11 September 2012

Hard to Handle

by Andy McGowan | CRO contributor | amcgowan@coplandroad.org |

Being a Rangers fan in the season 2012/2013 has become a catch-22 of sorts.

A few fans have made the difficult decision not to renew their season tickets or attend matches now that Rangers are recovering from SFL3. Some have done so because of footballing reasons, others financial, and no doubt a large section due to a host of other reasons. These fans will be accused of ‘walking away’, lacking loyalty, or being ‘fair weather fans.’

Yet those of us who have chosen to stay or take up their places are accused in some quarters of doing so not because we love football, not because we love Rangers, not even because we love a half-time burger, but because we hate other clubs!

This seems to be the view taken by what passes for a journalist this side of the border. ‘Defiance’ is the new buzzword to sum up any and all positive actions taken by Rangers supporters for daring to (as the term would suggest) support their club.

Gordon Waddell recently took a crack at explaining it, saying Rangers fans are turning up “to prove that they are, in fact, The Peepil.”

I would like to point out to Mr. Waddell that the suggestion that Rangers fans are motivated to attend football matches for extrinsic as opposed to intrinsic factors is staggering in its inaccuracy and naivety.

Rangers fans are not attending football matches out of defiance.

They are attending because they support Rangers, and with a bit more digging he may find the residents of Govan can spell ‘people’ in far greater numbers than those in Falkirk can spell ‘capacity’.

Hugh Keevins offers an alternate if equally moronic hypothesis for Rangers’ continued support by suggesting that if fans did stop showing up, “they’ll be mocked by Celtic supporters.”

Hugh Keevins, a man astonishingly given a forum to punt his ludicrous theories, is really suggesting that (at season ticket prices) Rangers fans are spending upwards of £300 not including huge match day costs just to get one over on Celtic.

The magnitude of the stupidity of that statement alone is enough to make any fair minded sensible onlooker wonder how a national newspaper can be so out of touch with reality.

Of course if you are going to have an ill-informed pop at Rangers fans you can’t let it pass without quickly sticking the boot into Charles Green as well. Mr. Waddell seems to think that Big Chuck trying to make money is news worthy.

Imagine: A businessman trying to make money from a investment? It’ll never catch on.

The suggestion is that Mr. Green makes statements he believes to be untrue in an attempt to wind up his own supporters, and if you buy into the theory that all Rangers fans are powered by defiance, this will in turn force the fans into attending matches and spending more money on their club.

Now either Gordon Waddell thinks Rangers supporters are idiots, or he believes that Charles Green is a liar who thinks we are idiots. Perhaps he will be kind enough to clear that one up for us in his next article.

Gordon Waddell and Huge Keevins seem to picture the average Rangers fan on match day angrily chocking down a half-time pie just to get it up Celtic while Charles Green laughs an evil laugh in the background refilling cups of Bovril.

Alas, here are perhaps some figures that both of our dynamic duo would like to take a look at.

So far this season Rangers average attendance is slightly above the 47,000 mark, and we can compare that with previous seasons  with a click of a few keys and an internet connection. (Although in their defence perhaps the moon isn’t broadband ready quite yet.)

99/00 – 45,446
00/01 – 45,003
01/02 – 47,880
02/03 – 48,814
03/04 – 48,992
04/05 – 48,676
05/06 – 49,245
06/07 – 49,955
07/08 – 48,091
08/09 – 49,534
09/10 – 47,564
10/11 – 45,305
11/12 – 46,324

We can clearly see that this is not an act of defiance by Rangers supporters. Rather, it is the continued unfaltering support of a football club.

Gordon Waddell tells us that, “There is clearly money to be made in defiance. Finance to be had from other people’s froth.”

You are mistaken Gordon. Yes, there is money to be made, but not in defiance. It is to be made in unity, the same unity Rangers fans have shown for many a year, and the same unity and loyalty to the club that they continue to show in times of hardship and prosperity alike.

For the rest of this season, and the next, even the one after that, Rangers fans will continue to turn out at Ibrox and support their club, simply because they love to do so. And not out of 'defiance' but because Rangers is a part of their lives.

Rangers’ fans will not abandon their club, they will not go back to supporting their ‘local team’ as so many journalists and board members across Scotland predicted over the summer.

No, they will stick with Rangers through thick and thin, and they will do so out of loyalty to the Club, not our of some sort of defiance to the rest of Scotland.

It may be a bit hard to handle for the likes of Waddell and Keevins. CRO's advice?

Get over it.