Whenever people ask me “When are Sevco going to die?” I tell them to be patient and enjoy the show. For those of us who lived through the 90’s these are truly the Glory Days. They are not only the best we’ve ever witnessed but they are better, by far, than anything we thought we’d ever see. We are the club Murray, at his pomp, thought he was building at Ibrox. Our quest to win another nine and go a step further was born in darkness.
My twin loves growing up were Labour and Celtic, and for a long time I felt as if I was cursed. I grew up seeing two things; Tories winning elections and Rangers winning leagues. I saw no end in sight to either of them for a long, long time.
In 1994, John Smith died and it was one of the saddest days I can ever remember experiencing. Tony Blair, who took over as Labour leader, was not to my taste, but I knew almost at once that he was a monster vote grabber and anything had to be better than perpetual Conservative Party rule. Whatever reservations there were about the glib Englishman, I swallowed them.
In the same year, something seismic happened at Celtic Park too; Fergus McCann swept to power and the old board was routed. I knew when I visited one of his open nights that this guy had a plan that could work, and would turn us into the club we’d always wanted to be. Time was against us stopping Rangers march to ten in a row, but for the first time in a long time it no longer seemed an impossibility. I had an inkling that we could pull it off.
When Harald’s shot hit the back of the net, like everyone else I knew that the wait was over. I knew we’d be champions. What none of us could have anticipated was that the next three years would tax us in a way that even Rangers march towards nine hadn’t. We lost Wim almost at once. We appointed Jo Venglos and although he was a damned fine man and a better manager than most people were aware Rangers were spending ludicrous sums.
And of course, we followed it up with the ridiculous appointments of Dalglish and Barnes, the dream team that reminds so many of us of Sevco’s crazy Gerrard experiment.
What we had no idea about, of course, was that the damage had already been done over there. Murray couldn’t get over the sight of Celtic players parading with a league trophy, or the flag having flown about Celtic Park. He ramped up the club’s spending, although they couldn’t afford that any more than King and his board can afford it today.
The ball was already well in motion before Martin O’Neill arrived at our club, and his success led Murray to go even further. The EBT cheating years were on, and that ultimately led to where we all found ourselves in 2012.
But that road began 20 years ago today, with our win over St Johnstone. Rangers had tied its whole identity up in trying to secure European glory; when they failed they decided to settle for domestic success and eclipsing our record. When that failed it became about humiliating us instead; Murray started talking about “for every fiver” and other such nonsense, and followed it up with crazy signings like paying £12 million for Tore Andre Flo.
Rangers started the low slow descent to the grave that day. If you trace back through the years since you can clearly see the path beginning to form. Everything that later came to pass can be tracked back to it, to the events of 9 May 1998.
We killed them. It just took them 14 years to die. Sevco itself is dying as we watch. It won’t take 14 years, but the death of a thousand cuts is well underway.