It was in another century that my love affair with Rangers started. There were 144 pennies in the pound and an evening read of the papers offered you the Evening Citizen in Glasgow. The world was still reeling from the near nuclear Armageddon of the Cuban Crisis but I didn’t care a jot.
I had found the Rangers.
An appetite whetted by an older brother’s scrapbook which contained the heroes of yesteryear – Baxter, Wilson, Caldow and Brand to name but a few. In years to come I would have my own scrapbook with Parlane, Greig, Stein, Jaws, Johnstone and Cooper the photographs from newspaper cuttings forever enshrined in the moment, capturing their brilliance for time immemorial.
The Ibrox Disaster delayed my first visit to Ibrox, as parents all over Scotland became all the more anxious and protective following those dark, dark days. But eventually my parents gave in to the pressure, and chaperoned by an elder brother, I had my first taste of Ibrox. And like the character from the Dickens novel I just had to go back for some more, and more and more. Rangers have a permanent seat of residence in the very core of your soul.
Rangers excelled my greatest expectations. Like so many of us, they were and still are, everything to me. For young men from the tribe of the Scots, your first solo Rangers game is akin to a Rite of Passage. But you never felt alone – you were always surrounded my like minded individuals who too, had made that journey, that rite of passage. One of those individuals, with whom I used to travel regularly to get our “Ibrox fix” is now manager of Manchester United.
It seems ironic to say this now, in the age of internet forums, the worldwide web and electronic mail, but there is still within me a sense that our club and support were more together in those times than they are now. There was a oneness and togetherness about club and support in those bygone times which was not forced or contrived. “Rangers First” is not a new concept men, like Willie Waddell and Jock Wallace, lived and breathed it every single day of their lives.
To this day the conversation between David Holmes and Jock Wallace at Strathclyde Park which saw Big Jock being ousted remains a secret forever. Despite the sadness and anger Jock quite rightly felt, he remained silent rather than risk harming the club. The absolute epitome of a Ranger.
I have watched in considerable anger and disbelief as “dignified silence” became a euphemism for “I cant be bothered defending this club or its support”. I have come to realise that wearing a club tie or blazer does not necessarily make you a “Real Rangers Man”. Defending the club and its support from attacks for both outside, and sadly of late, from within, does tick the required boxes however. At times I have been left numb at the levels of apathy and intransigence inside Ibrox. It’s like the club which I once knew is in hibernation.
Craig Mathers spoke recently about humility. Humility is fine so long as it not used as an excuse for intransigence. Several articles ago I spoke of serving the SFA with legal papers in respect of our club’s diabolical treatment. It will be interesting to see what transpires from within Ibrox given recent newspaper “exclusives” which revealed the worst kept secret in the history of Scottish sport – Rangers were crime victims.
I want the men in charge of Rangers to put Rangers first. To be unafraid of confrontation if it means speaking out against injustices which are foisted upon our club. Charles Green may not have been perfect but at least he got this part. He made a statement of intent – and his continued popularity demonstrates just how long the forlorn blue legions have waited for a figure to champion our club. Furthermore I want them to rally the masses of leaderless blue legions into an effective force against the enemies of this club. The defence of this club should not be left to a few internet bloggers or pro-active Rangers forums users.
So come on Rangers, awaken from slumber, you have an army awaiting to be led.
Go on I dare you Rangers, bid my blood to run.