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Rangers: 'Is There For Honest Poverty'


In a time where the Scottish Independence debate is becoming ever more prevalent, it may be somewhat of a surprise to see a Rangers minded writer refer to an alleged nationalist icon like Robert Burns when discussing their club. Even if Burns was a keen member of the Masonic craft and supposedly also a self-confessed Unionist, I’m sure many bears may not be as eager as me to refer to his work.

Not that I’m into poetry you’ll understand – Norman MacCaig at school was as far as I ever got into that genre - but it was after Sunday’s match with Brechin that I suddenly struck a chord with Scotland’s national bard. OK, despite the poverty of passing on show, and even after our well-documented financial problems, it may be somewhat disingenuous to describe our club as a poor one. But other aspects of the poem are worth exploring.

As touched on earlier, I wouldn’t describe myself particularly erudite when it comes to interpreting poetry. However, like many of the arts, I guess our reading of such work is entirely subjective so perhaps this tangent is worth following. Clearly some of the themes in the poem we can take for granted today. Democracy and freedom weren’t always virtues we had available to us so it is vital we use them effectively now.

Indeed, in a football context one does wonder what Burns would have thought of ‘Offensive Behaviour’ Acts, squabbling authorities and corporate sponsorship. He may well have been keen on sporting integrity but I doubt Burns would have be overly persuaded with regard to its application of late. After all, it appears that at first glance integrity was never the real issue given opportunism and bullying isn’t usually associated with morals.

On the other hand, I doubt Burns would have much sympathy for Rangers and why would he have? Burns’ farming father may not have been a fan of taxes either but avoiding them is a risky business – be it by a small landowner or a multi-national steel conglomerate. Add in the petty jealousies and bitterness in our wee country then our club was never going to be let off lightly with our crimes. Charles Green may have been over-dramatic with his ‘bigotry’ claims but there’s no doubt balance has been outdone by bloody-mindedness in recent months.

Administration, followed by fines (monetary and sporting), followed by liquidation, followed by a three league demotion, followed by a three year European suspension, followed by a twelve month registration embargo, followed by reservation of further punishment – getting off lightly certainly isn’t applicable here. And still more is yet demanded. Punishment or consequence is debated by the pedants and despite just finishing our first match under our new company (though the club retains its history via the continuation of the SFA share) the future remains unclear with respect to where we’ll be playing in the next few years (and under what sanctions).

In Burns’ efforts to outline his idealistic version of civilised society it seems obvious that virtues such as honesty, dignity and, yes, even integrity are the minimum required for any community to function effectively. To that end it could be argued that Rangers via their efforts to avoid tax or circumvent contracts did lack a sporting (and social) respect to their peers. Because of that I’m glad key figures as Dave King and Malcolm Murray have attempted to show remorse for the actions of those who should have known better. Those guilty of the corporate vandalism forced upon our club have a lot to answer for.

As a result of such people (criminals?) our club, its staff and our fans have all had to take our medicine and it’s somewhat of a relief that were are starting to move forward again. Starting at the bottom may be hard to accept but if we’re to be part of the order Burns describes, then I’m comfortable we’re capable of learning from our sins and starting afresh with renewed pride in our heritage while also safe-guarding our future.

The problem we have though is will we be permitted to do so? Already we have mischief-makers refusing to acknowledge the club by its 140 year old name amid childish attempts to muddy the waters between company names (oft changed in the world of sport) and that of the club per se. I’m sure the bard (who himself changed his name from Burnes) would sympathise with our position there. Add in the SPL who appear desperate to apply further sanction for alleged contract misdemeanours (whilst apparently ignoring other club’s examples) then our challenges are far from over.

Considering the above, one does wonder if a Man really is a Man for a’ that? Honesty and dignity are indeed virtues but can those who wish to continue the attack on Rangers Football Club (see it’s not difficult) genuinely say they can cast the first stone?

In actual fact instead of Scottish football (and associated industries) using the Rangers shambles to construct a better democracy throughout the game offering a real sense of fairness, equality and leadership, we have the opposite. We have deceit, we have exploitation and we have greed. Even worse, we have people willing to tolerate this.

Ergo, when the initial romance does wear off for us Rangers fans in the aridity of the lower divisions, just remember that in such (relative) poverty there lies honesty and perhaps some redemption. Unfortunately for others ‘It’s comin' yet for a' that’ is still a distance away for those who wish to preach about us whilst ignoring their own faults.