Thursday, 15 May 2008

Rangers Reputation in Tatters - Again

There is nowhere to hide for Rangers FC. The ingrained bigotry of a large section of their 'supporters' will be beamed around the world for all to see. The events in Manchester last night have left me almost embarrased and ashamed to be a follower of this famous Glasgow club. So much so that I am rapidly losing interest in Scottish football and the culture of drunken violence that it cannot shake off. It's one thing to have a few pints and engage in a bit of banter whilst following your team. It is quite another thing to attack innocent car drivers, rob local businesses and attack police with anything not bolted to the ground. The only thing that keeps me supporting them is the fact that I do not wish to be driven away from the club by these cretins.

As the prominent Scottish sports journalist Graham Spiers points out, the club have tried almost everything to rid itself of such vermin, but in my view Rangers will never lose this element of its followers from the social underclass. Alcohol and intoxication, and the primitive tribal aggression it precipitates, is deeply embedded in the Scottish mindset. Although it could be said to be a problem for the whole of the UK, it seems to be particularly raw in Glasgow. What struck me in the bar I watched the game was the number of female fans perpetrating the aggression and bigotry. That said, they can hardly be described as female. They waddle about menacingly with their pints of cider intent on getting as wasted as possible - there is not a trace of femininity in them at all. I myself was verbally abused by one such disconsolate lady when returning home after the game, simply for having the audacity to wear a suit (which I was wearing as I had gone to the pub straight from work).

So, all the hard work done by Rangers FC over the past 6 or 7 years through a variety of campaigns, has just been undone in one night of madness. All this is great news for Celtic of course. Players across Europe will take note of last nights events and probably list Celtic ahead of Rangers as a preferred destination, although that may already have been the case.

This is Graham's article in full, from the Times Online, and it is worth documenting:

"The chaotic post-match scenes at the Uefa Cup final in Manchester must be utterly galling for those thousands of Rangers fans who follow their team with pride and distinction, yet who must wonder how on earth their club is to be rid of the social poison at its core.
These recurring incidents of delinquent behaviour with Rangers fans on the road are becoming tedious as well as depressing for those of us who chronicle this football club's fortunes. It doesn't seem to matter what Rangers as a club try to do - and the Ibrox board have explored every conceivable road recently - they simply cannot gouge out the primitive element among their followers.

By sheer chance a colleague and I stumbled upon the clashes between Rangers fans and the riot-police around midnight in the centre of Manchester on Wednesday night. Earlier, in the media centre, we had received reports of a Zenit fan being stabbed, and of a number of Rangers supporters being apprehended over that incident, but what we found in the centre of town was something else entirely.

Three of us had gone back to a hotel to pick up some luggage and, one block away, the clashes between fans and the police were in full spate. We drove into a grid of wailing sirens. One Rangers supporter said to me: "It's like a war-zone down there. Some windows have been kicked in and there's fighting with the police." One colleague went off to pick up his bag and returned 10 minutes later, slightly shaken after having to pick his way around the chaos.

The experience earlier in the day in Manchester on Wednesday was also depressing. The blight of bigotry has haunted Rangers FC and, while the club has pleaded and pleaded with fans to stop singing their sectarian dirges, the evidence of Manchester city centre over that period suggested they have made little progress in winning this battle. A range of songs which bellow about "Fenian bastards" and "F*** the Pope" remain the routine chant of too many Rangers supporters. You couldn't walk 50 yards in Manchester city centre without being assaulted by one such chorus.

This is a sensitive subject for Rangers. The club has begged Scottish reporters and editors to play it all down, because it "harms the image" of Glasgow and Scotland. Rangers themselves have hired a PR agency over the last two years, asked to perform what is euphemistically called "damage limitation" when it comes to these repeated embarrassments for the club. The PR boys have a tough job.

As a club Rangers are very familiar now with having to issue declamatory statements in the aftermath of such scenes as Manchester. A recurring phrase - and it was used again by Rangers yesterday - is that it is "a small minority" which ruins it for the rest.
The problem for Rangers is, this isn't a small minority of fans at all, but a large minority of them which indulges in such drunken, or aggressive, or bigoted behaviour. It is an on-going blight upon a very proud and distinguished Scottish institution."

As a sideline, congratulations to Zenit St Petersburg - a fully deserved victory.

1 comment:

Midlothian said...

"That said, they can hardly be described as female. They waddle about menacingly with their pints of cider intent on getting as wasted as possible - there is not a trace of femininity in them at all."

If you will insist on taking Aunty Sandra to the pub.