Rangers Football Club plc no longer exist. Liquidation has caused Scotland’s most successful team to go under, after a series of poorly managed years by directors with far too ambitious planning financially to be in charge of such a risky institution as football. Rangers, with European successes and fans across the world, are arguably the biggest shock to fold of all time. What struck me most about it was just how, for years and years, Rangers have admittedly been frugal with their funds, often losing out to teams with lower reputations across the globe in signing star players. However, the depth of the blows, money owed to other clubs after years and years of waiting, was at a level completely unimaginable to even die-hard fans just how much this has been hidden from everybody’s knowledge.
There is actually quite a weird story why I became a Rangers fan anyway. I must have been around 4, maybe 5, and I have very vivid memories of needing a football team to support. It was in the summer during pre-season, and flicking through the sports sections of the newspaper, on the side of the page, I spotted information about the Ibrox tournament, taking place that weekend. I could not understand why it was such a small article! Invited to the tournament were Manchester United, Champions of England. Fate would have it that both Rangers and Manchester United would lose their first matches, meaning they would uninterestingly meet in the 3rd place play off. This was a time before games were shown often on TV, and we certainly didn’t have internet, and to find out the result I had to grab the paper the next day. There was a bit more coverage this time, perhaps partly because it being The Daily Record we were reading, and the match report got a full page and I can remember the layout of it and the photos crystal clear.
Rangers won the game 1-0, I believe thanks to of all ironic things a David May own-goal.
That decided it for me, one daft meaningless pre-season friendly decided for a young Ben that he would be a Rangers supporter and that he would support Scotland. That game shaped so much of my growing up. Supporting Scotland above England made the biggest and easiest target for abuse at school and upwards throughout my life. I am glad I stuck to it, supporting Scotland is for starts a lot more fun and a lot more funny. And yes, I do fit into an anybody-but-England category as many Celtic nation supporters do to. England as a football team doesn’t symbolise anything that I have any affinity to, you can’t force patriotism on any people, from the country or otherwise. You have to buy into the faith of the tribe and want to see that progress – one doesn’t follow the leader just because they are in charge – if we want to challenge governments and monarchies people all over the world have done that, and sometimes even form new countries as a result. Patriotism is a very funny thing – different from national identity – you have a choice of where to be a patriot in if you choose to accept it – and you should exert your right to support people and places you believe in and want to see success in.
And I can of course link this to Eurovision. One teacher I work with did not comprehend why I was not supporting the UK at Eurovision. Now when Mr Humperdinck sang for the UK, I got the Union Jack out and I belted out Love Will Set Up Free to a very reserved crowd of Swedes. Awkward, but from this I was able to start chatting up some cutemusic students, although they disappeared after Euphoria never to be seen again. But I did not support the UK. Oh no, we did not deserve to do well, we need to send a message on how to do better, and Sweden winning should be exactly the remedy to this that might make the contest think again.
Of course, I was supporting Rangers anyway just because they were good. My dad is a Kilmarnock fan and many kids do end up supporting the teams of their parents, but neither of mine pushed this on me (Mum was a big Man City fan as a girl). I had no idea for years about the back history of Rangers, the protestant roots for a start, and looking back through the last few years it has all made me really uneasy. Yes I support them, I watch them, I cheer, but it’s never been quite right and it has never been quite me (except possibly for the amazing UEFA Cup run in 2008 with our horrendously negative tactics).
I’ve never seen a Rangers game. I’ve been to the stadium though, but that was to watch, ironically, Klimarnock play and win the Scottish Cup.
I do have an affinity to them, I have great memories of the town and the place, and the history and difficulties a provincial club like them have in Scotland. In sheer numbers of my family members, it is by far the biggest population. It is a Robertson’s home, a dirty town that isn’t especially attractive, but one that has won awards for how warm the people are. And famed too for a good proper pie.
If me and dad go up now to visit my grandparents, then always try to coincide with a match, despite how horrendously priced it is. I would admit that I would be more happy for Kilmarnock to win the Scottish Premier League than Rangers, it would mean so much more to everybody.
With Rangers, and with what has happened, it finally gives me the excuse I have been waiting years for. I am not a Rangers fan, I like them more than Celtic, but I am just not one of those people. I need to find myself a Kilmarnock top and I will start embracing that.
I am going to do one of the biggest sins in being a football fan, changing teams. But I’m sure you’ll agree, I’ve been in the wrong place for the last 20 years, and now that place doesn’t even exist…