The Rude, The Mad & The Ugly

Do you remember a time when the club which plays out of Ibrox prided itself on things like efficiency, intelligence and know-how?

Do you remember the days when, whatever else you might have said about them, they tried to behave, at least publicly, with a level of professionalism and decorum?

Some might even say they brought a touch of refinement to proceedings. A former chairman described them as being “Scotland’s second biggest institution, after the Church.” That seemed preening and posturing, both then and now, but it’s an example of how they saw themselves inside the walls. They were haughty, arrogant, a wee big smug and superior. They were known for it. Back then, they took themselves seriously as a major player, and they acted like one.

I watched Peter Lawwell sign the Magners deal the other day, and I heard him take a direct question about Rangers, on whether Celtic had any comment on a website article on their site. Lawwell seemed amused by the suggestion, and his reply was artfully put, with real finesse. It showed the same deft touch with which the entire event was handled, and it dawned on me; people have been talking all season about “What if …” regarding the clubs being drawn together to play in the cup.

Unless there is a total calamity at Tannadice, that isn’t going to happen, and so the gulf which exists between the teams won’t be publicly exposed for quite some time to come, but I do believe the last couple of days have settled once and for all, in the minds of everyone with half a brain cell to process matters, just how enormous has become the gulf off the pitch.

The days of dignity are over. When Graham Speirs is hitting you from one direction and Bill Leckie is hitting you from another, when your club’s rival fans are howling in derision and delight, at the same time as a former gin-soaked hack who can’t get a gig is rattling the bars in his secure unit singing your praises … it’s maybe time to think about winding your neck in. The press is still printing your every word, but increasingly for the shock value – like tabloid pictures of a circus fat man having the walls of his house removed so they can get him to hospital for a stomach stapling op. (Any resemblance to any persons living or dead, or currently working in the Rangers media room, is purely coincidental, by the way.)

It’s newsworthy … but in the way a two headed dog would be. He’s talked about not leaving Ibrox until he hears the Champions League anthem. If he keeps going the way he’s headed I expect we’ll be hearing the theme tune from Loony Tunes long before that.

Yes, the Big House has become The Big Top. For all the threats to send out the lawyers they’ve taken instead to sending in the clowns. The club where they don’t do walking away have slipped on the cartoon feet, and are now talking about flip-flapping away instead. To anywhere really. Anywhere that will have them. They received some bad news yesterday, when the Yorkshire and Humberside Southern Farm District League 2 filled their last space for next season.

There has been talk about the MLS, and England, leading to one now famous tweet between concerned Rangers fans as to whether, if the club was allowed into one of these leagues, Ibrox would still be in Scotland. The question does not inspire a conventional laugh-out-loud; it is, instead, embarrassingly funny, like watching a guy walk into a lamp-post and knocking himself out. God help us … would Ibrox still be in Scotland … Seriously? Yet it’s no stupider than some of the utterances of the Idiot in Chief.

I suggest if they’re relocating the ground, they talk to the guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans, and hoist the entire club … upward!

Seriously, why not? They can only go upward now because credibility has plateaued. Even the praises of the Laptop Loyal have dimmed, and open mockery has broken out across the sports pages. The only people still cheering are the Loonball Loyal instead.

But let’s be honest; how many Rangers fans actually are enjoying the spectacle, and how many cringe whenever he opens his mouth? How many look back, wistfully, to the days when the club conducted its affairs like a professional body, instead of like a low budget production at The Fringe? How many think it’s doing them some long term good, instead of inflicting appalling reputational damage? I would bet on the “fans” being a very small number indeed. Only someone with a very limited, very narrow view of the club they support could actually be enjoying seeing a once proud institution hijacked by this one-man-bandwagon, this festival side show, this circus of freaks.

Serious organisations do not handle themselves in this shoddy fashion. They take their business seriously, they take their customers seriously, they take their competitors seriously. There was a time when Rangers could call on a private jet to whisk top class players in for signing talks. How long before they’re bringing trialists to the stadium in a plastic car with yellow doors, and a red nose that squirts water when you honk the horn?

The club is in Scotland’s lowest league, playing against teams of car mechanics, shop workers, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. The teams they come up against have tiny stadiums, collection can budgets and hedges where stands should be. Yet their chairmen act with a dignity and grace which is sorely missing when Ruprecht and the rest of the cast from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels come to town.

At Ibrox, we have a man in his pyjamas, knocking the ornaments off the fireplace because he wasn’t consulted before a decision was taken.

These other clubs act like professionals. When they talk, people take what they say seriously, because their clubs might be small, but they are thoughtful people who have made long term commitments and contributions to the Scottish game.

This is the difference between those who are in the game to give something back and those who are in it to take something out. Yet those kind of people have always existed in football. They don’t all claim their club is the centre of the universe, and claim 10% of the global population as secret followers. Say whatever you like about Vladimir Romanov, but even he doesn’t run around screaming, banging on his pans just to make noise.

Whether we admit it or not, everyone likes the village idiot, because he raises a laugh. Who doesn’t fall about with the giggles every time they hear Trigger say “If it’s a girl, they’re naming it Sigourney, after an actress. If it’s a boy they’re naming it Rodney … after Dave”? Who doesn’t have tears streaming down their face when they hear Frank Spencer talk about how Betty’s mother would have rather see her daughter marry someone else? “No-one else in particular … just someone else”, and there’s a great moment in The Sopranos where Tony tells Dr Melfi about a guy named Jimmy Smash who always wanted to be a tough guy, and hung out with the gang during the holidays, and who Tony and his crew only kept around because he had a cleft palate and they liked to make him sing.

But as Tony tells Melfi, “After a while, the laughs get old …” and when that happened, Jimmy Smash was no longer part of the gang.

It will take a while longer for the supporters of some of Scotland’s football clubs to run out of patience with the goings on at The Laughing Academy, but I suspect the club’s own fans would rather get back to the days when their club acted as if everyone in it was born with a silver spoon up his arse.

For the rest of us, the comedic antics can still raise a smile .. for now.

Because everyone likes to laugh at Ruprecht.

None of us would have let our sister marry his brother.

 

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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.

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10 thoughts on “The Rude, The Mad & The Ugly

  • 11 January, 2013 at 7:54 pm
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    superb piece on the circus that Sevco FC have become, it’s not only Celtic fans that are laughing at them and the clown that spurts his nonsense in their name

  • 11 January, 2013 at 7:55 pm
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    Long time no read, James.

    But still brilliant.

  • 11 January, 2013 at 10:46 pm
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    Excellent piece, like the reference to Sopranos and Johnny Smash in particular. Remember Johnny ended up doing an 8 yr stretch in the can. You never know Chucky just might end up going the same way. First time I’ve visited this site and really enjoyed the piece. Reassuring that not only us celtic fans find their utterances bizarre and hilarious.

  • 12 January, 2013 at 8:48 am
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    superb read

  • 12 January, 2013 at 10:00 am
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    An article for all fans to have a laugh at, Sevco fans must have jaw drop moments every day at old Charlie Boy the man is comedy gold, and also very dangerous they way he panders to certain supporters of his club and the main stream media just sit there and let him rave like a lunatic, lazy journalism? or just scared of upsetting the knuckle dragers, I predict a riot.

  • 12 January, 2013 at 3:43 pm
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    Am actually embarrassed for you. Ok. Your writing style is akin to a 12yr old whom has a dream to write for the Sun when he grows up. Full of heavy handed metaphors & “wasn’t I clever there” signposted references.

    Don’t give up the day job & might I suggest getting yourself along to support the Bhoys one week? Instead of beating/bleating off in your bedroom obsessively about another team.

  • 12 January, 2013 at 3:49 pm
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    Thanks for the advice.

    Why don’t you sort your own life out instead of being embarrassed for mine?

    This idea of “obsessing over another team” … it’s a bit of a giveaway.

    Your username is a well thought out touch … but I smell troll.

  • 14 January, 2013 at 10:46 am
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    James

    Bunnetbhoy is no more than a Zombie dressed up in Sevconian clothing.

    If he’s a Celtic fan then I’m a card-carrying member of the Conservative and Unionist Party.

    Yours

    Walter Mitty

  • 24 January, 2013 at 1:28 am
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    Love it, great piece.

  • 26 January, 2013 at 5:56 am
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    Another entertaining and informative piece, well-written as usual. Also, thanks for indelibly linking Ruprecht and “Chucky” Green.

    Truly, Sevco FC is the comedy gift that just keeps on giving, and not just for Celtic supporters either!

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