by Peter Ewart | Contributor
The Scottish Cup game against Dundee United on the 2nd February 2013 is unlikely to be quickly forgotten. On the pitch a gameplan which went out the window after 17 seconds, two sendings off and a tough defeat that left us in no doubt of the position we found ourselves in. But it will be off the pitch that the game will be most remembered for.
Rangers fans were as close to a full boycott of a game as it likely we will ever see. After the draw, a concerted effort to stand up to the disgraceful treatment of our Club during its darkest hours by football authorities, SPL clubs and some fans produced a stunning result as less than 500 Rangers fans attended the game. A remarkable achievement, but it was one in exceptional circumstances.
Firstly, Rangers Football Club refused to take an away allocation. Whatever you think of Charles Green, he knew refusing would be popular with the fans, and is one the few figures who would dare to stick their neck out and actually do it. In truth, the fans had made the Club’s decision for them such was their hostile reaction to the draw. Despite Dundee United selling tickets direct to Rangers fans, only around 300-450 bought them, depending on what you read.
A boycott on that scale is unlikely to happen again. The Club won’t refuse tickets again and many fans saw it as a one-off. They are more interested in backing the team, something the team obviously missed at Tannadice.
So what of the future? Is there anywhere as fan you wouldn’t go now? There may well be. Some will make a personal choice to avoid certain grounds, but generally the support will follow in big numbers.
What would further boycotts achieve? A few less quid in our enemies pockets? Possibly, but remember since Tannadice, the SPL and SFL have merged, and with Lawwell joining the SFA Board Celtic’s stranglehold on Scottish football has only got tighter. We will have to take them on from the inside. And that means our fans in their grounds, being heard and being counted, as well as some sanity in our own Boardroom.
I fully expect our return to the SPL/Premiership to see our away allocations sell out. There is no undercurrent of any further boycott amongst the away support. And of course, as the no the NewCo fuckwits found out, you can only Boycott something if you were doing it in in the first place.
Are any clubs more likely than others? The Celtic axis including Dundee United, Aberdeen and Hibs are an obvious target. There will be some who won’t darken the door of Tannadice, Pittodrie and Easter Road again. But they will be outnumbered by those who will be happy to roar our team out of the tunnel. Our return to these venues promises to be tasty on and off the field.
Then there is the first game against Celtic. It’s not the Old Firm any more. And not because of any new club nonsense. Things have moved on. Rangers fans have stuck with Rangers, as many Celtic fans have drifted away and lost interest with their team. For them with no rivalry, there seems no point anymore. Watching dreary processions to the SPL title is just simply too dull. But they’ll be interested when we are back, mark my words on that.
Wherever it is it could be sold out many times over. Scottish media interest will be on uber overload. Wider UK and world media will be there as well. If it is at the Piggery, a Rangers ticket will be like one of 7,500 pieces of golddust. The scrutiny will be all-reaching and relentess.
But all this is a long way down the track you say. Well, not really. In fact, not at all. If we approach it properly, we could be playing the Premiership in less than two years time. Before that we’ll play one of the Clubs who were damning of us - Dunfermline at the end of the year. They haven’t had their troubles to seek of late. We could well meet Hearts in the first division next year. Celtic fans you could argue have already shown their intentions at the U17 Glasgow Cup final last spring . Expect big crowds, and some interesting team selections for the U20 league games against them this season, the first in November. Like it or not it is happening. And who knows for this years Scottish Cup draw?
Our fans have been outstanding in the past two seasons, and that will continue as we rise back to the top. We will be back and we will be back in numbers, loud and proud. And secretly the SPL clubs that are closing stands and covering seats with banners love the idea. The blue pound returns.
We’ll see how many of their own fans sneak back when the Rangers return.
We’ll be there. You’ll know us by our noise.