It was a familiar routine. With wife, and soulmate of lifetime retired to her bed, George knew the protocol. However this evening would provide a slight deviation from the norm.
He broke the virginity of the Macallan 43 malt, with a respectful nod to acknowledge the craft and expertise of the “alchemist”. A handful of ice cubes into the crystal glass laid the foundations of a simple, yet unbeatable combination.
He shuffled, assisted by his Prestige walking stick, over to the bottom drawer of the cabinet in “Georges Room” and from there he withdrew a simple cardboard box, designed to protect against the ravages of time. From within said box he then removed an old scrapbook carefully and expensively encased and preserved within a Melinex protective cover. Some things are valuable, but memories nonetheless are priceless.
Opening the first page the image of Harold Davis stares back at him. It is of course deliberate, and one hopes future generations of George’s family will realise the significance of Harold’s place in that scrapbook. A man who overcame the odds to achieve greatness, those odds skewed against him due to service to his country, yet who still managed to encompass everything pulling on a light blue jersey encompasses. Sometimes the word “Legend”, quite simply, isn’t enough.
The following pages are testament to our greatness, stilled images of history which have resulted in anything but stilled celebration. The Caldow penalty against England, Brand , McMillan and Wilson, the strike of the Super Dane (Pre-Laudrup!) which lifted the Scottish Cup in 66, and the wonder of “Slim Jim”, a 16 year old ending a 4 year famine in the League Cup Final, Barcelona , Wee bud sitting on the ball, the dunes of Gullane when “character” and “determination” were our watchword, the magic show which was Davie Cooper, the Souness revolution, the Prince of Denmark (“Brian, why are you so good? [copyright Jim White]) 9 in a row, the pages are endless, and apologies to those which have been skipped over such as the spirit of the Rangers team which came back from 2 down at Hampden to scupper Wuilie Pettigrew’s dream.
The latter part of the scrapbook is not quite so reminiscent or enjoyable however. Images of Craig Whyte, his catastrophic reign, and our subsequent treatment at the hands of others adorn the pages. One wonders why this period of our history should be kept rather than ignored.
Because adversity and willingness to overcome insurmountable odds reveals the true character of the Rangers support. “No Surrender” is much more than just a match day historical soundbite – rather it is given both legitimacy and credibility by our willingness to refuse to succumb in the face of adversity.
The pictures in the latter of part of the scrapbook show Sandy Jardine rallying the troops on the march to Hampden, newspapers cutting displaying our ability to sell out stadiums even in the lowest of divisions, our capability to cause the cancellations of matches in our desire to “follow follow”.
Broadcasters such as Adrian Durham don’t talk about regimes – instead they gaze in wonder at a support who refuse to give up on the club they love. Just to clarify, because it really, really is important, that’s people like you and me they are talking about.
When we were down we found few (if any allies) but our unconditional love for a club called Rangers caused us to rally round her. We defied the odds, we defied the sceptics, we defied those who hate us and conspire against us, but most importantly we achieved this alone without the help of others. Other than truth and justice courtesy of the courts this has very much been a lone sojourn for the Rangers support.
We really need to move on in order to effectively tackle the real enemies of our club. We need to overcome the angst of “boycotter” versus “non boycotter” and recognise ourselves as one support with different viewpoints who all had the best interests of the club at heart. Because believe you me neither the boycotter nor the non-boycotter would wish to see our club dead. But our enemies would.
As George turns the final pages of his scrapbook and sips the last of his Macallan, the closing page shows a newspaper cutting from yesteryear, where the great William Struth castigates the Ibrox kit man, after the latter suggested, if necessary, we could borrow from our opponents that day – Clyde – should the need arise. There then followed a stern lecture on how Rangers should and never will rely upon others for their survival.
If we are to be self-sufficient and reliant on no-one to ensure our survival, then at the very least we need to be united in purpose. If you don’t believe me, at the very least trust our guiding forefather.