Eilidh’s well-written and balanced piece earlier in the week attracted a horrible amount of thoughtless pugnacity (in fairness, there were a few thoughtful comments). Fans of both Rangers and Celtic ‘stepped-up’, to a challenge that was in no way thrown down, to assert their love of their team through renewals of their hatred of the other lot. While boring, expected and really bloody stupid, this did have an upshot; it reminded me that as much as Old-Firm fans are like that bloke in the pub you’re scared to look near in case he chibs you, I’m not actually in the pub and I’ll piss off loads of people whatever I say so I may as well say what I think, which is the above. Here’s why I think it.
I, like many of you, have hated Rangers quietly for ages (yeah, ok *regular readers* there was that one time). I hated that they wear ‘royal’ blue. I hated that they wear orange even more. I hated their politics. I hate Kyle Lafferty and I HATED Mark Hateley. I hated the entitlement of their fans. I hated that their crest has the word ‘Ready’ on it. (Why?). I hated their stupid songs. I hated that they always won every-bloody-thing.
Mostly, then, my hate was irrational. There’s nothing there (apart from the stupidly detached adverb) to make Rangers any more objectionable than Celtic (Lafferty and Hateley could easily be subbed for Lennon and Samaras). But because of that, it was easy to contain. Alright, I reasoned, Rangers players, staff and fans are dickheads pretty much to a man but, apart from sucking the blood and guts out of the rest of Scottish football (and every league has its own malignant parasite or sites), I don’t really know any of them. They don’t really affect me.
That was then, though, before it emerged that the club has an unpaid tax-bill which could, owner Craig White has suggested, amount to £75Million (as a result of HMRC claims dating back to 2001). Like when bankers changed from objectionable twats to officially ratified villains, I am now allowed to hate Rangers. Everyone is. In fact, everyone should.
Not only were the Glasgow club nicking players and money from other football clubs, they were filching it from the public purse too. That this Union Jack waving, Rule Britannia singing outfit should stiff Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs out of such a ludicrous amount of money is, of course, *ironic* (in the same way Denis Law’s goal against Manchester United was *ironic*; in other words, not really ironic at all, more *coincidental*). But it’s hardly the worst of it. The worst of it is that they were simultaneously objectionable in almost every other way possible.
Like a really ostentatious benefit fraud, Frank Gallagher, say, the Glasgow club were acting the big man, sticking the finger up to society while simultaneously stiffing it; necking its bird while picking its pocket. We are the people? No you’re not. Your club steals from the people and we, the people, will be (literally) better off without you.