Media, Scottish Football, Sevco

Keith Harris And Orwell


Good Evening. [And please ‘vote Clumpany’ on Twitter and the FBA website!]

If Orwell and his good friend Keith Harris were still alive they would surely marvel at the output of The Clumpany’s favourite newspaper, the Evening Shark-Jump. On the basis of Friday’s evidence, the Ministry of Truth is not only still operational, but it has donned water skis and is flying over a shark-packed ocean screaming “get it right up ye, losers!”. The losers in question being Rangers (IL)’s stiffed creditors and most people who want Scottish football to be a sport run on a level playing field.

This is the piece in question, and it concerns comments made by former Rangers player and Rangers/ Sevco coach Ian Durrant, who has popped up in the media quite a lot in recent times.

Ian Durrant: Rangers have completed The Journey but it will take time to hit the Premiership heights

Durrant was at Ibrox to…

“launch ‘Glasgow Rangers The Journey: Mission Accomplished’ – a new 192-page hardback book celebrating the Light Blues’ return to the top flight of Scottish football. It features stunning pictures from renowned photographer Willie Vass, who attended every game, and words by respected author Jeff Holmes.”

Durrant offered his opinion on Sevco’s prospects this season, suggesting that hey are unlikely to finish ahead of Celtic in the league (fancy that, eh?) and that their best chance of silverware is in the cups.

“It is about trying to buy the manager time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Celtic have the financial clout. Rangers are coming back in the first year, having to rejig and bring in a lot of players so it is going to take time to bed in.”

As I have remarked previously, it is quite striking how the rhetoric of the Sevco family and media cheerleaders has gradually rowed back from pre-season ‘title-contenders’ and ‘Going for 55’ to ‘it’s good to be in the top flight, and they might catch Celtic next season’.

However, as befitted the book he was launching, Durrant’s main comments were about the famous Sevco ‘Journey’. As we all know, this saw a basket of assets turn up at Glebe Park in July 2012 and gradually climb its way up the divisions, pausing only to allow Cammy Bell to star in a 6-1 playoff defeat to Motherwell which resulted in an unwanted second season in the second tier.

You can’t properly discuss the Sevco ‘Journey’ without mentioning how it came about in the first place. But boy did Durrant and the ESJ try! They provided an absolute masterclass in the art of dancing around a very simple and very obvious truth. Here are some examples:

“After serving under Walter Smith and McCoist and then taking up a role in the Academy at Auchenhowie, Durrant left Rangers in the summer as boss Warburton shuffled his backroom staff.

It was the end of a tumultuous few years on and off the park as Rangers suffered a series of blows and dragged themselves, with the help of the fans, back up off the canvas.”

I think you mean ‘formed a new club and started afresh’…

“It was a story that staff and supporters never thought they would find themselves at the centre of, but a tale that many had to live through. ‘I think it was the realisation and the day when they said we were going to go to the Third Division,” Durrant said.

“We were hoping and praying that it wasn’t going to happen, that we were going to get a fine or demoted one league.”

A fine or demoted one league?! He really doesn’t get it does he? Or perhaps he does, but is simply misrepresenting what actually happened in the safe unquestioning space provided by the ESJ? Most sentient observers will remember that Charles Green FC applied to join the SPL and then the SFL. And that the latter’s members bravely resisted pressure to place Sevco in the first division, instead allowing it to jump the queue only as far as the third division.

And as for a fine… Well, liquidation tends to mean that you have no money to pay a fine. And dead football clubs tend not to be in a position to receive a demand for payment or to offer an IOU in response….

“But the realisation that we were going to the Third Division was a bit of a shock. You just had to dust yourself down. We knew we were going to lose players because there was no way they were going to stay and play in the Third Division. You look at the calibre of player that left and we had to start from scratch and entice players to the division. They were able to ask for things out with what they would have normally got.”

“We had six players the week before [the Brechin game]. We had to make up the rest with youth players.We were looking at registering ten youth players to fulfil the team sheet.We got Ian Black, who had just come back from a hernia, Dean Shiels and others that followed on board. They made sacrifices but they were well looked after in terms of coming to the club. It (the transformation) had to happen. The aim, you take your medicine and go down the leagues, but it was to get back up the league as quickly as you can.”

I could weep Ian. I really could… The consequences of spending huge amounts of money that you never really had can be a real bind, can’t they?

“There will still be a lot of things to be unravelled in the years to come. But now we are back where we belong. It was a journey. When you look at the start, there was excitement, but then it did become a bit of a chore I think. For most of the players, I thought it did.”

A chore! Life as a full-time professional footballer being paid a lot more than your competitors must have felt like being sent to the workhouse! And as for the ‘back where we belong’ nonsense… I will leave you to vomit at a time of your choosing…

To its credit, the piece at least managed to contain one note of regret for people affected by the demise of Rangers:

“A lot of people lost jobs and a lot of players moved on. They were sad days because a lot of people had been here for years and through no fault of their own they lost their jobs because of the cutbacks that had to happen at the club.”

This is a fair enough observation, and I am sure we all hope these people found new jobs as quickly as possible. But you will note that there was no mention of why the ‘cutbacks’ were necessary. Someone reading the piece with no background knowledge would probably end up wondering whether some sort of unseen force – such as witchcraft – had brought the ‘club’ to its knees.

And of course, the creditors are completely overlooked. In the sanitised narrative of the ‘Journey’ they tend never to be mentioned. Because their tale is the humiliating story of the death of Rangers. They didn’t get their money back, but they did have the power to reject a pretty meagre CVA and ensure that there were some very real consequences for Rangers following their reckless overspending.

It seems that the ESJ and Durrant (like many others) don’t want to dwell upon a reality which is as cold as the slab in the corporate mortuary. It seems to be infinitely preferable to airbrush history and offer a warm soothing tale of a ‘Journey’, ‘returns’ and ‘redemption’ instead. I have no doubt that it appeals to a significant number of readers, and helps to sell newspapers. But that doesn’t prevent it from being pretty shameful.


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