Monday, 6 August 2018

The two Rangers stars who answered the poison...

As we well know, Pittodrie is probably the most toxic place for Rangers to go. It edges Celtic Park for sheer venom – Rangers and Celtic hate each other, with a poisonous overtone to it, but thanks to some vicious stuff from the 80s, the hate between Rangers and Aberdeen is downright nasty.

There’s a genuinely cerebral grinding of teeth from Dons fans to Rangers, which is reciprocated, but we all know the Cooper and urine story. That’s the kind of dislike we’re talking about. Even Celtic fans held up a banner in memory of Jim Baxter at Ibrox all those years ago. Meanwhile Aberdeen fans thrill over Ibrox Disasters and ‘nice one Simmy’.

So when Rangers went to Aberdeen yesterday, a number of players had hostility on an unprecedented scale to deal with – and the main two were ex-Dons captain Ryan Jack, and former Liverpool fullback Jon Flanagan.

Anyone who was there or saw the pictures saw the absolute cesspit of hate aimed at both, and watched as Flanagan went anywhere near the home crowd for throw ins while they hurled the most unspeakable filth at him could only admire his nonchalant yet slightly bewildered grin at the level of depravity aimed his way.

Of course, this is football – fans seize upon indiscretions of the past by players and use them against them – par for the course. But Flanagan genuinely seemed absolutely amused at the astonishing hatred aimed his way, plus the chants about him, and laughed it off. And put in his best display as a Rangers player to shut them up.

It’s what Jack did too. Until Stevie May had had enough and decided to concuss him, Jack was the star man on the pitch – despite all the horror being thrown at him for daring to sign for Rangers, Jack rose completely above it and outclassed everyone else.

There is no better answer to abuse than by doing your job better, and better. Nothing winds up bitter fans than seeing the object of their abuse sticking the metaphorical middle finger up and dominating the middle, or defending like a lion, or sticking a goal or two in the back of the net.

Jack and Flanagan rose above it – they were a credit to their club and answered the poison by delivering on the pitch.

Like proper Rangers players.
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