09 September 2012

The Obsession Which Knows No Bounds

by Andy McKellar | CRO contributor | @AMCKEL |

Each and every day I awake, climb out of bed rather sluggishly, and reach for my phone so that I can get my morning update about just what is going on in the world of Rangers Football Club. Social networking sites, in particular Twitter, are tremendous vehicles for getting a steady stream of news and noteworthy announcements about the latest developments at Ibrox and, quite simply, I don’t know how I ever coped without them.

Many of you will share a similar routine. Or perhaps you will begin when you have some spare time in work which allows you to log on to your favourite fans’ forum and catch up with the gossip, rumours and debate surrounding our Club. The details aren’t important though. It is clear that we are passionate about Rangers and that is completely normal and understandable.

What is a bit less comprehensible however is the notion that every morning around the country, in true Only An Excuse fashion, certain fans are throwing off their duvets and bouncing out of bed in their green and grey hooped pyjamas before opening their internet browsers to their homepage: Rangers.co.uk. They then tweet and facebook and blog about a football club that is not their own and share with the world their unhealthy and worrying obsession with their city rivals.

There has always been a fixation on Rangers from fans of other clubs, even greater I would suggest than there is for Manchester United down in England. What both football clubs have in common of course is ingrained success, titles and trophies. That just might have just something to do with it.

Recently the obsession has reached new heights following the financial meltdown that occurred at Ibrox last season. Our demise seemed to bring out something rather unattractive and repulsive in their character. I’m sure the thought ‘well, more than normal’ will have already crossed the minds of a few readers. While Celtic fans and their Premier League minions have never wished us well - and believe me the feeling is mutual - there was now an unquenchable blood lust where no sanction or punishment, no matter how severe, was fitting. The knife had been planted into the back of ‘The Establishment Club’ and it simply couldn’t be twisted enough.

It was like a gladiatorial battle at a Roman Colloseum where the crowd were baying for blood and punishment. They wanted to see the great warrior suffering in pain and would vociferously call out ‘Iugulo’ before awaiting the decision of the senator or emperor.

Okay, I may be guilty of exaggerating for effect in the above metaphor, however the principle remains the same and I think nearly all Rangers fans can find some truth and likeness in the emotive imagery above. Sadly, our supposed ‘death’ does not seem to have satisfied the call for punishment.

Charles Green, now our Chief Executive, constructed a consortium of investors which would go on to purchase Rangers FC from the company which operated it, as well as the assets of course. Some will question the accuracy of that description and argue that the club and company are one and the same. The Court of Session however would seem to disagree.

Regardless of the facts we are still being told by some that our Club is dead and no longer in existence. This is more wishful thinking than anything else on the part of the individuals who peddle such lies but if that is what helps then sleep at night then far be it from me to deny them that joy. Deep down however they know the truth but like an addict battling his/her demons, denial remains the favoured state of mind.

Rangers fans have been galvanised and strengthened by recent events and have remained loyal to the Club they love, regardless of its new fourth-tier status. Ibrox Stadium even played host to a record crowd for a fourth-tier league match which was dubbed ‘Sold-Out Saturday’ by the increasingly popular Charles Green. Headlines have been made worldwide and, against Elgin City last weekend, we once again had the highest attendance in Scotland and second-highest in the United Kingdom. We certainly don’t do walking away.

It was perhaps unusual to many outsiders that the highest attendance at the weekend was not at Parkhead, the home of the SPL champions. One would be forgiven for assuming that the top team in the top-flight with nearly 10,000 more seats available would be able to attract the top crowd, but that accolade remained in SFL3 with Rangers. There must have been another sale on somewhere. Either that or they were all at home reading about us via the blog of their new hero – the man tarred with a sectarian brush - Phil Mac Giolla Bhain.

The Donegal-based ‘journalist’ has written something resembling a book detailing a ‘Downfall’ of sorts. Celtic fans in particular jumped on the bandwagon and hastily pre-ordered their copy, eagerly anticipating several joyful hours of flicking through its pages. I won’t go into too much detail as it has been covered at length elsewhere on CRO and other sites but, I should point out in case any readers were unaware, that the publication in question is entirely about (yup, you guessed it) Rangers!

I can’t begin to understand just what it must be like to wake up and have your first thoughts run to the events at another football club each morning. Certain opposition fans also devote their Twitter accounts almost entirely to discussing Rangers and harassing our fans about our club. It is an existence I would almost pity were it not so vile and hate-filled at times. While of course this is not true of all Celtic or other supporters, it certainly has become a defining trait recently and there is little sign of it diminishing.

In a rather peculiar way I suppose it is a compliment that our club and our supporters are just so important in the lives of other clubs’ fans. It is testament to our stature, our history and our continued success that there is such a focus on Rangers Football Club.

The ‘Old Firm’ rivalry, if I may reluctantly use such a term, has been characterised and shaped by the differences and divides between the two sets of supporters. There is however one huge similarity – we are both obsessed with Rangers.

They just can’t get enough.