THE farcical was to be found anywhere you cared to look at Ibrox last night. Not just in the efforts to play a game on a snowbound pitch, but in the front door protests, and even in the stands.
Only in the seating arrangements in the directors’ box was the ridiculousness purely of a light-hearted nature, though. This was attributable to the picture uploaded on Twitter of the Celtic manager Ronny Deila seated, and with silly expression, in front of the standing, minder-like, Easdale brothers.
There just seemed something daft and incongruous about the snap, even if Deila’s presence, along with his assistant John Collins, was owed to his laudable decision to come and watch his club’s League Cup semi-final opponents in the only opportunity available to him. Maybe behind him Rangers directors James and Sandy Easdale had been photoshopped. For really, their ears should have been burning considering the supporter abuse being meted out to them.
Mind you, that was tame in comparison to the expletive-strewn invective directed towards Mike Ashley in the pitchfork-like gathering outside the main door of the stadium in the 45 minutes leading up to kick-off.
The tea-time moves by Dave King to remove the current Rangers board members David Somers, James Easdale, Derek Llambias and Barry Leach by way of an EGM had done nothing to quell supporter rage over the willingness to give Ashley security over Ibrox and Murray Park in return for a £10 million loan available to them from larger shareholder groupings without these conditions.
Despite the Antarctic conditions, an impressive turnout of around 400 descended on the barracked-off front door entrance in response to the call from the Union of Fans to vent their feelings over Ashley’s latest brazen, line-crossing manoeuvres. As well as feelings, spleens were positively vented by the crowd, some waving anti-board placards, others with a banner demanding that these men give them their club back. There was an insurrectionist, nasty feel to their sweary chants. Yet, there was also one moment that could not help but produce a chuckle.
After chants of ‘sack the board’, ‘we want our Rangers back, get out of our club...you thieving b******s, get out of our club’, sights were set on the Sports Direct (‘’yir havin’ a laugh’) owner.
With venom and volume, the fulminating throng struck up cries of ‘fat Geordie b*****d’ before a realisation struck among some of those doing the growling that Ashley is from Buckinghamshire, just north of the River Thames. Rapidly then Geordie was dropped for Cockney, before they moved on to simply calling him a ‘w****r’, and from their segueing into exhortations for the Easdales to ‘get tae f***’.
The whole scene turned ugly in more than just the language filling the air when some of the protesters seemed to recognise someone and stormed towards the oak-panelled doors. Punters clattered the metal barriers into the line of police. They, in turn, attempted to push back both the barriers and those heaving them towards the entrance.
This breach in the uneasy peace resulted in uniformed officers on horseback appearing on the scene and setting about dispersing the, by now, highly charged protesters. As these mounted police trotted towards the front door, the Rangers supporters’ battle cries became of the more old-school variety with Derry’s Walls and The Billy Boys given lusty renditions – as was the case when the game was later abandoned after 24 minutes. The ‘Fenian blood’ line in The Billy Boys once left Rangers with no hiding place in Uefa circles over the anti-Catholic expressions a section of the club’s support entwined in their supporting of the club.
The issue was presented as one of the most pressing the club faced during the last decade; a period during which they had a team capable of reaching a European final. How times – if not the enlightenment of some of the Ibrox faithful – have changed. By the end of the evening, the violence being reported was not related to the intemperate nature of any words being vocalised but related to alleged incidents that ensued as Hearts’ travelling support boarded their buses. The rancour at Rangers is struggling to find any acceptable outlets.
Video used with kind permission of Conor Elen. Original link here >>>