There’s a famous scene from the 1976 movie, “Network”, in which a television newscaster loses his marbles and performs an impassioned rant live on broadcast news, which ends with him urging his viewers to stick their heads out the window and yell (see below).  The point he was making was to show everyone they were not alone, and there were many other people sharing the same opinion: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more”.

The film won four Oscars.  I spent Monday evening in the pub with four Bluenoses, none of whom are Oscar winners.  Between our debates on such diverse topics as Presbyterian theology, eugenics, and the socio-economic impact of 19th century Irish migration into the west of Scotland (this is not actually true, but it’s what people assume we Rangers fans talk about all the time), we did at one point get round to talking about the football.  One of our party was highlighting to another that Rangers fans constitute the largest individual club support within the Tartan Army – his argument was based on shouting, combined with the results of a survey conducted at a TA event in Amsterdam by an arsehole radio presenter who nearly started a riot with his silly audience poll.  But I think he’s right – despite what many believe, there are many, many Rangers supporters in the Tartan Army and almost all Rangers fans support Scotland.  If we all stuck our heads out the window and shouted this, you’d hear.

Around our small table, views ranged (pun intended) from “I am Scottish and I support Scotland” to “Why would I support those anti-Rangers Tartan Army bastards.”  Let me show you the diversity.

Bluenose #1 grew up in Scotland, England, and Hong Kong.  His view is simple: Scotland is my country, and I will support them.  Friction between Rangers and the SFA?  Not relevant.  Tartan Army slagging Rangers players?  Not relevant.  Other Rangers fans saying he shouldn’t follow Scotland?  Not relevant. “I do not let others define who I support.”  End of story.

Bluenose #2 is an old bugger, and his footballing views were formed during a time when there was simply no question that Rangers fans were Scotland fans (“It must have been great watching Alan Morton play for Rangers and Scotland,” I joked.  I’m not sure he appreciated the comment.)  He has spent most of his adult life in Hong Kong, so wasn’t in Scotland for any of the Rangers-Scotland “incidents” that colour other people’s views.

Views like those of Bluenose #3.  He grew up in Scotland but has spent time living in continental Europe, China, and deepest Aberdeenshire.  The “Gough/Roxburgh thing” (major argument after Scotland’s 5-0 defeat in Portugal in 1993) was his reason for no longer hanging out with the “Tartan trannies,” as he calls us.  He also cites a litany of anti-Rangers actions by the SFA and Scotland fans – the treatment of Souness, the prosecution of Duncan Ferguson, the booing of Rangers players, Boozegate, and more.  However, I’ve watched Scotland games with him in the pub in the middle of the night.  I think if it’s more trouble than it’s worth to avoid it, he’ll watch (also if there’s alcohol available he’s there, but that’s an enabler for many of us, right?).

Bluenose #4 is less extreme towards Scotland, despite being someone I would rank as a more extreme Rangers supporter.  A Queen-loving unionist through and through – someone who might have me disappeared if he knew my views on the monarchy.  To be honest, I would not have been surprised if he told me he supported England over Scotland; however, even he has Scotland sympathies, having stood as a youth on Hampden’s terraces with his father. But he too lapsed at some point in the 90s when the relationship between Scotland and Rangers was at its worst.  Recently, as the Rangers team has become more Scottish and the Scottish team has become more Rangers, he’s starting to pay more attention to the scores from Hampden.  In fact, he said he would attend a Scotland away game if he could wear his Rangers top – we talked him out of that idea (“Nae club colours in the Tartan Army.” “Why not?” “It’s just rude, really.” “OK.  I’ll just wear a scarf then.” “Err…”)

Four Rangers fans: two strongly in the Tartan Army church; one lapsed; and one self-excommunicated.

“So what?” you might be thinking.

Well, I am Bluenose #5.  I was once told that I had a remarkable capacity for being able to hold two contradictory thoughts in my head at the same time; it was meant as a compliment, but I believe it’s also a form of schizophrenia.  With this faculty, I can understand why Rangers fans have been pissed off at the SFA and the Tartan Army, and I can understand why the SFA and the Tartan Army have been pissed off at Rangers or Rangers fans, and I can also disregard all of that because when it comes down to eleven guys lining up against Spain, or the Czech Republic, or Lithuania, or Liechtenstein, they are eleven Scots representing my country and I will give them my support until my vocal cords snap and my brain has an aneurism.

Many other supporters can’t.  But they should.  The Scottish national team needs all the help it can get – so if Rangers fans can get over nonsense from 20 years ago (Gough vs Roxburgh) or even two years ago (McCulloch/Boyd vs Burley), and Scotland fans can get over some Rangers players being daft (Boyd, McCulloch, Ferguson), and if everyone can just leave politics out of it, then maybe we can have all of the supporters behind the entire team.  God knows we need it.

I can do this.  Can you?

Billy

Network- I’m Mad as Hell

Comments

  1. Fair enough, that’s one response, and I realise this is a second week of Rangers-centrism. But more constructively, what would you (and others) like to see more of from me? More Scotland? SPL? SFL? Future of Scottish football? Fan culture? Something else entirely? Leave your comments below… thanks.

  2. It’s certainly not boring. It’s actually quite rare to see an old firm fan reflect so intelligently on the reasons why we get so passionate about our teams.

    I’m a Celtic fan but I’m a Scotland fan first. It’s no big deal. I don’t see a conflict at all. There are no club colours in the tartan army and I don’t care who other Scottish fans support.

    I dont even mind if Rangers do well in Europe. In the bigger picture it is better for our coefficient and the more money coming into the Scottish game the better. As long as their fans behave then its a good thing for Scottish football.

    I realise that not every Celtic fan shares my view but at the same time I genuinely believe that most old firm fans are pretty rational and objective people (except for 90 mins a week perhaps) and too often the negative images of old firm fans is driven by a loud minority.

    Anyway, I’d like to see more about the future of Scottish football. Despite a couple of good results we’ve been on a constant decline for about 25 years. That’s an entire generation. And it might take as long to turn it around. But something needs to be done. Your McLeish Report article was excellent and I’d like to find a way to make sure something actually happens there.

    Because otherwise the decline will continue for another generation.