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We the going gets tough, the tough get going

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An excellent introduction from an American fan on how he grew to love Rangers... :)




I suspect that my road to becoming a Rangers supporter is quite unlike most of those who pack into Ibrox on any given Saturday. My first shirt wasn’t a wee Rangers strip. Nor I did not grow up with posters of Souness and McCoist on my walls. I’m actually quite positive that until I discovered the club and its history, my father had no idea that one could play football professionally.


Growing up “across the pond,” my early years were full of baseball, basketball, and the American version football; which, as most of you know, doesn’t really involve the feet at all. I played football, mostly as a goalkeeper, when I was young, because that was the “cool” thing to do if you grew up in suburban America in the 1990s. Everything changed, however, when I was 14, and our family spent most of the summer living in Ayr. Being a typical American “Scotophile,” my Dad felt it to be a wonderful idea to switch houses, cars, and jobs with a local pastor in the Church of Scotland. And while I was excited to escape the country for a few weeks, I honestly felt the whole trip would be rather boring and an overall waste of time.


Then I did some reading.


After doing a bit of research, I became relatively well versed - at least for an American teenager - about the history of Scottish football, and of course, the Old Firm. The accessible, white bread version told me I had two choices. One was to support a Catholic side, the other was to support a Protestant side. Positively without malicious intent, I sided with Rangers simply because I knew that I didn’t go to mass on Sunday. This was followed by discarding every piece of green clothing that I was planning on bringing to Scotland, a few deep breaths, and quite a long plane ride.


In the ensuing eight weeks, however, I realized that religion was merely one piece of the puzzle. And I went from a casual bystander, to a downright obsessive fan. I quickly learned that there was a Rangers shop conveniently located in the Ayr city center - to which my mother dutifully drove me at least twice a week, and where I bought anything I could afford. We visited Ibrox and took the tour where I got my first glimpse at the well-stocked trophy room, walked through the tunnel and sat in the dugout. I also bought two strips. One in the traditional home blue, and the other in the now infamous shade of neon orange. I’m pretty sure that those were the only two shirts I wore for the remainder of the trip.


When we arrived home, my bedroom was quickly decorated with pin up of Barry Ferguson, a bright blue Rangers rug, and about any other image relating to the club that I could print off of the trusty inkjet printer. Yet it wasn’t merely a childhood fascination with something new that drove my fandom so far, so fast.


Even at that age, I could sense that there was something about different about both football fans in general, and Rangers supporters in particular. In the U.S., we use the term “pink hat” quite often to describe a fan whose devotion to a team is extremely fickle and shallow. It was originally connoted with fans of the Boston Red Sox, my local baseball team, who preferred donning pink, rhinestone encrusted versions of the typical team t-shirts and hats, rather than the traditional red and blue. They typically knew nothing about the team or their run of form. They just showed up at games, hoped to get on the big screens, and in the process typically acted like complete and utter idiots.


I’m sure that many season ticket holders would disagree with me, but at first glance, being a Rangers fan meant so much more than simply attending football matches. Rangers was a culture, a religion if you will. This was not simply what one did every few Saturdays. It wasn’t simply what colour scarf or top you preferred wearing. Rangers was and is a way of life, that’s been passed down through the generations. It’s a fervour that only those on the inside can understand. And across social classes, neighbourhoods, and countries, it’s a moniker that brings thousands, if not millions of people together.


When I travelled back to Scotland to study at the University of Edinburgh, all I had to do was reach out to my local RSC, and I was immediately embraced as part of that exquisite Rangers family. No one on the bus to Ibrox glanced uneasily at the lanky kid from America, but allowed me to join in the songs, the banter, and the many, many pints, as a neighbour and friend. We were all brought together by a club we loved, and simply that was enough.


While my story may seem rather cliché, and a bit kitschy, it’s extremely pertinent to the situation we as Rangers find ourselves in today. It’s no mistake that as the extent of Craig Whyte’s damage became more and more apparent; one of the first rallying cries the support drummed up was #RangersFamily. When our club was threatened from the outside, we turned inward to tap the collective power of the millions of supporters across the globe, reminding each other that together, as one Rangers family, we’re unbeatable and certainly don’t do walking away.


Yet, as the months have lagged on, and our collected friends in the media take their swipes at this proud club, a lot of us have forgotten the reason why Rangers means so much to us. Instead of remembering the true meaning and power of the Rangers Family, we’ve found it more constructive to start splitting hairs, and fighting amongst each other. I for one, can’t see how this serves any type of a constructive purpose.


Of course it’s important that we stay informed as a support, weed out misinformation, and ensure that those who will take the reins at Ibrox and Auchenhowie are not only capable, but equally passionate about Rangers and all that it means to each and every one of us. Debate is good when it remains positive and constructive, and I certainly do not propose the stifling of these conversations under the guise of phony unity. But when every single opinion, dutifully researched and written, is immediately attacked for being “against the best interest of the club,” or its author is said to not be a true fan, or worse, a Tim in disguise, then we truly lose sight of what’s important in times such as these. It’s realizing that no matter our different opinions on the road we must take to get there, we all love Rangers immensely, and understand that the club is better when we as the support present a strong, united front.


What hooked me on Rangers, and what keeps me excited for its future is that collective spirit and energy that takes a mass of supporters and shapes them into what we know to be the Rangers Family. It was the sense that the club’s history and values would live on through the years, and would eventually triumph despite whatever obstacles would stand in our way. This is what we must remember as the tabloids continue to print stories of shady boardroom tactics, or as we get taken to court by those who pretend to have our best interests at heart. Because when the dust settles, and it will eventually settle, we will all, as Rangers, be better for it.


The future will be taxing (no pun intended). But when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That’s why WE are the people.

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Is everyone else thinking what I'm thinking after reading the thread title.


The season 1988/89 VHS (my first every Rangers video and the start of something special in NIAR) and the camera is flying over Ibrox with that song playing at the start of the video.


Pretty sure we beat Hamilton away in the opening game with the gaffer scoring a diving header and Gary Stevens notching the first by a deflection.


I think ........




PS Cracking read.

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