Jimmy Bowie, Rangers Chairman, at the opening of the new Main Stand, 1st January 1929
Jimmy Bowie is the only Rangers player ever to have gone on to be Club Chairman. He lived the dream. He was also a victim of a boardroom coup which saw the legendary Bill Struth assume control of the club off the pitch in a way which he had commanded it's fortunes on the field of play. The manner of his defeat left Bowie embittered and it's said he never entered Ibrox again. It1s a bitter-sweet story which perhaps sums up the hopes and disappointments the game provides us all with.
But in his remarks on the opening of the Main Stand over 70 years ago Jimmy Bowie has left us an example of what Rangers should be about - taking our traditions forward; learning from the past but not being hidebound by it; having a dream; setting high standards and measuring things by the best there is. Bowie and his colleagues built the biggest and the best club stadium in the world at the time and built it so well the Marble Staircase and the Blue Room have become legendary, and the whole stand is a listed building.
DISAPPOINTED IN MURRAY
I believed in Murray - even when many, not least the Gub and the Major howled for his blood, I thought he was the man for us and I still harbour a respect for the man and a hope he'll prove me right. MAybe it's because of my old man - he couldn't walk until he was five because he had rickets, but he got over it, became a boxer and never complained about it. Murray's made of the same stuff - he didn't complain about how life was cruel to him or feel sorry for himself because he'd been disabled in an accident. He had too much self-respect to want people to feel sorry for him - he just got on with life. It's that sort of Scottish self-reliance that was the source of Murray's strength and my hope that he would be the man to take us to the top - that internal self belief and toughness allied to his undoubted business talent was, I believed, a combination that would make us world beaters.
MURRAY AND HIS SPORTS
The other thing that seemed to signal great things from David Murray was his undoubted enthusiasm for sport - his involvement in MIM basketball, hockey, building the Loch Lomond golf course, sponsorship of rugby teams. I hoped that he with his Edinburgh rugby background would grasp the idea that Rangers would go forward as a club - a real club - he should have learned from his rugby days how committed to clubs people are - a lifelong attachment which means they'll make great sacrifices for it if they genuinely feel part of it. For all the talk I don't think he ever really got the message on that one.
HOW HE RAN THE CLUB
Time and again he told us he was the custodian of the club - of how he'd die in the post or hand it onto his sons. For that you can have respect - how many of us wouldn't want to same? He ran the club like his businesses in many ways - he's a deal maker prepared to take a chance on the gold medal rather than the silver - but in recent years he got sloppy and started to play poker with the club's future. So instead of going out in a blaze of glory he went out just before the club announced record new losses of £32million for the year ended 30 June 2002 and with overall liabilities up from £77.3m to £93m. He then went and made the almost off-hand comment that he club would go out of business in three yeas if things continued the way it had - as if he had no control over policy and spending during his time in charge. It's not like the wind and the rain - he could have controlled things differently and it's just not good enough to give a shrug of the shoulders and sigh.
WHY DID HE GO NOW?
Several things I think - only he can know for sure but I think we are in an end of an era situation - he fluffed the ball with ENIC's investment and we won't see that sort of money in that kind of way again. He talked about taking us to a whole new level - Fergus McCann puts in £14millon, Celtic raise millions more with their share launch - then we bring in ENIC's £40million and then even more from Dave King. But it's all gone now due to spending like Viv Nicholson in a sweetie shop. I think a crucial factor is the bank - Murray's main point of contact for the last 30 years, Gavin Masterton, has retired and essentially I think the bank forced Murray to stand down as Chairman - they told him they wouldn't trust him with his fingers on the chequebook and wanted someone in charge, like McClelland, with a track record of cutting costs.
THEY DON1T CARE BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW
I've said it time and time in the fanzine over the years to the point where I feel like a parrot - almost all our PR and supporter liaison problems start because the internal culture of the club isn't right. The behaviour of Rangers employees over the years is characterised by indifference, stupidity, lack of knowledge, short-sightedness and arrogance.
A STRANGE CHANGE IN BEHAVIOUR
I loved Souness - I don't think we can ever thank him enough for what he did for us. But he left when the anti-Rangers atmosphere in Scotland got to him. Murray acted quickly and decisively to remove Souness when he became aware Souey was talking to Liverpool - that was exactly the sort of leadership we needed. I thought that would be a sign of things to come - no man bigger than the club and all that. By sacking Souness so quickly Murray sent out a message that no-one screws us around. What a pity he didn't continue to act in the same manner.
I'll admit I was daft enough to be carried away with Walter's staying at
ibrox for another season too - he should have been sacked as soon as he said
his heart wasn't in it - when will we ever have another chance to do Ten In
After losing TIAR something changed in me - I'm never again going to remain
silent when I see something going wrong - never going to take the chance
when acton would be better - never going to fall for the baloney.
So, instead of sacking Advocaat when he was running out of control Murray
allowed him to work part-time as Director of Football - anything to save
face when faced with the fact that our manager was walking out on us. All
the waffle about moving upstairs was window-dressing designed to cushion the
Chairman from the fact that another of his "friends" wasn't up to the job.
let's be frank - Souness, Walter and Dick were not his friends - they were
employees - if he wants a pal he should buy a dog.
We now have the farcical situation where we have a part-time Director of Football who is the Dutch national manger and we've allowed our club doctor to go part-time with them as well?!
This is lunacy. Have we learnt nothing from Prodan and Ball - and we've got a part-time doctor. We keep on buying damaged goods. This smacks of stupidity as well as sloppiness.
OUR "OVERSEAS STRATEGY" IN RUINS
Our sister club Amazulu in South Africa is up the spout as our director and their owner Dave King sits chained to a wall in Pietermaritzburg nick. We've flogged off, at a loss naturally, our interest in Northern Spirit - which the more I look at it appears to have been a way into the Australia sports market for a company run by Murray's son which sells advertising boards. We've also given up any pretence of being an "international brand" by giving up on Nike and instead making our own kit - with no chance of matching Nike's global reach in terms of marketing the things.
WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW?
I don't think we can blame Murray alone - when did any of us seriously question him? We lapped it up when he said he'd put down a tenner if Celtic put down a fiver. In the Sunday Mail sports magazine of May 2001 he went further and said - "I'm Celtic's biggest problem and their supporters know it. I said if they put down a fiver then I'd put down a tenner to keep Rangers ahead of Celtic. Now it might be 15 quid I'll need to put down. But I1ll do whatever's necessary to achieve my aims for Rangers." Last year Dermot Desmond, Eddie Jordan and Co. put £18million into Celtic to help with their long-term debts. Where's your £54million, Davie? Talk is cheap - unless you come up with the dosh you're a lame duck Chairman.
At the moment the Board is in survival mode - they are always talking our expectations down - in terms of losing Barry and Lovenkrands - in terms of rearing our own talent wen we all know that really big clubs attract the best youngsters to their youth system AND retain the ability to buy big when they need to. I'm sorry - but talking cheap and acting cheaper simply isn't acceptable. Ten years on from our Champions League debut and those marvellous nights we are hungry for more - we demand more - we reject settling for second best - we demand that the directors either shape up or ship out.
We want our team in the top flight of Europe, not in it's also-rans column.
If anyone inside Ibrox thinks we are prepared to wait ten years then they
should think again.