Thursday 14 September 2023

Why I’ve chosen to support Rangers

I didn’t grow up supporting any football team. I would watch the occasional match on TV, but that was all. That’s how it is now too. I’m the sort of person that might watch a big international game in the World Cup, but I’ve only ever been to a few live games. I have only a limited knowledge of football. But gradually and over a number of years it has become clear to me that I follow Rangers. Not as closely as most Rangers fans, but still I found that I cared quite deeply about the club, not least because I cared about its supporters.

When I started to write about Scottish politics, I found that the people who were most likely to follow me were Rangers supporters. Of course, supporters of other clubs and none followed me also. That’s great. I’m not against any football team whether it’s an international side or a club side. But I began to gain a special affection for the Rangers fans who followed me.

Over the years I have had huge numbers of interactions with followers. The Rangers people I came across were universally good people. I have some followers who are Celtic fans too. These are usually good people too. Football doesn’t determine character.

But the number of interactions I have had with people who are Celtic fans who are unpleasant is off the scale. Most times I see bhoy in a Twitter name I find that it is accompanied with some sort of abuse against me personally.

Politics and football don’t always go together. There are Rangers fans who support the SNP and there are Celtic fans who are Pro UK. But my impression is that a lot of Celtic fans hate the UK and would delight in seeing it broken up, especially if that led to a united Ireland. I don’t want to generalise too much, but that is my impression.

On the other hand, Rangers fans generally disprove the SNP argument that being British and Scottish are incompatible. They are as Scottish as anyone could be, but they are happy to be British too. This is how I have always felt as well. No wonder I am drawn to them.

I don’t think that there is any place for sectarianism in Scotland. I am a Christian, but I respect all versions of Christianity. I was brought up as Protestant, but I don’t dislike Catholicism. It’s a bit different, but not that different. People should be able to support whichever team they like irrespective of religious belief.

What comes back to me most when I think of Rangers now is the great teams of the 1970s and 1980s when I watched more football as a child than I do now. I remember the Rangers players. Davie Cooper. Tom Forsyth. Ian Durant. Sandy Jardine. Somehow the players from other clubs fade from my memory. I discover with a little surprise that I was a Rangers fan all along without even realising it.

A few years ago, I had a problem with my web site that meant that I couldn’t share my articles on Twitter. A Rangers fan offered the use of a Rangers fan site to help me out. I never forgot it. Eventually I sorted the problem, but I always remembered the kindness.

When Rangers had financial difficulties a few years ago and were relegated to the bottom division, it would have finished most clubs. But Rangers fans travelled to Elgin or Peterhead or Dingwall just the same as they had when Rangers was in the top division. Every week Ibrox was full. Some people mocked Rangers for being sent down to the bottom. But it struck me as heroic to fight back win promotion and eventually win the Premier league. The measure of character is how you deal with adversity.

It was Ally McCoist that made me realise that I was a Rangers fan and that I had always been a Rangers fan. During his career I admired him as a player, but more than that I admired him as a man. McCoist has developed a new career commenting on sport. He is universally admired. He is as Scottish as anyone you could ever meet, but he is happy to say that he sings God Save the King. He personally disproves the SNP lie that only independence supporters believe in Scotland or indeed are fully Scottish. McCoist is fully Scottish and fully British too. He epitomises Rangers.  He is the best that Scotland has to offer.

None of us should hate other people because they are English, or Muslim, Catholic or indeed Celtic fans. Football is entertainment. Let’s enjoy it without hating anyone. I disagree with the SNP, but I don’t hate Scottish nationalists. They are my colleagues and my neighbours. Let’s discuss the issues with them agree and disagree in a friendly manner. It would help both sides to do this. It would make Scotland more pleasant for all of us.

But I have found my family with Rangers. You followed me and eventually I realised that my allegiance was your allegiance. If you follow me, then I will follow you. I may not know as much about football as the average Ranger fan but

Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.

Follow Follow.

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