Celtic, Sevco And The Emperor Of Ice Cream.

Image for Celtic, Sevco And The Emperor Of Ice Cream.

For a brief period of time in 2012, my social media anchor was The Emperor of Ice Cream. It’s a nod to the events of that year and to Wallace Stevens’ magnificent poem of that same name about a wake. It seemed, then and now, to be oddly appropriate.

Covering the events of that year as they unfolded was, and remains, one of the best things I’ve ever been involved with. I was part of a troika with Paul Brennan of CQN and Dave Faulds, now of The Celtic Star, who set up CQN’s digital magazine, and we were all over the story of the administration, and eventually the death, of the Ibrox club.

We covered it in often hilarious detail over on the CQN site and in our publication. I wrote the Rangers obituary, which I reposted yesterday, and published it myself. Every development, many of them absolutely mind-bendingly hilarious, was immediately shared on every social media platform at our disposal and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much.

Who remembers the fund-raiser hijacked by our fans using fake names such as Hugh Jarce? Hector Taxman? Henrik Larceny? Or my personal favourite, Bill D. Gallows? Who can forget that the club mixed up the URL they put on all their promotional materials and that instead of directing folks to their site it sent them to one which hired out clowns? People in years to come will swear I made that up. I didn’t. They really were that disorganised and thick.

Amidst all that low farce was the high drama. The grab for the assets was mesmerising. To see a Yorkshire wide-boy come along and grab them up (and a guy with a past every bit as murky as that of Craig Whyte, and even easier to track) and who was to tell the hovering “Real Rangers men” to go and get stuffed was jaw-dropping. He knew what he was all about right from the start and whilst gibbering halfwits like Chris Graham were talking him up, we all knew he was in and out for money and couldn’t have given a damn about anything else.

At one point he reminded their fans that it’s what his “big Yorkshire hands” were made for, and then, if they still hadn’t got the point, he reminded them that if they didn’t buy season tickets, he could easily have them playing their games in ploughed fields … he was exactly the sort of person we’d been hoping would come along.

He and Whyte, who were obviously working together, were the fathers of Sevco.

The real high point came when Turnbull Hutton railed against the governing bodies and their attempt to shoehorn the club into the second tier. The top flight clubs had already voted resoundingly against letting them into the Premier League, but the backlash against the effort to put them into the Championship was equally notable. 30 clubs were polled. 25 voted against.

Their club died. Look at any of the coverage of that time. Read the headlines. They all say much the same thing.

And on the night of 14 February the BBC had a studio debate involving a variety of people from the media and even a few (then haha) high profile Ibrox fans.

To watch the footage and see Chris Graham sit there that night glum-faced not even realising that further dark days were in front of him is actually hilarious to me now.

All agreed that a failure to get a CVA meant death. All of them.

Looking back at that debate, it’s all pretty amazing. Hearing Michael Kelly refer to “the Old Firm” and how the game needed a club called Rangers in it was shocking. Archie McPherson, who I have huge respect for, thought the TV money mattered more than sporting integrity … and then there was Tom English talking an amazing amount of sense; he was calling for the NewCo to start at the bottom and for title and trophy stripping from the OldCo history.

Ask him about that stuff now and see how the tune has changed.

Over the years, we have been accused of many things. Of dancing on their graves with hatred in our hearts. Of bigotry. Of indulging our worst impulses. All of Scottish football stands in the dock, accused of hating on the first Ibrox club. It is all rubbish. Never has the death of a bitter rival been heralded with so much good humour.

Jelly and ice cream when Rangers die? That’s hateful? Are you joking? The minute I heard that song for the first time I thought immediately of Wallace Stevens and his two-stanza poem about a gathering of relatives to view a corpse, where there in the kitchen “the roller of big cigars” spoons out the cups of it for the guests. First time readers often mistake him for the titular character; in fact, it’s Death who Stevens is talking about in his title.

Le be be the finale of seem
The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.

Sweetness and coldness. It’s Stevens’ way of saying that it’s coming for us all and we should enjoy the pleasurable things whilst we can. I thought that the image – ice cream at a wake – summed up the whole bizarre but wonderful moment we were in. So, I briefly changed all my social media handles to it. And I did as the poem suggests; I had a good time.

But during those crazy months between Craig Whyte giving us the best Valentines Day present of all time and the first game Sevco played, and every single one of us enjoying it as it unfolded, the real death almost happened; the death of the game as we know it.

Because the people in charge of this game tried to kill it in order to save them.

I wrote my first article on The Death Of Rangers in 2009, and so for me Administration Day was like a moment of completion although I knew even then that there was a lot of work ahead an a lot of fighting to make sure that they didn’t just phoenix their way out of trouble and remain an SPL team. There were moments when it looked as if they would, like they would slither off the hook completely, and every day we had to fight our way through thickets of lies and distortions … but in the end, when the clubs had their say Sevco started where all new teams do. At the bottom.

That campaign ushered in the era of the Internet Bampots. It made many of us committed Scottish football reform supporters, as a campaign two years later would make so many us committed to the cause of Scottish independence. It broke the trust covenant between our fans and the governing bodies forever; it was already cracked, but the events of that year demolished it and rendered it unrecoverable and it would have been worse had they gotten what they wanted and put Sevco right into the Premier League.

That would have shattered our national sport. Thousands would have walked away from it never to return, and we should never forget that those in charge almost let that happen.

They were willing to sacrifice those fans. They were willing to sacrifice sporting integrity. They were willing to force through a decision which would have made a mockery of our game … and except for the courage of the clubs, who some in the media disparaged for daring to exercise their rights to vote as they saw fit, Scottish football was saved from its own corrupt leaders.

It has been twelve years since the administration of Rangers and the beginning of the process towards their liquidation, which was inevitable from the moment Craig Whyte stood on the Ibrox doorstep and made his declaration. In that time the game has changed, but not enough. We’ve rotated through new leaders but the leadership is as bad as ever.

Today we live with some of the after-effects from that time, and we live with two great distorting, corrupting untruths. This blog calls them the Survival Lie and the Victim Lie.

The Survival Lie maintains they were saved from destruction. The Victim Lie exists because otherwise the Survival Lie is revealed as a fraud, because how could they have been “relegated” when no mechanism for doing so existed? Why did Sevco need a new SFA membership and a fresh club registration? Who were the ephemeral Club 13? Why did Sevco and Rangers separately get copies of the Five Way Agreement? The Victim Lie maintains that was all the consequence of corruption, of bigotry, and that Scottish football “kicked them when they were down.”

But a corpse never feels a kick and that’s what Rangers was and is.

The Victim Lie was necessary to answer all those questions, but its very existence has toxified our game ever since. That’s why I think language is our most important weapon against them, it’s why I clearly differentiate between the “two Ibrox clubs”, which is why I’ll never endorse the lies by calling the current one Rangers and why I will correct anyone who does within my earshot. It’s why the word Sevco is critical to both a complete understanding of our past and an accounting with our future.

Because Rangers cheated our club for over a decade, and those of us who grew up in the Murray Years knew what it was like to be mocked for following our club and to grow up in a media ecosystem which was a 24 hour running commentary on how glorious and great they were, in those days when they boasted of having “one team for Scotland and another for Europe.” If you think the media is bad right now, believe me you have no idea.

We knew what it was like to live in the shadow of Ibrox, never realising, until very late, that a shadow was all Rangers ever was … it wasn’t real, but it felt real for the time they were here and the last 12 years have, in many ways, been our Great Revenge, all of it earned. Because what we’ve built up might not be perfect, and we might argue with the strategy, but this is real and that still matters.

Yesterday was the anniversary of our special day and I make no apology for admitting that I toasted it, that I raised a glass to the late Turnbull Hutton, that I said a prayer for those amongst the Celtic Family who would have loved it but never got to see it, and yes, I raised a glass to Craig Thomas Whyte, the man of the hour, the roller of big cigars, and to Hector the taxman, our very own Emperor of Ice Cream.

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  • Chris says:

    Like many others,I would like to know what was in the 5 way agreement,imo lawwell’s grubby paws were all over it

  • Johnny Green says:

    Apart from Lisbon, it was the best day of my life.

  • John Copeland says:

    Super swally knows the entire truth …the whole bit ! He was front , back and centre of the end in 2012 as boss . He still to this day pulls that heavy load around with him everywhere ,hoping nobody asks iffy questions about it . Just look at the stress on his face over the last 12 years ? It’s of someone who knows a lot of dark secrets and who is continuously looking back over his shoulder like a wanted culprit .

  • Owen Mullions says:

    From the pen of the late R.St.Parsley

    On the 14th of Feb two thousand and twelve
    We set sail up the Clyde for Ibrox
    We were on our way there with a cargo of shite
    From a man with big hands from near York
    What a ramshackle craft!
    She fooled only the daft
    Or those for whom truth was a stranger
    But the press were convinced
    When we served them lamb minced
    And they called her the ‘Glasgow Rangers’.

    We had several years when reality struck
    And our ship ran aground on the rocks
    And our fake ‘Rangers’ crew was reduced by the crooks
    To ‘loan Rangers’, free transfers, old crocks
    We could not reach the bank
    Our coach walked the plank
    Our sails were condemned as a danger
    Bookies cancelled all bets
    And we drowned in our debts
    We’re the last of the ‘Glasgow Rangers’.


    Owen, he always had a way with words.
    He’s missed.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Yip – I remember it well for for sure…

    Friday 10th February 2012 – Got out of hospital (in Glasgow) after a few weeks in…

    Saturday 11th February – Celtic v Motherwell (I think) then arrested for incident at London Road Cop Shop (partly football related – most definitely drink bravado related) !

    Sunday 12th February – The longest hungover day of ma life in London Road, CID grilling, not being given ma mobi to tell to the girl from Summerston where I was and why I wouldn’t be attending our Valentines dinner date in Glasgow city centre !!!

    Monday 13th February – In a Reliance van with plenty interesting characters to Glasgow sheriff court and six hours in a cage with five other good lads who loved me for ‘what I done’ then admonished and straight to the shop across the road for a bottle of Lucozade and then the pub where some sensational news was breaking…

    Tuesday 14th February – Having summoned enough booze the previous afternoon to tell ma tale of joy to L****e and get her forgiveness – Administration Day and a lovely valentines dinner and Fcuk The Huns and several other agencies all round toasts as well !!!!

  • Honeybhoy says:

    This was a fantastic read!

    For those who want to dig deeper into the poem, check out this literary review…

    Hail Hail and pass the green and white jelly and ice cream.

    • PAUL says:

      Hail Hail
      Do any pundits ever read this fantastic blogger?
      I should call them hundits instead from now.

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