Rangers: An Obituary

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Rangers Football Club was founded in the year 1872, by four men.

One of them later went insane because of financial problems, and died in an asylum.

He was entered into the Rangers Hall of Fame in 2010, the year the world learned about EBT’s.

Another of the founders, inducted into that hallowed place the same year, was a bigamist, died in a poor house, was described as an “imbecile” and was once indicted for fraud, although he was cleared.

Rangers won their first league title in 1890, and in common with some of their recent “successes” it carries a slight taint; they did not win it outright but “shared” it with Dumbarton.

In 1919, Bill Struth became assistant manager.

He moved to the top spot shortly thereafter with the death of then manager William Wilton.

He quickly gave the club its modern foundation, by introducing a sectarian policy of not signing Catholic players which was in place for nearly 70 years, and made the club a pariah in the eyes of all neutrals.

One of the most successful spells in Rangers’ history came during the Second World War, when this quintessentially British club, which later became famous for supporting the troops, retained nearly all of its playing staff, even as other sides sent their players off to the fighting.

Ironically, Rangers’ abilities in unarmed combat were so notorious that Hitler himself was said to be visibly relieved when he was told that most of them would be staying at home.

Experts we spoke to have stated their view that Berlin could have been reached by July 1944 had Dawson, Gray, Simon and Young been in the vanguard of Operation Overlord on D-Day.

After the war, Struth constructed what became known as the “Iron Curtain” defence, known by its more common name “anti-football”. This sustained their “success” for the next seven years. When the Curtain came down, Struth was succeeded by Scott Symon, who presided over the worst cup final defeat in the history of British football when, in 1957, they were beaten 7-1 by Celtic in the League Cup, at Hampden.

In 1960, he was there for a 12 – 4 aggregate defeat at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt – a Scottish European record to this day, despite the best efforts of Walter and Coisty to match it. They did reach a couple of third tier continental cup finals in this era, but lost them, whilst Celtic went on to triumph in the main event in Lisbon, in 1967 … which sowed the seeds of the destruction to come.

In the 1970’s, Rangers did finally win Europe’s third tier competition, but typically their achievement was mired in shame. Their pariah status was confirmed when they became the first club to win a European trophy and be presented it in a dressing room, when their fans rioted in Barcelona during the Cup Winners Cup win in 1972.

The manager, Willie Waddell, also thrilled the fans with a League Cup during his reign, but was a dismal failure in the league, as a rampant Celtic, frequent contenders in the latter stages of Europe’s top competition, skelped them with hilarious regularity.

In 11 games against Celtic, he managed a solitary win, and was given his jotters after a devastating campaign when, in the days of two points for a win, Celtic won the title by a storming 16 points.

His position was taken over by Jock Wallace, who achieved some success before giving way to John Greig, who was to play an historic role in Rangers future.

Greig’s time as manager was to mirror his later performance as a director, which is to say it was a disaster. The club failed to win a league title, attendances plummeted and in one unforgettable season they failed even to qualify for Europe, slumping to fifth.

The following year, perhaps in an echo of days to come, they entered the Anglo-Scottish Cup in a money making exercise which ended in farce as Third Division Chesterfield snatched a draw at Ibrox and then turned them over 3-0 at home, sending them out before most of the English constabularies had even been put on alert.

Greig’s cards were marked, and the only miracle was he lasted five years.

Jock Wallace’s return to the club saw them continue on the path Greig had charted, that of mid-table ignominy and low attendances. Wallace’s second spell at the club saw the first evidence of Rangers determination to buy success; unfortunately, much of the money they spent was on dreck like Ted McMinn and Cammy Fraser.

With Wallace’s resignation, followed by the club’s takeover by David Holmes, Graeme Souness was appointed manager.

The era of The Beast, and of Financial Doping, had begun.

His era at Rangers began with a red card in his first game as player manager, in a malefic glimpse of the thuggery which was to come. His assault on George McCluskey, of Hibs, has lived long in the memory of all who saw it.

That tackle, and others like it, along with images of Davie Dodds throughout the production, resulted in the rare “Simply the Best of Souness” DVD being the one and only Scottish football commercial publication to receive an 18 certificate.

Souness’ legendary thuggery can best be expressed by a simple philosophy; “If it moves, kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it until it does.” Many in Scottish football were to bear witness to its effectiveness, and over time he brought in others, like Terry Hurlock, who were of similar, rabies infected mind.

Two years into the Era of the Beast, David Murray took over the club, and the financial doping was escalated to a whole new level, as the new leader at Ibrox, consumed with jealousy at the shimmering sight of the European Cup at Celtic Park, embarked on a period of spending which was not to be equalled until Victoria Beckham first got her hands on a Gold Amex Card.

Yet David Murray’s Rangers, like her early wardrobe, was built on Someone Else’s Money. Living off your spouse is one thing. Rangers’ living high on the hog was subsidised first by the customers of the Bank that Couldn’t Say No, HBOS, and then by the tax payer.

Something else aided Murray during those first halcyon days in charge; the abject poverty of Celtic, and a board of directors that didn’t know a CVA from a JCB, an education Rangers fans may shortly have to face again, as the latest crisis at the Newco brings the roaring engines of the latter ever closer to the Ibrox gates.

Celtic, however, were about to be transformed, and it would present major problems for David Murray and his giant ego. The catalyst for this change was Fergus McCann.

McCann’s transformation of Celtic, including the rebuilding of Celtic Park, turning it into a genuine European footballing arena, and seating 10,000 more than Ibrox, as well as his presiding over the return of the league to Parkhead in the Year We Stopped the Ten, pushed Murray to the greatest excesses of his time at the helm at Ibrox.

His borrowing reached fever pitch. His spending began to match that of the Soviet Navy and for the first time HBOS fund managers voiced their concerns. One panic stricken director, when faced with the size of the Rangers/Murray debts, was openly heard to state “If they go, we go”, as red ink began to drip onto the boardroom floor.

In 1998, Dick Advocaat was appointed manager, as Murray’s eye became more and more fixed on Celtic Park, and his frustration climbed to levels only equalled by Anna Nicole Smith on the night of her wedding to J Howard Marshall.

It was during the Advocaat era that the seeds of Rangers demise were sown, when Murray’s hubris caused him to embark on the suicidal “for every fiver” policy, of matching Celtic’s spending by two to one.

The most potent symbol of this was the £12 million purchase of Tore Andre Flo from Chelsea, to one up the signing of Chris Sutton. In fact, the transfer fee for Flo would not only have bought Sutton, but there would have been enough in the kitty to do a proper medical for John Hartson, and they could have had him as well.

It was during this period that Rangers began to implement its EBT scheme, after getting its advice from a struck off accountant and producer/star/director of porn named Paul Baxendale Walker.

The intention was to stiff HMRC, using the Viagra of a tax avoidance scheme, to get Rangers performances up on the park. The results were meant to be them pumping all opposition in Scotland, albeit with their standard premature ejaculation in Europe. As it turned out, not only was the scheme badly run, but there were X-Rated scenes on the pitch too, as first Martin O’Neill and then Gordon Strachan, routinely humped them and made a mockery of Murray’s spendthrift ways, by winning leagues and cups with a regularity which rendered Rangers’ spending impotent.

Murray stood down once, as Rangers financial spread sheets began to resemble a George W Bush popularity graph, and then had to step back in with a plan to stem the leak by tapping the Global Rangers Family well. Sadly, for him, he didn’t strike oil as much as he hit a sewer pipe and instead of money pouring in from all across the globe, Murray found himself covered in shit.

The myth of billionaires with King Billy tattoos on their arse was shown up as the joke we all knew it was, and once again Murray put it all on his flexible friend … but this time, for the last time.

In 2008, the global banking crisis hit, HBOS was taken over by Lloyds, and the party was over. The accountants who looked over the toxic balance sheet of what had been Scotland’s largest banking institution found out they had not bought an organisation run by a George Soros like genius, but one more akin to Barings as run by Nick Leeson.

The hole in the balance sheet, due in no small part to an £800 million debt owed by Murray International Holdings, sparked a hitting of the breaks and a reigning in of the lunatics who had taken over the asylum.

Oddly enough, it was at around the time when Rangers crisis first became publicly known that they had their best season in years, when they reached the UEFA Cup Final in Manchester, on the back of some of the most atrocious football seen since the “Iron Curtain” of Bill Struth fame.

In yet another echo of Rangers’ bygone days of yore, the supporters, already mired in the scandal of being found guilty of sectarian singing and giving the Nazi salute in Israel, turned Manchester into a battlefield as rioting broke out all across the city. For all that Chelsea fans were later blamed, the truth was much simpler, and known to all but the most closed-minded; Rangers supporters, many thousands of them, had reverted to type, and caused widespread destruction.

Rangers’ thus became the first team whose fans caused riots at two European Finals, entitling them to the optional two Buckfast bottles on the jersey, an honour they turned down in favour of five stars, one of which ought to be pumped full of steroids, as it will forever carry the taint of EBT use.

On May 6 2011, a man named Craig Whyte, who the Scottish press had blindly referred to as a “Motherwell born billionaire”, took over the self-styled “biggest club in Scotland” for a pound. The euphoria of the Scottish press was almost unanimous, although on Celtic websites, who had started investigating Whyte the moment he emerged as a frontrunner in the takeover saga, the mirror image view was already hardening; Rangers, part founded by a financially irresponsible lunatic, were placing their survival in the hands of another.

Between the media’s lack of scrutiny, Whyte’s lack of scruples and Gordon Smith’s lack of any skills whatsoever, the club which Murray had once called “Scotland’s Second Biggest Institution After the Church” was heading towards a disaster. Whyte began with-holding monies from HMRC and before long the club was in the throes of crisis.

On 14 February 2012, Rangers announced that they would be entering administration. A period of hilarity unrivalled in the history of the Scottish game followed.

First, Rangers fans tried to set up a website to raise funds. Within hours, thousands, like Therea Houseineworleans, Bill D. Gallows, Hector Tacksman and Jude Illigence, had raised hundreds of thousands.

Within a day, with kind hearts such as Owen Cash, Ishmael T Glove and Henrik Larceny making pledges, the numbers were in the millions.

Rangers administrators, Duff & Phelps, were momentarily delighted, then shocked, as they realised these were fake names from mocking Celtic fans.

When Rangers officials set up a fund their ad campaigns contained some noticeable spelling mistakes, and an error with the email address diverted those making pledges to a company which hired out clowns.

On the pitch, the final season in their history was winding down to a close, with a 15 point league lead having been surrendered, along with two early exits from Europe and similar ignominy in the domestic cup competitions. Far from making it four league titles in a row, the final season in their history ended in total collapse.

Manager Ally McCoist, more and more coming to resemble a man for whom Greggs was becoming a habit too many, with hair receding faster than Whyte’s hopes of attending an end of season dinner dance in Linfield and eyes which looked as if Jack Daniels and Ron Bacardi had become his best mates, would have been sacked by any other club.

He kept his job, and vast salary, by virtue of an appeal to the intellectuals amongst the Rangers support, who adopted his “we don’t do walking away” comments as a slogan of defiance, even as all around them their club continued to rot and their players were getting out as fast as their sports cars could leave Murray Park.

In France, Paul LeGuen was heard to have ruefully said “if only I had known rolling up my trouser leg and pretending to play the flute would have kept me in a job. I could have gotten a bigger EBT ….”

Numerous attempts to save the club had floundered, and failed, leaving a hitherto unknown in the driving seat. Charles Green, a disastrous former chief executive at Sheffield United, with a string of failed businesses behind him, emerged as head of a consortium of unknowns aiming to buy the club and save it from the inevitable liquidation.

He failed to do so, and the club which was formed in 1872 has now been pronounced dead following HMRC’s rejection of a pennies in the pound CVA.

A new version of the club has emerged, weakened but not shamed by the actions which secured them a place in Scottish Football history which they never saw coming and never wanted, that of the first senior club to be killed by arrogance, ego and malpractice.

They continue to spiral through crisis and scandal.

They are run by a convicted tax crook – Dave King – and sacked their manager last week in a bizarre series of events where they claimed it was a resignation.

The matter is headed for the courts, where King has a season ticket and a numbered seat.

You could make a list of those who are responsible for the long slow death of Rangers, but the truth is that an end like this was in the DNA of the club itself, at least since the Struth era, when they embraced the latent sectarianism boiling in sections of the poor white trash of the Scottish Protestant working class.

The arrogance, hubris and notions of Empire, which were allowed to flourish and grow, transforming Rangers from a mere football club into a pillar of the Scottish establishment, have led to their demise, aided and abetted by a subservient media whose dependence was engineered like Pavlov’s slabbering dogs.

Whatever comes next, however, the club we knew is no more. It has died.

Amongst the mourners are the old guard of the Scottish press, the SFA, Neil Doncaster and everyone who ever attended an Orange Walk. For the rest of us is only the joy of seeing something fundamentally corrupt gone from this Earth.

Floral arrangements should be laid outside the ground. Hearses will drive past and honk their horns. Flags at the Louden are already flying at half mast, and Greggs are putting their staff on notice in case Ally goes, and the Christmas Staff Night Out has to cancel the free bar. The clubs of the SPL are continuing to cop the flak for not embracing Frankenstein’s FC when it reared its head in the aftermath of Rangers passing.

Meanwhile, across Scotland and the world, the stocks of Ben & Jerry’s are once again running low, as crisis builds on crisis at the Newco, and people start waking up to the fact we might, once again, be on the verge of the Mother of all Wakes.

That comes later.

Rangers Football Club went into administration five years ago today.

Rest in peace and rot in Hell.

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  • Ricky says:

    Rangers 1872/2012 cheated themselves to death

  • Rex Siteez says:

    As a resident of the fair city of Manchester, I was thrilled to hear that the local council will be putting forward a claim to cover the costs of the clean up of the city, the trauma counseling for residents and the anti rabbi’s shots administered to six police dogs that were on heroic duty that dark day.

  • tamtim says:

    I can feel the relish you had writing this James and would like too applaud you on it,as i said on another site you are a genius sir!but just a wee thing is bugging me…….did the now defunct/deed rangers no get battered 6-0& 6-1 by real madrid round about the sixties/early seventies?mre power to your pen.hail hail and a grand day for the Timaloys!!

  • Garry says:

    Great piece.
    True & factual & a great read to boot.
    I can’t get the smile off my face.????????

  • mccarry85 says:

    You know I have the greatest respect for you, James, but surely the cup winners cup is a second and not a third tier competition?

  • Ian Baillie says:

    Sorry, they lost 1-0 at castle greyskull but got horsed 6-0 away 1963-64 EC.???? 1995-96 against Juventus they lost 4-1 away, then 4-0 at home???? makes you glad to be a tim.

  • Ails says:

    Fabulous James. Just fabulous. I would use some of your articles in my English class to illustrate extended metaphors, similes and irony – but I might get fired! Keep up the good work. ????????

  • tommy mc l says:

    What a story .Absolutley brilliant

  • hoops says:

    Thanks James. I loved this obituary. I had a headache before I read this. It worked better than any pills ever did. It’s great to be a Tim.

  • paulobhoy says:

    Another thing …
    When they won the Diddy and now defunct European cup ‘*winners’ cup
    Were they actually the cup winners ?
    Or were they the European cup winners but actually cup runners up cup winners ?
    Just asking

  • francismcintyre says:

    where is big gob john brown now shitebag

  • Mr Ploppy says:

    If I may quote Edmond Blackadder…..”Thank god I wore my corset today……for I fear my sides have split”.

    Brilliant article James.

  • TheCelticWay says:

    without doubt the best summation ever!!!
    well Done

  • Jimbo6770 says:

    Let me sing a funny song with crazy words that roll along,
    The Gets went bust and they stole their gongs,I’m so happy!
    With thanks to AJ.

  • gange61 says:

    We all remember the hearse that was parked in Kerrydale St by the “Scottish Press” and not one word of “We can’t let this club die” when the Bhoys were facing closure. What goes round usually comes round.

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