Sunday, 17 November 2013

Is it Time for Rangers to Boycott Scotland?

16th of August 2012 saw the first time a Rangers player had represented Scotland at senior level since the club's 'expulsion' from the SPL down to Division 3. That player was of course Ian Black, and he was a substitute for his country at Edinburgh's Easter Road for the friendly against the Socceroos.

It was not only the first time an Ibrox player had donned the navy blue since the club slid to the bottom tier of Scottish football, but was also Black's own debut.

Sadly, however, the occasion was bitterly marred for what would have been Black's proudest career moment by a sizeable section of the home support booing and jeering him as he came on.

Thankfully he had the intelligence to rise above it in after-match interviews when asked why it had happened;

            "It could've been a bit of everything, but I'm big enough to get on with that. It's probably the proudest moment of my career."

The excuse at the time had been that Easter Road was the home of Hearts' bitter rivals Hibs, and of course Blackie is a former Gorgie regular so the media and Scottish football in general dismissed the negative reaction as resulting from those club rivalries.

Truth of course is this was complete nonsense - Easter Road would have been filled with as many Hearts fans as Hibs (arguably more); this was NOT a club match despite the fact it was being held in an SPL club's stadium. Furthermore, when was the last time any club rivalry led to a Scotland player being booed by his own supporters at home?

In the past when the occasional international was held at Pittodrie, or Easter Road, or even Tynecastle no players from any 'rival' SPL teams (passionate rivalry or otherwise) ever experienced booing.

Consequently when Lee Wallace came on for Scotland at Hampden Park, the question of booing would be moot, surely, because this was the national stadium, not a regional club arena.

Alas not. Once again a Rangers player was significantly booed, but while the Ian Black story was large in the media given the widespread accusations of Easter Road prejudice, the Lee Wallace story has been completely ignored because the same excuse cannot be levelled at Mount Florida's stadium.

Indeed, it has become apparent, and clear, that Rangers, and their players, are completely loathed by Scottish football. Which is in itself fine; Rangers do not exactly love the rest of the game in this country either. However, that it spills over into ruining a decent professional's evening because his own supporters decided to voice their hatred of his club is quite simply beyond the pale.

That is now at least two of the past three appearance by Rangers players for Scotland in which booing has been audible. Thankfully Wallace's impressive 11 minute cameo V Macedonia did not see any booing, mainly because that match was in Skopje. Booing was audible in this match but not at Wallace; rather it was shameful racism of Anya by Macedonian home fans.

Getting back to the point though, the last two home Scotland matches featuring Rangers players have witnessed those respective players clearly booed by their own fans.

The relationship between Rangers/fans and the national regime/rest of Scottish football is so critically damaged now that poisonous hate now dominates. Scotland fans cannot even enjoy a 3-1 win over Australia without prioritising their hate for Rangers and the club's players/fans.

It really is worth Rangers as a club considering boycotting the national regime. The fractures are too deep now and if our players are just going to get heckled by their own supposed fans, what exactly is the point? Even on the 7th of August last year Ally McCoist slammed the way Scotland (Craig Levein back then) treat Rangers players;

          “I feel sorry for the Scotland fans more than anyone else. The fact Lee’s now in the Third Division shouldn’t close the international door on him. I would argue we’ll have a better quality of player here at Murray Park than some of the boys in the Scotland squad. Don’t rule my players out just because they’re in the Third Division.”

Furthermore, when the club returns to its rightful place at the summit of Scottish football, and its Scottish contingent becomes a sought-after commodity again (young players like Lewis MacLeod and Barrie McKay certainly have the ability) Rangers will be able to hold the SFA and the Scottish game to ransom by demanding an apology for how it has treated Rangers in the past 18+ months.

Might sound petty, but maybe it is justified.
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