31 July 2013

Follow We Will: The Fall and Rise of Rangers, a review

by Andy McKellar | Deputy Editor

Order at Amazon.co.uk
The Rangers story is a tale which captured the attention of the nation and far beyond as a proud institution was brought to its knees by the reckless financial mismanagement of its supposed custodians. Our plunge into administration prompted one of the most unimaginable and turbulent few months in the Club’s history which unfortunately evoked an ugly and bitter response from jealous rival supporters and so-called neutrals alike.

Hyperbole and exaggeration became common place and facts played second-fiddle to fiction when it suited the agenda of those reporting on our trials and tribulations. Credit was naively afforded to anonymous bloggers and Rangers-haters as the mainstream media played catch-up with the daily disasters that seemed to befall our club. Rangers were cheats, tax-dodgers and a blight that Scottish football would do well to rid itself of.

This is what we were told. This was the narrative that accompanied our struggles.

Journalists became worryingly familiar with using terms such as ‘cheating’ and ‘financial doping’ when commenting on Rangers’ fortunes and consequently a certain image and perception was created for those attempting to follow our situation. Such propaganda can of course be dismissed with fact-finding and some basic research however such reporting was never intended to convey the truth. Some may have discarded professionalism and ethics to simply make headlines while others undoubtedly had more sinister motives. Remember “sporting integrity” and the “No to NewCo” shenanigans that followed? That’s what can be achieved by an active and very noisy minority.

It is dangerous to sit back and allow the narrative to be almost completely dictated by people so consumed with hatred and bitterness that they would happily see their own club go out of business simply to ensure that we suffered the same fate. As John Gow acknowledges in his chapter: “If you let those who wish to do you harm define your image to wider society then it is little surprise that the picture painted is the worst it could be”.

That is why outlets such as The Copland Road Organization are so important. It allows Rangers fans like myself to express our points of view and to provide some balance and sanity to the peculiar world of Scottish football which appears to have lost its marbles. But thankfully there is now more than just blogs and articles.

The good fellows over at The Rangers Standard have been working hard behind the scenes, assisted by an impressive catalogue of contributors, and the fruits of their endeavours can now be found on bookshelves throughout the country as “Follow We Will: The Fall and Rise of Rangers” expertly provides individual accounts of recent goings on at our beloved club.

As stated above, it is dangerous and negligent to blindly allow others to tell our story without challenge or question. Walter Smith clearly agrees. In the foreword to the book he states “ […] this book attempts to bring balance and objectivity back into play. The major issues and controversies are covered within these pages by people who share a common agenda: They simply want to record what has happened in recent times in a clear and coherent fashion.” I’m certainly not going to argue with that.

Follow We Will reminds us of our implosion under Craig Whyte, the purchase and turnaround achieved by Charles Green, the role of the media in telling our tale, our battles with the football authorities, the immense loyalty of our supporters and much, much more. The book brings emotions flooding back when recounting the various incidents. Anger, frustration, pride, optimism. A journey through the chapters takes you back on the rollercoaster ride of our recent history but without the undesirable agenda-driven nonsense that we’ve read elsewhere, something which I’m sure we’re all glad to hear.

The writers and authors do not pretend to be anything other than what they are. They are not hiding behind deceitful claims of impartiality and neutrality, unlike some. This is our story, told by fellow supporters and, in truth, it is probably something which is quite overdue. The book is balanced and honest, a novel thing, especially when discussing the failings of one’s own football club.

I therefore doff my cap to all those involved with Follow We Will. I thoroughly enjoyed ploughing my way through the pages and reading the views and accounts of fellow fans on the issues which have defined the tale of Rangers Football Club in recent months and years.

Perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay those who worked so hard to provide us with the book is to say that I sincerely hope that there will be a follow-up in due course. The Rangers’ story will undoubtedly continue to unfold before our eyes as we rise through the divisions and attempt to regain our rightful place within Scottish football.

Maybe next time we’ll be reading about our 55th league championship and rejoicing in the successful accumulation of a number of years of hard work. But until then get yourself online or down to a bookstore and order/buy yourself a copy of Follow We Will. I assure you, you will not be disappointed.

You can order Follow We Will at Amazon.co.uk.