Call it a drug, a safety valve maybe, but going along to the games, whether at home, away or in Europe, has kept me sane by enabling me to forget everything and channel my energies into something positive.
If you're reading this and identifying with my thoughts, you've been gripped by the same bug. If you find it hard to see my point of view, you're love of Rangers is more of a take-it-or-leave-it thing and it would be well nigh impossible for me to explain the hold the club has over me and my life...but I'll try.
I became a Rangers fan because Big Daddy Blue took me along with him. From my first game in the late fifties to the Panathinaikos and Dunfermline debacles, the match is the first topic of conversation when me and the old fella get together. Of course, he goes on about the good old days - Ritchie, Shearer, Caldow etc - and reminisces about the games, trips to Wolverhampton, White Hart Lane and pre-season friendlies at Highbury, doing his best to convince me that those jaunts were better than my expeditions to places like Eindhoven, Cologne and Marseille.
At some point in our chats, he'll ask about me and work, he'll inquire about his grandchildren and other run of the mill matters but, before much longer, the debate returns to 'is that yin Capucho havin a laugh?', 'whit aboot that guy Boumsong?' or 'any sign o that bassa Murray pissin aff back tae Edinburgh?' It is the way it is and neither of us would have it any other way.
Back in the sixties, when Scot Symon's team was ruling the roost, I was there to see it all but, unfortunately, my wee boy brain didn't really take it all in. Aye, it was great to see the Gers winning every week, picking up more than the occasional trophy along the way, but I saw it as no big deal. Only as I got older and that team drifted over the hill did I begin to realise how spoiled I'd been. Take my word for it, that wsn't a lot of fun but never once did I think about giving up my team.
Well, I did briefly and, strange though it may seem, it was while the Gers were still at the top too. By that time my younger brothers had appeared on the scene and we had to take it in turns to accompany Dad to the games. That wasn't good enough for me. I go to every game or no game at all. 'Fine' says he and, being born and raised in Greenock, I flirted with the successful Morton team of the early sixties. But all that came to an end of October 23, 1963, League Cup Final day, thank you very much Jim Forrest and Alex Willoughby!!!
Not long afterwards I got myself a job, casing joints for burglars - I had a paper round! - so with a few bob in my pocket, when I wasn't going along with the old fella, I went to see the Gers under my own steam. That was a big thing for me. I wasn't just follow-following because my Dad took me, I was making MY choice to spend MY money to support MY team. It has been that way ever since.
Of course, there are other issues involved and it didn't bother me in ther least to find that, as I got older, supporting Rangers dovetailed nicely with my religious and political views. I'm a Prod and proud of it, I'm a Loyalist/Royalist/Unionist and proud of it and I'm proud to be part of a huge body of men and women who think along the same lines. In modern times the demarkation lines between all sections of society have become blurred but I have no reservations about singing The Sash at games, even although there are Catholics in the Rangers team, nor do I see any contradiction in supporting Scotland, even although I'm very much a Union Jack man.
If I had to put them in order of importance, I'd say I'm first and foremost a Rangers man, with my religious and political views tied in a photo-finish for second place. If you're priorities are different from mine, it isn't a right or wrong issue, you're just different. This is the way I am, it is what it all means to me and I'm perfectly happy to be who and what I am.
These are trying times to be a Rangers man. It makes my blood boil to read about Murray's businesses making millions, while our club struggles to make ends meet, and the team's inadequacies worry me a great deal, even more so when I know that, with one stroke of his pen, the Minted One could get my club back on to the straight and narrow path. But he won't do it. That is not how ruthless businessmen work but sometime in the future, when he realises he has outstayed his welcome and sells out to retire to a tax haven to count his dosh, me and thousands like me will still be supporting OUR team...and our relationship with Rangers will have done more for us than all the millions Murray has screwed out of the club will have done for him.
I'm proud to be a Rangers supporter - and you can't buy that sort of pride.