I won’t say that it’s where I learned to love the movies, but part of that lifelong affair I’ve had with the big and small screens definitely grew during that time, as myself and many others retreated into fantasy to escape the crushing disappointments of the real world.
See, in that sense I understand where certain Scottish football fans, sports writers and game administrators are coming from when they indulge in the Survival Myth and all its constituent parts.
They are in a bad spot, and no mistake and sometimes the best thing to do is run away and hide, emerging only into something not quite real.
One of the great films I remember well from that time – although it featured to a lesser degree in my childhood before it – was the 1985 cult classic The Goonies, a film that has aged brilliantly and like a fine wine.
Oh yes. I mean that. I still watch it whenever it’s on TV and I laugh my ass off.
The Goonies has a plot so hokey Jerry Bruckheimer wouldn’t even make it today. A group of nerdy “outsider” kids who are in the last night of their lives living in their neighbourhood (it’s going to be torn down to make way for a country club) find a treasure map in an old chest and go on the hunt for the loot that will enable them to stay put.
Wild, right? So completely contrived.
But rarely has a silly idea been so well executed, and what makes it so are the gang themselves who are just so out there that you can’t help but buy into every single nutty moment – that and a gang of escaped convicts who bring their own bizarre quirky personalities to the plot.
I was pondering The Goonies this afternoon, after I’d been sent a truly exceptional internet link, (thanks, Kevin Patrick McDowell), one to a BBC page from May 2013. After last night’s article here, “The Long Way Down”, imagine my surprise and joy to read the title; “Rangers: The Way Forward.”
And to paraphrase Cyndi Lauper, who wrote the quite magnificent, memorable, catchy theme tune to The Goonies, well, that was Good Enough For Me.
Reading it made me think of that treasure map the kids find in the movie, only this is much more fanciful and there’s not a hulking great pirate ship at the end of it. The dusty skeleton of a former adventurer (or two) along the way certainly; but no treasure.
The “blueprint” was supposed to see them reach the SPL with millions in the bank, a settled squad, a top class management team and the infrastructure of the club built from the rubble of the Rangers liquidation.
None of that actually happened, of course. What parts of it were not ridiculous and fanciful were killed stone dead by a group of people you and I and the rest of the Scottish football watchers are very familiar with; the Real Rangers Men.
Before I get to that, let’s look at the nutty parts.
Any document that starts off with suggesting that Sevco would, from the youth level forward, play Barcelona style “tiki-taka Total Football” is clearly not intended for consumption outwith Scotland’s gullible media.
Just reading that, I spit my coffee all over the floor.
Feast your eyes – amuse yourself – on the paragraph that follows;
“All players would be coached on this pro-active style of football, and we would only recruit players who are prepared to work hard at their game and play as part of the team … This would require some major changes to current attitudes within the club, and would no doubt result in some casualties …”
This from a club which had Lee McCulloch on the books … and retains him on the books to this day!
What a transformation in intentions. From Barcelona style “movement based” silky soccer, to the signing of dreck like Foster, Stevie Smith and the footballer who is Ian Black.
From images of Messi to the unedifying sights yesterday of Zaliukas, Biel Moshni and a keeper running out to punch a ball as though he were wearing big foam gloves and clown feet, to Kris Boyd, huffing and puffing, doing “the truffle shuffle.”
The second section deals with The Vision.
(This is capitalised to give you the sense of excitement that you are supposed to get reading the actual thing. If, by vision, they mean the sort conferred upon blind people by giving them dark glasses to wear it succeeds.)
The Vision as outlined is simple enough, I suppose; that the club will win a European trophy by the year 2020.
And how is this to be accomplished?
Well, the actual footballing specifics are not laid out, which is odd as this struggle would have to be undertaken on the pitch.
Instead, the document appears to be proposing some bizarre form of “mind over matter”.
I am not joking by the way.
Champions League glory is to be attained by the power of positive thinking, by people not even connected to football operations.
“Every decision made by each person connected with Rangers would be made with our vision in mind. Whether you are the CEO, or the person taking calls from fans, you have your part to play in making Rangers one of the most successful clubs in European football. We would all embrace this vision and have total belief that we will get there.”
There you have it then. Hamilton too could scale the heights of global football, but they are let down by a genuine lack of belief that the mountain can be climbed. All it takes is faith. Obviously.
And if you think I’m bending the point, well, I’m not, because, incredibly, people would have been refused jobs or transferred out of the business for thinking otherwise.
“If anyone is not prepared to believe this then they will be helped to find an alternative company to work for. We will only accept a positive ‘can-do’ attitude and welcome suggestions on how we can continuously improve.”
Imagine going for a job interview with a fledgling company, one few people have heard of, a company that makes soft drinks.
Imagine being asked if you believed that within seven years they could assemble enough corporate might to supplant Coca Cola as the number one brand in the world.
Imagine being told that your employment with this tiny organisation depended on you believing in this absolutely, without question.
Wouldn’t you think they were putting you on?
Perhaps trying to weed out the certifiable liars, those who would say and do anything to get the gig and therefore couldn’t be trusted to give honest and open opinions to the higher ups?
At Barr’s, the Irn Bru team knows their limit and they make wonderful ads to sell a fantastic product to the local customers.
Conquering the world … be realistic.
At Ibrox, you’d have got bagged for telling them to focus on achievable goals.
The section on structure is equally imaginative.
It envisioned a Director of Football plucked from the ranks of the elite; a “top European ex-player with great pedigree and reputation.”
In case anyone was under the impression they could have got away with a Gary McAllister type, the document helpfully gave examples – and even they accepted they were unrealistic names in themselves – as to what level the writer had in mind; Frank DeBoer (then manager of Ajax), Ronald Koeman and, God help us, Johan Cruyff.
The writer even thought past Holland to “someone close to Michel Platini, and other influential leaders of European football.”
Henrik Larsson maybe? I guess not.
Their perfect manager blueprint is equally far sighted; young, but with experience. A “big picture” attitude, but someone who believed, wholeheartedly, that a club which was then in the fourth tier of Scottish football could rise to conquer Europe.
In other words, a cross between Guardiola and Gandalf the Wizard, equally capable of inspiring players and believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden.
I found this bit highly amusing:
“We will recruit the very best in sports psychologists and ensure that all our players and staff embrace the power of positivity. Practices such as NLP have proven to be majorly successful in sport – just look at the success of the British cycling team, or the World Cup-winning English rugby team.”
Did they ever do this?
Wouldn’t they have been able to calm Biel Moshni down?
And the general point … positive thinking does actually help, as it did in the case of the two sports squads named … but what helps even more is to have world class athletes in the first place.
As in the case of the two sports squads named.
That one slipped past the Brains Trust, I guess …
The next sections, on the playing squad, and signing policy, are fanciful nonsense.
The players are to be disciplined, focussed, technically skilled, humble, committed, mature and hard working.
A nice idea, but not revolutionary.
It’s the signing policy part that most cut me up. I’m going to quote the early bits in full, bit by bit, because each section tickles the funny bone.
“In most cases, only sign players aged 25 or under.”
This was a 2013 document. That was the year they signed Simonsen (34), Daly (30), Steven Smith (28), Moshni, Foster and Bell (26). Of their other signings only Nicky Clark (20) ticks the box as someone who’d be at the club into the future.
The season just past saw them procure five players in the summer; Miller (34), Boyd (30), Zaliukas (30), Lee Robinson and Darren McGregor (28).
“Do not sign ‘troublesome stars’. Stick to team players who are level-headed.”
Moshni. Nothing else needs said. Yesterday speaks for itself.
“Bring in players with the potential to grow.”
Unless you mean grow sideways where does Kris Boyd fit the profile?
“Recruit players with the right attitude and hunger (you can give them the skills, but it’s difficult to change attitude).”
Because giving a final pay-day to over-the-hill pros who’ve already earned their bucks ensures you get the right level of drive, right?
“Strict wage structure with a basic salary and attractive bonuses.”
I laughed reading that.
Looking at the state of their club, grafted by useless footballers … it makes me wish I’d been outside kicking a ball in my younger years instead of inside reading Tolkien and Dickens and Bronte and, eventually, Orwell.
If I’d had a fraction of the talent with my feet that I work hard to find in my fingers I’d have been a millionaire ten times over.
“Bonuses could be based on number of performances, disciplinary, results, greater than three-goal victories.”
Thankfully, there weren’t many of those “greater than three goal victories …”
“Tiered wage structure based on which league we play in.”
Makes sense. Cause paying footballers thousands of pounds per week in a league full of guys working full time jobs on top of football … well, that’s just stupid, right? Who would do a thing like that?
What’s next? Taking them to five star hotels?
“All players need to be incentivised to play well, behave themselves, and only be rewarded for their efforts (not by a large basic salary just for turning up).”
See Lee McCulloch. For three years straight.
The blueprint then urges against the club getting a reputation for spending money for the sake of it.
So Dave King didn’t write this one and McCoist clearly didn’t read it.
It then goes on to talk about the fans, where they are covered with honey and sugar coated.
Here’s the thing.
As I said earlier, this document was drawn up under Charles Green’s stewardship. The man was nothing if not optimistic, and a showman with it. These were his concepts, his ideas.
It is fanciful of course, but there was some good sense along the way.
It makes it clear that the club would have been completely restructured and moved away from the insanity of overspending and the football “philosophies” of the Real Rangers Men.
Those philosophies were exemplified by the tactical genius of Stuart McCall, brought to the club for his “Rangers credentials” and not much else, in yesterday’s calamitous defeat.
Play Kris Boyd. Punt the ball in his direction.
Schoolyard football, on which a club’s future was staked.
Not only was none of this plan followed, not one bit of it was even tried.
McCoist stood firm against the idea of a Director of Football right from the off, and so everything that was supposed to flow from that office died a natural death, and was dumped at the side of the road.
The document is bizarre, but more bizarre is the fact that not even the realistic, the good, parts of it were retained when Green left. The BBC article makes that clear in the intro; “The proposals have now been shelved following Green’s exit.”
The more outlandish parts of it were pie in the sky, but sometimes you have to aim high just to hit anything and Green and his people certainly shot for the moon.
It makes us laugh now (and, indeed, I remember sniggering at the time when he talked about hearing the Champions League anthem at Ibrox again) but had the club been rebuilt along the lines suggested, with a focus on players passing the ball on the deck, on youth, on a signing policy based on emerging talent, we may, indeed, have had much to fear. Eventually.
Instead, Green and his people were hounded out of the club by a campaign run by the media on behalf of Paul Murray and others, whose return to power has heralded in the worst crisis in the 3 year lifespan of Sevco, and one of the deepest in the history of the Ibrox operation.
Everything we saw yesterday … well, it didn’t have to be like that.
You want to talk about missed opportunities? God almighty …
You know, to get back to where this article started, Cyndi Lauper managed the whole soundtrack project for The Goonies. Her career stock was never quite so high, but for decades she refused to play the title song itself, because she plainly hated it.
But it’s always been my second favourite of her tunes.
Number one was a song she recorded but didn’t’ write.
She made it her own though, and it’s still the best version of it.
It’s called “Money Changes Everything.”
The Goonies knew it. They set off on their adventure to get enough to pay off the debts of all the people they cared about, and stop the country club being built where their houses stood.
The Goons at Ibrox spent their money as if there was an endless supply, and with that gone their crazy policy of loans let Iron Mike and others take all that remained.
The very best they can hope for if it all goes tits up is a country club.
A Sports Direct warehouse where Ibrox stands is far more likely.
All things considered, the last three years have provided great entertainment.
Good enough for you?
Yeah it’s good enough for me too.
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