Lessons From History

Whenever I watch the film “The Last Samurai”, and in particular the final battle scenes, I'm reminded of a factual battle which had considerable parallels with its Hollywood counterpart. The Battle of Tannenberg ( which gave rise to the Solzhenitsyn novel/narrative August 1914) during the First World War, paired the Russian Army against the German. The Russian cavalry units included the famed Don Cossacks, and in many ways it was a meeting of the old and the new, the traditional against the modern. Alas, for the Russians, they suffered the same fate as those Hollywood Samurai and were completely routed.

The reason for this historical and cinematic opening to this article is that I believe there is a lesson in here for the Rangers support – sometimes unlimited passion, unswerving self-belief, unquestionable skill, undeniable loyalty and steadfast determination are quite simply not enough – not if the tactics are wrong.

Some of you will no doubt be familiar with the John Allan quote:-

That is the story of the Rangers. They have had good times and bad times, critical times and times of exultation. No club with the same modest origin can claim so distinguished a record of achievement. They were not born in the lap of luxury. They have been the architects of their own fortune, and, simply because of that, they have become equipped with the moral resistive force to grapple with adversity, which is better than being coddled in the cradle and whining when the wind blows cold. May all who look upon the old club with a friendly eye stand prepared, by precept and example, to protect its interests and its good name.

But how would you measure our success at grappling with adversity in the last 12 months ? Have we adapted our moral resistive force to ensure it is fit for purpose in this day and age ? Or is it time for a re-think of both our equipment and our tactics ? The Rangers Standard mission statement declares it is time for fresh thinking; I would wholeheartedly agree, with a caveat that it is not only time – it is imperative we implement some new ideas and strategies if we are to aspire to protecting our club, its interests and its good name.

Considerable injustice has been wrought upon our club over the last 12 months, with many of the instances in the public domain, and yet no-one outside our club appears to championing our cause. The press and media coverage at times, has been nothing short of shameful, and yet there is little evidence, going by recent columns, of any significant change, despite the result of the first tier tax tribunal. Furthermore there seems to be little appetite amongst politicians of any party to raise questions in any house with regard to the treatment inflicted upon our club.

Such treatment of this club and its support, has at times been akin to those unfortunate enough to live in a country which bestows second class citizenship upon some of its population. Notwithstanding the lack of representation, the abject lack of fairness in matters relating to our club, we also had to suffer the ignominy of being treated as guilty until proven innocent.

But who may you ask is going to change this ? The answer is simple.

Every single one of us who looks upon this club with a friendly eye. The unlimited passion, unswerving self-belief, unquestionable skill, undeniable loyalty and steadfast determination are already present in abundance. It is just a matter of adopting the correct tactics. Jim Traynor's most recent clarion call was as informative as it was clear with regard to how to deal with the press. I won't labour the detail as I'm sure it's content is something we are all familiar with.

Many Rangers supporters often speak about the power of the Rangers support. It's time for some honest soul searching - we don't have power, if we did, we would not have been subjected to the treatment we have witnessed over the last 12 months. What we have is potential power, an awesome one at that, but that potential needs to be unleashed in an effective manner in order that it becomes a reality.

During the Falklands War my commando unit spent much of its time second guessing Argentine troop movements in order that we could fulfil our remit of the three D's – Disrupt, Demoralise and Destroy. However one night in particular I found myself pondering over British troop movements rather than Argentine. The Paras courageous attack on Goose Green had me totally confused as there appeared to be little strategic reason for the attack. It was only post war that I learned there never was a strategic reason, it was purely a morale boosting exercise to counter the demoralising effect of the Argentine Exocets which were taking their toll not only on the Royal and Merchant Navy, but also on public morale back home.

As a support we need to be clever and selective about the battles we pick. On one Rangers forum I was recently nominated to be part of a panel reviewing an alternative version of The Billy Boys. I had to politely decline as I felt my focus would not be 100%. I find it hard to worry about a song when the most basic of fundamental rights of justice and fairness are being usurped regularly with regard to our club. Furthermore I believe the banning of this song is simply a symptom of a more serious threat against our club, one which has been shown, could threaten our very existence. I can live without a song – I cannot live without my football club. The resources at our disposal should be used not to fight the battles we think we can win, nor for that matter the battles we would like to win, they must be used to fight the battles we have to win.

Despite the sometimes fractured nature of our support, I believe we can channel our efforts towards a common goal. This Utopian ideal of all of our supporters groups, websites, fans organisations, bloggers and fanzines all singing from the same hymn sheet is simply unrealistic. What is far more realistic is that we recognise that complete unity is unachievable, but do recognise that despite this, we can work together on a unified purpose and strategy to effect much needed change. Students and practitioners of rhetoric often refer to a term known as an enthymeme, from the Greek term enthumema. It's a form of three part syllogism, normally with the first premise disguised. In simpler terms it's the point in a discussion or debate where the parties are in common agreement and from where they can move forward. In more informal language it’s the part of a discussion where you would lean forward and say “Cant we at least agree..” And in true Blue Peter style here's one I prepared earlier....

Can’t we at least agree that we all love Rangers and recognise the need to defend her from hostile and unjust attacks ?

Perhaps some reading this will disagree that there is a need for change. That our lobbying, co-ordinating, communication and networking skills, our ability to affect change are sufficient. I would answer you simply by directing you to the Official E -Petition asking Parliament to debate the HMRC leaks with regard to our club.

At the time of this article 39,325 have signed it – far less than we average for a home game.