I KNOW, earlier this week I headlined a blog post as: Rangers – The Gift That Keeps On Giving; but, this is getting ridiculous. At this rate, those of us around Scottish football who are not considered “Ra Peepul” will be unable to enjoy a Merry Christmas – we will be laughed-out at the continuing travails of an organisation whose sense of entitlement to superiority makes even a Tory peer at Westminster appear poor and downtrodden.
Wembley 1961, the day my Dad decided to give up going to football
My late father was for many years an Ibrox, centre stand season-ticket holder. This I should add was back in the Struth years, work and other considerations meant, he had all but stopped going to games by the time I was a teenager, in fact, though he died in 1987, the last game I can remember him actually attending was the 1961 Wembley game – 9-3 and all that.
But, from then until he died, he watched matches on TV and he had a phrase he would use, if a Rangers player on the box had a bad game - “NRC”, that stood for: “Not Rangers Class”. He might have used it often last night had he seen that game at Dundee.
There were players out there in the red change strip, men who cost, in Scottish terms, a lot of money, who would quite simply never have got through the door, other than as spectators, back in the days of Struth, Scot Symon or Willie Waddell.
Rangers today are back where they were when Graeme Souness walked into the Manager's Office back in 1986 – a long way off the pace in Scotland, far less in Europe, which is where the club aspires to be. Souness had considerable financial muscle at his disposal, plus the convenient fact, English clubs were banned from Europe, so he could recruit from that market.
Whoever is handed the poisoned chalice which managing Rangers has become, does not have money to burn, a depressed market just south of Gretna in which to shop, and a rival club across the city – pulling away from his side faster than Lewis Hamilton in his “company car” taking on a 44-tonne artic in a drag race away from traffic lights.
Happy Christmas Peepul.
ACTUALLY, Rangers' travails has been good for Scottish football. I know the churnalists and stenographers in the Glasgow-based newspapers and media outlets long for the good old days of the Old Firm going hammer and tongs for the title in a two-horse race.
Sadly, unless a fanatic with a Weir-sized Euromillions cheque burning a hole in his back pocket and an ability to convince the psychiatrists his family will doubtless call-in – no, he is not stupid – decides to invest the lot in Rangers: these days are past, and in the past they must remain.
Ten-in-a-row? Why stop there?
But, the reality is, if you leave Celtic out of the equation, the SPFL Premiership is a bloody good division. The Champions are apparently cruising clear to another title, but, behind them, there are a mere five points between second-placed Aberdeen and fifth-placed Motherwell. There are four points between St Johnstone in sixth and Ross County in ninth; while bottom team Partick Thistle are only five points, less than two wins, behind seventh=placed Hearts.
Our Sassenach neighbours, or rather their media – which is rather over-stuffed by Scots who have gone south and prospered, continually decry oor wee haund-knitted Premiership as a pallid, ginger-topped poor relation to their own multi-billion pound, tanned and coiffured, super soaraway Premier League. Actually, the Scottish top flight is a much-more competitive league than that down south, where the billionaires of Manchester City are even-further clear of the chasing pack than Celtic are up here.
Mince served-up as cordon bleu
Sure, much of what we see up here might be dismissed as “mince” by proper football experts, but, if you watch Match of the Day on a Saturday night past the first three games, you will know, there are a lot of very-well-paid professionals in the English top flight, as capable of mis-directing a pass or making a hash of the football equivalent of hitting a coo on the erse wi' a banjo, as his less-well-paid equivalent up here.
We only have two clubs being boosted by “Fans with lap tops”, in England there are half a dozen at least clubs whose media cheer-leaders repeatedly boost them. Mind you, when “The Chosen One” and his highly-paid players mess-up, they get far more stick from the media than “The Unfortunate Current Keeper Of The Flame” and his over-paid squad get up here, when, as they did last night at Dundee, they trip up.
I DID intend, at this juncture in today's post, to look forward to this afternoon's third round Scottish Junior Cup ties. But, with the current inclement weather – we have had the first snows of winter down here in the East Ayrshire hills – quite a few of the 32 scheduled ties will not take place.
We already know the Glenafton Party Army, fresh from a day out at Livingston last week which had everything but the result, will not, as planned, be heading off to party away at Guy's Meadow this afternoon. This will most-certainly not be the only game to be put back.
Look on the bright side, disappointed would-be spectators. With the Christmas season being even-more over-extended than the football one, you can all go into town and help Madam get the best of the non-bargains of Black Friday, which, like the football season, has been stretched further than Mark Yardley's shorts ever were.