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Setting the Standard - Showcasing Our Unique History: A Rangers Museum

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CammyF throws down the gauntlet to the club s he asks Rangers to provide a museum at last to celebrate our proud history (with valued contributions from the Curator of the Scottish Football Museum).




Part One


ââ?¬Ë?The Scottish Football Museum exists to promote the unique football heritage of Scotland, to build and maintain a national football collection, and to educate and inspire future generations.ââ?¬â?¢


The above is the mission statement for the Scottish Football Association Museum Trust which through hard work and dedication has opened the impressive Scottish Football Museum at Hampden. I have a personal interest in this museum as my Grandfather�s junior and amateur medals are now held in the museum and are occasionally on display. Richard McBrearty, Curator of the Scottish Football Museum kindly supplied detailed information that is used within this article and we at Gersnet are indebted to Richard for taking the time to add his input to this article and project.



The above mission statement rings true when evaluating and showcasing Scottish Football and the same could be said for Rangers� uniqueness and having our own museum is something that I know some fans have been suggesting for many years now. I believe that the first time I personally became aware of the need for a Rangers museum was after the tragic death of Davie Cooper. Many Rangers fans at the time rightly stated that a Rangers Museum would be lasting and fitting tribute to Davie Cooper. The idea of a museum has been muted and discussed at various AGMs, but as yet, there has been little, if any movement on this front.


If you have been lucky enough to have visited the Ibrox Trophy Room you will know that there are many unique, interesting and quirky exhibits that deserved to be showcased in a dedicated museum ââ?¬â?? the ââ?¬Ë?Loving Cupââ?¬â?¢ instantly springs to mind. Indeed, the club feel that the stadium is a museum in itself and while that opinion has validity, we could build upon the existing tour by providing new stand-alone facilities for such an initiative. This existing tour has positive feedback but there is no doubt improvement, as always, can be sought.


The best stadium tour that I have ever undertaken was the tour of the Santiago Bernab�©u Stadium in Madrid. Not only does this take in the wonderful Real Madrid museum, the tour is unique in-itself as there are no dedicated guides for the tour, you pay your money and allowed access to the stadium and complete this at your own leisure. All the exhibits on the tour and in the museum are showcased in Spanish, German and English. Real Madridâ��s museum is also interesting as it isnâ��t solely a footballing museum. Realâ��s basketball team are also well represented in the museum as are other sports like tennis and athletics.


The history of the club is told as you wander through the museum and this is done in such a way that you leave the museum with all the historical information that makes Real Madrid the institution that they are. At the end of the museum, which takes up the majority of one stand, is a tribute wall that lists every player ever to play for Real Madrid and they are separated into the countries of their birth. There is only ever been one Scotsman to play for Real Madrid, a certain Mr John Fox Watson - 1948 ââ?¬â?? then player/coach and is credited as being the first British player to play for Real Madrid. .


The BernabÃ?©u model is an example that Rangers could follow. Ibrox Stadium whilst being the famous home of Rangers Football Club has also housed various other events over the years; from the annual parades of the Boys Brigade and Orange Order to the Rangers Sports Days that were a highlight of the sporting calendar in the 1950ââ?¬â?¢s. There is some wonderful footage of the sports days on ââ?¬Ë?YouTubeââ?¬â?¢ and they did draw impressive crowds to Ibrox. All this information, photos and memorabilia will be currently lying around Ibrox somewhere gathering dust. We do have an unofficial publication, 'The Rangers Historian' that details our glorious history and Robert McElroy as well as the Club Historian David Mason would be ideal supporters representatives on any museum project.


Ex-players, such as Sandy Jardine who is, according to Richard McBrearty, the Rangers representative on the ââ?¬Ë?Scottish Football Heritage Networkââ?¬â?¢ and has done a fair amount of work for that organisation, should also be included.


There are also on-line resources that the club could use to supplement their official records. The Manchester Utd Archive site, the ââ?¬Ë?Stretford Endââ?¬â?¢ is a fantastic example of how fansââ?¬â?¢ hard work, dedication and love for the club could be used. Off course, we have our own unofficial and less complete Rangers Archive which is another empirical example of how much can be achieved without financial input.


Richard McBrearty does warn that the idea for a museum would be hard to sell to the club as a money making scheme as very few museums actually do make a profit - Barcelona and Man United being the exceptions to the rule. Man Unitedâ��s museum was making profits in the region of �£200,000 while he Barca museum has generated over 2 million visitors a year as a direct result of it being on the official tourist route. The same can be said of the Bernab�©u, this is on the official tourist route and, as a result, all tourist buses pass and stop directly outside the stadium. I have to admit that I havenâ��t managed to ride the Glasgow Tour Bus so I donâ��t know how close to Ibrox these go. If they take in the Science Museum then it wouldnâ��t take much to persuade Glasgow City Council to get the buses to go an extra mile to Ibrox?



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Part Two


Of course, building a museum, filling it and making it successful doesn’t happen overnight. The Scottish Football Museum was discussed as early as 1990 as a concept that could work. Richard’s words give an indication of how long a process this can actually be:


‘In 1994 the Scottish Football Association Museum Trust formally opened temporary offices and an exhibition space within Glasgow City Council’s Museum of Transport. The long term ambition of the organisation was to build a permanent space within Hampden Park, Scotland’s National Stadium, which was undergoing a substantial redevelopment between 1990 and 1999. The SFAMT remained at the Museum of Transport until 1999.’


Richard continues, ‘With the completion of Hampden Park, the SFAMT moved out of the Museum of Transport and leased, on a temporary basis, stores and office space in the north of Glasgow. The process of creating the permanent exhibitions within level two of Hampden’s south stand was also commenced. The museum had a soft opening late in 2000 allowing corporate tours to take place. In May 2001 the museum opened to the public’.


’With the successful opening of the museum in 2001 work commenced on creating offices and stores within the museum complex at Hampden Park. The office space was completed by the beginning of 2002 and in 2004, with the opening of storage facilities at Hampden, the office and stores were closed down in the north of Glasgow. Since 2004 the museum has had all of its facilities concentrated within the south stand at Hampden Park. Exhibitions of note included the UEFA Champions League Exhibition in 2002 and the Hampden Centenary exhibition in 2003. In 2004 the museum created the Scottish Football Hall of Fame within its exhibition space and in 2005 the SFAMT became the first museum in Glasgow to be awarded the prestigious five star status by Visit Scotland. 2006 witnessed the museum take part in its first major international exhibition. As a partner of Hamburg’s Museum fÃ?¼r VÃ?¶lkerkunde the SFAMT assisted with the creation of a major World Cup exhibition’


’Seven years after first opening within Scotland’s National Stadium the museum in 2008 the museum was awarded accreditation by Museums Libraries Archives (MLA) as a ‘non government funded national museum’ Having consolidated its position over the last few years the future plans of the museum are ambitious and expansive. The strategic aims of the SFAMT are aimed therefore at improving access to collections, extending the museum’s profile, enhancing education facilities, adding to and caring for the collections, improving the visitor experience, increasing visitor numbers and improving the financial base of the museum’.


The above work ethic gives an indication of the level of commitment, dedication and passion that is required to have a museum functioning from the initial concept. Of course, a museum doesn’t have to be limited to the attendance of the fans of the club in question. I have personal experience of how successful schemes like ‘Ready To Learn’ have been. An acquaintance was a teacher for one of the first schools invited to Ibrox for the ‘Ready To Learn’ scheme. The school was a local Catholic School and after completing the scheme, over 50% of the class had been converted into Rangers supporters and are still regulars at Ibrox. Therefore, the museum could play an integral part of any future similar projects and if marketed and advertised properly could generate visitors from all over Scotland, the UK and Europe as part of school trips etc.


Another opportunity given our history and traditions would be to tie in with organisations such as the Boys Brigade and invite them to the museum that would contain historical information relating to the Boys Brigade Parades that have graced Ibrox. Other (in)famous visitors would include Billy Graham and royal visits to hand out awards. Another missed opportunity is the current ‘Homecoming Celebrations’ that will see hundreds of thousands of visitors to Scotland this year - something that Rangers, as Scotland’s premier and most successful club should be tapping into. Rangers should have had representatives and exhibitions etc lined up and included in the official celebrations as opposed to one ‘Scotland Day’ at a one-off match earlier this season.


To those that think such an initiative isn’t possible, Richard states that a few other Scottish clubs are at varying stages of having their own museums with Celtic’s visitor centre receiving up to 30,000 visitors per year. The most advanced museum project though is Hibernian FC Historical Trust which has created displays at Easter Road and is a member of Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS). Aberdeen FC is now going down this route as well.


Any Rangers museum could be a wonderful attraction given the unique nature of our club. From its humble beginnings on Flesher’s Haugh (on Glasgow Green) where four young held a shared dream of creating a football team – at this time they had no money, no kit, not even a ball. Their dream became our reality and we are now the most successful domestic club in the world with a decorated history that is steeped in tradition. This surely deserves to be showcased, celebrated, presented and sold to the world and this could be achieved partly through the medium of a museum. From our founding fathers; through Mr Struth; through overcoming various disasters and the tragic loss of fans; to Barcelona and the unmatched numbers in Manchester last year; our club has fascinating tales to be told and a museum is only way for these memories to be shared and ensure that they are not forgotten.


In conclusion, any museum may well require substantial investment from initial set-up costs and ongoing overheads to good old hard work and dedication. However, that isn't a valid excuse for not investigating such a worthy project and, as is happening at Hibs and Aberdeen, engaging with ex-players and interested supporters to move forward. Unfortunately, Sandy Jardine's new scouting role may mean any proposed head of a Rangers Historical Society should be someone with a bit more time to spare. Fortunately, we have dozens of legends capable of doing this job and many with the time to spare. Let's utilise the oft talked about Rangers Family to ensure accuracy and quality!


Such a project may take years to complete but it is time we made a fresh start and celebrated our club's history in a manner befitting our status as one of Scotland's best known and most prestigious institutions.



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