As my kids enter their middle teens, I find myself missing the time when we actually enjoyed each others company. Having been replaced by an electronic Dad in the shape of Bill Gates, I cling to the few things we still do together...eating, although watching a young man shovel food in his gaping maw while periodically grunting in response to questions has rather lost its charm, and...er, that's it.
When they were younger, I loved experiencing things I had forgotten from my own childhood. The smell of Airfix modelling glue, the taste of Rusks, rolling plasticene worms and making Lego: maybe it's as well we don't comprehend the sheer scale of information the brain retains, since I suppose there's as much unhappy as happy memories stored up there. But they were nice days, even allowing for the tiredness. The difference in energy levels between the very young and 30 somethings who have just gone through four years of sleep deprivation is something which cannot be described, only experienced.
One experience I looked forward to sharing was going to Ibrox with my sons. Sadly, the eldest hates all sports but the youngest was happy to get kitted up and head up the motorway when he was younger. The size of the stadium, the noise of the fans, the smell of the food...it all came back, although admittedly the smells back in the 80's, when I started going, were less worthy of appreciation than today's clean ground filled with aromatic smelling fans. I'm not sure deodorant was widely used in the early 1980's, being seen as so effeminate that a grave suspicions were harboured about those who did use it. It was strictly soap in those days. Imperial Leather! Wright's Coal Tar! Shield!
Like so many bars of soap, though, my boy's toleration of football played the McCoist way washed away to nothing after two seasons of it, and I am slightly ashamed to admit I was relieved to have an excuse not to endure it myself. Those were dark days, and despite Tuesday's reversal in the League Cup most Bears are surely still happy to head to the match rather than having to force themselves along as before. Not even I would wish what looks like being a chilly day in Greenock on my child, though.
Greenock must have had something going for it once, to go by the high status Victorian architecture you can see as you hurry through to the nice bit that lies beyond, Gourock. Having worked there and in Port Glasgow during the 2000's the only industry on view seemed to be shop lifting and drug taking, a sad reflection on the decline of the heavy industry, primarily shipbuilding, which once put money in men's pockets and used up their energy in pursuits more worthwhile than sticking a needle in a vein.
No doubt Greenock grandfathers of a certain age look back at their youth and wish they could share their experiences of the town when it was alive and kicking with their grandchildren, but in all brutal honesty revitalising the area will be a huge task. Far easier to breathe new life into a football team, and both Rangers under Warburton, and Morton under Jim Duffy, are taking strides in the right direction. Defeating Motherwell, as Morton did on Tuesday, may not be much of a coup but it was more than we could manage so fair's fair.
Two clubs, then, rebuilding in the shadows of their pasts, looking to fire the imaginations of fans young and old. If Morton beat what is a swashbuckling, freewheeling Rangers side it'll live long in the memory of Morton fans, and it would hard to grudge them such a day, given they must bear the heavy burden of being associated with certain low rent omnibus operators - hard to grudge, that is, were they playing someone else.
Because we have as much need to start building memories of our own. I'm just old enough to remember the Gers playing at Cappielow in the early 80's now and again, and while my memories are mostly of being freezing cold the point is that I have the memories at all. With mild chastisement ringing in their ears from Tuesday night and hopefully, a desire to make someone pay for the first defeat of the season, there's a good chance we'll see a good showing from Rangers on Sunday. The pitch at Cappielow, relaid in the summer, is in stunning condition which should suit the way we play. No doubt this will be seen as the usual Rangers arrogance but if we play as we can do, we could rack up another 5 or 6 goal win. What a memory that would be for some young fan!
Let's go to work.
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