Dundee United are out of control
- 20 March 2014
The summer of 2012 is burned into the memory of every Rangers fan, but not always for the reasons many non-Rangers supporters suspect. It will forever be remembered as a summer of hate when Scottish football saw their opportunity to rip apart a club they despise. Everyone knew the Gers were guilty – of what it didn't matter – but the club and fans had to suffer. Otherwise normal supporters suddenly became bug-eyed monomaniacs and even journalists like Hugh Keevins, who likes to berate 'fundamentalists', were writing articles about how many titles will be taken off the club. Like a Franz Kafka novel, the club was condemned and sentenced before a trial took place.
As we live in the network age, social media and message-boards became a perfect barometer of the Scottish football psyche. Looking at twitter timelines of non-Rangers fans was frightening. It's no exaggeration to say most fans had 80% of their tweets about the Light Blues, and to some extent this continues today. Currently the biggest thread on the Hearts forum, Jambos Kickback, has at the time of writing, 56,998 replies and 3,880,110 views on a thread solely about Rangers. With Hearts' financial difficulties it might be assumed they would be discussing their own club, but that is still secondary in their thoughts.
Although many are still obsessing, the ferocity of 2012 had mostly died down over the last year with Rangers in the lowest division and not having a team good enough to win a major cup. But now, as the Scottish Cup semi-final is upon us and the Gers have a chance again, some have continued where they left off. Even though the Rangers have zero influence at the SFA, the semi-final at Ibrox is implied to be part of a conspiracy. Apparently, when Peter Lawwell boasted the Scottish Cup final was to be played at Celtic Park and if Celtic got there it would be like a 'home stadium', it was all for the benefit of Rangers. In the past week even the Beeb online has come out with crackers such as 'it was a strange decision to choose Ibrox in the first place no matter who reached the semi-final.' If some at the BBC are on the verge of announcing the SFA are part of the illuminati conspiracy, then what do you think the more unbalanced are saying in the pubs and internet?
Of-course the venue is not perfect. The SFA should never have decided in October 2013 that Ibrox would get the semi-finals and Celtic Park the final. Both stadiums should have been ready to swap, and if by chance Rangers and Celtic met in one of those matches it should have been decided by the toss of a coin. These are all logical choices, but the SFA refused to take them. Yet whatever their reasoning, it should be obvious to all rational people that Rangers had nothing to do with the decision.
It is for this reason Stephen Thompson, Dundee United and the ArabTRUST should be ashamed of themselves for stoking tensions towards Rangers and the fans when it has nothing to do with the club or supporters. They decided to start with complaints about the venue, and although got some traction in the media decided it was not enough. They then – because they are playing the big bad Rangers – thought it would be a great idea to complain about 'sporting integrity' (yes, they actually used those words) and 'fairness' to getting a fifty-fifty split. That they have admitted they can't sell fifty percent of the tickets seems to have no bearing on their rage.
As they were caught out in their self-created melodrama, the only way to deflect from their embarrassment was to predictably denigrate Rangers fans. Stephen Thompson, although perfectly safe in the directors box, now believes it is unsafe and will sit in with his own fans. Remember, at this moment, he and his supporters have had no known issues.
Yet worse is to come from the ArabTRUST in a mind-boggling article written by John Greechan of the Daily Mail. With no evidence or counter-statements, the ArabTRUST (who on social media refer to Rangers FC as 'the h*ns') start making excuses that 'security concerns' is the reason there will not be a bigger United attendance. Apparently Rangers fans hate Celtic and Aberdeen fans, and now see Dundee United in the same terms. After presumably taking a case of the vapors and fainting at the thought of opposition fans cheering their team, we find out this leads to a 'hostile' atmosphere and Ibrox is 'never the most pleasant' of places.
After all the nonsense spoken, the only security concerns the Dundee United fans face (who by implication hate no-one and are only there for the banter) is loud noise. No evidence of assaults or violence to the fans is given because there is none, and you would be guaranteed to hear it if there was. Graham Wallace has not offered Stephen Thompson a 'square-go' in the directors box. Their sole concern is that it is not pleasant. Guys, it's not supposed to be. It's supposed to be noisy and passionate.
But then, I suspect Dundee United and the ArabTRUST do not believe they need to worry about security any more than they would at any big game. They are playing the well-worn victim card. If you can't get what you want against Rangers, demonise the fans and stereotype them. The ArabTRUST 'family bus' which will be taking children to the match proves they don't believe what they say. Even Stephen Thompson fails to see the contradiction by saying his family will be safer in the stadium than in the directors box. It's contradictory and silly, but any angle to make Rangers look bad is fair game. And there will always be the likes of John Greechan happy to use it without evidence or attempt at a fair rebuttal.
The truth is, although Dundee United are strong favourites to win the match, they are terrified of the team they mocked is on its way back and might just beat them. The fans they project all their bad feelings onto, still turn up in the same way they have always done and they can't stand it. When Rangers fans have been assaulted at Tannadice (one was even caught being pushed down the stairs on TV after Pedro Mendes' goal a few year back) or brawling in the Tannadice stands against visiting European supporters, it doesn't mean all Dundee United fans should be demonised. Nor would it be worthy of a Rangers Chairman, or supporters group, to pretend they are worried about their safety to score childish points.
It's bad enough Dundee United and the ArabTRUST seem to have lit the fire, it's even worse they continued to pour fuel on it just as it was dying out. They are out of control and need to calm down. Someone should tell them to take a deep breath and remember it is only a football match. Rangers fans are only out to support their team just like Dundee United supporters. Maybe those associated with the Tannadice club don't agree, but that that is their own prejudice, not ours. Whatever they privately believe, there is still no excuse for the inflammatory language and it needs to stop.