Scottish Football Loses Its Marbles – Elgin City V Rangers

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Field Marshall Earl Roberts was born in India in 1832 although he thought of himself as an Anglo-Irishman, his ancestral home being in Co. Waterford. Despite this Roberts was very much part of the British establishment. The son of a General and Knight of the Realm, Roberts attended Eton and then Sandhurst before being commissioned into the British Army. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry during the Indian Mutiny, served in the Afghan and Abyssinian wars again being decorated and mentioned in dispatches. He rose through the ranks as the empire stretched from continent to continent eventually taking control of the British army in South Africa during the Boer War. He returned to the UK and was made an Earl in 1901 and appointed Commander in Chief of Her Majesty’s Forces, the last man to hold the post. He fathered six children, his portrait hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, he was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral and even his horse lies in a marked grave in the Royal Hospital in Dublin.

He was held in such high esteem at the time, viewed as a hero of the nation, so decorated, feted and admired that although having no connection to the city Roberts is the subject of one of Glasgow’s most impressive statues. Situated at the highest point in Kelvingrove Park, standing at well over 20 feet, the equestrian Roberts gazes west towards the university and beyond to the hills of Argyll. It’s a beautiful spot and stands as a monument to a forgotten time, a time that feels so distant as to be almost another planet, a time of conquest and empire that makes most of us uneasy and embarrassed today although it had nothing to do with us.

In terms of awards and honours only one institution in Glasgow can compete with him. From that spot, very close to where Rangers founders met and sometimes played, if you look south, over the trees, past the Kelvin Hall and the children’s hospital, over the Clyde and it’s few remaining shipyards you can see Ibrox dominating the post industrial landscape around it, a perfect architectural blend of the old and the new. Had some people had their way in recent months Ibrox too might have become a monument to long forgotten conquests that somehow we should feel uneasy about despite it having nothing to do with us.

The delay in publishing the findings of the tax tribunal into Rangers use of EBTs can now only be viewed as malicious, what other reason could there be? The refusal of a CVA exit from Administration by HMRC, despite the fact that they alone knew Rangers did not owe a fraction of what they were claiming and the commission had found in Rangers favour must surely be investigated. Not only did it cost the public purse but it forced Rangers into a spiral of events that nearly led to the demise of the club and certainly led to the loss of millions of pounds of playing assets and to our current position in Division 3. At some point someone will need to explain this and many of us will be listening very attentively.

So, as we now know, through the hatred of others we find ourselves travelling north to face Elgin City this Sunday. It could be worse, we could still be in the SPL and facing one of the pack of slavering Jackals that make up that rotten edifice. Perhaps we should count our blessings.

This is a top of the table clash. Elgin City are in second place, 2 points behind us knowing a home victory would propel them first. They host us on the back of some great results and are very much in form, with striker Stuart Leslie looking to add to his already handsome tally of ten goals so far this season. However Rangers have also found some form of late. We chalked up only our second away win in the league last weekend scoring six in the process and indeed have scored 15 goals in our last three matches. Defensively we’re still a little porous though. McCulloch looks certain to continue as a makeshift centre half, probably partnered by Hegarty with the influential Wallace and Argyriou at full back although Darren Cole made his return from injury for the reserves through the week so he might come into contention.

Black and MacLeod should anchor the midfield with McKay and Little wide of them and Sheils and Kyle upfront. Naismith, Aird and Hutton are all knocking the manager’s door quite loudly though, summer signing Stella scored for the reserves through the week and received a rave review from Tommy Wilson so he might make the bench. Unfortunately David Templeton looks likely to miss out through injury, having made his scoring debut in our 5-1 defeat of Elgin City at Ibrox earlier in the season.

It’s fair to say this game should provide goals, neither side have an iron curtain backline.

Elgin of course have their own famous imperialist. Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin was British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the early 1800s and controversially arranged the removal of many stunning sculptures and friezes from the Acropolis in Athens. Elgin so admired these stunning artworks that he originally began copying them, employing artists to trace and cast them, his envy though grew and before long the idea of simply stealing them took hold.

Now in the British Museum the ‘Elgin Marbles’ are an impressive sight, however theft is theft no matter the motive. Two hundred years later the Greeks have still not forgiven the UK for this desecration.

Despite this weeks epoch defining events it seems there are still some people set on stealing what’s rightfully ours. Our trophies were won on the pitch, with players paid legally and lawfully; there is no debate about this now. It is time to get over your envy, enough wrongs have been carried out in the name of sporting integrity, the time to show contrition is now yours.

We travel to Elgin to visit new friends. We hope to win, we could easily draw or indeed lose, that will be decided on the pitch and we’ll accept the result no matter what it is. For us it has only ever been about football, our desire to preserve our club, our history and our future. We have our monuments and our heroes, no one will ever be able to take them away from us.

Possible team (4-4-2):