Read any Ibrox fan forum at the moment and what comes across over and over again is the mixture of frustration and anger over there.
The frustration is obvious. They can’t believe that they’ve watched their side give up a possible lead, which has become, at a minimum, a four-point gap in our favour.
The anger is levelled everywhere; their own club, the SFA, Celtic, referees … wherever they can point their fingers. Everywhere except at themselves.
This current Celtic side is the most successful team in the history of the domestic game.
Three trebles in a row. Ten domestic trophies in only four years, and the possibility – hardening to the near certainty – of a ninth successive title.
They believed that they could overhaul this side of ours simply by spending money, and with a famous name at the helm.
What’s worse is they believe they are entitled to.
That sense of entitlement helped destroy the club they once watched.
Any club in their position would have been humble in its dealings with the tax authorities, the administrators, the debtors … instead they clung to the fiction that their club is more than just a West of Scotland football team. They were, in their own minds, “a global institution.” The SFA agreed. Ranger was “too big to fail.”
What nonsense they believed in.
What nonsense they still believe.
Shorn of their fantasy that the world needed them and that someone would bail them out, they hitched their star to the NewCo dream of Charles Green.
They could have accepted that it was a fresh start, on a new page, but the old arrogance triumphed there too. They were “still Rangers” and that meant living as Rangers had lived … even if that’s what killed Rangers in the first place.
They really do believe this stuff about it being “their time”, about a divine right to win things. It’s been nine years since the club was founded and it has yet to win a major honour. How long until it does so? That’s not a question anyone can answer.
It has been more than 30 years since Aberdeen won a league title. More alarming, if you are a Sevco fan, it’s been 30 years since the name Aberdeen was carved on the Scottish Cup. For a good portion of that time they have been either second or third in the league. They won a League Cup in 2013-14; before that you had to go back to 1996.
Hibs famously won the Scottish Cup back in 2015-16 … it was their first in 100 years. Their last League Cup was in 2006-07. Hearts record is no better; they haven’t won the League Cup since 1962-63. They secured two Scottish Cups “recently” if you can call it that … one in 2005-06 and the other in 2011-12. The won it in 1997-98 … so that’s what? Three times in as many decades? You have to go back to the fifties for the one before them.
Spending money doesn’t guarantee trophies, or even places in finals. Since Sevco’s inception, they have had the second biggest wage bill in the country. The League Cup Final of November was their first one. They’ve been in one Scottish Cup Final over the same timeframe; that’s about average for most clubs. Even worse for their fans, that final was the first time a club from Ibrox had reached that stage in the tournament since 2008-09.
Rangers won the Scottish Cup that year. They also won it the year before. Prior to that they hadn’t even made a final in five years. Cup success at Ibrox wasn’t a lock even when Rangers was playing there. In some ways, the NewCo has beaten the odds already.
None of this has sunk in yet. None of it has dawned on them.
They get excited at the thought of silverware; common sense tells us that the team with the second biggest wage bill in the country will win something eventually. But that does not necessarily mean a turning of the tide either. None of the clubs, out-with Celtic, who have won a major honour in the last ten years has gone on to accomplish anything special. Bear in mind, that outside of Glasgow no side has had a “winning spell” at the top of the game since Aberdeen and Dundee Utd. You’re talking about the 80’s here. Neither “dynasty” lasted.
Sevco fans have taken to invoking ten in a row on their own, as if there’s hope in the idea that we’ll get to ten and just stop.
People have asked me, “say we win the ten, what’s next? What’s left to do?”
The answer is simple. Eleven. Twelve. And on and on.
In the next decade we’ll almost certainly overtake the “achievements” of Rangers before that club went bust.
This hasn’t even entered the worst nightmares of their supporters yet.
They believe that success is just around the corner, that they’ll be “back” as the biggest club in the land … that is gone and it is never, ever, ever coming back.
The wait goes on. Most of them have written off the possibility of winning the title this season, leaving the Scottish Cup as their last hope. They are beside themselves with the idea that it will be another year with nothing to show for it.
Deep down, I think many of them are starting to realise the bare truth of it; their wait could go on and on, with no guarantee that even when it ends that there will be any fundamental shift in the balance of power.
It’s like the celebrations that followed their first win over us … that was meant to change everything and actually it didn’t. The win at Celtic Park was supposed to be the moment the scales tipped. They now know what should have been obvious; it was three points like any other, and has not altered the landscape in any meaningful way.
That’s where the fear comes from, the fear that Celtic’s dominance is now a hard fact, immutable, and that the end might not even nearly be in sight. The question about what that means for their club is one they dare not even ask themselves yet.
What sustained them in the first half of this run was a raging sense of grievance. That has been maintained, but in some ways it has ceased to be directed at the rest of the game and has begun to turn inward. They have been sustained for the last four years by the ludicrous belief that being in the SPL was the cure for all their ills, and that they’d soon dominate it. Since they got the our league, this rampant Celtic team has won every single trophy. Every one.
What happens when even their penchant for denying reality can no longer keep the truth from sinking in? If we win the Scottish Cup as well as the league, securing a fourth treble, cementing our total dominance, what will their club do to avert the dreaded ten, and another clean sweep to go with it? Everything they can? More than they should?
And if it fails, what then? When they’ve risked everything, and lost?
Will there even be enough left of Sevco to mount even a token challenge?
And what then?
How many season tickets will they be able to sell if that comes to pass?
They are scared, and they are right to be.
Their arrogance might be built on a base of sand, but their fear is not.
It’s real and the foundations are solid.