12 August 2012

The first week back


by Peter Ewart | Contributor

So we are three games into our first SFL season. From the elation of being back playing, to the emotion of Ibrox for East Fife and a reality check at Peterhead, thank god the football has started so we have something to discuss besides simply finance and football authorities. 

The Brechin game was a really rusty first game of the season. The East Fife game at Ibrox was a hell of a lot better and Peterhead, well the less said about that probably the better.

The football cliché of win your home games will never been more appropriate as it will be in SFL3. Ibrox has a big pitch in familiar surroundings with top drawer facilities and huge crowd. Away trips will be a culture shock. It will all come together but it will take time.

There are a few players that don't seem to want to be there. If that is the case, then Super needs to get rid and replace them before the transfer registration embargo kicks in.

And a mention to Captain America himself, Carlos Bocanegra: Yes he's on a big wage, but his professionalism through all the club’s troubles are a great example to all around him and is a stark contrast to those that walked away. He came here for the Champions League and ended up in SFL3. It would be unbelievable if he stays and it would provide welcome experience we seem so desperately lacking at the back. 

If I can use another football cliché to sum up the first week's results: Form is temporary; class is permanent.

Charles Green appears to be enjoying a belated honeymoon period at the moment. He's benefiting from the return of football, a charm offensive to those in the ticket office queue, and from standing up to the Scottish football authorities. 

The test will come when he has to answer some of the more difficult questions over the coming weeks and months, the first of which will be the response to the SFA charge, followed by details of any share issue in the club to Fans. But the last 10 days of the Charlie Green Show has been a marked improvement over earlier episodes.

The fans have been absolutely incredible – a massive show of support for the East Fife game, and with 25,000+ season tickets sold already the support in SFL3 looks like it's going to continue to be enormous and really does speak for itself. 

The away games at Brechin and Peterhead could have sold out multiple times. In fact, away fixture appears as if they will be so oversubscribed that the club should be working with the SFL to work out ways to how more of our fans can attend the games. Brechin and Peterhead offer some of the larger capacities in the lower divisions and the scramble for tickets is only going to get worse from here. 

There is an onus on Rangers and the SFL to work together to maximise the money we can bring to the league. It is not really in anyone's interests to have thousands of Rangers fans locked outside the gates of away fixtures. If fans can’t get in then potential income for the hosting club and the league itself is lost. 

Perhaps moving matches to nearby SFL grounds with bigger capacities could be looked at. Could Annan move the game to the Queen of the South? Could East Stirlingshire or Stirling Albion move to Falkirk? Local rivalries and sporting chance may dictate that Directors wish to keep their home games at their own grounds, but discussing in principle surely could not hurt. The SFL are due to meet this week to discuss logistics of Rangers support amongst other things, so no time like the present.

We also need our ticket office to step up and give our fans a fair crack of the whip at getting away tickets. The distribution of away tickets has frankly been a shambles so far. I appreciate there have been 25k in season tickets to process and everything has been last minute, but season ticket holders, the supporters clubs, and indeed probably the ticket office itself needs a season long solution for allocation so that travel plans can get sorted out, especially when we know these same logistical challenges will be waiting for us the two seasons following. We know not everyone will get in to the away dates, but, like previous seasons, if we knew in advance we had at least a couple of matches secured it would be great progress.

And I feel I must mention an idiot minority of the away fans. It’s frustrating that a small minority of our away support are trying to resurrect The Billy Boys and a couple of other daft songs that will cause us nothing but troubles. (I will make it clear I was at Brechin but not Peterhead.) Not only does it damage the club you claim to support, but supporting Rangers has got fuck all to do with singing about Fenians or Bobby Sands. And I also can't be arsed listening to anything to do with Celtic and Neil Lennon. They are obsessed with us; please do not be obsessed with them.

Contrast the atmosphere at Ibrox for East Fife. It was sensational – a real hairs on the back of the neck-type proper emotional night. That is the way to support Rangers: Loud, proud, loyal and true. Bring on East Stirlinghire and a full Ibrox.