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One of the new theories of personality is that it is a fluid entity. The days of strictly adhering to Eysenck, Allport and even Freud theorising over dimensions and trait theory being solidified within subjects are being challenged. We adapt and change our personality to evolve within the environment that we face. This environment changes frequently on a daily basis from family to work to friends and even those we like and dislike. Therefore, our personality is required to be a fluid entity as we act out our roles within society’s daily requirements. I don’t know about anyone else but with all the emotion that we have been feeling these last six years and more recently, I have forgotten who I am anyway? The journey we have been on has had more twist and turns and more ups and down that any amount of personalities can adapt to? As a support, we have been continually adapting to a new environment with various expectations and social constraints placed upon us. We only have to look at the highlighting of unsavoury incidents involving a few foolish supporters, versus the widespread lack of acknowledgment of sectarian abuse directed at our players from numerous sources, for evidence of the challenges we face. At the recent Ibrox old firm encounter there was again a child at the front of collateral damage as flash bomb devices were thrown down onto our fans. Our supporters have not only faced challenges on the park but off it to from a society that has many questions to answer? It is to their eternal credit our supporters evolve with the challenges we face and I’m sure we will continue to do so, both on and off the park. It seems disrespectful to continue further without mentioning the sad passing of Ray Wilkins in hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest a few days ago. At 61 he was still involved in the media and there has been universal sadness at the loss of such a fantastic footballer and genuinely friendly human being. I remember sitting in the front row of what is now the rear of the Sandy Jardine stand when Butch scored “that goal” in the 1988 5-1 old firm demolition job. It’s as clear as yesterday as I was 13 years old and as the ball was cleared I remember thinking “don’t hit it” as I expected it to go high into the Broamloan Stand. However, Wilkins had other ideas and the rest is now history to be fondly remembered forever. I’m sure after playing for many other clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester United and AC Milan there will be countless fans around the world sad at his passing. He will always be a Ranger and may he rest peacefully wherever he is. On to matters on the pitch and we host Neil McCann’s Dundee at Ibrox this Saturday with a 3pm kick off. Our recent performances have been mainly awful. We played well for parts of the Old firm game but I felt the turning point was their second goal and perhaps the late miss from Alfie? It seems that since then the side have lost much of their confidence and self-belief. The performance versus Kilmarnock was abysmal and the first half versus Motherwell was the icing on the cake after the inner city tour we had on the bus down to Motherwell. Alves and Martin are causing a collective hysteria among the support as they are not suited together in such a critical position. However, we are lost for options although hopefully we may have Ross McCrorie available this week? Even if not 100% fit I would have him in beside a coin toss for Martin/Alves? Graham Dorrans was a mystery inclusion as I would have thought Jason holt may have been better for that particular game. Then again perhaps Murty has the semi in mind and wants to give him game time. Our midfield is lightweight and this is compounded by the lack of contribution from Josh Windass. Murty has for the most part played a 4-2-3-1 thus shaping his team round Windass. He has had a very poor return for the faith he has shown in him. I guess it’s unfair to pick out each player individually as with the exception of Docherty none of them have shown any desire or commitment over the last few weeks. This game on Saturday would be the ideal time to show some steel and regain some momentum before the semi-final the following Sunday. Being unsure of McCrorie’s fitness is a problem but should he be fit I would start with Wes-John-Alves-McCrorie-Tav, A two of Docherty and Dorrans with a three of Candeias-Cummings-Murphy and Morelos up front. I feel dropping Windass and replacing him with Cummings to play off the left is justified. He done this to great effect in the Falkirk match. Its unthinkable that we could lose again at Ibrox with such an important match the following Sunday. We have one point in nine over the last three games and now dropped to third with the real possibility of dropping again to fourth should we not improve? Having said all that I’m hopeful that the side will use the following weeks Hampden occasion as motivation to spur them on and gain a victory. Predicting a score is always difficult but a 2-0 would be ideal for everyone’s blood pressure. Many of the side have not called upon their own various personalities and have been too happy to accept their fate. They all have fantastic ability but need to believe again that they can express themselves freely and continue to evolve as a team. I’m hoping Saturday gets us in a good place to form the challenge of the forthcoming Sunday. If the team could follow the lead of the support then we would be half way there. C’mon eh bears!
The plan for Glasgow was very different to what we have today, the city was going to be unrecognisable in many, many ways. Some plans just don’t work out. Emerging from the horror and brutality of the Second World War Glasgow was surprisingly unscathed compared to many other European cities. Yes, it had suffered bombing in the early part of the war and, of course, nearby Clydebank had experienced extensive devastation but the centre of Glasgow, the heart of Scotland’s largest city, the industrial powerhouse of the empire, the beating heart of the heavy industry that powered much of the world, was largely intact. That was the problem. In 1945 Glasgow’s Master Of Works and the city’s Chief Engineer, Robert Bruce, produced plans that would have transformed the city centre. Not only would the majority of warehouses and markets that today make up the Merchant City have been demolished but so would Central Station, the Mackintosh designed School of Art and, arguably the city’s finest building, the City Chambers. These awe-inspiring architectural masterpieces would have been pulled down and a new ‘Modernist’ inspired city centre built in their place. Try and imagine a new city chambers built on the north bank of the Clyde, with new law courts beside them. The city would have two new train stations, one roughly where Queen Street Station stands today and new huge ‘South Station’ built on the south side of the Clyde close to the river. Literally thousands of new buildings would need constructed, business and people would be decanted, streets disappear, familiar landmarks reduced to rubble and replaced with grandiose civic centres and new arterial roads. Its scale and ambition was breath taking and it was actually given initial planning approval by the city corporation. An exhibition at the Kelvin Hall was planned for 1947 where the plans for the new city would be shown to the public. Thankfully a mixture of public concern, political influence and simple economics led to the Bruce Plan being shelved before the exhibition could take place. Whilst you could admire the ambition of Bruce, he lacked the understanding of what makes a city great; namely it’s people, and you underestimate the people at your peril. This weekend might just see another plan for Glasgow begin to unravel. Rangers weren’t meant to challenge again. The club had been dealt if not a fatal blow certainly enough hits to put it down and keep it down for a long time. Or so some people hoped. With unfettered access to the Champion’s League and all the money, profile and prestige that goes with it Celtic, this weekend’s visitors, were ideally placed to capitalise on whatever Machiavellian plans European football’s elite have next. They could hoover up all the sponsorship, corporate hospitality and public identity the city has to offer too, after all who was going to stop them? Rangers, a seeming basket case a matter of months ago, were a club unable to attract the Rangers supporting, Renfrewshire based Aberdeen manager, a club unable to win three games in a row, a club unable to defend a lead at home. Yet, here we are. Where are we exactly? Well, we’re second in the league, unbeaten in the last six matches and have only lost once this year. So we’re not where we want to be but we’re a lot closer to it than we have been for a while. It’s not just the victories that have excited the support, it’s their manner too. We’re fluid, fast and well balanced. Goals are being scored across the team, chances are being created regularly, players are linking up well, there seems to be an understanding now particularly middle to front. More pleasingly we seem to have some fight about us again. We win the 50/50s now, we’re competing all across the pitch, we’re not being bullied and put off our game. It’s remarkable to write this, as this team is really only two months old. The signings of Murphy, Docherty, Martin, Goss and Cummings have galvanised, strengthened and improved a squad that stuttered from week to week prior to their arrival. Added to that we’ve seen Tavernier and Windass emerge as important players, Bates now looks like a Rangers defender and Morelos gets the kind of service and support his superb forward play deserves. This has all been achieved under the guidance of a rookie youth team manager forced into the hardest job in Scottish football whilst the club very publically courted someone else. It’s funny how some plans don’t work out. Before I get too carried away a word of caution. This Celtic side are still capable of scoring goals and winning matches. Their form hasn’t been as good as last season but it’s still better than anyone else in the league and we’d do well to remember that. They have some injuries and some players seem to be out of form, but they’ve still only lost 2 matches all domestic season and have the experience and confidence to harm us if we’re not careful. Whatever our current feelings of renewed confidence we’ve not beaten Celtic since that glorious day at Hampden 2 years ago and a lot has changed at both clubs since. Sunday will be a stern test and one we’re not favourites to win. I’d be surprised if our starting XI is very different from the side that’s largely picked itself in recent weeks. If fit I expect Murphy to return to the side at the expense of Cummings. Foderingham should also return for league duty. Tav, Bates and Martin should start alongside the only real quandary in the side. A fit Wallace should be our first choice left-back but I’m not sure he’s as fit as he needs to be yet. A run out in a friendly against a Championship side is no preparation for a top of the table challenge. If fit John will start, if not I expect Halliday to play at left back. I expect a midfield of Candieas, Goss, Docherty and Murphy with Windass and Morelos up front. That side has four players making their ‘Old Firm’ debut, a match where experience counts and our central midfield is young and has only played a handful of matches together. Amid my expectation and optimism the realist in me is a little nervous. Despite that we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that it wasn’t meant to be this close. We were meant to be languishing somewhere between Aberdeen and Hibs, turning baliffs away from Edmiston Drive, watching our best players leave for sweetie money and our signings struggle to meet expectations. We’re supposed to be bystanders watching Celtic’s procession to another league title and potential Champion’s League spotlight. That was the plan. Sometimes even the most ambitious plans, whether well intentioned or nefarious, don’t come to fruition. Glasgow doesn’t belong to Celtic, never let them forget that, this is our city too and they don’t get to redesign it without our permission. It’s pleasing we’re not giving it again.
The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen mean ......................... false memory syndrome. I schooled with a lad named Peter, we played football for the same Boys' Clubs and indeed our school. He had the sweetest left foot and reveled in our three years at Fir Park Boys Club. He loved the claret and amber, the mighty 'Well, to the extent he believed Jumbo Muir was the future football, in the same way Bruce Springsteen was the future rock'n'roll. We were beneficiaries of being coached by Northern Irish internationalist, Billy Campbell and future manager of Falkirk, Alloa, Partick Thistle, .. etc, Billy Lamont. We watched the sublime Bobby Graham doing extra training, all ball work, and received complimentary tickets for the Enclosure when 'Well took on a succession of top flight English clubs in the Texaco Cup. We are all badly advised at seventeen, tertiary education demanded I study Economics; Peter determined upon unfettered parental control by heading 160 miles north to Aberdeen. English Literature was his poison. Academia paled in our first year, season '74/'75 was seminal for Bears, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. We were sustaining a league challenge, and for the first time in a decade, would culminate in Colin Stein's equalising bullet header at Easter Road. Pomagne corks were popping. Motherwell was bathed in sunshine too, Wullie Pettigrew prompted by Bobby Graham sustained a top four place, and bettered us in the cups. We had an opportunity to meet up with Peter at the end of January'75, the Scottish Cup third round draw paired us with the Dandy Dons. Three of us traveled on the Tannochside RSC Bus, had the purvey at Stonehaven, met the 'Well man at Aberdeen Uni Union. Like all other trips then to Aberdeen, a relaxed affair. The weather was foul, standing atop the open terrace at Pittodrie in those days was an exercise in endurance. Our entertainment arrived in the then manager of Arbroath, Albert Henderson and his brother. They clung to a stanchion for dear life whilst cheering the Rangers. Ally Scott scored the opener after the hour mark, The Dons new wonder kid at Centre forward, Wullie Miller equalised with two minutes remaining on the clock. The replay on the Monday night, saw Rangers run out at the floodlit Ibrox in an all white strip, in front of 55,000. They scored in the first minute, we drew level through Bobby McKean, and the game went into extra-time. Another late goal from Davidson saw the Dons progress. The quarter-finals took the 'Well to Pittodrie and Peter's Dad offered two of us a lift. We sat in sunshine in the Main Stand, and watched Motherwell control the game for a deserved 0-1 victory. We retired to the Uni Union and it began. Peter's auld man, Peter senior was assumed to have a Glaswegian accent, and received a number of faux concerned inquiries as to life in a Glasgow slum? Peter senior spent several minutes confirming their prejudice and then parried with, "what was it like to live in a quarantined city"? A decade before, Aberdeen had suffered an outbreak of Typhoid, in excess of 500 hospitalised because of a rogue tin of Fray Bentos corned beef. The retorts were angry, tinged with denial, and lot's of assertions of being Europe's oil capital. Peter junior being more literate, quoted Lewis Grassic Gibbon's(Aberdeenshire born author of a Scots Quair) comparison of both cities women. A glaswegian women was beyond personification whereas an Aberdonian was a thin lipped peasant who had borne eleven and buried nine, leaving a pinched demeanor. We left the Union to a chorus of, 'in your Glasgow slums'. It was the first time I was aware of their anger and the next season saw their newly appointed manager, Ally McLeod tap into it. It was February and the Rangers treble bandwagon was rolling. The fourth round of the Scottish Cup had paired us with Aberdeen. It was a double header, because the Dandies were due at Ibrox on league business the week before. McLeod had left Ayr United and was determined to install a sense of superiority into the dull Dons left by departing Jimmy Bonthrone. Ally mainlined, the league game would be business as usual, but the Cup would see the Reds represent Europe's oil capital, they would fly first class to Glasgow and new tactics would derail the treble bandwagon. The 7th of the month arrived, 35,000 attended, Rangers quickly notched a couple through Martin Henderson and wee Doddie. Aberdeen scored a late consolation. Valentine's Day was going to be a massacre, ten thousand Dandies were descending, some of the oil oligarchs were accompanying the team on the flight, replete in sheepskins and stetsons. Sixty thousand trapped, and half ra Sellik end was covered in red and white. Ally's new tactics were evident at Kick-off, they took centre and eight of the team crowded the left side of the centre line, poised to sprint forward, ready to crowd the punt. The ball drifted out for a throw-in. Much like their performance, one big drift. Rangers battered them, DJ scored in the fifth minute, Doddie added just after half time, they scored late on, stimulating Rangers to add another couple through Parlane and Henderson. Aberdeen drifted off to catch their flight home. Later, that summer we did what under graduates did in those days, we headed to Greece. A group approaching a dozen agreed to meet up in Paxos for a few days. the conversation came around to angry Dons, and Peter having spent two years among the heavenly dancers contributed most. The Union had banned both halves of the old firm supporters buses from Glasgow Uni'. Apparently, due to our separated brethren wrecking it on a previous visit. The City Police were determined to not allow supporters buses overnight stays. A newly found confidence was abroad. McLeod tapped into it and SAF gave it a particular focus. Numerous incidents down the years on both sides have exacerbated the situation, but my memory is clear when things began to change. Back to the Northern Lights, the lyrics to the song were penned by Mary Webb, born in Leamington Spa, she had never visited Aberdeen. The melody emanates from James S Kerr, a Glaswegian from Berkeley Street, born 1870. Since one of our dreaming four lads, Peter Campbell came from the same street, I like to think James S Kerr was heavily influence by Peter's whistling? Thus, thos Northern Lights mean false memory syndrome. Tomorrow evening, we will be light in the midfield, I suspect Holt and Goss to be the central two. Windass, Murphy, and Candias in front of those two, and behind Morelos. The back four will be Tav', Wilson, Bates, and John. Fod' between the sticks. They have a lot of pace and drive in the wide areas, and I suspect McInnes will play the full width of the pitch. The first goal will be everything, I take us to get it and go on to secure a 2-1 victory.