I noted with interest earlier today that the Doomsday Clock - a symbolic scientific barometer which purports to count us down to Armageddon – was moved forward two minutes this Friday, meaning we’re now only three minutes from the probability of catastrophe. In the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists where the clock is depicted each issue, the team which set the clock (including 17 Nobel Prize winners) suggests various issues such as climate change, increased weapon arsenals and poor political leadership means we creeping ever closer to potential catastrophe. Should we laugh or cry? Should we dismiss or build our own underground shelter? Or as fed up Rangers fans are we already done for given we’ve arguably been in purgatory for the last three or four years anyway?
Clearly, despite the credible science behind such Doomsday claims, it’s difficult to see such news affect our daily lives. Many of us will know the price of oil has reduced in recent months but I doubt many of us care what geo-political stand-off is creating the decrease. Nor will we care much when the price inevitably goes back up again. For the proletariat in most Western countries, as long as we can put a decent meal on the table and relax with a beer, fag or protein shake come a Friday night, events elsewhere in the world are merely a distraction. Yes, we’ll stick a few pounds in the charity can for disease in Africa and perhaps raise an eyebrow as Putin invades attempts to annex another European country but now the Independence referendum has come and gone, the majority of Scots can now hide back in the political darkness of our extra bedroom. I doubt even this year’s General Election will wake many of us from an extended winter hibernation from last year’s political ‘debate’.
Rangers fans aren’t so lucky. Day after day, week after week, month after month; the last four years has seen an incessant negative focus on the club. Countless new directors, hourly press statements, regular fan division and annual failed buyouts means a sport we could rely on as an enjoyable past-time to take our minds off the usual tedium has become something altogether different. We’ve gone from appreciating the talents of quality continental players and competing in the Champions League to selling the best of our developed youth and failing to win the Challenge Cup. Supporting Rangers is no longer a hobby but arguably as much a chore as cutting the grass or doing the dishes. Even talking to the nagging partner in our lives seems an easier option than reading our favourite blogger! Indeed, Rangers fans are easy to spot nowadays – head down, struggling to smile and usually with a reddened face from embarrassment (or the excess alcohol from drowning our sorrows). Yet, the hits keep coming – purgatory or Hell, you decide?
With that joyful introduction in mind, I’m not sure an away trip to Cowdenbeath and the luxury of Central Park is going to improve things. The temperature may not be quite as cold as last Friday’s abandoned home match against (the more heavenly) Hearts but I don’t anticipate much to keep us warm tomorrow. OK, the awful Arnold Peralta may have left and, if we didn’t know already, Kenny McDowall hasn’t the will to stick around either but there’s not many others stepping forward to turn around our fortunes (on the pitch at least). We may have recalled one or two younger players but while the likes of Calum Gallagher may be familiar with tomorrow’s ground, it’s doubtful he’ll be given a chance to play.
At this point, I’d usually try to take us through our probable starting line-up and we could have some discussion on who may feature where in the team. Unfortunately, the only thing we can say for certainty with respect to the Rangers saga is that the team will follow the same lines as of late. As such, there’s not much point in asking if Marius Žaliūkas can displace Lee McCulloch or if Nicky Clark is a better option than Kenny Miller. Meanwhile, Richard Foster’s name will be a certainty at right back. Already, I can sense some fans opting to spend the afternoon at Primark rather than perusing RangersTV.
Right, now we’ve got all the happy stuff out the way and just before we retire to the bathroom to slit our wrists, I’ll try to finish on a positive. Quite clearly, what’s happening on the park at Rangers now is pretty much a side-show. While, we all still want to win every game and want to challenge Hearts (and even, whisper it, Celtic) in the weeks ahead, it is obvious boardroom politics is the main issue for us now. To that end, it’s been a real delight to see our various fan ownership options flourish and some middle ground found with respect to the way those in control of the club are treating us. Perhaps we can follow the lead of Hearts, Dunfermline and Motherwell in putting together a viable fan ownership proposal? As such, while many of us have been reconsidering our match attendance this season then I’d strongly recommend every fan takes a genuine look at the shareholder groups such as Rangers First and Buy Rangers (via the Trust) and invest your pocket money into them.
Finally, if you’ve found the above a difficult read and yearn for the days of yore, then you’d do worse to buy a ticket for Ibrox on Sunday where there’s a benefit match between a variety of Rangers legends involving some top, top former players in aid of Fernando Ricksen who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2013. As we take a moment to absorb his horrible illness, maybe the rest of us aren’t so unlucky after all…