PROTESTS are mounting over the hijacking by Rangers fans of a hymn adopted as an anthem for the Boys' Brigade movement, ironically a youth organisation that once included the team manager.

The plagiarising of Will Your Anchor Hold, one of the oldest and most popular hymns, has been raised at presbytery level within the Church of Scotland.

One kirk minister has enlisted the backing of Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, an honorary vicepresident of the organisation.

Former Boys' Brigade officers have rallied to support the Rev Eric Hudson, who tackled the club after BB members who had heard it sung at Ibrox were "appalled at the misappropriation of their very special hymn".

One former BB captain described the fresh treatment of it - words written by Andy Cameron, the comedian - as "a mindless parody".

Mr Hudson, a minister in Bearsden, said he had written to SirAlex and had received "a positive response".

The football legend replied saying: "I have spoken to Alex McLeish, the Rangers manager, who is also a former BB boy and hopefully something can be done. The problem is that when fans decide to adopt a particular song, how can we stop them?

But let's hope that something will be done about it."

Mr Hudson said that in a response to his concerns, Martin Bain, Rangers' director of football business, had apologised if offence had been taken but added that it was the first negative feedback he had received.

Mr Hudson fears the BB may have to drop the hymn because of its associations.

"In Sunday school I used to sing 'Follow, follow, we will follow Jesus'. That may have fallen by the wayside because it was dated but I'm sure its demise was hastened by use of it by Rangers fans for their songs."

His concerns have been echoed by George Mathieson, from Colliston, Angus, who for some 12 years was an honorary president of the local Boys' Brigade battalion.

Colonel Mathieson, who took up the issue with the club and his presbytery, said people should not sit back and allow "this loss to our principal youth arm"without a church voice in opposition being heard.

John Milliken, a former Boys' Brigade captain, of Oban, has also written to Rangers, objecting to the use of the hymn and the setting of it to "what can only be described as doggerel and a mindless parody".

John MacMillan, general secretary of the Rangers Supporters' Association, said that he understood the feelings of those who were upset. "You have to respect that view."

Mr MacMillan said that he did not have a problem with it, providing there were no foul or abusive words included. "It's when they adopt songs like Simply the Best but put abusive language into it. I certainly don't condone anything like that."

Aspokeswoman at Ibrox said: "The Rangers band has been playing this hymn for over two or three seasons and the fans enjoy it, many of whom relate to it from their days in the Boys' Brigade.

"The club decided to put words to it which celebrated the loyalty of Rangers fans and the feedback has been very positive."

Celtic fans borrowed the tune of a hymn - Give me Joy in my Heart - to sing about Henrik Larsson "the king of kings".


Original version

We have an anchor which keeps the soul

Steadfast and sure while the billows roll

Fastened to the rock which cannot move

Grounded firm and deep in the saviour's love.

The Andy Cameron version

I am a bluenose loyal and true

I'm proud to wear the red, white and blue

Strong as a rock with standards high

I'm a teddy bear 'til the day I die.