Storm Front Coming


I recently had the pleasure, and I mean that literally, of reading Sebastian Junger’s magnificent book A Perfect Storm.

I put it away in four sittings, over the course of two days, because I was enthralled in it from first word to last.

It was brilliantly written and superbly researched, but above even those things it was a book with real humanity, telling a heart-rending story in a way that was not sensationalist or sentimental in the least.

There is a particularly chilling section of the book that deals with the sound of the wind at sea. The effect of this is measured on what’s known as the Beufort Scale, going from 1 – 12, with 10 rating as a storm, 11 as a violent storm and 12 as a hurricane. Junger spoke to many fishermen during his research for the book, and they told him that an experienced captain can tell how powerful a storm is simply by listening to the sound the wind makes against the rigging cables.

If the wind screams, you’re looking at a Force 9. If it shrieks, you’re in a Force 10. A Force 11, which no fisherman ever wants to hear, is a moan. At Force 12 the noise is like nothing ever heard before on land, a deep tonal vibration like a church organ without a melody.

I wonder what the sound of the wind sounds like as it rushes through the Ibrox Blue Room at the moment. One thing is for certain; that club is at the centre of the storm.

When you look at the unfolding calamity at Ibrox it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that for it to have gotten this bad there had to be a collective loss of sanity inside the walls. In Junger’s book he talks about how fishermen who have survived a couple of close calls start to think of themselves as invulnerable, and take greater and greater risks as though going head to head with God himself. At Ibrox the same insanity clearly rages. The identity crisis, whereby they refuse to accept they are not the club which died in 2012, has blinded them to their own mortality. Instead, they view the death of the OldCo as a “lucky escape” … and now think they can’t be killed.

Around them, the sea is rolling fiercely. They are being buffered by waves which tower over the small frame of the boat. Sooner or later they will hit what mariners call the Zero Moment, the tipping point where a ship’s position becomes unrecoverable, and down the whole thing will go.

The news all this week has been grim, as grim as that the Andrea Gail must have been getting as it sailed into the hurricane off Sable Island. Perhaps, inside the walls, they still tell themselves, as Billy Tyne must have told himself, that everything can still work out, that they can reach a safe port with the catch, that one day they’ll look back on these days as the closest call of their lives.

They are wrong. There is no coming out of this intact.

Deep down, I am sure most of them realise this. They can look out the portside windows and see that the sea here isn’t blue and calm. A Force 10 has high, cresting green seas streaked with white foam. At Force 11 the foam appears in large patches all over the rising and falling water. Where Sevco Rangers is now, the seas appear almost white, there are 50 foot waves and higher, and the visibility is almost zero as the spray fills the air. No-one will mistake this for anything other than a disastrous situation from which escape is unlikely at best.

Last week was a series of dreadful news days, one on top of the other, battering the psyche of everyone connected with the club. These waves are called flounders, and enough of them will eventually sink any ship, no matter how good the captain.

First is the slow progress of the share sales, which is bad enough for what it portends in the weeks and months to come, but on the heels of it came the news about Mike Ashley and his takeover of the Rangers Megastores and all their staff, and the revelation that he owns the naming rights to the stadium, which he purchased for just a quid.

These waves had already battered in the cabin windows, threatening all on board, but even as the crew were trying to patch up that damage, in suicidal high seas, the next huge wave rolled in with the news that Imran Ahmed, Charles Green’s “little Paki friend” had returned to court for a third time, to try to ring fence over £600,000 which he claims he should have been paid as a bonus.

The courts had already twice decided not to grant him that request, believing the club was still in good shape and capable of making it to any future trial. This time, with the shareholders being asked to put their hands in their pockets just to keep on the lights, the judge agreed with Ahmed’s contention that they are in choppy conditions with a watery grave beckoning.

It’s hard to think of a more damning verdict, or one that does more damage to a company which is actually out there seeking fresh investment.

Of course, the media still pins its hopes to the idea of a saviour coming along, someone with the money to pour into this bottomless hole and make them “competitive” again. The latest candidate, after Jim McColl, Brian Kennedy, George Soros (can you believe we actually read that crap in a national newspaper?) and the eponymous Dave King is Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, a man who’s widely reviled on Tyneside because he won’t spend his hard earned cash on a club in a league where he might actually be able to turn a profit.

What chance does our media and the Sevco support think there is of this man pouring millions into a club that swallows money like a black hole?

Ashley is like all the other vultures circling above this carcass. He smells blood. There is a quick buck to be made here, nothing more. He is not interested in being the Hero of Govan. As Mason Verger says in Thomas Harris’ Hannibal, “when the fox hears the rabbit scream he comes running … but not to help.”

Today there is growing fear inside Sevco that they may be unable to pay their players this month, which would incur automatic SPFL sanctions. This news puts them a hair’s breath from an administration which will wreck their chances of gaining automatic promotion.

The damage it will do to their club, its share price, its financial viability and its hopes for the future will be truly astronomical. Their supporters, who saw the original Rangers go through an administration where nothing really changed will be shell-shocked at the manner, and the effects, of this one. Their playing squad will be smashed. There will be no late efforts to sign players this time. Their cost base will be slashed. If McCoist keeps his own job it will only be because he’s been forced to part company with much of his backroom team.

Their fans will never have seen anything like it. The shock to the system will be like getting battered by a fifty foot swell.

Junger’s sources told him the first thing that happens in a sinking boat is water floods the engine room and shorts out the power and out go the lights. Over at Ibrox we must be only a few months away from that, and that’s if they get lucky.

Junger’s book charts what New Englander’s called The Storm of The Century. It was a natural phenomenon. People facing it could do nothing but try to stay out of its way. It swept up the East Coast of the United States and devastated it.

The storm front that has erupted off Ibrox is entirely man-made. It was manufactured inside the walls, and like an experiment that has escaped the lab it threatens to engulf and destroy those who have created it.

We have watched it rise in power, steadily, over the last couple of years, cycling up through the Beufort Scale from a stiff breeze to the full-blown hurricane we see today, and now all of Scottish football should be battening down the hatches as it roars inland.

As Springsteen says, “Bring on your wrecking ball.”

This won’t be like last time. This one is going to hit that club like a hammer wielded by God.

(On Fields of Green depends on your support . If you can make a donation, we’d appreciate it. You can do so with the Donate button at the top or the bottom of whatever device you’re using. Every bit of help we get is massively helpful.)

James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

13 thoughts on “Storm Front Coming

  • 7 September, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    i was at sea for a few years,crossed the pond a couple of time,been thru the Bay of Biscay numerous times,been so far up north icicles appeared!force 10 is the worst i went thru,i know the noises,being on the the upper deck is scary,specially at night!..steer the ship head first into the storm or you have no chance,TRFC aren’t,they have put their ship side on and are getting battered from one side..the other side is just waiting for a couple of freak waves to strike,battening down the hatches isnt going to work,the ship is below its water line and letting in water…god help em’

  • 7 September, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Trying hard to be objective where matters ‘Celtic’ are concerned is not my forte.
    It simply is no coincidence that the death of Rangers as we knew them, and the subsequent birth of Sevco Rangers, has not been good news for Celtic.
    I blame nobody at Celtic for that, and I am no economist, therefore ignorant of business plan models etc.
    What I do know is that sitting inside Celtic Park for home league games is now almost devoid of atmosphere. Sadly, too often, it is devoid of real, lasting entertainment too.
    I agree with your insightful article. All of Scottish football needs to “…batten down the hatches…, including us. All those who indulged in large amounts of jelly and ice cream, where are you now?

  • 7 September, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Without doubt the most amusing analogies ever applied to the good ship sevco. Davy Jones will be rubbing his hands in anticipation of receiving it. They are at the Worlds End without doubt, but they won’t be coming back.

    May God have mercy on their souls.

  • 7 September, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    James is mike james wallace ashley any relation to graham wallace the zombies deserve to be told ha ha

  • 7 September, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Maybe it was one such storm that Mr Wilton and Mr Struth hit upon all those years ago that turned out to be Struth’s ‘perfect storm’……

  • 7 September, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Hi, Fr. Hugh, good to see you posting on here . Still miss you at York Pl. and talking to you bout the Celtic. You are right about the atmosphere at the home games, unfortunately I think that is inevitable when we see most games as a foregone conclusion , tho not now it seems. Awful to think that we need them back to make a difference. I do think that all seated stadia don’t help in this respect. COYBIG

  • 8 September, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Good analogy. However, with great respect, there is some wishful thinking built in to your forecast. For 2 years, we have waited for the death knell. I don’t think it will happen.
    The same unholy combination of the legislative, media, political and administration establishment will keep them alive, albeit barely, by a combination of internationals shifted to Ibrox, sleight of hand with seeding for cups, deliberation blindness to the requisites for a license, advancing cash normally paid out at season’s end and sundry other devious means. They will claw and scrape their way into the SPL, by hook or more likely by crook.
    I hope I’m wrong and will cheerfully admit it if that proves to be the case.

  • 8 September, 2014 at 4:59 am

    Call me an optimist, but I actually seen that as a good will gesture from Ashley? I actually think he’s one investor that wants the brand to succeed. After all, he pretty much owns the merch For this brand new brand. Full of history and culture (adopted) If a good offer comes into the naming Ibrox rights, he’d take a small cut, y’know? As well as own the merch. Would make more business sense. If the club wasn’t terminal.

  • 8 September, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Charles Green’s master plan about to come to fruition I reckon.
    I wonder if he’s been urging Ahmed to freeze the assets?
    When it goes belly up, we’ll see who owns the rights to ibrox / murray park.
    As for Hugh, the atmosphere at CP has been dreadful for along time – most games at CP were foregone conclusions even when they were around, so nothing’s changed.
    A safe standing area is the only hope of getting the atmosphere back – that and a team playing attractive football on the park.
    Do I want them back – absolutely not – jelly & ice cream at the ready.

  • 8 September, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    James, you summed it up with pointing out that the new ship sevco 2012 were so obsessed with trying to convince the daily record readers that their new shiny chazza chuckles trfc were supposed to be the same club ? So when the chuckle brother shipped out 8, million quid , they tried to cover up their financial suicide by rabbiting on about the fairy tale , saying apart from being ripped off , at least they believed the nonsense about the phoenix rising from minty murray, s quid sale of the olde 1872 chaps let them carry on with the farce !! Then the faeces hits the propellers and they cry , a big boy did it and ran away ?? If they at least showed some humility and accepted the obvious , some humans may have given them a bit of slack , but no, no, no, so they listened to wee sally the 800,000 quid man and stumbled into the abyss , still dreaming that they had not died on 29th may 2012 , more to be pitied than scolded !!!

  • 8 September, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    James, I am tired, mentally fatigued and have read over a million words on the soon to be death of sevco. WE WAIT..AND WAIT AND WAIT some more.
    I dont think it will happen despite throwing the english dictionary at it.
    Thdy will scrounge the way through the season and into the top division.
    I hope I am wrong and they announce insolvency…I just dont think I can read any more obituaries until it HAPPENS


  • 9 September, 2014 at 12:05 am

    jimmy mac the auld rangers are died sevco wont be long follow following them enjoy laughing at them the death of a thousand cuts is better than a stake through the zombie heart

  • 17 September, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Rangers can now limp to the finishing line. They have enough in the bank to press ahead with the share issue which is going to be nowhere near the success the IPO was.

    The bears will subscribe in numbers for the sheer GIRFUY factor, which will be enough to overcome their hatred of feeding the spivs at the trough and they will believe every soundbite that comes out Ibrokes and printed in the Prospectus … ‘

    Twenty million plus … no chance. They will however drag enough out of the deluded bluenoses to limp through until it’s season ticket ticket time and I believe the bluenoses (assuming Fat Salary doesn’t fuck it up) will buy in numbers if the promised land is in sight …

    Ally McCoist has bought shares … and he will be urging the loyalists among the support to do the same.

    So … share issue £5 – 8 million would likely see the lights kept on and a return to the Premier.

    However they will still be running on fumes …

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