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66 Reasons Why Rangers Should NEVER Relinquish Ownership of Ibrox


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THE emotional pull of the 1971 stadium disaster in which 66 people died means that Rangers must never give up the lease of Ibrox.

 

”THE disaster will never leave me. Never a day goes by that it doesn’t go through my mind.

 

“I still get letters from guys who have never been back to Ibrox for a game since that day. I have taken some of them around the stadium for them to see what it is like now.

 

“The new stadium is, in fact, a testament to those who died. In the trophy room there is a beautiful picture of the old stadium up on the wall. For me it is one of the most important things in that room and I make a point of showing it to the people who go there.

 

“It’s important, especially for the young fans who have only seen the new stadium, that they know the history of this club, where we came from and why we came from that point.”

 

Those words were spoken by John Greig as he received his Greatest Ranger Ever award on March 1999.

 

The people guising as the guardians of Rangers would do well to read them and let them sink in.

 

And perhaps listen to the words of a man I interviewed on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Ibrox Disaster.

 

I must have written about hundreds of people in the 20 years I have worked for this newspaper but few of them left the kind of impression a softly-spoken Airdrie man did when he invited me into his home just after Christmas in 2000.

 

Matt Reid was a 49-year-old man but a part of him was forever 19 – the age he was when he survived the disaster but lost his father, one of the 66 people swept to their deaths when the barriers crumpled on Staircase 13.

 

Matt’s description of the horrors of that day remain vivid in the mind of this Glaswegian who was only eight in ’71 but whose own dad was in the crowd that day. He came home. We were among the lucky ones.

 

Matt Reid spent three months in hospital after the crush. It wasn’t only his thigh bone that had broken. His heart was too.

 

He said: “The game was a blank but every other detail is vivid. The final whistle went and we moved straight up the terracing to make our way out. We took a left, walking alongside the back corrugated shuttering, getting 20 or 30 feet, then a surge started and we got carried off our feet.

 

“My father was agitated because people were crushing and he was protective towards me. He was panicking more than me because I’d encountered crushing before at other matches.

 

“When we got to the top of exit 13, people were coming from three different directions to reach it. It was like trying to put a gallon of water into a pint bowl.

 

“The crushing was really bad at the top of the stair but I wasn’t too concerned at that point, certainly not in fear of my life. But when the surging happened again I thought I would be swept down the stairs so I got a grip of a six-foot fence running parallel with the handrail all the way down that stair and I wasn’t for letting go. My father was behind me at that point.

 

“The force of the people coming down behind me was so strong I started to lose my grip. Just at that point I heard metal grinding and crushing just down the stair below where I was.

 

“It was like a wave of people being carried out the way as well as down and that’s when the barriers must have mangled. That’s when my father got swept away. It was as if he had been swept away on a wave of water.

 

 

“I was still trying to cling on and it must have been horrible for him – the last thing I heard him shout was, ‘Oh Christ, my boy’. After about 10 minutes I finally couldn’t hold on and went down on to the stair, face down and facing the bottom.

 

“Again there were surges and I felt people getting carried over me. I could feel their heels on my back, then when they stopped moving, this guy was standing square on my back. There was nothing the guy could have done but to me he felt about 16 stone.

 

“I was being crushed and that’s when I was sick. The pie and Bovril I’d had during the game came back up. To this day, when I smell Bovril, I’m back there, lying face down on those stairs.”

 

Matt was finally rescued from beneath a pile of bodies and went on to marry the nurse who cared for him in the Southern General Hospital. The one good thing to come out of the Disaster, he told me that day.

 

But for generations of Rangers fans, another good thing came out of that terrible afternoon. Ibrox was rebuilt and in many ways has become a monument to those who fell on January 2, 1971.

 

It’s not only the names of the dead on the wall, it’s not about the statue of Greig – the man, who with Sandy Jardine and the other Rangers players, attended so many funerals in the weeks that followed.

 

No, the spirit of the 66 is seeped into those red bricks. They are a part of that rebuilt stadium. You might not see it but you feel it, particularly every January. Ibrox Stadium is a memorial to these people, as much as it is a stage upon which the hopes and dreams of thousands have been played out over the years.

 

And now the very people who are supposed to be custodians of this club seem to be prepared to hand it over to Mike Ashley. They’ve posted an advance notice with the Register of Scotland, which would mean if they accept another loan from the Sports Direct tycoon and default on the repayment terms, they’d have to sell it to raise the cash to pay him back.

 

Think about that for a moment. The very people entrusted with looking after the best interests of their club have put its ownership of the stadium at risk.

 

The Rangers board which agreed to this set of circumstances have to examine their consciences. Two of them, Derek Llambias and Barry Leach are Ashley’s men of course. As the Newcastle owner drip-fed loan deals to keep the lights on at Ibrox he demanded more and more control.

 

This is a man who refused to pay into the last share issue, then spent £800,000 shortly after buying them from another investor, which meant Rangers didn’t receive a penny of that money.

 

In desperation the club had to go cap in hand to him for more cash and thus he was able to exert even more influence. If Ashley, Llambias and Leach have squared off those tactics in their own minds so be it.

 

But perhaps they should sit down with the relatives of the 66, look into their eyes, and tell them Ibrox may no longer belong to Rangers.

 

If they can do that without blinking then Rangers really are careering into hell on a handcart.

 

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/david-mccarthy-66-reasons-rangers-5001307

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Very emotive article and certainly brought back memories for me. My dad and his brother were attending the match and had left about 10 minutes before the end. My mom and I were at my granny's house in Paisley and I'll never forget the panic in the house, even as a 4 year old at the time. There was just no way of knowing who had been affected until my dad and uncles got back home. Ibrox is a monument to the 66, and for the board to adopt a cést la vie attitude should never be forgotten or forgiven.

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