For those of you out there who enjoy nothing more than settling down with a loved one for a Saturday night movie, there are certain genres best avoided and within those genres a number of movies which stand out as to be definitely left alone.
One of them is an American “made for TV” film called The Day After. It’s an internationally acclaimed piece of cinema, despite its birth-place on the small screen. That’s because of the subject matter, which no Hollywood studio would touch or ever has.
The movie’s about the consequences of a full-on nuclear strike against the US.
You can imagine this film, without having seen it.
The reality of watching it is much worse (and the British version, Threads, is even worse than that … a searing, harrowing, horrendous, nightmare inducing experience like nothing you’ll ever watch); it’s a film for making you genuinely despair about where we might be headed as a species.
At the end of the movie, Jason Robards is travelling to Kansas City, where he’s from, to see his home one last time before he dies. He hitches a ride with a National Guard unit and in the back of the truck he embarks on a tour of Hell itself.
Yet he barely sees the corpses by the road.
By that point, no-one really does anymore.
Scottish football was supposed to look a little bit like that today.
At the weekend, when Aberdeen came back from a goal down with ten men to win three points at Ross County it was another one of those moments when you marvelled at how good the Scottish game might become again.
But Aberdeen was supposed to be like Hearts, Motherwell, St Johnstone, Kilmarnock and Inverness by this time; a hollowed out shell.
Nothing but a corpse by the road.
How different the picture is to the “Armageddon” they presupposed.
Today Keith Jackson has written a piece about how Scottish football is, as he puts it, emerging from a “long winter.”
I don’t know that he’s thinking about the nuclear sort, but I suspect he is. Because one of the foremost traits our media and the governing bodies have is that when it comes to Armageddon none has ever admitted just how wrong they got it.
Over the last four years, most of our senior clubs have wiped out their debts.
Another thing that wasn’t supposed to happen.
Those debts were supposed to have wiped out them.
The trophies have been spread around.
I don’t like it much, and would rather we’d won the lot of them, but it’s given other teams a taste of glory that has spurred them on.
Attendances are up almost across the boards; the one notable exception is at Celtic Park, where there are reasons a lot of fans are staying away that have nothing to do with “no Rangers in the league” … I would bet that only a mere handful of fans gave up their tickets with that specific scenario in mind.
Our issues go deeper than that.
The game itself is alive, vibrant, healthy … but that’s not how Jackson and others see it.
Apparently we’re only now emerging from a dark period during which “the national sport has been effectively neutered and robbed of its own self-esteem.”
What arrogant, sanctimonious, Sevconian bollocks.
We all know what would have destroyed Scottish Football’s self-esteem.
It was the course of action Jackson and others were urging on the game in 2012; that we allow a brand new club built from the ashes of scandal and disgrace to assume a place in the top flight of our sport – automatically – simply because it bore the name “Rangers.”
Jackson hasn’t noticed that the game has rolled on quite nicely without the Ibrox club, because in his own mind (you can hear it, rattling, in there like a pea in a tin cup) he actually does see the wreckage, the shattered wasteland, the corpses piled up like firewood, the rubble of what was once our national game, twisted and broken.
He sees these things because he has tunnel vision and because he just can’t focus beyond the boundaries of Ibrox, where there really has been Armageddon, and where that wreckage can be seen clearly.
No other club has failed to adapt to the new shape of football like Sevco, still clinging to a corpse, still struggling to accept the new reality, which is that not only did no-one mourn them, but no-one missed them either.
There, there really has been a “neutering” and a “loss of self-esteem”; the end of financial doping on the scale Rangers once pioneered.
The humiliations which have pounded Sevco relentlessly in the past four years were all made within its own walls, and the next crisis to engulf them will, likewise, come from there. These are the profound consequences of their having built a club with a superiority complex that bore no relationship to its place in the real world.
The dark winter there isn’t even close to being over yet.
Jackson has talked, today, about how that club is now entering a “period of normality” again.
I agree with him.
With convicted criminals on the board, looming court cases, allegations of tapping, unsettling players at other clubs, soft loans to keep on the lights, sources of short term funding with decidedly dodgy backgrounds, non-payment of bills, a swelling egotism and the typical fawning of the media, things there are about as “normal” as they can be.
Other clubs might regard all this as decidedly abnormal, but this is Sevco, and of course Sevco is different, operating in a different reality and playing by very different rules.
The more things change around here, the more they stay the same. The media obsession with this club continues unabated and the re-writing of history goes hand in hand with reframing the present into whatever shapes suits the Ibrox club the best.
Today’s article suggests that Celtic have missed a club calling itself Rangers in their league, but then ponders why we would loan a player to Hibs who might stand in the way of them getting there, as though this is really a mystery and not the confirmation of everything Celtic supporters and our board have been telling these people for years now.
We do not want a team from Ibrox playing in the top flight.
We’re not remotely interested in the media-hyped, hate-fuelled “rivalry” that is so necessary to the survival of the Sevco operation.
We hated that warped creation even when it was partly grounded in history, that of Rangers; we have zero intention of getting behind a Frankenstein’s Monster version of it founded on all the old hatreds the game here is better leaving behind, but turbo charged by the twin engines of the Survival and Victim Myth’s that are so prevalent in the excretal articles Jackson and others have produced and are still producing to this day.
This disconnect from reality is more greatly expressed in Jackson’s closing paragraphs, where he says Sevco will complete two signings this week (on no greater information than Mark Warburton suggested it at the weekend), that of Michael O’Halloran (who St Johnstone are saying won’t be allowed to leave for the current, derisory, offer) and a Brentford midfielder who’s own club is less than pleased at how Sevco have gone about their business.
But of course, the Ibrox club will “get their men” without “being held to ransom”, as if it was the two other clubs who were somehow at fault for not wanting to part with their own players for insulting sums.
This is the type of language that flows out of Ibrox; this is the type of language the media uses to frame the terms of the debate.
Jackson says these signings will “cost the guts of £1m in transfer fees”; the biggest piece of artificial inflating since Jordan went in for her last boob job. It will, he goes on to say, “provide solid proof Dave King and his board are not just cleansing their club but also have the wherewithal to properly fund Mark Warburton’s rebuild.”
I don’t know which part of that I found most hilarious, or a bigger insult to our collective intelligence; the notion that a convicted crook who’s keeping on the lights by the non-payment of bills and taking soft loans from other dodgy geezers is “cleansing” the place or that it proves King has “the wherewithal” to fund a series of major transfers.
Neither of those things is remotely true.
I often marvel at the ability our media has to distort reality and see only the parts of history that suit them whilst ignoring the rest.
Today, Scottish football is in the best health it’s been in for a long time.
Four years of work at the clubs has produced real reasons to be optimistic.
Jackson is right about that.
But he conflates these things with “the rise” of Sevco in sheer ignorance of the fact that our top flight is thriving without them in it, that it will continue to thrive if they fail to get promotion … and that all of this flies in the face of what we were told to expect.
When it comes right down to it, Jackson and others still see the destruction as if it actually happened.
That’s what they wanted and it’s what they expected.
What the rest of us see are cool blue waters reaching out from white sandy beaches.
If there’s a corpse by the road, somewhere up there beyond the dunes, it’s that of Rangers itself.
Across from us, down here on the sands, though, are two guys walking on either side of a dead body, supporting it in a despereate effort to pretend it’s still a living person, waving the arms, nodding the head, trying to make the bizarre and illogical seem … normal.
This isn’t The Day After.
It’s Weekend At Bernie’s.
And the joke is on Jackson and those who refuse to see that simple truth.
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