Friday, August 19, 2022

Glasgow Rangers: Champions of Scotland 20/21 – The Real Story

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Kenny Stewart
Chief Football writer for The 4th Official. Always honest and won't shy away from the truth.

Rangers won the league on Sunday. Celtic released their grip on it months ago but officially surrendered at Tannadice.

Tepid and not for the first time this season; they were inept in front of goal. The simple fact of the matter is it was already over a long time ago, but it became mathematically so at about two o’clock on Sunday afternoon.

Rangers sit twenty points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership with six games to go. They’ve won the league in record time due to their excellence on the football pitch.

They’ve dropped eight points all season in the league, and it really is an extraordinary achievement for everyone connected to Rangers Football Club.

As a Rangers fan myself, I was an emotional wreck all weekend; I woke up at stupid o’clock on Saturday morning, the day of the Rangers versus St Mirren game.

Reading through Twitter, I’d quite literally “welled up” on several occasions by eight o’clock in the morning, witnessing numerous outpourings of emotions.

Excitement, love, affection, happiness, trepidation, somberness, happiness. melancholy were all on display for everyone to see. Could Saturday be the day that a decade of unprecedented anguish is cast aside?

Countless different emotions were going through each and every Rangers fan across the world on Saturday morning.

If you don’t like football or don’t follow the game, then you will simply refuse to understand. That’s fine; it makes no difference to those that do.

Football’s about more than kicking a ball about, you see. It’s raw emotion in it’s most primitive form.

As a Rangers supporter of forty-five years, I have been witness to the good times and the worst of times since the mid seventies. As a club, Rangers have had their times of turmoil and their times of incredible success.

This league title is the pinnacle of anything I’ve ever known as a Rangers supporter; I make no apology for admitting to crying several times over the last few days. This is what football can do. It’s more than a game; it’s a way of life in Scotland.

Rangers’ success is being hailed across the globe. From Colombia to America, Australia to New Zealand, across Africa and Asia too. From Scandinavia to Bulgaria, European football minded men and women are applauding this monumental achievement. That’s the truth of the matter.

The English media are delighted for their own prodigal son too. Steven Gerrard is now openly discussed as a potential replacement for Jurgen Klopp when the German genius decides his time in England is up.

How far Rangers have come is staggering. From being in the fourth tier of Scottish football only nine years ago, they now sit atop the rest, looking down on their peers.

That is astonishing. It’s one of the most incredible sporting stories of all time. As a Rangers supporter, I’ve never been so proud or emotional about the team I support. Steven Gerrard, you are immortal, sir. The players now legendary. Each and every one of them.

The world is sharing this historic moment in time with us. News stations across the world, radio stations, fans of other clubs worldwide, newspapers, you name it, they’re talking about Rangers managing to topple their city rivals and being the Champions of Scotland for the fifty-fifth time in their glorious history.

Steven Gerrard mask
Rangers – Ibrox Stadium A Rangers fan wears a Steven Gerrard mask outside of the Ibrox Stadium, home of Rangers FC. Picture date: Sunday March 7, 2021. PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xRobertxPerryx 58477010

All, apart from Scotland. The rest of the world is elated for the club, manager, players and fans. Not in Scotland.

The seethe we are witnessing is a sight to behold; it really is. Celtic taking to Twitter last night and coming out with the pettiest and funniest tweet was a cause for much hilarity among the Rangers online community. This is what Rangers have done to them. They are utterly destroyed here.

As clubs, managers, media and famous players across the world congratulate Rangers, so far, I’ve only seen Peterhead FC share their congratulations with Rangers. Not many congratulatory messages at all. It makes you stop and think…

That shows you how bitter this country is. Even the SPFL have not offered their thoughts or congratulated the country’s Champions. Who cares, really? I don’t, and I’m certain ninety-nine percent of Rangers fans don’t either. We just find it very funny, to be honest.

However, what I can’t go past without comment is the faux outrage across this country over the last few days.

Now. Before I start, yes, I am going to engage in a huge amount of whataboutery here.

Rangers fans took to the streets in their thousands on Saturday. There were breaches of lockdown rules. There were then thousands more that did exactly the same again on Sunday as Celtic blew their chance to keep the league alive by being incapable of beating Dundee United in the lunchtime kick-off.

Should they have been at Ibrox, George Square or at the Rangers Training Centre? No.

Is there any validation for doing so? Technically no, but that’s before you take emotion into consideration.

No one wants to hear of damage being done or people being arrested for breaching lockdown regulations, and I trust I am clear on that.

This is the issue I have here though. I’ve sat in my house for the best part of an entire year, unable to see friends or family.

I miss my children enormously, my mum, dad and brothers. I miss them all. When Rangers games have been on tv, I’ve sat watching while my son, who’s also a massive Rangers supporter, has done the same. We’ve sat and endured this situation as all of Scotland and the rest of the UK and world has had to.

I have no real complaints about that as we’re all in the same boat, so you just get on with it, don’t you? Well, yes. In the main, we all have, and we have suffered because of it.

Here is the key to unlocking the hypocrisy though.

I’ve seen Independence marches where tens of thousands took to the streets.

I watched as Glasgow was awash with people going to BLM marches.

I sat and watched the footage of the Celtic ultras (Green Brigade) being able to break lockdown rules.

I’ve seen Celtic fans go to their stadium and attack policemen. Throwing barricades, fighting, attacking buses with their players and manager in said bus.

I’ve endured Celtic fans going to Celtic Park to welcome their team into the first Old Firm game of the season.

I’ve seen them celebrate winning last seasons Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park. Thousands of them. Literally.

The Celtic fans took to the streets and visited their stadium when they were knocked out of the League Cup.

I mean, they even went to their own stadium when they realised they weren’t going to win the league to vent their anger at their own club.

St Johnstone fans celebrated winning the League Cup only days ago with a policeman being hospitalised during the rummy.

So… we have had marches for countless “causes” in the last year in Glasgow. I’ve seen the parks in the city swamped with people deciding “to hell with lockdown; I’m getting out for the day.”

Rangers v St Mirren – Scottish Premiership – Ibrox Stadium Rangers fans and police presence outside the ground ahead the Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. Picture date: Saturday March 6, 2021. Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder. PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xRobertxPerryx 58455379

That is a fact. No matter what political spin our government attempts to put on this, if the rules are for all, then apply them for all properly.

Alas, no. Our Deputy First Minister accused Rangers fans of being an “absolute disgrace” on Monday. He also accused Rangers of not doing enough on Saturday or Sunday.

That nonsense was met with Douglas Park, the Chairman of Rangers firing back, showing proof that the club has been in dialogue with the government, Police Scotland, the Justice Minister, other MSP’s and the SPFL.

Now, the political reaction to that would be bad enough and somewhat sinister when you take into account the number of marches that have been allowed to happen over the last year, but no, our First Minister chose to double down on this matter.

The fact she had received the letter sent by Douglas Park seemed irrelevant when she reiterated Swinney’s attack on Rangers and Rangers fans. This could be construed as an all out assault on the football club, wouldn’t you agree?

Well, yes. However, when you take into account, the front-page newspaper headlines were of sexual harassment claims against two MP’s of a particular party on Monday, that might suggest an ulterior motive, no?

Double Down Tuesday from Nicola Sturgeon at Holywood was almost like a call to arms. A “how dare they question me or my government on this”.

All very convenient until you realise that the front pages were again all about the scandal enveloping our government. Minutes of meetings between our First Minister and lawyers representing the government have conveniently gone missing.

So, to all Rangers fans, can I just say.. this weekend, the weekend when the pain of the last decade diminished and disappeared into a distant memory was a very convenient time for burying bad news.

Spare us the sanctimonious bullcrap. This is just blatant politicking, and no amount of it will dampen our spirits here.

This is, as I said, more than about just football, you see. This is about families across the country lost in emotion. It’s about ten years of torturous pain: a release, no an explosion of joy, happiness and relief that it’s finally over.

It isn’t Rangers’ responsibility to police the streets; it is Police Scotland’s job to do that.

Their hot take on it was quite frankly scandalous. Siding with the Government to throw Rangers under a bus for not telling fans to disperse, when they repeatedly did so.

What a dereliction of duty and responsibility that is.

It’s laughable, to be honest, and as I said, it really isn’t dampening the elation in any way.

That is due to the fact that Rangers supporters have been painted as an underclass of our society for the best party of twenty years, you see.

When all is not right, attack Rangers. When you need to set your deflector shields, push Rangers fans under the spotlight.

This is Scotland. This is the Scotland we have and as I say, when you portray an institution as an underclass or those that follow it as “scum”, then be prepared for them to a) not give a hoot about what you think of them, and b) be prepared for a backlash.

I would like to personally thank Douglas Park for his open letter to our First Minster; the gratitude I felt yesterday was very soothing and left me feeling all warm inside.

That is quite possibly the first time our club has openly fought back on this underclass rhetoric in many, many years, and I, for one, was incredibly grateful to him for defining our club, our community and our fans. To defend himself is one thing but to shield our club from this nonsense was satisfying, to say the least.

This title win is a football success, but it is much more than that. It’s about family, it’s about community, it’s about growing together, and it’s about taking time out to stop and toast the ones we’ve all lost in the last ten years.

The outpouring of emotion was always going to hit the streets. Rangers highlighted that fact and told our Government so. They told the police, and they told the SPFL. To think otherwise is a ridiculous notion to anyone.

Celtic fans would’ve done the same if they’d won their ten in a row; after all, they did take to the streets when they knew they weren’t going to win it, didn’t they?

The world is celebrating an incredible success in this little country. Make no bones about it; people sat up, took notice and applauded from afar. They’ve shared in our joy and all over the globe, and the world is delighted for us as a community.

Our fans stuck together through everything that was thrown at us. For years politicians, football’s governing bodies have tried to kill us. When that failed, they tried to reduce us in size. They failed, and here we are, Glasgow Rangers: Champions.

This is about father and son, grandfather and son. Mothers, daughters, uncles, aunts and cousins.

Family. That is what this explosion of emotion is about. Should it have been on the streets? No. But as I said, neither the police nor politicians are that naive as to think otherwise, so let’s just say the ulterior motive is as evident as the sun in the sky.

If our government doesn’t understand that, so be it. We don’t care what they think as we are fully aware that they see us as the underclass of our society. We are not, far from it, so I would suggest they be a little less indignant and a bit more aware of the double standards they are using and the sheer hypocrisy of such actions.

Rangers won the league. For a world record fifty-fifth time. I make no apologies for sharing it with my son, and frankly, I don’t blame a single person who took to Ibrox or George Square over the weekend. I understand it, as I’m sure any football minded person does.

That might be an uneasy truth for some, but I honestly don’t care enough about what fans of other clubs think. And I have even less of an interest in what a Government so ensconced in their own scandals say to be brutally frank.

We will take no moral lectures from people in glass houses; they really shouldn’t be throwing stones when they have their own court cases and scandals to deal with.

Rangers fans broke covid lockdown protocols. Absolutely they did. But then, Liverpool fans did so, Leeds Utd fans also, Celtic fans on numerous occasions, St Johnstone fans too. That’s before we consider the political marches and demonstrations where an independence march is perfectly acceptable because it’s a cause you believe in.

I certainly don’t; I believe in Rangers.

The basic truth of this is that Rangers are being held to a different level of standards by those who believe they can use the club and it’s followers to a higher level of standards than any other members of society.

That is simply because, for more than two decades, they’ve been allowed to do so. I trust Douglas Park will fight our corner and take them to task on the “do as I say not as I do” rhetoric being spewed from those that deem Rangers as fair game.

The days of Rangers just accepting the tedious soliloquies preached by those that hate us are over. What a politician or a media outlet says about us just washes right over us now, and it has done for years.

That is the truth of the matter. We won the league, we celebrated. Get over it. Quickly I would suggest as we are going for more. We have a Scottish Cup to play for and a winnable though a tough round of sixteen Europa League tie against Slavia Prague over the coming ten days.

Practice what you preach, or you’re only playing to the galleries; here in Scotland, we’ve witnessed this for years.

Fans of other clubs might wish to stop and consider this. Football is the working man’s game, and the working class are merely tolerated by the chattering classes. To portray a group of supporters as an underclass might well be a stick used to beat those supporters with, but it’s you that could be next.

Rangers have won the league. A tiny percentage of their fans have celebrated in the streets; it is right that the powers that be highlight that and decry it for the rest of society, but parity and equality are essential in modern society. There’s none of that going on in Glasgow or Scotland at the moment, and I, for one, was delighted at our club’s response to this hypocritical nonsense.

The pictures and videos of our manager, staff and most importantly our players celebrating this already world famous achievement is the REAL story here, not a celebration and certainly not when there have been countless other similar incidents over the last year where our authorities haven’t even lifted their head above a parapet to condemn a single one of them.

This is a football story that our government has decided to politicise for its own unique agenda. That agenda is to deviate from their massive problems.

All football fans would do best to consider that.

Glasgow Rangers: Champions of Scotland 20/21.

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