A cobbler, a season ticket & splendid isolation

Its funny how the time affects perspective. Many years ago I sat atop the Cobbler mountain in the Arrochar Alps. It’s not even a Munro by Scottish hill climbing standards, standing at 2900 feet, 100 feet short of Munro status. Ben Arthur, to afford it its more anglicised name, is nonetheless one of the most exhilarating climbs in Scotland, due to would be conquerors having to pass through what is known as the “eye of the needle” – a hole in a rock near the top which leads onto a ledge overlooking a sheer drop onto Glen Croe, which provides access to the summit.

Years ago, passing through the eye of the needle gave a young Marine a much needed adrenaline rush – 30 years later however, it terrified me ! But personal pride provided sufficient motivation to overcome those fears and reach the summit for the second time. Whilst the reckless courage of youth may have deserted me long ago at least advancing years have replaced it with an ability to reflect quietly.

Sitting atop this magnificent mountain, with its panoramic views my thoughts, as always, turned to our football club. In the 30 years which had passed since my first ascent of this mountain, time has been kinder to the institution which is The Cobbler, than the institution which is our beloved Rangers. The Cobbler of course does not have to combat petty jealousy, bigotry and unreserved hatred. I use the term “unreserved” because it appears to have no bounds. What kind of hatred would see the Advertising Standards Agency being brought into adjudicate on a football club ?

Probably the same kind of hatred which would see broadsheet journalists such as Graham Spiers and Tom English sacrifice their journalistic integrity to have a pop at our club. When either of the latter wish to include facts, legal rulings, the judgements of footballing authorities, then perhaps we can have a discussion – but in the interim period, please gentlemen continue to embarrass yourselves with your ability to omit essential facts. (Oh and Tom….I know Craig Whyte accrued considerable debt; and like every other Rangers supporter I am deeply ashamed of his conduct – but perhaps its wholly appropriate that time and perspective come into play here. Why not write an article asking why the SFA delayed so long, given the information they were privy to regarding this chancer ?

I don’t expect Tom English to feel our pain. He will never have experienced those sleepless nights through worry, the sickness at the very pit of your core, the feelings of utter betrayal at everything out club once stood for, but I do expect him to acknowledge that the 9 month carnage of one man does not reflect the identity and character of an institution which boasts 140 years of otherwise, exemplary conduct.

But Spiers and English, and the articles they pen, are merely symptoms of a problem which Charles Green highlighted, during his short, but nevertheless eventful, tenure. Let me address this once and for all, for those (Spiers) who would reduce themselves to arguing that our club has “died”.

What do UEFA, the European Clubs Association, The SFA, the SPL, Lord Nimmo Smith, and, quite ridiculously, the Advertising Standards Agency, say ? Over to you Mr Spiers…..I note your recent article chose to omit their various rulings on the matter. You sir, give a whole new meaning to the term “selective journalism”. Let that be your indictment.

And here is the real ball breaker. Rangers are not dead – despite your efforts. They were kept alive by two vital ingredients – a Yorkshireman who saw a good investment opportunity (good on him) but more importantly a support who refused, against insurmountable odds to let an institution die. They are our club and we are its people. You will never, ever, understand this. You were not chosen.

You threw everything you could against this club. Lies, injustice, mistreatment, false testimony, misguided and erroneous journalism. But you could not overcome what we feel deep within our core, we came, we saw and we conquered. And while you failed to sell out your Saturdays, we caused men to board aeroplanes in other continents to report on our loyalty and devotion. Your hatred is your shame, our devotion and loyalty only adds more post script to the legend which is Rangers.

It was the devotion of the Rangers support which gives this club a platform to stand in splendid isolation. We can live without you whereas you cant appear to live without us. No matter the injustice (see 5 way agreement – something Spiers & English appear reluctant to talk about) no matter the enemies ranged against us, Rangers rely on only one thing to ensure that “splendid isolation” – the commitment of the Rangers support.

I have been asked in recent weeks by many of my readers whether I will avail myself of a season ticket next season. Many of my friends,some very solid Bears will not be renewing and they provide some very concrete argument for not doing so,

But I don’t follow a boardroom or the quality on the park. I follow Rangers in “sickness and in health. But more importantly in this very anti-Rangers climate I feel it is imperative I ensure that the ability to maintain “splendid isolation” is continued. So to those who asked – yes I will be a season ticket holder next season.

In another 30 years my grandson will stand atop The Cobbler. As he too reflects, he will remember a long gone grandfather, who stood and could do no other but support his team. And he will do likewise.

That’s why we will never, ever. be defeated.