The old man shuffled in the large leather chair, one of those traditional ones designed to encourage good seating posture rather than slouching, pushing his steel rimmed glasses onto his forehead he took what he hoped would be another sip of inspiration from the lukewarm tea on the table, just for a brief moment he thought about undoing his top shirt button and loosening his tie to provide relief from the late afternoon sun beaming through the office window and which was taking its toll – but that would just not do, “standards, standards, standards” he muttered to himself, the presentation was tomorrow and the speech had to be finished, so reaching for his trusty pencil and notepad he collected his thoughts and began scribbling…
“I have been lucky — lucky in those who were around me from the boardroom to the dressing-room. In time of stress, their unstinted support, unbroken devotion to our club and calmness in adversity eased the task of making Rangers FC the premier club in this country.
To be a Ranger is to sense the sacred trust of upholding all that such a name means in this shrine of football. They must be true in their conception of what the Ibrox tradition seeks from them. No true Ranger has ever failed in the tradition set him.”
Our very success, gained you will agree by skill, will draw more people than ever to see it. And that will benefit many more clubs than Rangers. Let the others come after us. We welcome the chase. It is healthy for us. We will never hide from it. Never fear, inevitably we shall have our years of failure, and when they arrive, we must reveal tolerance and sanity. No matter the days of anxiety that come our way, we shall emerge stronger because of the trials to be overcome. That has been the philosophy of the Rangers since the days of the gallant pioneers.”
I have spent my whole life in awe of that speech. The utter selflessness at the heart of it, the appreciation and acknowledgement of the work and dedication of others, the dismissal of the importance of the individual and the emphasis and focus on the dedication of others around him merely serve to underline why this man has left such an indelible stamp on our club. It speaks of a football club with a sense of direction, where the people at the very heart of it share not only a common vision but realise the necessity of working together with shared values to deliver that vision.
We have fallen, fallen a long way from that sacred trust, taken there by men with little concept of what the Ibrox tradition seeks from them, men whose importance of self, of ego, was the very antithesis of everything Mr Struth stood for. It has opened a revolving door of charlatans, of profiteers, with no interest in preserving the shrine other than seeking to exploit the faithful who still come to worship.
In these days of anxiety, amidst the clamour of boardroom battles, of money men and PR gurus, of percentage shareholdings and damaging headlines, one group, to the exclusion of all others, has sought to uphold that sacred trust and remain true to the concept of the Ibrox tradition.
Disengaged and disempowered from the powers and processes which govern our club, and in the face of considerable, or as some hoped, insurmountable adversity, we have strived and endeavoured to keep the flames of that sacred trust burning. We conquered the insurmountable, breaking attendance records along the way, we laid waste to the false accusations of “glory hunters” at the Gayfields and Station Parks of this world. Borough Briggs and Ochilview had to be postponed as the manifestation of “unstinted support” and “unbroken devotion” descended upon them.
Who are these people ? Go look in the mirror you will see them there, staring right back at you – we are the people.
We are the people and this is our time. It’s time for those who have proven themselves in the face of adversity to no longer be disempowered or disengaged. We are the rightful sentinels of that sacred trust, do we honestly believe that anyone else could protect it better ? If you do then stop reading now.
Rangers First, Buy Rangers and Vanguard Bears all offer a means of achieving that goal via their various fan ownership models.
The choices we face are simple but critical nonetheless. Who do we trust most to decide the destiny of our football club, to safeguard all that we cherish and value ? To run the club in a way which upholds the traditions spoken of by Mr Struth all those years ago ? Who would ensure that every single decision which is made, is done so solely in the best interests of Rangers ?
Or should we continue to fracture as a support, tearing ourselves apart doing the bidding of masters who offer no guarantees, in the hope of some scraps off the table ? Isn’t it about time we either sat at that table ourselves or had a considerable say in who does and the decisions they make concerning our club ?
I am under no illusions – it will not be easy. There will be considerable challenges ahead, without doubt considerable adversity as well, but only a fool would bet against a Rangers support united in purpose and vision – it’s probably what those who wish ill will against our club fear most.
Our club is once again in need of “gallant pioneers”, men and women who will remain true to the concept the Ibrox tradition seeks from them, and the reward is ensuring that sacred trust is preserved for generations yet to come.
“No true Ranger has ever failed in the tradition set him.”