudgingly conceding that BBC Scotland’s attitude towards our club has been less than favourable.

Much as I would like to, neither myself nor any of my fellow Rangers bloggers can claim credit however for this seismic change of attitude amongst the Rangers support towards BBC Scotland, for to use an old military term, this has been very much a self inflicted injury. Furthermore, disdain and distrust of BBC Scotland is not confined to the Rangers support, the club themselves deciding enough was enough and banishing them from Ibrox recently. Considering our club, unlike some others, are not prone to banning journalists, this is perhaps and indication of just how far BBC Scotland have fallen.

Journalists such as Graham Spiers would describe the attitude of the Rangers support towards BBC Scotland as one of “paranoia”. Of course in referring to Mr Spiers as a “journalist” I am using the term very loosely, as anyone trawling through his various columns over the last few years would have more chance of finding Shergar than a Graham Spiers investigative scoop.

The problem with the paranoia accusations however is that they don’t stand up to closer scrutiny, and criticism of BBC Scotland over their coverage of Rangers is not confined to the Rangers community. Veteran broadcaster Archie MacPherson was particularly scathing of his former employers, even going as far as to taunt Mark Daly in a recent article to formulate a documentary about the men behind the Rangers Tax Case Blog. It will come as no surprise to us that BBC Scotland appear to have neither the inclination nor motivation to rise to Archie’s challenge.

Which brings us on nicely to the next question – What is the difference between Mark Daly and the authors of the Rangers Tax Case Blog ? – Answer nothing (except we know the identity of Daly) Both were the recipients of awards. Both were the recipients of stolen evidence. Both put their very own slant on the interpretation of that stolen evidence and both were ultimately proven wrong.

But Daly and his documentary about Rangers Tax affairs is probably the catalyst to the absolute disdain felt by the Rangers support towards BBC Scotland. One has to wonder at the motivation of media organisation, who on receipt of stolen evidence, fail to return it to the authorities and instead embark on a documentary which presents a very slanted view of Rangers tax affairs, a view which a subsequent tax tribunal of real legal experts, did not agree with.

But again we will go outwith the Rangers community to measure the objectivity of this documentary, and present Lord Nimmo Smith’s very learned opinion to officiate. The following is taken from his report into the SPL enquiry of Rangers.

[98] Meanwhile, BBC Scotland came, by unknown means, into possession of what they described as “dozens of secret emails, letters and documents”, which we understand were the productions before the Tax Tribunal. These formed the basis of a programme entitled “Rangers – The Men Who Sold the Jerseys”, which was broadcast on 23 May 2012. BBC Scotland also published copious material on its website. The published material included a table containing the names of Rangers players, coaches and staff who were beneficiaries of the MGMRT, and how much they received through that trust. It also listed the names of people where the BBC had seen evidence that they received side-letters. This event appears to have been the trigger for more activity in response to the SPL’s request.

The use of the word “trigger” provides the indication. The documentary was so sensational, so slanted in a particular direction with it’s accusations and claims that it became the catalyst for frenetic media and SPL activity in respect of Rangers.

Objective journalism ? The result of the Tax tribunal provides the answer to that question.

So BBC Scotland’s standing with both our club and support is very much a case of reap what you sow. At a time when nationally the corporations standing is at an all time low due to the continually damaging Savile revelations, BBC Scotland have managed to further alienate a considerable section of Scottish society. I doubt very much this situation is repairable, certainly not in this generation or perhaps the next.

Whether the BBC will be a publicly funded organisation in the next generation is another matter. The conduct of BBC Scotland has certainly swelled the numbers of those who believe the BBC’s right to demand a licence fee should be abolished.

I hope Mr Daly thinks his award was worth it.

Chasing The Dragon

 

To The Right Honourable Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury,

Dear Mr Alexander,

SUBJECT : CONFIDENTIAL LEAKS RANGERS TAX CASE

I write to you as a shareholder in Rangers FC (oldco) and enclose an item of correspondence I sent several months ago to David Gauke.

Mr Gauke, rather than answer me direct, referred my letter to HMRC Ministerial Correspondence Unit. Their initial correspondence to me was a long winded letter which failed to even comment on the question I had asked. Their second letter following a response from me to their initial letter contained the phrase that “HMRC don’t comment on speculation about breaches of confidentiality”.

I would reiterate to you that I am not asking them to comment on such speculation, I’m asking if they reported the leaks of confidential information to the Police, as such conduct by it’s nature is a serious criminal offence, and like any such offence, would warrant a Police enquiry.

Since the date of my letter to Mr Gauke there have been two considerable developments with regard to this case. Firstly, as a consequence of HMRC continued prevarication with regard to this matter I sought legal advice. As a consequence of this I contacted Strathclyde Police in order to raise a criminal complaint in respect of the leaks of confidential information regarding a company in which I was a shareholder. I was contacted personally by Ruaraidh Nicolson, Assistant Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police who informed this matter was currently the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation.

The second significant development was the SPL enquiry into Rangers, in particular the summary by Lord Nimmo Smith in his subsequent report into the findings.

[98] Meanwhile, BBC Scotland came, by unknown means, into possession of what they described as “dozens of secret emails, letters and documents”, which we understand were the productions before the Tax Tribunal. These formed the basis of a programme entitled “Rangers – The Men Who Sold the Jerseys”, which was broadcast on 23 May 2012. BBC Scotland also published copious material on its website. The published material included a table containing the names of Rangers players, coaches and staff who were beneficiaries of the MGMRT, and how much they received through that trust. It also listed the names of people where the BBC had seen evidence that they received side-letters. This event appears to have been the trigger for more activity in response to the SPL’s request.

Lord Nimmo Smith refers to documents which were “productions” and thus evidence in the Rangers Tax Case. He quite rightly questions how evidence can be removed and find itself in the possession of the media and other parties. There was only one organisation seizing evidence in the Rangers Tax Case – HMRC.

Mr Alexander, allow me to make something crystal clear. I am not asking this question of HMRC in order to play “amateur detective” nor to mischief make, I have every right as a shareholder whose company’s paperwork has been seized, to not only expect HMRC to take adequate care of confidential documents they have seized, but also where there is a breach of that confidentiality then I expect them to take all reasonable steps to investigate that breach in order that the perpetrator be identified and charged and as a consequence the leaks are stopped.

The legal premise here is quite clear clear – if HMRC have failed to report this matter to the Police then quite simply they have failed to take all reasonable steps expected of them, and thus there is subsequent liability with regard to such a failing.

In view of the developments I now have a number of questions, I would appreciate an answer to, preferably from yourself.

  1. Did HMRC report the leaks in the Rangers Tax Case to the Police ?

  2. Is there a protocol/procedural guidelines within HMRC as to the breach of a clients confidential information. If so have these been adhered to ?

  3. If such procedures have not been adhered to have you, personally, investigated these apparent failings ?

You will have noticed, Mr Alexander, an element of tenacity in my letter writing. Quite simply neither myself nor my fellow shareholders will settle for the unsatisfactory responses to date from HMRC. In all honesty I feel the impoverished nature of their responses makes a mockery of claims of “transparency” in all their dealings.

It is also regrettable that I find myself having to write to you in order to illicit a response to a reasonable question I have asked of others. There is a growing feeling that HMRC’s continued refusal to comment on this matter, thus preventing shareholders from seeking legal redress, is tantamount to an attempt to perverse the course of justice. I will await the findings of the Police investigation prior to seeking further counsel regarding this.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely

Refined By Fire


“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. “
(Isaiah 48:10)

To describe the events at or club in recent times as “extraordinary” would be the understatement of the year. And as we Bears read of more boardroom unrest and battles, sadly via the media, the only thing missing from the pantomime which is currently our club, is the Benny Hill theme tune.

In fact it may seem there is little cause for comfort at our club, either on or off the field, but I beg to differ.

It’s been over forty years since my grandmother died. For those old enough to remember it, she was a member of The Temple Mission in Anniesland. She was a woman who manifested the Presbyterian faith she sought to uphold, being both a living example of the Word she held so dear. No surprise then that this boy was raised on biblical stories and proverbs and their application to the present day. A particular favourite of hers was how the Bible teaches that the most precious and valuable metals are refined by fire. Adversity was a test, a refining, which would produce a far more valuable and worthwhile product by the end of the process.

Many years later, on the completion of my commando training, I stood in the officers mess at the Commando Training Centre, Lympstone. It was only my second ever visit to the officers mess – the first had been on the day I had joined, when along with 65 other recruits, I had stood and listen to various addresses. Now however the sixty six had been whittled down to just 12, the gruelling nature of Commando training had done it’s own refining. That evening the address was given to us by the Adjutant, Lieutenant Ian Gardiner, whose rhetoric that evening attempted to prepare us all for the demands of being attached to a commando unit……”When you are up to your arsehole in alligators – just remember it builds character” he told us.

Whilst they were not words my grandmother would ever have used , I did see the parallels between alligators and metal refining !

But as the saying goes “true life is stranger than fiction” and a few years later I found myself sharing  the most meagre of shell scrapes on the slopes of Two Sisters in the Falklands, with the now Captain Ian Gardiner, whilst an Argentine Browning Machine Gun on sustained fire mode, attempted to end our lives. Amidst the chattering of mortars, machine guns and various other battle sounds, I shouted at Captain Gardiner “Does this qualify as being up to your arsehole in alligators ?” His reply “And then some” confirmed the gravity of our situation. The likelihood and acceptance of death had allowed for humour even in the most trying of circumstances. Had it not been for the skill of a Royal Marine sniper with a night scope, you would not be reading this now and Ian Gardiner would not have gone on to carve a successful career as an author.

As our club has lurched from crisis to crisis there has been an ever present constant at every stage – The Rangers support. Amidst the darkness of the age they have been like a shining beacon of hope defying the prophets and soothsayers of doom with their loyalty to a football club.

But having been thrown into the forge this support has been refined in the process. There is now a greater understanding of the depths and measures others will stoop to in order to damage our club.

Furthermore there is a belief and understanding as businessman come and go, that the very heart and soul of Rangers Football Club beats not in a boardroom, but in the Rangers support themselves.

Accusations of “gloryhunters” have been destroyed as the heart and soul of this club set new world records for the statisticians to record. Reporters came from across the continents, not to report on a boardroom in turmoil, but to witness the heart and soul of a football club actively beating for the world to see.

The history books will record it as a triumph over adversity, as a support refined by fire, scorched the predictions of those who said the heart and soul would fail in the face of such adversity.

But perhaps the greatest product of this refining process is a re-discovery for us all of the importance of Rangers FC in our lives.

One day soon the furnace of affliction will be at an end, and a support refined by fire will have their say.

Scotland – the birth of the 4th Reich ?

 

I feel in my be in need of some remedial therapy – its not often I find myself agreeing with Brian Wilson, the Celtic supporting politician who, was criticised by his own peers for spending too much time in Dublin, however his latest article which was reproduced in today’s Scotsman newspaper certainly ticked some boxes for me.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/brian-wilson-politicians-should-grin-and-bear-it-1-2914650

Whilst Wilson concentrates on an apparent lack of sense of humour amongst Scotland’s nationalist MP/MSP’s his article does demonstrate the utter hypocrisy of our current political administration One wonders if they will spend millions on legislation to protect the likes of Susan Calman from the type of abuse, threats and intimidation for having the audacity to not only to refuse to tow the party line, but daring to poke fun of them in the process.

Don’t hold your breath – such legislation appears to be solely reserved for the football fan and not the intellectual political animal who hurls abuse with apparent impunity. In fact I can now see where Dr. Stuart Waiton was coming from when he labelled the anti sectarian legislation “snobs law”.

Wilson’s article highlights another concerning trend in this political administration either ridiculing or ignoring those who do not hold with their beliefs. The anti sectarian legislation is the perfect example – passed despite the considerable academic and definitive evidence collected, researched and published by Professor Steve Bruce, and which emphatically contradicts any suggestion Scotland suffers from a considerable sectarian problem.

People will challenge this of course saying there has been a rise in the number of reported religious hate crimes and thus such legislation is justified. In fact it’s the current political administration themselves who have caused this rise, and allow me to demonstrate how this works. Lets take something totally unrelated as an example – dog fouling. If government spent millions (as they did with the FOCUS Unit) creating a plethora of extra dog wardens and directed them to go about their duties with an almost zealous like zero tolerance policy them we would be certain to see a rise in three number of reported dog fouling offences.

The conduct and methods employed in the propaganda war on football supporters under the banner of anti-sectarianism would do Joseph Goebbels proud.

But there is a more sinister aspect to this – the funding of the Police FOCUS Unit by the Scottish Government. There is a real danger here that the Police’s independence from political interference is going to be compromised, as they take the benefit of funding for extra officers in return for doing this political administrations bidding for them.

Therefore it comes as no surprise that despite considerable local and political opposition, that this government have merged Scotland’s Police Forces into a single body – a move which new Chief Constable Steven House has suggested will result in the loss on an estimated 3,200 Police civilian support staff. So much for the promise of fighting for Scottish jobs. But hey – control is power.

So this is our modern day Scotland – where our Police do our government’s bidding, where football supporters are, in the words of Archie MacPherson “stamped on”, whilst the political animals who support this administration deliver abuse and intimidation with impunity towards those who dare to offer an alternative opinion.

But give the current political administration their due – they did promise “Model government” at the start of their term of office and they have duly delivered.

The only problem is that it is a model which has striking similarities to another nationalist government which swept to power in Germany in the 1930’s.