As Euro 2020 approaches kick-off, the relationship between many Rangers fans and the Scotland national team continues to be fractured.
On Monday the 14th of June, Scotland will kick off against the Czech Republic in what will be the first time the nation has competed at a major tournament in 23 years.
In that space of time, the once Rangers-dominated Scotland side has gone through multiple incarnations but to date, none have been as successful as Steve Clarke’s team.
As the match approaches, we’re wondering if success at this tournament over the next few weeks can help to mend the broken relationship between Rangers fans and the Tartan Army?
Well, that question, and the ongoing conversation surrounding it, is particularly misleading.
After all, Rangers fans make up a larger proportion of the Tartan Army than any other support in Scotland, not least because Rangers are considerably the most supported club in the country.
Only two years ago, the then digital manager of the SFA Michael Bochel sought to dispel these myths about Rangers supporters and the Scotland national team.
Probably a good opportunity to dispel some myths about the Scotland support. Based on the last time I looked (Dec 2018) the teams supported by Supporter Club members in order of % were:
— Michael Bochel (@MichaelBochel) June 13, 2019
Bochel claimed – and he would know – Rangers were the most supported club amongst official Tartan Army members. Aberdeen come in above Celtic.
However, whilst there are more Rangers supporters in the Tartan Army than there are of any other club, the split between the support when it comes to Scotland is palpable.
Why so many have turned away is multi-faceted and complex enough, meeting somewhere between the lingering bitterness of 2012 and the politics of independence.
Many Rangers supporters feel unwelcome, their traditional association with Britishness or Unionism a target amongst many who continue to champion Scottish independence.
There’s a real unapologetic nature to the suggestion this could be an issue on the part of the Tartan Army, Rangers fan Unionism apparently a fair stick to beat the club’s supporters with.
Some bluenoses believe this anti-Rangers sentiment is the main reason why Rangers players such as Lee Wallace and Ryan Jack have been booed on Scotland duty.
The events of 2012 have also left a sour taste in the mouths of many, the reaction of rival clubs and the machinations of the SFA leaving some Gers fans wounded.
To some, standing shoulder to shoulder with rival supporters or siding with the national football association after the reaction to the club’s financial collapse is unthinkable.
However, Rangers fans themselves haven’t always proven to be to angels or blameless regarding the breakdown of the relationship.
Some just definitively do not want to and have no interest in supporting Scotland, as is their right.
Many have issues regarding the players involved, the ex-Celtic player dominated squad (9 of the starting 11 who faced Holland have links to Parkhead) seeing them switch off.
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) June 2, 2021
Even Steve Clarke – a constant thorn in Gerrard’s side in 2018/19 at Kilmarnock – isn’t a popular man amongst some in the Rangers faction.
These examples merely scratch the surface of the principles and foundations of the bitter sentiment towards Scotland and the rancour aimed towards Rangers in the country.
But many view this through their own tinted spectacles and that leads to many of the Ibrox club’s detractors taking this multi-angled issue out of context.
But perhaps the resentment at the surface is part of the issue; many Rangers fans have the right to feel aggrieved, that many are also not representative of many, many others.
All of this tends to detract from what’s happening on the pitch and in doing so we fundamentally miss the point – the football.
Years of failure and disagreement at national level have given rise to politicking and finger-pointing, the football taking a backseat and tribal loyalties intensifying online and in the stands.
We’re all Scottish – even if we can’t all agree – and when we take to the pitch against the Czechs its hard to imagine a more perfect game to unite supporters of all club distinctions.
Still reeling from the Slavia Prague shame game, even the most ardent bluenose won’t side with the Czechs and perhaps this will help concentrate a positive feeling around the match.
Win that then it’s on to England, an opportunity to plant one on our neighbours and – with any luck – ignore the politicking that will imminently take place when we inevitably do so.
The inclusion of Ibrox kid Nathan Patterson and goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin – despite the absence of midfielder Ryan Jack – will also be sure to have Ibrox eyes on Scotland’s fixtures.
I wouldn’t dare tell anyone who they should and shouldn’t support and my intention with this article was solely to analyse the situation and give my two cents.
The country of my birth has qualified for a major tournament for the first time since I donned a See You Jimmy hat to watch Brazil v Scotland in France 1998 with my bluenose grandfather as a 6-year-old boy.
And no amount of bitterness, rancour or politics from either side is going to take away my enjoyment of it.
But as for the rest of the country and the Rangers support, it’s hard to see these disagreements ending any time soon.
Well, unless we win the thing. Even then, that’ll probably only be for one night.
Rangers kid Nathan Patterson has been saluted by Scotland fans for his role in the recent 1-0 win over Luxembourg.