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Rangers troubled by "inappropriate singing"

Does poor football cause poor behaviour?

26 February ~ At Stirling Albion's Forthbank stadium tonight Rangers return to the scene of their only league defeat this season. However, many will believe this season's biggest setback took place on Saturday at Berwick. A few hundred of the travelling support, which constituted over half Shielfield's 4,500 crowd, sang about "Fenian blood", paedophilia and co-commentator Craig Burley's wife. It was picked up loud, clear and live by ESPN's microphones. More than blackening an already grim 3-1 away win, these songs dented the "phoenix from the flames" romanticism around the Glasgow club's lower-league life.

The resurrection of sectarian ditties was brief and, in truth, confined to a section of younger supporters who had clearly enjoyed a liquid breakfast before the noon kick-off. In Fever Pitch Nick Hornby posits the theory that poor football attracts poor fan behaviour. And it's pertinent that the catalogue of paedophilia songs – aimed initially at the heavy police attention ("Why don't you go and catch a paedo?") then extended to Jock Stein, Celtic and the Catholic church – ended when Rangers produced the one pleasing move in the entire game, scoring on the stroke of half-time.

However, sectarian singing was often at its worst when Rangers were at their best. The extensive eroding of anti-Catholic songs at 21st-century Ibrox actually ran parallel with the club's increasing financial problems. From personal experience I can say that the disorientating transportation of our support to lower league venues has often felt like a quantum leap back to the early 1980s. Rangers fans in their teens and twenties won’t have experienced regularly standing on terraces, nor watching a poorer standard of football.

Boredom and identity crises are classic drivers of anti-social behaviour but the most valid mitigation for what went on at Berwick was sat in the directors’ box opposite Shielfield's cowshed covered enclosure. Chief executive Charles Green, the appointed representative of the new company running Rangers, has engaged in a sustained campaign of blaming everyone else for our current position. There's no structure to his public ranting; the only consistency has been to take the most embittered voices as representative of the entire fan base. He's threatened to take the club out of Scotland, blamed their exclusion from the SPL on bigotry and last week he claimed he would quit the club if chairman Malcolm Murray didn’t resign.

By half time on Saturday Rangers had expressed disappointment with the "inappropriate singing". Time was obviously of the essence but the two-line statement contrasted starkly with the novella-sized condemnations of journalists and administrators which have become the norm on the club website. You can’t criticise blind bitterness when it’s actually club policy. It was left to manager Ally McCoist, after the match, to actually apologise.

Rangers fans says that those mocking our financial implosion of last summer are "obsessed". However, six different songs about child abuse in five minutes demonstrate a far more sinister obsession. As the tabloids often demonstrate, there is a thin line between condemning paedophilia and celebrating it. Rangers fans who feel the need to attack the Vatican can safely stand down – there are enough people, better qualified and far more invested, currently on the case. And it's not just in Rome where an institution enduring a year of setbacks could do with a change of leader. Alex Anderson

On the subject...

Comment on 26-02-2013 13:18:22 by Lee Smith #767280
I don't see where you're getting that the football Rangers fans are seeing this season is of a poorer standard, I've watched lower league football for 15 years and it is much better than the SPL, and that is including when Rangers were there.

Green and his 'everyone's to blame bar Rangers' agenda is worrying & baffling, to say the least. Although the SFA/SFL seem to just stand aside and let him do it, despite the SFA being the target of his bile several times.
Comment on 26-02-2013 13:27:40 by JimDavis #767285
"phoenix from the flames" romanticism - really? Surely only the buffoons singing the “inappropriate songs” believe that. From busted flush to the only fully professional team in the league in the blink of an eye. I hope all the OldCo’s honest subcontractors got paid in full? To think there were some at the start of the season saying NewCo Rangers was not the same club as the old one?
Comment on 26-02-2013 18:37:57 by Alex Anderson #767408
Lee - it's Rangers who're producing the poorer standard of football this season. Considering they're the only full-time team in the league they've been awful at times, even while racking up the points. I can't blame them too much for that considering it's a brand new team in a brand new environment - and entertainment's not really the point for most Bluenoses this season. I've watched lower league and juniors my whole life and I've never had more admiration for it than this season.

Green has been pulled up by the beaks but you get the impression it only helps his self-fulfilling persecution prophecy.

JimDavis - not really gettin what angle you're comin at this from.
Comment on 26-02-2013 19:28:31 by OnceGaza #767425
JimDavis wrote:
"phoenix from the flames" romanticism - really? Surely only the buffoons singing the “inappropriate songs” believe that. From busted flush to the only fully professional team in the league in the blink of an eye. I hope all the OldCo’s honest subcontractors got paid in full? To think there were some at the start of the season saying NewCo Rangers was not the same club as the old one?

The old club died. UEFa's website said so.
Comment on 26-02-2013 20:27:49 by AMMS #767453
Good piece, some great points.
Comment on 26-02-2013 21:19:52 by kevin cosgrave #767475
yes a good piece, there are few supporters of any club who can take such a honest viewpoint of their clubs failings, (though RFC do make it easier) Well done Alex.
Comment on 27-02-2013 09:47:17 by Mr Beast #767588
I have the feeling Alex’s articles are subject to microscopic scrutiny by those looking to take offence. Anyway, good work Alex.
Comment on 27-02-2013 11:06:21 by jameswba #767624
Second the previous three posts - following football would be a saner, healthier pastime if more fans could summon the level of honesty of this article. Always good to see the populist idiocy of people like Green get a good skewering as well.

On the Fever Pitch reference, it's 18 years since I read the book, but I recall more a bit where he says sth like that the smaller crowds got, the more likely the hooligans were to be there. So if you went to, say, the Den when there were only 4,000 in or St Andrews with 6,000, you were proportionately more likely to come face to face with bad behaviour than if there were 15,000-20,000 there. When I read it, I had the impression Hornby was in real 'middle-class observer gives horrified/fascinated insights into links between violence and loyalty' mode. But I'm probably due a re-read of the book.
Comment on 27-02-2013 14:09:04 by Coral #767703
Hornby becoming like Elijah Wood in the bloody awful Green Street?
Comment on 27-02-2013 20:52:30 by Alex Anderson #767990
@Once Gaza - see, I didn't know if Jim was sarcastically saying sectarian singing proved new Rangers were just as poorly-behaved as he felt old Rangers to be or if he was having a go at me for pieces I did last summer saying Rangers were indeed dead. But I've checked some of his previous posts and I think it's safe to assume it's the latter.

Rangers did die - but they were resusciatated - and, like a lot of patients who've refused to walk towards the light, they've suffered some serious personality changes since their heart was re-started. I'm just hoping these are temporary changes - just as I needed a bit of a rest last summer, a moment to admit what had happened, lest we carried on with our old unhealthy habits and let it all happen again.

Uefa website? Glad we're all taking that as gospel now.
Comment on 27-02-2013 21:10:12 by Alex Anderson #768000
Thanks AMMS, Kevin, Mr Beast and jameswba - much appreciated. And, James, I reckon I must read Fever Pitch about once every couple of years - sad, I know, but it is interpolation central(as well as just a brilliantly written book)and - yup - same chapter we're talking about. Hornby admits straight away that it's a theory for which he has no hard evidence and, as you say, it's all to do with the "nutter" element being less diluted as the support as a whole dwindles. Mainly because the non-nutters were "only" there for the football and the football is becoming crapper.

There's certainly a lot of validity to this reasoning and I almost dregged it up on Saturday as a knee-jerk excuse for what I was hearing. Problem is, Rangers fans have been involved in crowd violence at two European finals as well as a fairs Cup semi. Even though I'm not letting us take any blame for BRAVELY RESISTING FRANCO'S HENCHMEN at the Nou Camp in 1972 (What the hell), it kinda puts the skids under that potential excuse. But there's a lot of rules and norms Rangers don't conform to.

And if our fans had reacted accoridng to the standard of Rangers football at Forthbank last night, the locals would still be under siege in Stirling castle ...
Comment on 28-02-2013 09:51:18 by Magik #768176
I thought Alex Anderson WAS AMMS....
Comment on 28-02-2013 12:39:37 by OnceGaza #768246
Even UEFA more trustworthy than the club which died.


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