QotS v Rangers: Walfrid, Solomon, the 5th KRV and a donkey on roller-skates

Match Analysis
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Some famous names have an association with Dumfries. David Coulthard and Kirsty Wark, who were both born in the town, are familiar faces in the modern era, however a glimpse into the past reminds us that John Hume, a musician in the band on the ill-fated Titanic, grew up in the town, and the Bard himself, Robert Burns, spent the last five years of his life here.

Frank Williams, the Formula One legend, and Charles Forte, the renowned hotelier, were educated locally at St Joseph's College, and this long-standing educational establishment has a tangible link to a Scottish senior football club. St Joseph's, now state-funded, was founded in the 19th century by a religious figure who has been deified in the east end of Glasgow for over a hundred years: Brother Walfrid, the man who created Celtic.

Thanks to Walfrid, who is buried in the town, the Parkhead club had a religious connection from the outset, but this mix of football and religion was hardly unique in Scottish football. The main football club in Dumfries has a religious connection too, although in this instance, it is a more obscure and benign one.

In the Bible, it is written:

"The Queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here."

It is generally believed that only one football club's name is mentioned in the Bible, and verily, it is a Scottish club from the border town of Dumfries that can most convincingly lay claim to this honour: the Doonhamers, the Queen of the South.

The club came about after a merger between the 5th Kirkcudbrightshire Rifle Volunteers and Arrol-Johnston, a car manufacturing works team. It has no connection to Queen of the South Wanderers, who also used to play at Palmerston Park, although the 5th KRV once met Wanderers in a pulsating cup tie which ended 7-7 - the highest-ever scoring draw in the history of the Scottish Cup.

If Queen of the South is expecting something greater than Solomon to visit Palmerston Park on Friday night, it is in for a shock. Opponents, Rangers, can only view greatness with a backward glance as the club lumbers towards the future with all the assuredness of a donkey on roller-skates. The Ibrox club is enduring a pestilence of biblical proportions and a miracle will probably be required to return it to former glories - and speaking of miracles, Palmerston Park has been fortunate to witness a few over the years.

Ryan McCann scored from 84 yards against Dundee in the Year of Our Lord, 2008, and a former Queens manager, the infamous Ally McLeod, turned out for the stiffs in 1992 at the age of threescore and one. The Doonhamers lost 7-1 but their solitary goal, a penalty kick, was converted by the former Scotland manager who went on to earn a standing ovation after enduring the full ninety minutes.

Of course, miracles have occurred at Ibrox, too. Turning water into wine is beyond Rangers but turning millions of pounds into dust is eminently achievable down Govan way. The miraculous used to be witnessed with some frequency on the Ibrox pitch however the era of the Prince of Denmark and Gazza is but a distant memory. Today, Ibrox is home to the mundane, the mediocre and the miserable.

Unlike Lazarus, who rose again after four days, Rangers is labouring to recover after a lengthy and ongoing period in the Scottish football wilderness. With millions being wasted and even more being borrowed, it is no secret that the club is struggling to pay its way. Good Samaritans with bulging wallets are hard to find, and yet a consortium wishing to put £16m on the Rangers table was spurned in favour of an inadequate short term loan from a minority shareholder. Equally troubling was the recent revelation which claimed that for every £10 spent on official Rangers merchandise, only a measly 75p benefited the club. Welcome to the ungodly and upside-down world of Glasgow Rangers.

On the field of play, the situation fluctuates between tedious and grim. Manager Ally McCoist's disciples have faithfully tried to please their master but their efforts have too often been in vain. Apostle, Big Lee, has tried manfully to lead his men but they resemble a formation of pillars of salt more than than an assembly of highly-paid footballers. The football gospel at Ibrox was written by the blessed Walter on a tablet of stone, and the anointed one, Super Ally, is forbidden from deviating from his 4-5-1 commandment when the opposition is feared - and it is feared too often.

Some Rangers fans, a steadily growing number, await the coming of a new Messiah to Ibrox, and peradventure it is time. The bold Ally gets drenched when he tries to walk on water these days, although he has succeeded in parting the fans. While some supporters decry him, others rally to him more for his status as a club playing legend than as a coach - and their less than convincing message rings out: 'Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand'.

Unfortunately for Rangers, the masses are no longer bowing down as a united congregation. They are no longer kneeling and keeping faith with their so-called betters. Many want a Rangers Reformation. They want Rangers to rise again to take its rightful place amongst the dubious elements that make up the Scottish game. They want the club to be all that it can be, and if that means an extended absence from the Grand Temple on Edmiston Drive and a change in the pulpit, so be it.

Another day of judgement beckons for Rangers in Dumfries and it is essential that the team gives a good account of itself. If points are dropped, the excuses will have run out and promises of a better tomorrow will be met with cynicism and disdain. In these circumstances, a major sacrifice will have to be offered up.

If the club thinks that it can retain all of its generously-remunerated key personnel while the team performs so unacceptably, it is seriously misguided. Change will have to come - or I'm the Queen of Sheba.


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