Over to you Mr Regan

It is not about rival supporters having skewered moralistic bragging rights, further ammunition to taunt rivals on match days, new material for distasteful banners or lyrics for equally distasteful songs.

It is about one thing and one thing only – the protection of children.

It is about one thing and one thing only – the protection of children.

It is about one thing and one thing only – the protection of children.

As child abuse revelations continue to shake the foundations of our game to it’s very core it is beyond belief, beyond sheer incompetence in fact, that the Scottish FA have not mirrored the action of their English counterparts and ordered a comprehensive review of child protection procedures.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38121724

Alarmingly, within the Scottish media there is a clear indication that there remains to this day a reluctance to speak about the reasons why such a comprehensive review is essential.

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Furthermore, you have to ask yourself why the normally intrepid Mark Daly at BBC Scotland allowed the Peter Haynes story to slip through the net until the current storm regarding child abuse started blowing.

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It is not only procedures and information sharing protocols which need to be reviewed, altered and challenged, but more importantly priorities.

The lessons of the Jim Torbett and Frank Cairney episode at Celtic Boys Club have a considerable irony about them. In their botched attempts to protect the name of Celtic Football Club, the failings of those Celtic officials to deal with the matter properly and effectively has left an indelible stain on the name of Celtic Football Club forever. The psychological stain on the victims however is even worse.

As you work through the recent media revelations of child abuse within the Scottish game there is a common denominator – a catalogue of errors and missed opportunities. It goes well beyond arrogance and into the territory of neglect to suggest that Scottish Football does not require a comprehensive “warts and all” investigation into child protection and child abuse procedures.

Courage and foresight is required at the Scottish Football Association. It is abundantly clear from the Peter Hayne’s story that many of Mr Regan’s predecessors will not emerge from such an investigation with their reputations intact. But when we are presented with a set of circumstances where a victim of child abuse is offered a tour of SFA headquarters as some sort of remedial action then you really must declare “enough is enough”.

It is clear from the past that child protection measures within Scottish Football having fallen far short of what was required, and for a variety of reasons were not fit for purpose. We have an opportunity to right that wrong, to safeguard children in the future and to build a robust and sustainable model of child protection within our national game in the future.

Will we Mr Regan? Or will we once again fail Scotland’s children?

 

The NSPCC offers a free helpline for footballers who have been abused. It is available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.

A Little Hero in Blue

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It was a parent’s worst nightmare. What should have been a joyous occasion for Amanda and Mark Adair became a living nightmare, as a scan revealed a problem with their unborn baby. Further tests provided no succour, nor did the medical prognosis with doctors cautioning they did not expect their unborn son to survive pregnancy.

In a decision involving the exercise of both considerable faith and courage Mark and Amanda made the conscious choice to see the pregnancy through to conclusion rather than the medical alternative of termination. That courage and faith was rewarded in June 2011 with the arrival of baby Josh against all the medical odds.

Josh’s earlier scans had revealed he suffered from a rare and incurable disease called Jeune Syndrome which means he has short arms and legs, but more significantly, an unusually narrow ribcage which causes severe breathing problems.

The first month of Josh’s life was spent in an incubator and its fair to say his whole life has consisted of a series of challenges which he, with the help of loving and adoring parents and skilled medical practitioners at Great Ormond Street, has overcome time and time again to defy all the odds. Despite his tender years, Josh has already survived one heart attack brought on by infection as well as a series of difficult operations designed to expand the chest cage. Such operations involve the breaking of his ribs and replacing them with metal or latterly, titanium plates.

Despite his medical condition, Josh is a very happy boy bringing joy and inspiration to all who have the good fortune to meet him. He and his dad are keen Rangers supporters and Josh can often be seen adorned in his favourites colours.

Josh’s condition has now reached the stage where further medical assistance is no longer available in the UK but it is in the US. The estimated cost of this surgery is a staggering 100K but unsurprisingly that has not deterred either Mark or Amanda to get the best treatment available for Josh They have created a Just Donate page for Josh and have already reached 1/5th of their target. Josh’s page can be found here and is both an inspiring and heart wrenching read.

https://www.gofundme.com/joshuaburnsadair

For those of you who have already given from the Rangers family, Mark and Amanda are eternally grateful. All I would ask of you is that you share Josh’s plight with someone who is unaware of it.

For those in our family who were unaware I would ask you to consider a donation via Josh’s Just giving page.

Sometimes our heroes in blue are not necessarily found on the park.

Club 1872 Election

My first ever column for the inaugural issue of WATP magazine was an article criticising Alistair Johnston and his calls for Rangers supporters to “police” and remain vigilant with regard to new owner Craig Whyte. There is nothing wrong with fans exercising vigilance, in fact I wholeheartedly support such a notion, the problem was that Johnston had been part of a board who had failed to give the support any measure, means or method of exercising any type of effective vigilance. In short he was asking us to perform a role he and others had failed to equip us for.

The events and the aftermath of February 2012 will live with all of us forever. Even now several years on, it is hard to express in words the feelings and emotion of that time. The nights, where sleep was impossible just seemed to go on and on, accompanied by all night vigils glued to both television and internet searching for a glimmer of hope amidst a sea of all consuming darkness. One feeling towers above all – the feeling of being utterly powerless. We owe it to our club, ourselves, our children & our children’s children to never be in a position where we as a support feel powerless again.

I have been blogging and writing about Rangers online and in printed media for nigh on 23 years now but have never felt the necessity to stand for any of the various groups or fans organisations, predominantly as I felt it would be impossible to be objective writing about an organisation of which I was a member. I hope the fact that I intend to deviate from the norm to stand for the Board Club 1872 affords you a measure how important and vital I view this organisation for the future – irrespective of whether I am successful or not. We have a blank canvas to shape, mould and ensure this body becomes the supporter’s organisation which our support deserves.

Club 1872 needs to fulfil its initial aims and visions of being the independent body which speaks on behalf of the whole Rangers support, which has at its disposal the means of exercising effective vigilance not just in respect of this board but successive boards in the future. This is the legacy we must leave for our children – that the protocols and processes in place are not just tokenisms but allow us as fans to have complete and absolute confidence our club is being run correctly.

It will come as no surprise to any of you who read this blog regularly the importance to which I attach a robust defence of this club and support. Dignified silence was not only utter folly, it was a complete abdication of a responsibility clearly laid out years ago by John Allan.

“May all who look upon the old club with a friendly eye stand prepared, by precept and example, to protect it’s interests and it’s good name”

It is time for us to stand prepared and let our voice be heard.

In closing I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the best to my fellow candidates.

 

Rangers Forever

 

Iain Leiper (D’Artagnan)

The mighty gavel of IPSO

Like a mighty gavel thundering down on the bench, the IPSO ruling on the Daily Record story produced by journalist Jane Hamilton was as powerful as it was damning. For those who have not yet seen it in full it can be found here:

https://www.ipso.co.uk/rulings-and-resolution-statements/ruling/?id=03188-16

Perhaps of particular significance is the very detailed “Remedial Action” which IPSO attached to their findings and which subsequently appeared in the Daily Record. I will leave you all to draw your own conclusions on that one.

The entailment of the findings, and any disciplinary action deemed necessary by either the Daily Record or Police Scotland, will of course rest with organisations which both our club and support have little or no influence. And it’s at this point I would stress caution.

Perhaps some of you will remember the fabrication of a story in respect of another group of Rangers supporters – Vanguard Bears – and on this occasion also IPSO were involved and ruled in favour of the complaint raised.

https://immortalrangers.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/the-sunday-herald-the-war-on-truth/

The same Neil McKay is now The Editor of the Sunday Herald – it seems this breach of editorial guidelines did his career no harm whatsoever.

If these series of events has not convinced you that our club needs a powerful, effective supporters organisation capable of responding to slurs against either our club or support – then frankly I don’t know what will. What a lot of you won’t know however is that following the publication of the Hamilton story elements of the Club 1872 working group were working tirelessly in the background building an irrefutable case proving, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Hamilton’s story was total fabrication. And I know this because I was contacted personally and was able to furnish them with some details to further their objective.

One is left to ponder if the same tawdry procedures, failure to adhere to normal editorial guidelines, and other failings highlighted by IPSO would have been present had this been any other group or collection of people other than Rangers supporters.

No-one needs told what the potential consequences were of this fabricated story and the impact they could have had on retrospective investigations into the Cup Final aftermath. The seriousness of this matter, the attempts to lay blame with the Rangers support for the failing of others, should guide our board into an appropriate response, considering all the circumstances, to the newspaper in question.

The back of the camel is already broken – this incident should prove to be the final straw.

 

 

When actions speak louder than words

“We acknowledge that a tiny minority of Rangers fans also encroached on the pitch but only after having been faced with prolonged and severe provocation and in order to protect our players and officials who were being visibly attacked in front of them. Any club’s supporters would have done the same. This distressing and deeply disturbing episode would never have happened had Hibs fans behaved properly but as they swarmed across the pitch it became immediately obvious that the security procedures were inadequate and had failed.”

This powerful and assertive paragraph from the Rangers club statement following the Scottish Cup Final now, alas, seems a world away. It appears Rangers have forgotten the mitigating circumstances they themselves cited, as several weeks on the same supporters the club defended in statement have now been subjected to an entirely different treatment courtesy of our club.

The letter below was sent out to one of our fans arrested in connection with the aftermath of the Scottish cup Final. As you can see it is in 2 parts – a kind of double whammy. The first part imposes an indefinite ban from attending both home and away matches as a consequence of being arrested at the Cup Final and thus bringing the name of the club into disrepute.

The 2nd part is dependent on the recipient of the letter being a season ticket holder (which he was) and thus his season ticket has now been forfeited, without compensation, for the alleged criminal conduct which gave rise to the arrest in Part 1.

There is nothing anywhere in the letter which offers any kind of caveat in relation to the pending court case, no suggestion that such action will be reviewed or reversed in the event of him being found not guilty or not proven at any future trial. Whatever happened to the “prolonged and severe provocation and in order to protect our players and officials who were being visibly attacked in front of them.”?

No-one is asking the club to defend the indefensible but is it really too much to allow due legal process to take its natural course? Could the club not have included the caveat in those letters that such decisions taken by the club would be subject to review in the light of the subsequent court hearings? Have the club considered how prejudicial to forthcoming legal proceedings such action may prove to be?

The particular irony in all of this is that the information which allowed Rangers to identify those charged with offences at Hampden most probably came from a football intelligence unit of Police Scotland. The same Police Scotland, some of whose members created a fictional, false and erroneous account of Rangers fans making barricades to prevent Police responding to the Hampden pitch invasion.

Actions speak louder than words, and the actions from our club in relation to the fans they once sought to defend by word, offer little to support the initial response to that post cup final statement – that as club, from the boardroom to the stands we are all in this fight together.

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Try these shoes for size Mr Waddell

“It means anyone who wasn’t there has no idea of the scale. Phone and periscope clips are there for all to see but they’re a microcosm, and judgment without the big picture is flawed.”

(Gordon Waddell, 29.05.2016)

http://www.<No links to this website>/sport/hibs-rangers-scottish-cup-final-8075282#62SdIAxCXqbdJiUL.97

Mr Waddell is of the opinion that the subsequent Rangers statements following the Cup Final have damaged our credibility even more than Hibs Chairman Rod Petrie’s car crash interview post-match. Perhaps Mr Waddell would do well to heed his own advice and look at not only the bigger picture but also the environment in which it was issued.

The Rangers statement was issued of course after the Petrie interview which itself drew so much condemnation from the press as it sought to down play, even question some of the events which had unfolded. It also followed the Off the Ball programme where Stuart Cosgrove had provided a masterclass in not downplaying but actually subduing all debate and discussion regarding the post-match shame.

It followed the First Minister’s tweet congratulating Hibs but offering neither mention nor condemnation of the ugly scenes of the aftermath. And of course it also followed the initial assessment by Tom English, who of course falls into Mr Waddell’s aforementioned category of “anyone who wasn’t there”.

The backdrop to the Rangers statement was a silence from our politicians, not only a downplaying but a forced closure on discussion on it from our national broadcaster and in addition  a skewed focus of events from journalists who were not even present.

It is interesting that subsequent to the Rangers statement the First Minister has seen fit to comment and condemn the events post the Cup Final, Stuart Cosgrove has issued a public apology on air for his conduct and Tom English has altered his initial view of events having actually studied the evidence in more depth.

Let’s for a moment imagine a different scenario on Saturday 21st May, 2016. That a group of Rangers supporters had stormed the Hampden press box and goaded, incited, attacked, spat on and verbally abused journalists who were only doing their job. And a Rangers director subsequently dismissed such behaviour as merely “over exuberance”. That Rangers then sought to minimise all discussion or debate on the subject.

Can you imagine what the subsequent NUJ statement would have consisted of in both tone and content ?

Sometimes Mr Waddell you have to walk about in other people’s shoes to truly understand where they are coming from, in order to genuinely see that bigger picture.

7 Days Which ShookOur World Part 2

 

The first inkling we had that the events just witnessed were not going to be reviewed in an even mannered fashion came courtesy of Cosgrove as we listened to BBC Scotland’s Off the Ball on the bus home. We looked at each other in astonishment as we heard him try every trick in the book to deflect, minimalize, downplay and even airbrush what had just transpired before our eyes. He used whataboutery and faux outrage towards his fellow presenters and issued repeated warnings to both listeners and fellow presenters about expressing “moral over reaction”. The subsequent Rangers board statement quite rightly highlighted him to the usual anger of the press corps. I wonder how many of them have actually listened to Cosgrove’s performance. It was not just sub-standard journalism it was a clear and deliberate attempt to downplay the whole incident. Anyone with any doubt should listen to how he deals with Chick Young’s update on events. What is particularly interesting is that the army of journalists still ripping into the Rangers board statement have been unilaterally silent on the conduct of Cosgrove which gave rise to the content and character of that statement.

It astonishes me that Graham Spiers is still considered one of our county’s opinion leaders. After a catalogue of lies about our club and support does anyone honestly think Rangers, their support or wider Scottish society will get a balanced view from such a man ? It’s only a matter of weeks since Rangers, a board member and the Billy Boys song were the catalyst to  his exit from the Herald and in particular his egotistical blog on the subject a few days later. Graham Spiers has a very high opinion of his own self-importance which displays a childish form of petulance when that ego is wounded.

All of us can remember the day Chris Graham humiliated Speirs on national television causing the latter to respond with a comment which was to be confirmed, from numerous twitter screenshots, to be a blatant lie. Perhaps what many of us won’t remember was his column subject matter the following day – for those who don’t it was an article on the “immorality of EBT’s”. I can still picture him to this day, Chris Graham’s face in his head battering away at his keyboard in the wee sma hours  in some kind of vengeance therapy. Hell hath no fury like Graham Spiers scorned. It takes a special kind of shamelessness to openly boast about giving evidence to the Scottish Government’s justice committee regarding OBFA and then when it becomes clear what has been produced has been a dog’s breakfast to then deny any responsibility for it. He could even use this example to good effect and examine his own role in the loathing of the Rangers support he wrote about this week – but the smart money says he won’t.

I’ve watched a succession of Rangers bloggers such as Frankie from Gersnet and John DC Gow from the Rangers Standard systematically dismantle and dissect Speirs’ argument. Perhaps this tweet more than any other sums the poverty of his argument as well as his hypocrisy.

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Perhaps however the most sinister aspect was the clumsy attempt to shift the blame for Police failings onto the Rangers support courtesy of the Jane Hamilton article which appeared in the Daily Record. Unofficial stories, from unidentified sources drip fed into the public consciousness via the media in order to shift blame onto football supporters – where have we seen that before ?

Let me start first with the sideshow to this story which was Ms Hamilton’s “perjorative” twitter history. As many have pointed out attacking the messenger is counter-productive, no doubt about that, unfortunately a blatant lie being reported without verifiable sources by a reporter with a questionable twitter history led to a perfect storm. But abuse of reporters, or anyone for that matter will always prove to be as aforesaid ie counter-productive. The sight of Scottish Police Federation Rep Calum Steele frantically tweeting to all and sundry Ms Hamilton’s departure from twitter was a sight to behold and still available on his twitter timeline.

OF course by this point Mr Steele had a vested interest.  His declaration on his twitter profile that he was only “tweeting in a personal capacity” was completely usurped by the following tweet :

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It was no surprise that an official statement from Police Scotland later that day sought to distance itself from both the Daily Record article and the comments of Mr Steele on twitter.  Let’s hope that Police Scotland explain to Mr Steele the difference between tweeting in a personal capacity and providing confirmation of anonymous Police story pertaining to operational Police matters and the reasonable perception of the latter given the office he holds.

Which perhaps allows us to return to Ms Hamilton’s article without the red herrings which accompany it. It’s not Ms Hamilton’s fault that she was approached by Police officers who wished to present an explanation as to the lack of Police resources at full time. But one would have thought given not only the time scales involved but the actual comments the officers made regarding the late manner of their arrival that further investigation was warranted to confirm the allegations made. It still beggars belief that at no time did she confirm the veracity of the officer’s allegations in an official capacity with Police Scotland. After all this was not just a side dish to the main course – it sought to change the whole nature of events last Saturday afternoon and divert the finger of blame which was already pointing at Police Scotland onto the Rangers support.

The full circumstances surrounding this story require to be examined impartially and whilst I am aware a number of Rangers supporters have raised complaints with the Daily Record editor, I think all concerned would be better served by an objective investigation by IPSO into the circumstances.

As the journalistic community in Scotland continue to huff and puff over the contents and nature of the Rangers board statement it is perhaps worthy of concluding with an objective voice, that of Roger Mtchell, former SPL chief.

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