We will follow Rangers

Loyalty – its a funny thing. In its genuine form it can neither be bought nor imitated. The exercise of it can, on occasion, test the very limits of our determination, our mettle; it may subject us to the most sternest of examinations, but such testing can go a long way to defining the type of people we are. On a personal level it separates that which is important in our lives, from the also rans – the wheat from the chaff.

Its easy to forget in the midst of our “Scottish tour” that we, the Rangers support , are re-writing an additional chapter in the long history of Rangers legends. In years to come our children and grandchildren will read books and tell stories of forefathers whose loyalty was unquestionable, who in times of considerable adversity helped not only our club, but also each other, overcome the trials and tribulations before us. We are not only a part of, but are actually central to, history in the making.

Perhaps, in years to come, with a more favourable and balanced journalistic culture in Scotland we may even see our current exploits examined in the same way as Hugh Taylor did many years ago when speaking of the Rangers support visiting Wolverhampton.

“The Scots arrived in Wolverhampton with the clamour and urgency of an invading army. They wore no arms or armour, but their blood was set on fire with the excitement of combat to come; there was a hint of the pomp of war about the banners they carried, their fierce battle hymns and their touchy, defiant chant: ‘We Are The People’.To English eyes they must haver been bizarre and alarming – as were the bearded, tattered clansmen who followed Bonnie Prince Charlie south of the border in 1745.But it was perhaps as well that no one in Wolverhampton made that comparison, for the Scots who had taken over their town that April of 1961 would have given the romantic prince short shrift – would, indeed, have been his most bitter enemies – for their proudest boast is that they are the Loyalists of Loyalists, the Protestants of Protestants.

Their banners had no foreign flavour. They were Union Jacks and Scottish Standards.

The Scots were supporters of The Glasgow Rangers Football Club.

Ten thousand of them had travelled to England to see their club play Wolverhampton Wanderers in the semi-final of the European National Cup Winners trophy.

And Wolverhampton, a teeming industrial town of 160,000 inhabitants who thought they knew something about football partisanship, gasped; for they had never seen such fanatical supporters.

All day the Scots paraded the streets, singing, shouting and waving their banners. ‘They were the noisiest supporters we have ever known’ said a police official afterwards.

The English, who had thought that Scots were dour, phlegmatic, often mournful, lacking humour, looked on amazed.

Welsh choirs had no more fervour than the Scots from the Glasgow streets, the Highland moors, the Lowland Housing schemes as the chanted: ‘There’s not a team like the Glasgow Rangers.’

Their were tears in their eyes as they bellowed, fervently: ‘Follow, follow, we will follow Rangers’.

And the English wondered what it was all about when, now and again, a derisive chorus filled the air: ‘Haffey, Haffey, Haffey.’ That was the Rangers supporters’ way of poking fun at their great rivals, Celtic, for goalkeeper Frank Haffey, of that club, was the man who had lost nine goals at Wembley when England humiliated Scotland the previous Saturday.

Excitement mounted among the Scots when the game started at Molineux Park. Rangers blazed their way into the final by drawing 1-1 with Wolves, whom they had already beaten in the first leg at Ibrox 2-0. And at the end hundreds of Scots swarmed over the barriers on to the pitch to cheer and hug their idols.

When the triumphant Rangers fans finally left on the midnight trains, flabbergasted Wolverhampton people were still asking:

Just who are The Glasgow Rangers? What have they got to arouse such feelings among their fans? Imagine 10,000 supporters travelling all this distance for a club game?

The answer from any of the supporters who were going north tired but happy would have been simple. It would have been this:

‘Rangers are the greatest team in the world.’

(Hugh Taylor – We Will Follow Rangers, 1961)

I say “easy to forget” because its a fact which has not really been either acknowledged or recognised within the Scottish media – despite it being covered and investigated in Japan and other countries. In fact it takes the somewhat mesmerised announcement of a Sky Sports presenter, the awe in his voice as he reads our attendance figures, to fully realise that you don’t need to be wearing blue tinted spectacles to recognise the magnificence of the achievement and the loyalty factor clearly at work.

In fact the Scottish media have been less than charitable towards the Rangers support in this regard. Initially the Rangers support was not loyal but “defiant” (remarkably such “defiance” was in respect of various injustices the Scottish media have also been relatively quiet about. Tick Tock.) That’s of course when they see fit to mention it at all, if some of them can drag themselves away from their “Rangers are a new club” arguments, with of course their “unnamed insolvency experts”. Graham Spiers must be the only golfer in Scotland who employs a caddie to lug around his ego rather than his golf clubs.

On Boxing day I met up with a fellow Bear, John, with whom Id shared various online discussions over the years. Between us we have almost 100 years of following Rangers. As we enjoyed a pre-match sherry we discovered we both shared the same Rangers baptism – the Arsenal Centenary Game where the “King of Ibrox Park” had lifted our hearts and spirits, only to see them broken again when the Girvan Lighthouse made two dreadful errors in the closing minutes, allowing Charlie George to capitalise (twice).

As John and I made our way to G51 2XD, as we have done for nearly a century, to cheer on the Rangers, we crammed into a sardine tin like subway train, full of like minded individuals expressing their loyalty.

“Rangers are a new club” ? – don’t make me laugh. Notwithstanding the various legal rulings, or those of various footballing authorities, not to be mention the Advertising Standards Agency (Twice) – such a contention should be seen purely for what it is :-

(a) The ramblings of  hate filled individuals who, in arriving at such a position, have chosen to ignore the expertise and authority of those who have stated otherwise or

(b) The ramblings of a troll like journalist, attempting to court controversy and attract attention, in an attempt to compensate for his bland, insipid and uninspired writing.

Follow Follow is no longer just a song, it has become our standard. It is not empty rhetoric but an exercise in faith and loyalty to a football club evidenced by attendance figures and the setting of new world records.

Perhaps one day other supporters will aspire to our standard. Until then, we welcome the chase.

Democratic Process – Hanging by a thread or a rope ?

“Whilst welcoming such seismic changes I also am aware that the exercise of such power, without the necessary information, has the potential for misrepresentation and manipulation as well as false and unjustified accusation. That is why it is important that this support is no longer excluded from the systems, processes and information to allow us to exercise sound judgement. The latter is necessary to distinguish an informed, responsible and pro-active support from what is little more than a lynch mob mentality. The exercise of power without the exercising of responsibility is a recipe for disaster.

I wrote the above paragraph a few weeks ago in an article which was published in the inaugural launch of WATP magazine. Much of course has changed during that time with the coming and going of the AGM, and the confirmation of our board of directors. Even as a fence sitter throughout all of this, I cannot hide my inward disappointment that Brian Stockbridge remains on the board.

But perhaps in that regard I am being unfair to Mr Stockbridge as I don’t have in my possession the information which allows me to make an informed choice. I don’t know for instance whether he, in his role as financial director, was merely rubber stamping the overly generous bonuses previous board members had arranged for themselves, nor for instance what part, (as has been claimed in this overloaded propaganda war) nominee Malcolm Murray had in the setting of such bonuses. That will always be the case of course so long as the Rangers support remains dis-empowered and disenfranchised from the systems and processes I alluded to several weeks ago.

But the system and process which determines the make up of the Rangers board has spoken, and furthermore it has spoken in a way which is democratic. We may not all like the results it has delivered but that, I’m afraid, is life.

Of course, we can attempt to usurp that democratic process. and there has already been talk of boycotts with regard to season tickets and club merchandise, and I have no doubt such action will make those who clearly wield power – institutional investors – sit up and take notice. Notwithstanding the damage such boycotts would cause to our club, perhaps we should also consider the damage such action would cause to democratic process and what kind of “notice” would be initiated within institutional investors ?

If the democratic process to elect a board is usurped by way of boycotts, a refusal to accept the decisions that process has delivered, do you think this will instil confidence in any future investment in the club from others ? Ask yourself this – would you invest heavily in an institution where your majority shareholding and the decisions you make relative to that investment, through proper process, can be overturned by the militant actions of others with a lesser shareholding ?

I don’t like where our club sits at present, nor do I have complete confidence in those who are charged with taking us out of our current predicament and to another place. But given the choice between giving them a chance as opposed to damaging both club and destroying confidence in that democratic process – then I know which one I will choose.

Season Ticket renewed.

Chasing The Dragon – Update

Following several unsatisfactory responses to both myself and Mr Joe Fitzpatrick MSP over a period of several months, today I duly instructed Campbell Boath Solicitors, to serve upon Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, a series of Freedom of Information Requests pertaining to the following :-

PRODUCTIONS

(1) The seizure of,  care and storage of productions and

(2) Action on the theft or loss of productions in the care of HMRC

(3) Duty to report the theft or loss of productions

(4) Protocols for contacting Police should the circumstances at (2) above be fulfilled

BREACHES OF CONFIDENTIALITY

(5) General action on suspected or possible breaches of confidentiality by HMRC staff

(6) Duty to investigate suspected breaches of confidentiality

(7) Duty and protocol for reporting such criminal conduct arising from such breaches of confidentiality  to the Police.

Should the request be subject of a denial then such denial will itself be subject of further legal proceedings.

Furthermore recent correspondence received by Mr Fitzpatrick aforesaid from Mr Stephen House, QPM, Chief Constable, Police Scotland, confirms the criminal investigation into the Leaking of Confidential Information to BBC Scotland is still ongoing.

Beyond the reach of the Law

Doncaster rued his bad luck. “Why didn’t Regan draw the short straw?” he asked himself. But this was no time for “what ifs?”; he had drawn the short straw and now had to deliver the poison chalice to the master.

Gingerly, he long pressed the 2 on his phone keypad and watched in fear as the phone speed dial responded with the fateful name.

The two words flashed on the phone screen heightening Doncaster’s sense of foreboding. Peter Lawwell.

“What is it Neil” a voice rasped from the other end.

“I’m sorry Peter but it’s happened again”

“What has ?”

“A game has had to be abandoned for safety reasons due to the demand to see the Rangers”

Doncaster could hear the sigh of exasperation on the other end of the phone.

“Get Spiers or someone to put out a story saying it was fire fears due to the recent spate of flare throwing”

“I’m sorry Peter the story has gone out already”

“Who authorised it without my approval ? You know everything has to come through me”

“I’m, I’m sorry Peter it was out with my control”

“How many times have I told you Neil – NOTHING BUT NOTHING IS OUT WITH MY CONTROL !!!!”

Click.

I beg to differ Peter. We are out with you’re control. You cannot control either our passion or determination to follow our team. At Elgin it was an overrun of printed tickets, today at Stenhousemuir it was damage to a temporary stand built to house the travelling blue legions.

How much that must hurt our top league as they struggle to fill their stadiums. As they struggle to sell tickets. As they struggle to pay bills. “So as you sow – so shall ye reap”

Of course, as was reported last week, a benevolent bank may come along and agree to write off all the accumulating debts. But I expect the Kilmarnock situation to be the exception to the rule rather than the norm. I wonder if Gordon Waddell will pen a column stating how much he would like to punch them in the face till his hand hurts, or if Spiers will “happily and reasonably accurately” accuse them of cheating ?

Oh and I cant wait to read the Scotzine article on this. Mr Muirhead will be frothing at the mouth over this one. Well, that is if he is to remain consistent in his thoughts on debt and cheating at football clubs.

But, as the legend which is Rangers powers through the current division as a consequence of our enforced exile, perhaps those top league chairmen better hold off potential projected financial prospectus in lieu of our return, to appease increasingly demanding bank managers.

For there is no guarantee our eventual return to the top flight will see any change in attitude towards filling the coffers of those who caused our club so much damage and heartache. Who collectively conspired and contrived to do us maximum harm.

Forgive, forget and move on ? I don’t think so. We remember how hard you kicked us whilst we were down.

I wonder how long it will be before the “financial sell” statements appear from the guilty ? ie “It’s good to see Rangers back where they belong” “We cant wait to renew our battles with Rangers”

I can guarantee one bear who wont be buying your bullshit.

And you can take that to the bank.

Defending the Boo boys

For those unfamiliar with Harper Lee’s classic “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Boo Radley is a mysterious and reclusive figure introduced early in the book by the author. Her fear of Boo often stems from the author’s overactive imagination and is compounded by a fear of the unknown. It is only at the end of the book the true nature and character of Boo Radley is revealed.

As some of you know I have access to the Vanguard Bears forums, I’m not a member but am allowed full and unrestricted access to their online discussions. As a certain Fanzine editor described in his Christmas Fanzine this type of membership could be described as Vanguard Bears (Soft Toys Section) [Copyright No.1 Fanzine] But more on this later.

Form the reading of WATP magazine more of you will be aware of my recent article which insists on the Rangers support having access to information which allows us to ensure correct governance at our club. I think it is untenable that in this day and age, after all we as a support have been through and given back to this club that we are totally disenfranchised and disempowered from the processes and systems which allow us to be vigilant regarding our club, or for that matter to make informed choices. In the very same article I praised the rise of militancy within our support – far more digestible than dignified silence. I also added that such militancy came with certain caveats.

I was deeply encouraged by reports in the Evening Times that the Sons Of Struth had narrowed the target of their protest to Brian Stockbridge and Jack Irvine. My belief and hope was this would be a cause of unity amongst our support as I was of the opinion it reflected what many of us felt. I was so encouraged in fact; I wrote an article about it, having confirmed this was the case with SOS via Twitter.

http://immortalrange…acquires-focus/

This did not go down particularly well with everyone, but as I said to someone privately who wrote to me following its publication I don’t write to be popular. Part of the criticism of this article argued that this was not the correct position of the SOS. This caused me to seek further clarification from SOS that this in fact was their position, and this was duly forthcoming.

http://i41.tinypic.com/zo8cjt.jpg

It came as a surprise to me therefore that on Saturday en route to the ground I was stopped by a young lady who offered me a red card explaining it to be a protest against the board. On receipt of same and perusal of its contents I was dismayed. Its contents were clearly at odds with the assurances I had been given from SOS via Twitter.

It’s a pity that much of the discussion about Saturday’s card display has de-generated, particularly by the anti-requisitoners factions, into ridiculous computer generated percentages or suggestions that some were fooled into thinking it was an anti-racism display. The message on the card was clear and unequivocal. The problem from my perspective however was that it was contrary to what SOS had informed me, or claimed in the Evening Times. I know some Bears, some of whom will be known to many of you, who participated in the display whilst not agreeing with the card’s content in their entirety.

I sought clarification via Twitter with SOS, and even provided them with a screenshot of our conversation for clarification to date no explanation has been offered as you can see by my Twitter timeline.

Some may not think this is important but for a campaign demanding clarity and transparency is it really too much to ask that the SOS would lead by example ?

I doubt there will have been many Bears, irrespective of which side of the fence (or even on it) you sit, who has not been impressed by Jim McColl throughout this process. He has spoken and conducted himself in exemplary fashion, when he has made attacks he has always sought to substantiate or justify his reasoning.  For many, I suspect his endorsement of Graham Wallace was a watershed moment in this campaign, as well as admitting that Colin Kingsnorth was no-body’s fool.

Are we as a support going to go against the judgement of those who sought change, and if so where do we eventually draw the line ? Furthermore in terms of judging business acumen what are the qualifications of those who are suggesting we do not draw a line in the sand  ?

Which brings me back to the Vanguard Bears. I’m not here to defend them, as they are more than capable of doing that for themselves. Given my propensity for speaking out, via my blog and also on their forums, I’ve little doubt I have pissed some of them off along the way, we don’t agree on everything, but that’s life it’s all about opinions.

But I will not allow them to misrepresented  as has happened in recent weeks. Their position on the current boardroom battle remains as per their statement they remain neutral. I fully accept that some of their members have expressed different views as those held by admin on behalf of their organisation, but is that any different from any other organisation ? Given some of the voting patterns in yesterdays RST poll apparently not.

It’s perhaps significant that some of those responsible for the aforesaid misrepresentation of Vanguard Bears are named on material which has come into their possession.

One is left  to question not only the wisdom but also the propriety of Paul Murray writing directly to a group, let alone issuing instructions, knowing such a group are involved in protesting and campaigning for the removal of the current board, a campaign which if successful would likely be of considerable benefit to him in his own aspirations.

Perhaps in the course of time, and without reading To Kill a Mocking Bird,  some of you will learn for yourselves that sometimes the Boo Radleys of this world are not necessarily the bad guys.

An Open Letter to Dave King

Dear Mr King,

This is a particularly difficult letter to write, despite it being penned from one Bear to another. It is difficult because I don’t necessarily believe the model of ownership you would bring to our club – a sole owner – has been particularly successful for Rangers, and if I’m honest I would much rather see the transparency and clarity which I would hope could be afforded by some measure of fan representation on our board. In short, in writing such a letter I am foregoing many of the dreams and aspirations I hoped would be achieved in my lifetime for our club.

I mention the foregoing for one reason – to highlight how desperate and concerned I am and the circumstances which gave rise to this letter. Our support is literally ripping itself asunder in the current boardroom battle, the very heart and soul of this club are trading blows with each other and causing rifts, some of which I fear may prove irreparable. For a club such as ours, which attracts so much hatred from others, and whose strength and very survival has often relied upon our unity as a support, this presents a bleak and ominous outlook.

Further more I am not convinced that either side emerging victorious from the AGM on the 19th December, will result in a cessation of hostilities, merely a lull in the fighting, which will be renewed, perhaps with greater vigour and further damage to our already fragmented support in the future.

But I do not write to you as Dave King the financial saviour of our club. I write to you as the only man on this planet who can bring the much needed unity to our support, whose commitment to this club is without question, and who can capture, inspire and unite our support behind our club. As one.

The English writer William Hazlitt once wrote :

“No man is truly great who is great only in his lifetime. The test of greatness is the page of history.”

I, and thousands like me, would implore you now to write your page in the history of our club.

Yours in Rangers

D’Artagnan

A Day In the Life of the Monifieth Loyal

I broke with personal tradition yesterday – more due to advancing years than a change of belief. The benefits of the local supporters bus over my own transport had been well argued with an old colleague I bumped into at Gayfield the week before.

If I’m honest my increasing  propensity for falling asleep at will had made the solitary  drive north post match something of  a health and safety issue.

Having made the necessary arrangements with the Monifieth Loyal bus,  come Saturday morning I made my way early to the designated pick up point. Much too early in fact. For those who don’t know Dundee the Kingsway is the main arterial route through  the city for those heading north or south.

My early attendance at my rendezvous point on a freezing cold day would have normally made for a long cold stand. But not this day. I was literally glowing inside and it was nothing to do with having my daily dose of  Ready Break. For bus after bus after bus, packed full of fellow bears, passed as I awaited my transport.

All over our country ladies and gents had risen early from their beds, left families and loved ones at home not out of  defiance but out of love for and devotion to a football club. It reinforced the understanding within me that no matter the injustice,  malevolence, disdain and hatred towards our club – we will never ever be beaten or downtrodden. Its not a single minded determination but a collective one.  Its not “I am the person – Its “We are the people”.

But for someone who spends too much time on the net and various Rangers forums trying to appraise himself of the issues of concern to the Rangers support,  the issues of the real world Rangers fans provided a refreshing respite from the sometimes near madness of Rangers forums. Whilst internet issues reflect real life issues they do not dominate them in the same way. There is something mystical as well about talking to the more senior members of the bus who can recount stories of Caldow, Baxter, Brand etc.

And then of course there is the “crack”. From memory quizzes about Crossroads characters to the merits of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs –  which led to some serious role play. The sight of two guys fuelled by a few shandies dancing the re-enactment of Travolta’s and Thurman’s Pulp Fiction dance in the corridor of a coach doing over 60 mph was one of those “had to be there” moments. “The back of the bus they canny sing”. Perhaps not but by gum they can’t half dance. You know who you are.

So a big thank you to the men and women of the Monifieth Loyal and hundreds of other buses like them from all over Scotland and the UK who, week in week out, not for fame or glory but love of a football club,  add to the collective assertion. :-

We  are the People.