03 September 2012

The Show that Never Ends

by Andy McKellar | CRO contributor | @AMCKEL |

It has been a most peculiar summer for most of Scottish football with all the uncertainty surrounding just where its most decorated club would find itself plying its trade. Unhelped by the procrastination from the football authorities and their complete negligence in handling the situation, it has however also been intriguing -- even baffling for some -- given the unexpected and unusual transfer activity.

Most clubs in the Scottish 'Premier' League have been shedding players from their wage bill and facing up to the harsh financial reality of life without Rangers. Even the SPL itself has been struggling with cash-flow problems and this has undoubtedly impacted its member clubs. Down in the so-called doldrums of our national game however there has been a surprising influx of fresh, exciting talent.

I was one of the many thousands of Bears who strongly voiced my desire for our Club to play in the Third Division this season although, I must confess, I certainly didn't envisage some of the top players from the SPL choosing to join us on our road to recovery. However that is just what we have witnessed, much to the aggravation of opposition supporters and the odd journo. Jealousy can indeed be a very cruel mistress.

Rangers had already acquired the services of Ian Black, Dean Shiels and Fran Sandaza, all of whom were top performers for their respective clubs last season. Shiels was even voted as one of four nominations for the SPL Player of the Year award following a sublime string of performances at Rugby Park. Few would argue that these players would walk into almost every top-flight team, and here they were signing on for duty in Division Three. Remarkable.

But salt was rubbed into the gaping wounds of the already hurting Premier League supporters when David Cooper Templeton, one of the hottest prospects in the league, decided to join Rangers Football Club for an undisclosed fee. Those of you who frequent any social networking sites or fans' forum will already be well aware of the anger and confusion expressed at the deal. Strangely enough I can't help but smile.

What does surprise me is that such displays of anguish and envy is not limited to the fans of other clubs. Many journalists have also been quick to question Templeton's ambition in joining a fourth-tier side and just how we can afford our new additions, seemingly ignoring that fact that it was Rangers he was signing for.

Of course as well as being able to better the wages he was likely to be on at Tynecastle, a factor which shouldn't be ignored, we can also offer the winger an opportunity to play in front of forty-five thousand fans every other week in the league. In addition there is a chance to win titles and trophies and to play a part in a unique section of our history, one which will be remembered for decades to come. I'm not convinced he could achieve anything of the sort had the decided to stay at Hearts.

What will also endear David to the Ibrox faithful, aside from his obvious football talents, is the fact that he decided to come here when he could have quite easily waited until his contract expired at Tynecastle next summer before being touted around every Championship side in England. At this time in our rebuilding process it is vital that we have players who actually want to be here. It's fair to say we've got that in Templeton.

Rangers also swooped for Hearts' fullback Ryan McGowan. Unfortunately he didn't share the same passion or desire as his former teammate to play at Ibrox. While he would have been a most welcome addition to our squad, I'm afraid we hold no ambition to sign players who would join reluctantly. He may never get another chance to play for Rangers and I suspect it may be something that he regrets later in his career.

On Saturday an ESPN commentator took the liberty of highlighting that there will be more people watching Rangers in the Scottish Third Division than there was watching the big-spending and hugely talented Champions of England at the Etihad Stadium. Quite astounding really. And we certainly lived up to every bit of the hype on Sunday afternoon during our 5-1 win over Elgin City, a packed Ibrox on display for all to see.

Much to my amusement, fans of certain clubs are now becoming increasingly touchy whenever such attendances are brought to their attention. Secretly they hoped, maybe even believed, that our fans would not turn out for our fourth-tier matches and that we would contradict Ally's claim that 'We don't do walking away'.

Oh how wrong they were. And they simply can't stand it.

But that's enough about them, because today is all about the Rangers. While I was slightly disappointed that we didn't strengthen our defence, particularly after Bocanegra departed for the remainder of this season, I am thoroughly delighted with the attacking options we now have at our disposal. Hopefully that should serve to provide a thoroughly entertaining displays over the course of this season and more to come.