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.