Agreeing to disagree
As children, we were all occasionally guilty of blaming others for things we have done ourselves. It is a very human trait and something some people carry into adulthood. I recall hearing a boy swear in class one day and quietly suggested that such language was not acceptable and that he tone it down. He refused to admit he had sworn until a classmate pointed out that he was filming him with an iPad at the time. Despite video evidence the SFA compliance officer would be delighted with he still denied he had sworn. That is to say the stage of his moral development was such that even when faced with irrefutable and conclusive evidence he still claimed innocence and refused to take responsibility for his actions.
There are certainly some in Scottish football who refuse to look in the mirror and take responsibility for what has occurred over the past few years. It is natural when an event such as the liquidation of a long standing football club leads to some who followed the said club to try to deny the very stark reality of what occurred. I can understand the ordinary Rangers supporter looking around for a plausible narrative which somehow allows them to convince themselves the club didn’t die. I respect that opinion even if I wholeheartedly disagree with it. I wonder if the events which occurred in 2012 had happened to Celtic what they’d be saying today? Still, in a relatively free society we can agree to disagree and move on.
What isn’t acceptable though is a virulent and hateful minority who not only deny that Rangers liquidation doomed the club but attempt to demonise and even intimidate those in the media who argue that it did. We have seen worrying on-line abuse and harassment of journalists who are caricatured as ‘Rangers haters’ for having the temerity to hold firm to opinions they disagree with. Whether you agree or disagree with Journalists like Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, Alex Thompson or BBC man Chris McLaughlin, there is no excuse for threatening behaviour just because you disagree with what they say. The latest rash in this epidemic of stupidity was the recent statement from the individual or group who chose the name ‘Bears Fightback’ to issue a poorly drafted communique which began…
‘For as long as I can remember, the sporting institution that is Rangers Football Club has been a major part of my life. The club has always believed in ‘dignified silence’ which although very admirable, is an Achilles heel our haters have exploited.’
I think we can all agree that the ‘dignified silence’ part is something of a joke as they currently release ‘statements’ on various subjects with mind numbing regularity. I even seem to recall Mr McCoist offering less than ‘dignified silence’ when he demanded to know the names of the 3 man SFA judicial committee which ruled on issues affecting the club in 2012. His infamous ‘who are these people’ statement caused members of the panel consternation as the less cerebral element among the club’s support got on their case. There are many other examples which demonstrate that this ‘dignified silence’ myth is full of holes. However what most people found worrying about the statement wasn’t the usual ‘no one likes us we don’t care’ mentality but the last paragraph which could be construed as threatening by some. It read…
‘We will look into the history of each and every individual embroiled in this hate fest and we will look to hurt you in any way legally possible. If you lose your business, your money, your home, your husband or wife, your children or your freedom, don’t say you weren’t warned.’
Such sentiments led Journalist Graham Spiers to contact the Police and the ‘Bears Fightback’ presence online vanished like a thief in the night. The idea that much of which befell Rangers FC in 2012 was the work of those who hate the club is still current among some who follow the Ibrox outfit. Demands that the phoenix Rangers be treated like any other new club following the liquidation of 2012 were portrayed by some as a ‘hate fest’ or ‘kicking us when we’re down’ when the reality was that all the responsibility for what occurred at Ibrox in that time lies at the door of the people who ran the club into the ground. Despite some Rangers commentators collating lists of ‘enemies’ from out-with the club to distract and obfuscate, the truth is that the rogues in this story were all wearing red, white and blue club ties and brown brogues.
That is not to say that some didn’t take a great deal of satisfaction at the trials and tribulations which befell the one time establishment club in those days for they surely did, but ask yourself what Rangers supporters would have said and done had the shoe been on the other foot and Celtic had been liquidated in similar disgrace?
The blame game needs to stop and some who follow the new club need to look in the mirror and accept that others are free to disagree with them without becoming the target of their ire and anger. However we perceive the club currently playing at Ibrox, the vast majority of decent people would never resort to intimidation of those who see things differently. Sadly, I think there exists a small group of myopic people who see the world in very stark terms. They are, like the boy who refused to admit swearing despite the evidence, unlikely to change their views. That is why we have the rule of law and those who go too far had best consider the consequences.
The future will undoubtedly see the Ibrox club in the top division of Scottish football at some point. They simply have too many resources to languish in the lower leagues indefinitely. It’s tempting to speculate how relations in Scottish football will develop in the future. I for one think the ‘You’re not Rangers anymore’ type of jibes will continue and this will in turn feed the rivalries. For a few of the more misguided folk, it will feed their hatred and a somewhat ironic persecution complex. But then such folk have always lingered in the dark corners of our society and although fewer people have a tolerance for them these days, they probably always will.
Scottish football is in many ways a microcosm of Scottish society. Despite all its petty rivalries and clannish loyalties, the vast majority who follow the clubs in this windy corner of Europe remain decent folk who love their team. Yes they get carried away from time to time but that’s the nature of the game we follow. Football is a passionate, combative sport in which clubs represent their various communities. It thrives on rivalry and dispute and most can argue their points without rancour or becoming abusive. A minority can’t but then their vitriol and bile says more about them than their intended targets.