By Lachie Mor
Despite my self-imposed purdah from Twitter it has proved impossible to avoid the ‘national’ rejoicing at the Return of the King.
In making this statement it is important to note two caveats. Firstly, the word ‘national’ is applied to our supine and spineless media – with one or two notable exceptions – who have welcomed yet another Messiah into the world of Sevco. Secondly in Tolkien’s epic saga the King who returned was the antithesis of everything that Mordor stood for, while the new master of Ibrox wishes to restore and embody the traditions and ‘values’ of that dark and intolerant place which is ridden by a never decreasing sense of entitlement and rage.
The question has been asked tongue in cheek this week as to whether this return to the core values of the now defunct club will include a ban on Catholics, and while this may be mischief-making by those of us whose leanings are more towards the East end, any examination of the gathering places of that club’s followers on the internet will amply illustrate that such a move would appeal to many of their core support.
Let us be charitable and assume that such an intention was never in the new board’s mind, but that they still to this day make statements about ‘traditions’ and ‘values’ shows that a lack of a sense of irony is endemic in that community whether old club or new club.
You could write yet another book about their complete lack of a moral compass, a state which has been amply demonstrated in recent years, but that is not my purpose in this reflection. Rather I wish to ponder a statement made by the new Chairman on national radio yesterday, a statement which was totally unchallenged by Chris McLaughlin who was the BBC fan – sorry – man in the chair as Paul Murray set out their plans for the future.
He said that ‘for the last 50 years Rangers have been the dominant force in Scottish football’, and that it was the new board’s intention that this state would be restored in short order – I believe he indicated that within 2 years they would be back in the big league and thereafter challenging Celtic – as ever the touchstone for any supporter of the dark side.
When I was still a callow youth I endured one of the worst nights of my life as Tim, when a Jim Baxter inspired Rangers thrashed our heroes in the Scottish Cup final replay of 1963. 51 years later it is only a slight comfort to realise that the Ibrox men of that era were probably the finest Rangers team of all time with players such as Ian McMillan, Ralph Brand, Willie Henderson, Jimmy Millar and the irrepressible Baxter forming the core.
Just after that final, John Fairgrieve, a Heart of Midlothian fan, but a journalist of some distinction wrote a book called; ‘The Rangers: A Complete History of Scotland’s Greatest Football Club’.
I borrowed the book from the Library in Castlemilk and while it was a bitter pill to swallow his proposition set out in the title was hard to argue against. He made a statement which is copied endlessly on web-sites such as Rangers Media or Follow Follow:
‘And always, in this broad picture of Scottish Football, one name towers
above the rest like a colossus, and the name is, of course, Rangers.
There is no getting away from it, nor indeed is there any reason why
one should try to get away from it. The club, the fans, the players, all
have their imperfections, but Rangers are the greatest football club in
Scotland, have been so for many years, and very probably always will be
as long as the game is played. This is a fact of football life, and cannot
be reasonably argued with’.
The book was published in 1964, the putative heroes of the annal had just completed a treble knocking Celtic out of both cups in the process – it was you will have noted dear reader 50 years ago – which brings us to Paul Murray’s hubris filled boast of yesterday.
John Fairgrieve was a decent sports writer – which sets him apart from the mass of his successors today – but he was no seer, he had no skill in reading the runes, and he is not to be criticised for getting the latter part of his summary so wrong.
Within months of the book’s publication Bob Kelly made the greatest decision of his life and offered the reins of power to a former journeyman Centre Half and Captain of Celtic Football Club and the world as we knew it changed overnight.
In the 50 years which have passed since that event, the 50 years which Paul Murray arrogantly claims as theirs, Celtic have won 25 League Championships to the 21 won by the former Rangers Football Club. In the Scottish Cup Celtic lead by 19 wins against 13. Only in the League Cup do we play second fiddle with 12 wins to RFC’s 21 although it should be noted that Celtic have lost 15 finals in that competition over the period concerned.
Both Clubs have reached the finals of European Competitions in the period on 3 occasions. Celtic with 2 Champions Cup Finals and one Uefa Cup Final, whereas the former Rangers Club played in two Cup Winner’s Finals and one Uefa Cup Final, both clubs winning one trophy and losing two finals since 1964.
I suppose it is ungracious to point out that the Celtic Support would be welcomed back to the cities where these finals were played, I am not sure that Barcelona or Manchester would lay out a red carpet for the follow followers any time in the foreseeable future.
So you see dear reader that the bald facts give the lie to Paul Murray’s arrogance about their place in the football firmament, but it is also worth noting that a significant number of their successes took place during the period which actually brought about their downfall, in which cheating and financial doping were an endemic feature of that club’s modus operandi and apart from Lord Nimmo Smith and the cowards at the SFA no one outside of their own supporters believes that they achieved ‘no sporting advantage’ from their rule breaking.
Which brings us to the present. Better chroniclers and observers than I, have pondered the financial maelstrom which could – and hopefully will – engulf that club in the south side. Who knows, Kingy may well have the key to future success but even from my relatively uninformed position the task facing them seems enormous. The enthusiasm of our media, both sports and news branches to applaud and hail the new king smells strongly of a favourite song from my childhood : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMsgAuvEIBc