Rangers Crisis Part 1

On October 24th, 2009, I started a new thread on Kerrydale Street (a Celtic fans’ forum for those who don’t know). It was entitled ‘Media Scandal Bias’ and my opening post was as follows:

“On Radio Scotland live Walter No Surname admits that the Bank have taken over the club, he is buying no-one and they’re waiting to see who can buy the Club. Yet this is ignored and the phone in goes on about the general ‘Old Firm’ issues of the poor standard of the game. Maybe I’ll wake up and this nightmare of bias will end…”

Now, little could anyone know where we would all be this Friday 13th April 2012. Rangers on the brink of liquidation and the media in Scotland accused of a blanket disregard for their prime directive which surely is to uncover truths others would prefer hidden. Not only that, but the SFA are presided over by someone who is deeply implicated in the issue of EBTs and the SPL seem hell bent on returning a new version of Rangers to their long held place in Scottish football, without the benefit of justice having been served.

I’m still proud of my second past on that thread two and a half years ago, so here it is again:

“There are two Rangers teams: the blameless 1872-88 lot who helped Celtic get going and the Frankenstein’s monster created by Sir John Ure Primrose to defeat the forces of Popery, Home Rule and Republicanism. It is the latter who have remained unmolested by the media for the last 100 years because they, those who governed us and the media had the same ideals.

The situation is now much less homogenous. The Labour Party is full of Unionists. The SNP want to break up the Union. What’s a decent Brit walking down the Paisley Road to do? Who can they believe? What can they understand or hope for when the very ground on which they walk is crumbling beneath them?

Adam Smith’s capitalist creed is ultimately heartless and always devours its own. Tonight the invisible hand of the market has emerald Fenian fingers and I for one am sniggering quietly to myself.”

I will return to this theme, as it is a defining moment in Scottish football. How this crisis is solved will point the way to the sort of society Scotland is going to be in the coming half century. And it’s just about football. Funny that.

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Which Team Do I Support?

When I was a child, Springhill School playground was opposite the Dell, the old home of Southampton FC.  Having been born in Milton Rd, 300 yards up from the ground, it was not unexpected that I would develop a certain regard for the men in red and white stripes. My father, on his way back from his Saturday shift helping build Marchwood Power Station looked in at the Third Division team and started following them. He had grown up following Cork in both GAA codes, so his devotion to the new ‘blood and bandage’ was reasonable. I feel sorry for the youngsters of today who don’t have the chance of trooping down to their local ground to watch their reserves play as they wait for news of the big team playing away. I learnt to love football by playing on the terraces with my sisters until I crossed that invisible line which divides the football fan from lesser mortals who have nothing to believe in and therefore nothing to live for.

There was a fault line however, for at my father’s knee it was explained that Celtic were ‘our team’ because they were the team of the poor Irish. He never saw Celtic play in the flesh. He never went north of Northampton, as far as I’m aware. It didn’t matter, for Celtic were and remain ‘more than a team’. Following Celtic in the 60s was difficult, given the technology of the time. Apart from the scores and that dalliance with the Big Cup, the English press weren’t interested. My move to Manchester to work in 1981 made me closer. Paradise was achieved in 1993 when I moved north permanently.

The European Cup Final 2011

What a very pleasant hour and and half that was! I have no particular dislike of United. I lived in Manny for eight years and saw them as often as I saw City, but then they were just a giant club with no success and incredibly loyal fans. I remember when I was Chairperson of the Greater Manchester branch of the Football Supporters’ Association. Tiny and barely noticeable by the big clubs. However, with a month or two of becoming the United manager, Freebie and Archie Knox turned up to talk to our little band of fans about what he was going to do. From that point on I have respected the man, leaving aside the fact that he has shown brilliance in very step of his managerial career.

 

Last night however, he had the straw but his bricks were markedly inferior to those from Catalonia. No dishonour in defeat. I would be surprised if any commentator suggests with the perfect vision of hindsight that tactical or personnel changes could have been made that would have delivered a different outcome.

 

The more salient point is to wonder if Barcelona are setting out a new way of playing, much in the way that Celtic did in 1967 and England did the year before. Of course the former was positive and the latter was negative, but the effects are unquestionable. We are all used to the stats that Barcelona produce in many games: possession above 60% passes above 500. Can others take on this method and have football continue its move towards greater artistry and less emphasis on the zonal graveyard? It should be an interesting decade.