If you’ve written about football for any length of time you’ve likely ran afoul of an Old Firm supporter at one point or another.
Such is the rivalry that it hardly matters what you wrote, or what side of the divide you were writing about. No, it’s just so charged that anything can cause offence and then an avalanche of toxicity that makes you question why you bother ever writing about either Celtic or Rangers.
In fact, many just don’t. As the Scottish league loses its importance outside of Scotland it becomes increasingly easier to just ignore them. Old Firm fans should perhaps reflect on that, but I digress,
My run-in came in the fall of 2012, right after Rangers were forced into administration and, as a result, all the way don’t the Scottish pyramid. I was writing about Fraser Aird and I wanted to underline that his starting for Rangers, although an accomplishment, was not quite as impressive as it would have been before they tumbled down the table. (I was trying to pump the breaks from a Canadian national team perspective).
To make that distinction, I used a term that was fairly common then, but that my naïve Canadian heart did not understand was going to deeply offend one half of the Old Firm divide.
I said that Aird was a starter for the “Newco Rangers.”
The story got posted to a Canadian Rangers Facebook page. It was an unpleasant few days on my Social Media channels. I had proudly never blocked anyone on Twitter before then (it was a different time).That streak ended then. Many times.
I bring this all up as a preamble to my main topic today, which I’m probably going to regret writing about within minutes of publishing this.
Rangers won their 55th title yesterday. No, it wasn’t their first.
I don’t write this because I’m secretly a Rangers fan, or because I want to ignore the undeniable reality that the business entity that was Rangers prior to 2012 is different from the business entity that exists today. That admin changed then. 100%.
But, what didn’t change was all the stuff that matters to a community. The Rangers fan that goes to Ibrox today is another in a line of fans that are connected by a shared history and passion that dates all the way back to 1872.
Clubs are given meaning by those individuals and communities that choose to attach themselves to them. Fans make clubs, not admin.
In the case of Rangers, the fans have so much passion (even if much of it is misguided and terrifying) that they have basically forced the greater world to let them keep their history.
It’s mostly only Celtic fans that are arguing otherwise and they are doing so not from a point of logic, but rather in an effort to attack their enemy in any and everywhere possible.
In many ways, the toxicity of the Old Firm is such that it’s the worst possible example to bring up to underline this point. If I were to argue that Wimbledon’s history shouldn’t be in Milton Keynes, no one is going to push back on that. But, the point remains, even when you find the fans problematic.
Sadly, there will be a lot of clubs that do not survive this pandemic. In reaction to that there will be a bunch of phoenix clubs that emerge from their ashes.
I see no reason that those new clubs shouldn’t be able to carry on the history of the clubs they form out of.
You see, the soul of the thing remains he same even when it enters another body. Let’s not concern ourselves with the technicalities of the money when thinking about the history of the clubs we both support AND hate.