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Rangers have no skeletons in the cupboard, but these songs do the Ibrox men little credit

 

By JOHN GOW

 

When the news that UEFA are looking to bring charges against Rangers for sectarian singing, there is hardly a Rangers fan who did not groan with displeasure. It's in the nature of being a supporter that you dislike bad PR for the club you love. It would be easy to metaphorically put your head under the pillow and wish it would all go away. Well it isn't going away. It was never going away.

 

Some fans pretended it was and nothing could touch the club. They are wrong.

 

There are people who spend most of their waking life writing about and trying to hurt The Rangers any way they can. In a world without meaning this is their raison d'�ªtre. However, let us be clear. Some of the songs Rangers fans sing have become unacceptable, and frankly bizarre, in modern society.

 

It's not necessary to sing about Chapels and Nuns considering there are more than enough Championships, Cups and victories against Celtic to cheer.

 

Rangers are standing at a crossroads that has two paths. The first is to blindly walk on the current course. It will be a 'death by a thousand cuts' with a long, slow degradation of Rangers reputation and standing. There will almost certainly be bans from UEFA and the SFA/SPL or Scottish Authorities will eventually be forced to make their mark. This road is exactly what many non-Rangers fans secretly desire.

 

The second option is to embrace Zero Tolerance, completely forbid the singing of those songs and chants like 'No Pope of Rome', 'The Billy Boys' and 'The Famine Song' but also in return demand Scottish football and society stop all offensive and sectarian songs. Including the terrorist-chic of IRA songs. The charge by some fans that if these songs are banned the club will start to lose part of it's identity is false. Singing about Rangers or even your pride in Britishness is not the same as pejoratively referencing another religion or nationality. In 1960, James Handley writing in 'The Celtic Story' wrote that:

 

until a Catholic centre-forward in a Rangers blue jersey scores a goal against a Celtic team the tension will persist. If that should ever come to pass then the rabble would be bewildered and all its fire extinguished. The notion that the mob can be ultimately educated to see the folly of its way is a hollow one, for the creatures who compose it are ineducable.

 

Not only is the text highly inflammatory and surprisingly reminiscent of Graham Spiers, he fails to understand The Rangers support. In the end when his Catholic Rangers player scenario once again came to life, the Maurice Johnston goal did not cause depression amongst Rangers fans but sheer joy. In fact it was even sweeter because it made the Celtic fans feel worse than usual after such a late decider. In the end it has always been about the club winning Championships and beating Celtic.

 

That is Rangers' identity. This is a crucial point.

 

Stopping songs about Catholicism or Ireland is not the same as asking Rangers fans to stop singing about Rangers and even of Britishness. Some fans have fallen into the trap of forgetting an identity is for something and not just against something. If the fans do stop then the club can legitimately defend the support. They have done this in the past when certain journalists questioned some pro-British songs. It soon became obvious that their query was not completely driven by an anti-sectarian stance, but to a reaction against any mention of British identity. In the end they had to back down. They had no case.

 

However if the singing does persist, Martin Bain can hardly be seen to be defending the support if fans mention Famines and Priests. No-one can. Not Bain or any other CEO in the future.

 

It doesn't matter if fans say they are not insulting those who died in a famine. If you mention a famine you can hardly blame people taking offence. If another fan group quoted the Ibrox Disaster - even if they were not belittling the tragedy - Rangers fans would still find it unacceptable.

 

It doesn't matter if you elaborate some response that you dislike Catholicism as a religion but have no problems with Catholics. If you sing about "No Pope of Rome" and "No Nuns and no Priests, fuck your Rosary Beads" you will not be taken seriously. It doesn't matter if you sing 'The Billy Boys' and explain that Fenian does not mean Catholic and that Celtic fans sing in praise of Fenians. Society is not a debating chamber. Ideas are transmitted crudely. Sometimes those who make the most noise win.

 

It has already been decided Fenian means Catholic. Game over. And lets be honest, in the same way some people use Hun to mean British or Protestant and then pretend it only means Rangers fans.

 

There is no way a sizeable - especially young - section of the support does not equate Fenian with Catholic. Now before you get the impression I am just putting on a hair-shirt after a good beating with the big guilt-stick, I would like to re-emphasise - that as well as stopping those songs seen as offensive - Rangers FC and fans should demand zero-tolerance of sectarianism and discrimination from everyone. Demand that everyone should actually follow through on their strong zero-tolerance campaigns and expose them when they don't.

 

Continue to ask questions if you see double-standards. Ask why it is a crime to be up to your knees in Fenian blood, but not Hibee or any other blood? Politely ask why offensive songs about the Pope are worse than offensive songs praising the IRA? Ask why journalists like Graham Spiers of The Times believes pro-IRA songs are "political" and why Andrew Smith of The Scotsman thinks "any acknowledgement of the Irish Republic can be viewed as pro-IRA" and that "The British Army are guilty of acts of terrorism in Iraqw" (sic) . Demand to know why glorifying guns and violence is acceptable? Query why IRA songs are "political" but UVF songs are sectarian? (Please note I am against both.)

 

Once questions are asked it will surprise you how many secretly support or defend the IRA, or their own form of bigotry. They get off lightly because they are never asked any difficult questions by a support too busy navel-gazing over a few indefensible songs. Only recently I came across an article by a St Johnstone fanzine interviewing the BBC's Stuart Cosgrove who said:

 

"One time we were through at Hearts, and we were at Falkirk station on the way, on the same day Rangers were playing Falkirk. It was Huns galore - thousands of them, and there were maybe 40 of us in the CYS from Perth. We got on the train at Falkirk Station, we just opened the windows as it started moving, and gave them "Orange wankers" and all the rest of it, and of course as soon as we were moving - the train stopped and started moving back into the station! The driver must have been a Hun or something." http://www.blueheaven.org.uk/cos1/cos3.php

 

This is an employee of the same BBC who lecture others on sectarianism. This is the level of debate we are dealing with. It only needs the light of day for it to be exposed for what it is. (Ask yourself if you hear Stuart Cosgrove in the future discussing sectarianism that you won't be better informed about him by knowing that quote.) Rangers fans welcome fans and players from all religions and nationalities.

 

From Dubliner Alex Stevenson who went onto coach the Republic of Ireland national team to Nacho Novo of Spain and Lorenzo Amoruso of Italy. From the supporters in Rome called 'the Italian Gers' to the Dublin Loyal of Ireland. From a report that show 5% of Rangers fans in Glasgow are Catholic (4% of Celtic fans in Glasgow are Protestant) to the Gers proud Asian fans.

 

No-one cares because they share the support of The Rangers Football Club. However, wider society doesn't see this. They only see the stereotype projected and hear nonsense songs. They naturally assume the worst. So accept the challenge.

 

Take the opportunity to make the Ibrox experience noisy and colourful. Sing about the magic of Rangers history. If there are non-football songs make sure it is for a positive identity we can share together. Society wants Zero Tolerance so lets give it to them. Start demanding the zero tolerance of all offensive/racist/bigoted songs. Not only is it the right moral choice but it's the best action for the club.

 

There is nothing to fear. Rangers have no skeletons in the cupboard. Let us see if others can say the same.

 

http://www.theawayend.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=677:uefa-charge-is-an-opportunity-for-rangers&catid=51:features&Itemid=109

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There absolutely HAS to be some decent song and anthem writers out there who could create something purely about RANGERS that could stick and could become every bit as rousing as TBB etc

 

If we had some kind of fan unity (I know, I know....) we could create a new song list - although was this not tried with the wee blue book ?

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I am not familiar with the web site or the writer but this is an outstanding piece of journalism that clearly differentiates right from wrong.

 

When I first started following Rangers in the late fifties and early 60's Follow Follow was the THE song but since the middle got hijacked with "f*** the Pope in the Vatican, it is well offside.

 

Perhaps Rangers should try bringing it back with the correct words a la the wee blue book as Craig suggests.

 

Also it might be worth trying some community singing with song sheets but some one other than Andy Cameron to lead the way!

Edited by BrahimHemdani
typo
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Personally, and I know I am not the authorities here, I see absolutely nothing wrong with "Fuck the Pope in the Vatican". I dont really care for the Pope so why shouldn't I say "Fuck him and his house" ??

 

It isnt sectarian or religious haterd in my opinion, just a dislike for the person and the position that is not necessarily earned. I actually feel the same way about some of the Royal family too - and would happily say "Fuck them" about those folks too - again, why should I not be allowed to say that ?

 

If someone gets offended by "Fuck the Pope" then they probably shouldnt have a TV switched on EVER as there are far more offensive things on TV than there are in saying Fuck the Pope.

 

All that said, from a Rangers perspective, there are ways to fight this lunacy of Rangers being the only club impacted - some of the monkey chants, obvious racism, violence, firecrackers etc etc at other grounds on European nights have gone unpunished for an eternity - and yet WE are the ones who are being punished. Which is nonsense.

 

However, the way to challenge it is NOT, again just in my opinion, to simply show defiance and continue to chant these "offensive" songs (makes me cringe even saying they are offensive as it is, at best, mock offense). If we think that UEFA, SFA, SPL, Celtic, the Fenian letter-writers will simply stop complaining, stop chastising, stop punishing, stop banning, stop fining us then we, as a support, are completely deluded.

 

We HAVE to stop singing them, in the short term, but rather than the club begging us to stop singing them they then need to go on the attack against all the above organisations. It is very difficult for them to go on the attack when we, as a support, are giving these groups ammo with which to shoot down the club. Stop singing the songs (for now !) and then get the club to go attacking those who attack us.

 

We have to see that if we continue to sing the songs then we are in a position of weakness, both as a club and as a support. And from that position it is difficult to win against agenda-driven groups.

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From elsewhere:

 

Football is war.

 

Whenever we use terminology to describe the beautiful game we are always drawn to words of combat. We use structural metaphor to describe almost every action within a match. We have defenders, attackers, strategies and before a goal can be scored someone has to shoot.

 

The terminology we use is not by accident; many sports are like war and we need only take a look at the All Blacks match preparation to realise that each match is a battle. The Ka Mate Haka was used by Maori warriors to prepare for war and they still do today albeit without the bloodshed.

 

Football fans are also part of the battle on the park, that is why supporters are commonly known as the twelfth man. They rally their team with battle cries and songs to cheer their warriors to victory. Unfortunately, the twelfth man of Rangers has seen the loss of one of our favourite cries for no legitimate reason.

 

The Billy Boys is a song often sung after our anthem Follow Follow. For some unknown motive UEFA, backed by David Murray, decided to ban all variations of the song. There are no sectarian words in this song and there is nothing wrong with it at all.

 

Celtic were started by an Irishman for Irishmen. Even their nickname the Bhoys is an inflection of the Irish pronunciation to show the origins of the club. So calling the team Irish warriors cannot be bad at all, can it? Even Celtic fans refer to themselves as fenians.

 

As we use terms of war for matches it makes sense that we also use terminology for defeating enemies. The line “up to our knees in fenian blood” is simply a metaphor for crushing, defeating, vanquishing, beating, humbling or besting our enemies. It’s merely a rousing battle cry calling for our warriors to defeat their enemies.

 

Whilst there is nothing wrong with the banned song The Billy Boys there are a couple of songs that would be wise to drop. These songs do not talk of our rivals, but a religious sect, which do not really need to be on our song sheet.

 

The fans have every right to feel aggrieved as the club appears to be being singled out. UEFA delegates gave us the thumbs up, yet are now deciding to take action based on a report from an extraneous organisation. What the content of these songs is we have yet to hear.

 

It would be interesting to know whether they can actually prove there has been any wrongdoing. This outside organisation, FARE, has targeted Rangers in the past and failed.

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