Comparisons over time can be a difficult thing.
All too often you end up concluding that you aren’t comparing like with like.
But it can be fun to try.
This is especially true in respect of the two clubs that have played out of Ibrox. People like to compare Rangers and Sevco, and comment on changed times.
And some – in the case of Sevco fans themselves – like to comment on how things haven’t really changed at all.
For them, it’s still the same club in every respect except for those pesky debts that the miraculously-distinct ‘holding company’ conveniently shed for the Greater Good in 2012.
Nae luck Face Painter!
Either way, whether you view them as two separate clubs, or prefer to cling to the edge of the flat earth lest you fall off, there is one unarguable constant that makes for interesting comparison:
The Ibrox moonbeams peddled by the Scottish sports media.
This observation occurred to me having read a piece by Gordon Waddell in the Sunday Mail yesterday, and then having seen some old articles posted on Twitter this morning by @bonscott_1 and @VLR.
Let’s start with the old stuff…
Back in 1996, as ‘Lamb Mania’ was really taking off, we were treated to these delights by Jim Traynor and the Daily Record.
As we all know, these pieces were just the tip of a huge David Murray-shaped iceberg which included
- stories of hover pitches and super-casinos
- a David Tanner for every fiver Celtic spent [I think that’s right…]
- an unrelenting slew of stories about potentially earth-shattering transfer targets [which were only finally trumped by the actual purchase of Tore Andre Flo for £12m!!!]; and
- Rangers possibly having three teams: one for Europe, one for the League and one for the Cups.
It made for easy stories, it sold newspapers, and it made the Bears feel good.
It also created and perpetuated the narrative that David Murray was the King of Scottish football who would spend whatever it took to take Rangers to their ‘destiny’ of European success.
And of course it also allowed relentless unfavourable comparisons to be made with Fergus McCann and his determined, ‘parsimonious’ but sustainable rebuilding job at Celtic.
A job for which Celtic fans continue to owe him enormous thanks.
Fast-forward to 2015, and we still find large parts of the media in thrall to the Ibrox brand.
Still cheerleading. And still claiming that everything is absolutely fantastic almost all of the time.
But oh dear! The material they have to work with just isn’t the same any more.
Where once there was talk of an Ibrox club signing some of the biggest names in Europe, now we have boasts that Sevco is the ideal place for English clubs to loan their young players.
Yes of course the financial dynamic in British football is very different to that of 20 years ago, and Scottish clubs can’t compete with the financial muscle of their English counterparts.
But to see the Sunday Mail running a gushing piece about loan players coming to Sevco – two days after they missed out on a prominent Scottish transfer target – is as laughable as it is risible.
So what was actually said?
Well, as long as you aren’t looking for substance, the makings of trouser-wettingly exciting times are ‘all there’, with mentions of
- “the hottest young talent”
- a Spurs loanee “unleashing his box of tricks”
- the recent ‘full house’ of 50,000 at Ibrox [keep an eye out for that being repeated across all media outlets]
- “bums off seats” excitement
- the Warbmeister allowing his players “to have the ultimate freedom to express themselves”. Whatever that means!
- a mention of the “history” and “massive” nature of…errr… the ‘club’
- the lure for players in being able to run out in front of 50,000 fans [there it is again!] in a genuinely ‘big game’ atmosphere. [This is of course a massive compliment to Alloa et al, whose visits to Ibrox will be exactly like an English Premier League game!]
- the great training facilities and world-class stadium [which I thought we were previously told were somewhat run down?].
It’s not exactly bread, circuses and hover-pitches is it?
Still, despite the changed days – and change of Ibrox clubs – the MSM Prime Directive remains in place: to maintain an upbeat narrative and sell tickets.
And by pure coincidence, Mr Waddell kindly concludes his article with details of how we can still get a Sevco season ticket!
The Moonbeams may not be as bright, but I think David Murray would still be proud of the press pack’s continuing efforts.