07 December 2012

From Heroes To Zeroes

By Bill McMurdo | CRO Contributor

I have often heard it said you should never meet your idols because you will end up disappointed.

That was something I had little choice but to do over the years, given my old man is a football agent. As a bluenose, I have had the opportunity to meet many Rangers players, more than a few of whom could rightly lay claim to the "legend" tag.

My all-time favourite player since I was a toddler is Willie Henderson. The Wee Barra is actually my dad's closest friend and I have spent a great deal of time in Willie's company.

Never once has the wee man said or did anything to lose his "hero" status with me, though I have come to know him outside the famous footballer persona.

Some players prove to be let-downs as human beings but others, like Wee Willie, certainly don't. In fact, knowing them as men enhances their legend status even more when you discover they are what it says on the tin in real life, not just on the pitch.

Davie Cooper was another who was a boyhood hero and I got pally with him shortly before his death. Like all of us, Coop was not infallible but he was a Ranger through and through.

Some who played for Rangers weren't so likable when you got to know them. My own view, however, is that if they were legends on the pitch, I am happy to keep them that way in my thinking, regardless of their personality.

That's why it saddens me to hear the offhand and ofttimes downright abusive way some Rangers fans speak about guys who once played for The Rangers.

The vitriol poured upon some of our ex-players on blogs and forums by some in the Rangers support is appalling, in my opinion. It actually makes me wonder if some of these critics really are Rangers supporters, so poisonous are they in their thoughts toward some who have worn the famous blue jersey. Of course, people are entitled to their opinions but are you really a fan if all you can do is deride people involved with the club?

I have had more occasion than most to have my opinions of players soured by acquaintance with what goes on behind the scenes; I grew up with intimate knowledge of many indiscretions and worse carried out by people in the footballing world. I didn't allow such things to interfere with the part of me that is a fan, however.

So, frankly, I struggle with people who put the boot into ex-players every chance they get. Football is and always has been a cruel and unforgiving business that takes young men to the heights of fame and fortune only to throw them on the scrapheap just when other men of the same age are starting to develop their careers.

Many ex-footballers suffer from depression because, monied or not, they really don't have a purpose in life when they are in their mid-thirties and have to retire. Many also have ongoing physical problems from a life spent getting kicked stupid week in, week out.

And not all of these guys have millions to retire on.

Rangers are presently celebrating 140 years of glorious history. Rightly, it is the club that is the focus. And no player is ever bigger than the club.

But as Rangers legends congregate at Ibrox, I hope those who like to castigate former players just for proving themselves to be fallible and human take stock and reflect that the guys you are abusing now helped make those 140 years so amazing.

And remember something else...

Very few of us pass the Ronseal test in life.

Bill is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @WilliamMcMurdo and via email:bmcmurdo@thecoplandroad.org