I don't support Rangers. My football loves are the grand old Glasgow Perthshire and the marvellous Partick Thistle.
Still, I can only sympathise with the agony experienced by Rangers' fans over the last few years. The impact of business ruin has been more than just financial. As the Rangers fans so loudly assert, a football club is much, much more than a business organisation.
Almost everyone at the schools I attended supported Rangers. I'm not sure why I never caught the bug. Maybe all that top dog arrogance? I suppose even when I was throwing toys out of my pram, I was a member of the awkward squad. I still am - and still a member of the awkward squad too.
But I've always backed Rangers in foreign competitions. And all other Scottish teams as well. In Glasgow, patriotism is rarely stronger than parochialism. I remember watching the 1967 European Cup final. When Inter took the lead, a cheer went up from neighbouring flats. The Rangers' fans. A week later, Rangers were in the final of the Cup-winners' Cup. A Rangers victory and Scotland would be the first country to win both the European Cup and the Cup-winners Cup in the same season. Despite this, a cheer went up when Bayern scored the winning goal in extra time. The Celtic neighbours.
In the domestic game, I like to see Rangers beaten - on the football field. But I wouldn't wish the calamities of the past few years on my worst football enemy. No, not even on Rangers. Even the fates have conspired horribly against the Gers. Given the disasters inflicted on them by the likes of Messrs. Green, Whyte and Black, we only need a Mr Blue to appear from somewhere to give the club a good booting and the set of the four horsemen would be complete. The fallout has been widespread. Only a fool would deny that all of Scottish football has been weakened by the fall of the erstwhile giants.
I'm surprised though that Rangers fans are so easily needled. Given the collapse of the business, wasn't it inevitable there would be jibes about the club being a NewCo with a history of only a few months? Of course, Rangers are more than just a plc. Like all football clubs, Rangers are a way of life, a community of hearts and souls. The continuity of the Rangers community runs all the way back to its creation in the 19th century. It's just a pity that a strident minority can only assert this by hounding members of the media who don't use their approved set of descriptions.
It's the leaders of the club who should be setting an example and reining in the thin-skinned paranoids. Walter Smith might have provided this but he's gone. At the moment, there's a moral vacuum at the top. Those in charge seem more interested in boardroom power plays and profit-making manoeuvres than re-building the damaged community.
The majority of Rangers fans are good people and decent citizens. One day in the future, they will proudly tell their children and grandchildren of the dark days when they loyally followed the club to Annan, Forfar and Stenhousemuir. What will Rangers' board members of recent years tell their grandchildren? How they conducted opaque business deals and fought feuds with rival factions while the team struggled to beat part-time opposition and the club blundered its way into another financial crisis?
Rangers' directors need to demonstrate that they are in it for more than just an ego trip and a few bucks. Ethical leadership in the boardroom that sets an example is a prerequisite for a renascent Rangers community. For too many years now, most of the news from Ibrox has read like an over-the-top script from the old soap opera Dallas.
As for the Rangers fans, they should grow thicker skins. They have more important things to attend to. Rangers may be more than just a business. But is it more than an exclusive fellowship? A determined effort to stamp out the bigoted sectarianism exhibited by some of the Rangers community would be a great step forward.
I hope they get it sorted off the field. On the pitch, I look forward to Rangers coming back to the premier division - only, of course, to see them get a good drubbing at the hands of the super Jags!
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