“Ray. People will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. "Of course, we won't mind if you look around", you'll say, "It's only $20 per person". They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh...people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
(James Earl Jones – Field of Dreams)
Apologies for leading with a quote I have used in a previous blog. My excuse is that no other narrative seems more apt on this occasion, in fact, it ran through my mind constantly on Friday night as I sat in wonderment. Replace Iowa with Ibrox, baseball with Rangers and you will catch my drift.
For an extraordinary thing happened last night in the world of football. You won’t find it written about in today’s football columns, and you certainly won’t find it on the BBC Scotland website. But people are talking about it, some in hushed whispers. Over 50,000 sold out Ibrox on Friday night for a televised match featuring a club who are not even in the top tier of Scottish football. To apply the icing on a considerably succulent cake – even an odious creep paid money to be there.
But it was more, far more than just a sell-out. It was a ringing endorsement for a regime and board who have swept to power in the most bitter of power struggles. Not only have they applied some much needed navigation to what was a rudderless ship in terms of the football side of things, but perhaps more importantly, they have signalled an intention to defend the club with a course of action which resonates amongst those of us who wish to see a defence of the brand from within Ibrox itself. It is something I, and many others have pleaded and argued for over 20 years. Credit where it's due, this board have delivered to the inevitable flak from the Scottish press and beyond. It is worth remembering however, the latter don’t buy season tickets – those who care about this club do.
I’m no Dave King acolyte, and you don’t have to be, all that is required is an exercise in judgement as to whether our club is heading in the right direction. If Friday night didn’t tell you that it clearly is, then I would respectfully suggest to you that pessimism or cynicism is clouding your judgement.
Friday night was fantastic. Within the Copland Rear I felt I had been dipped in those magic waters. I sat where once I had stood as a boy but felt myself continually standing as a cacophony of noise gave way to yet another chorus, only the verse dedicated to the man born to be King of Ibrox Park gave way to a new successor, one whose crown is a magic hat.
I could apply many adjectives to describe Friday night, but perhaps most poignantly and importantly, it reminded me of the Rangers I grew up with. A support, acting in concert, to cheer on the greatest team in the world. It perhaps worth remembering that whilst we may get a few things wrong, when it comes to supporting our club – nobody does it better. It’s why we are who we are – lest we forget.
Let the haters and malcontents do their worst. Let those who would compromise journalistic integrity take their best shot. In fact, I invite you, and implore you, give it your best shot. It won’t be enough. For your worst case scenario is upon you – a Rangers board which beats with the same heart as the Vanguard and Sentinel of Rangers Football Club – the support itself. That same support you have never been able to conquer and never will. You sent us to Elgin and we closed grounds, the backwaters of Scottish football and we broke records.
“Lo, a voice is calling in the wilderness”
Friday night it was heard by those who are born, not manufactured. It comes from deep within and cannot be explained. Like 50000+ selling out a Friday night televised game in a lower league.
“People will come”
We are the people.