It is always good to see gestures of respect for former players. Particularly for those who have died. Aside from showing respect for the departed, it’s a great way for the supporters to celebrate the history of the club (or clubs).
So fair play to the Sevco fans who took the time out to make a banner commemorating Sam English, who played for the first Ibrox club for a short spell between 1931 and 1933, scoring a record 44 goals in 35 appearances in 1931–32. Here are the career statistics of the Northern Irish Rangers Hall-of-Famer, courtesy of our good friend Wikipedia.
The most notable incident in English’s career – and one which understandably overshadowed the rest of it – was his collision with John Thomson, which resulted in the tragic death of the Celtic goalkeeper. The Clumpany can’t even begin to imagine how awful it would have been to have to live with the aftermath of that incident, and certainly hopes that no one would ever try to make light of it.
So yes, English is someone worth remembering on the 50th anniversary of his death in 1967 following a battle with motor neurone disease.
So what part of English’s life or career did the staunch chaps at Ibrox choose to highlight on their banner?
His dealing with illness?
Some hitherto-unheralded bit of charity work, or excellence in another field?
Or did they perhaps articulate a simple ‘Legend: Always Remembered’ sentiment?
They did none of the above.
The point that the banner-makers chose to highlight was that he was a ‘Proud Young Protestant’.
It has been pointed out to me that the phrase “He was a proud young Protestant” is the opening line of this little ditty which encourages folk to sing… err… Derry’s Walls in English’s honour.
But whatever the case…
Seriously, is religion the thing a group of football fans in 21st Century Scotland think is most worth highlighting about a footballing hero in a display inside a major football stadium? To say I find it ‘curious’ is something of an understatement!
From now on, whenever I watch football I will be looking out for displays about the religion of Pele, Maradona, Eusébio, Best, Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Charlton, Di Stéfano, and other footballing heroes, both living and dead.
Because it is clearly a fundamentally important thing and we should thank a small section of Sevco fans for bringing this to our attention.
Where once there was darkness, now there is light.