Being a fully paid-up member of the Auldbassa Loyal, the greatest memory of my life is of that day 37 years ago when the Gers went to the Nou Camp and lifted the Cup-Winners' Cup by beating Moscow Dynamo. The very fact that all these years later we have been involved in just one more European final underlines the magnitude of that team's achievement. I was a very impressionable teenager at the time so it should surprise nobody that I still get a shiver down my spine when I backtrack to that long ago occasion and the feelgood factor of actually having been there on the night is something you just can't buy.
And I'm beginning to get the same feeling about this Sunday. Forget all the negative hype being churned out by the Hack Pack who can't get a sniff of a story from Rangers. This is OUR day, it will be the day when we reclaim our rightful place at the top of the heap and thereafter it will be up to the Minted One to decide whether it will be yet another fleeting triumph (a la 2003 and 2005) or we will stride on boldly from this success and lay solid foundations for our club's long-term future. Whilst being optimistic about what this weekend will bring, I'm afraid I don't trust Mr Chairman with our club's well-being but that can be discussed at some length in the weeks and months beyond May 24.
Whenever I'm staggering down memory lane with fellow Bears, the topic of Barcelona '72 comes up and I never tire of reliving all the fun and games, and occasional hairy moments, of that trip. Surprisingly, where I'd expect some of the young team to dismiss me as a boring old fart (behind my back, of course), they are full of interest in stories from the bygone days of yore and are a very attentive, often hospitable, audience.
Earlier this week shotasdiscoshoes asked FFers to tell what they have given up for Rangers. Having just left school, I had embarked on a 'promising' career in banking, only to find that, when a stupid female colleague found herself up-the-stick and needed to get married in a hurry, it was decreed that my holiday in Barcelona was less important than her wedding, I had to work and was expected to be at my desk as usual. I phoned in sick, the manager came round to the house, bumped into a Union Jack draped figure who looked a helluva lot like me and my banking career was drawing to a close.
At the end of an amazing week, I returned to a letter from the bank offering me the opportunity to tender my resignation. No probs. Stick yer feckin job where the sun don't shine, then he asked the big question: "Well, was it worth it?" Bank managers are supposed to be sensible people, yet he asked me the daftest question I've ever been asked in my life. I laughed out loud, shook my head and walked away. Plonker!
I'm probably doing myself no favours here but, if anybody ever finds my bank card, the PIN number 2405 will unlock all the riches of my account (no, its not with THAT bank!). Where six figure passwords are required 240572 does the trick and, if required to mix letters and numbers, I go for ECWC1972. If things work out fine this weekend, I think I'll change a few things, just in case one of you FF rascals gets lucky when I get careless, or legless... or both.
I had the same feeling a year ago when we were down to play Queen Of The South in the Scottish Cup Final on May 24. Of course, at that point I'd hoped it would be a major celebration of the domestic Treble and the UEFA Cup but, while the underdogs made it unduly difficult for us (or did we do that ourselves?), there was no way the Rangers were going to lose on that fateful date.
So I'm right up for this weekend's game. Yes, there are concerns about certain players, about Walter's tactics, about United fighting for their European future, about heavy-handed policing, about the scramble of tickets, about this, that and the next thing. But at the end of the day, all we need to do is win one game of football against a team who would struggle to catch us if they still had a dozen games in hand. We are playing Dundee United, not Man.Utd; we are at Tannadice, not the Nou Camp (did I ever tell you about the first time I was there?); we are up against Zaluska, Wilkie, Feeney and Conway, not Buffon, Terry, Messi and Ronaldo; we are the Rangers, they are the team proud to have been known as Dundee Hibernian. I rest my case, Your Honour
Self-belief should not be in short supply on our team bus or on board any of the cars, buses and trains which transport Bears to Tayside on Sunday. We are exactly where we want to be, on top of the table with our fate in our own hands, needing favours from nobody. Ask yourself this: Would you rather be in RaSellick's position or ours? Nobody is taking anything for granted. Yes, we have work to do but the task is well within our team's capabilities. Look after yourselves, Rangers, the rest will just click into place and the summer, which had looked so doom-laden not so very long ago, will suddenly dawn bright and clear.
So c'mon Bears, if you're lucky enough to get a ticket, roar yourself hoarse in support of the team, turn an away trip into a home game and do your bit to make it an extra special day for us all. Thirty-seven years ago, as my heart pounded like a machine-gun in Barcelona, I told myself to absorb it all, savour every moment, and even writing this now brings it all back again, giving me that extra-special glow. Many years from now, when the Gers again find themselves facing a big game on May 24, I hope one of you young pups out there will be waxing lyrical about that very special day when you were at Tannadice and saw the Gers turn on the style to clinch the SPL title.
Bring it home, guys.