The ‘Defenders’ pull out of the Rangers Fans Joint Working Group


It seems that our friends over at the Vanguard Bears have pulled out of the Rangers Fans’ Joint Working Group, as they feel that the groups made up of the majority of the Rangers support are inactive and are reluctant to engage their ‘enemies’ head on.

The Rangers Fans’ Joint Working Group, which has the backing of Rangers Football Club issued a statement back in July urged Rangers fans to celebrate a new era, and fully endorsed by Rangers chairman Craig Whyte.

The statement read:

“The support from our fans during the final games of the season was said by many to be magnificent and created a fantastic atmosphere that was the envy of other clubs.

“Everyone connected to the club from the team to the fans were responsible and we want to continue this throughout the coming season.

“Last season there were too many headlines about matters that have nothing to do with football and no-one wants to see a repeat of that.

“We, the Rangers supporters, are continuing to play our part. We are actively tackling fan behaviour issues, engaging with all our fans’ groups and the authorities and we are determined to eradicate all forms of sectarian, political and highly offensive singing at all football grounds throughout Scotland.

“These are matters that affect many clubs and we take issue with those who wish to lay every problem at Rangers door.

“We are encouraged by the actions of the new Chairman, Mr Whyte, in terms of his appointments such as Gordon Smith and in challenging the media and the football authorities to treat us fairly. When it comes to dealing with offensive behaviour we are looking for a level playing field.

“There is a very positive feeling around the club as we start a fresh era. Following our call to eliminate the small number of songs and phrases that saw us in trouble with UEFA, we are delighted with the way the support created a party atmosphere during the final few games of last season.

“Most of our supporters know the score now in terms of singing, chanting and add-ons to songs and we are clear in our minds – no Billy Boys, no FTP or references to Fenians.

“We have the opportunity to continue the party through the pre-season campaign with visits to Belfast and Blackpool, places that have embraced us positively over the years. We are sure that all Rangers supporters will bring humour, colour and atmosphere to these matches and adhere to the standard of behaviour that will make us all proud.”

New Rangers chairman fully endorsed the statement from the Fans’ groups, saying: “It is a new era for Rangers and one in which we want to see even more success coming to the club.

“I congratulate the fans for taking the initiative as we prepare to start the new season and fully support their statement. We are all united in our desire to see the club do well.”

Now it seems that the Vanguard Bears are not happy with the working group, made up of the groups that represent the majority of Rangers fans and who are backed by Rangers FC or the club’s chairman.

The so-called defenders of ‘our’ traditions released their own statement announcing their departure from the Rangers Fans’ Joint Working Group:

“Vanguard Bears today regretfully announces that we are departing from the Rangers Fans’ “Joint Working Group”.

This fans’ group was set up some months ago by prominent and committed Rangers supporters from the Nithsdale Loyal RSC. The intention being to bring the various Rangers Supporters groups together to specifically address how Rangers fans could react to the UEFA ban imposed on the support following the secretive reports to UEFA from FARE.

While the Nithsdale Loyal were the driving force behind the set up of this group, they decided to invite prominent Rangers Supporters from the Rangers Supporters Trust, the Rangers Supporters Association, the Rangers Supporters Alliance, and websites Rangers Media, Gersnet, Vanguard Bears and of course their own members.

Admin decided that this was something that excited us, and something worth getting involved in. Indeed it was something Vanguard Bears had been attempting to do on numerous occasions with other groups but were continually rebuffed in our efforts. The premise explained to us was that this group, who in total represent scores of thousands, would start co-ordinating a strategy to take on enemies of the club we all love.

Despite some reservations on strategy, and on some of the “same old faces” being included within the group we went in with an open mind and ultimately agreed to support a 2 phase strategy. This would involve the group in promoting and endorsing the self policing within the Rangers support during phase 1. The assumption being that a cleaned up Rangers support would be in a very strong position to then address the groups and individuals working full time to attack the club.”

The statement continued, but the reasons behind their departure were coming to the fore now:

“While “Phase 1” has worked to some extent with the Rangers support having eradicated anything remotely offensive to those who wish to be offended, our members and admin have always been uncomfortable with the execution of that strategy.

One email that was sent out on behalf of the working group with instructions to refrain from singing anything containing the word “fenian” almost saw us walking at that point.

Our view has always been that the term does not mean anything other than Irish Republican. We believe that active republicans moving the goalpost to have another “meaning” added to some dictionaries does not change the meaning of words in chants or songs written decades previously.

Our viewpoint was and is that the club should have been concentrating specifically on any chants that were religious in nature. These types of chant had already been largely absent from Ibrox and away grounds, so we thought “phase 1” would be relatively simple, and we could all then move on to Phase 2.

The group voted by majority to continue promoting a ban on the term “fenian” on the advice of senior Police figures and legal experts who are adamant that the term’s “new” additional meaning is now accepted as evidence of the word being sectarian.

On the basis that Rangers supporters would still be arrested and charged for this type of conduct we felt we had no other option than to support this motion in order that the objective of getting to a wide perception of the club’s support being squeaky clean is met.

We believed that if handled correctly the message could be disseminated, while we debate the case for the word in the background.

What transpired was a naïve email and press release effectively stating the “fenian is sectarian” viewpoint, and a subsequent acceptance from these Police and Law figures that it is “fact”, despite evidence to the contrary. Dialogue has effectively been killed.

We were courted by a prominent member of the Nithsdale Loyal not to leave the group, as it was essential that we were able to contribute to Phase 2. We decided to stay. In hindsight we shouldn’t have.”

After the BBC’s editing of a Press Conference, ban and then subsequent apology from the BBC – the Vanguard Bears looked to continue their own vendetta and obsession with BBC Scotland.

The statement from the Vanguard Bears continued:

“….we have been canvassing both our members and other Joint Working group members on the possibility of a demonstration at BBC Scotland HQ. Readers will remember that VB has already done this.”

Admin decided that the blatant and continued anti Rangers behaviour at the BBC required some action and asked the Joint Working Group to support a unified demonstration of this organisation.

This request was made on the 22nd of September and to date we still do not have a final yes or no. Only one reply was received from the Rangers Supporters Assembly who rejected the idea as “too risky a strategy” and preferred that we send a “strongly worded letter” with the purpose of opening dialogue with the BBC hierarchy.”

And readers of Scotzine will know of the result of that so-called demonstration when around 20 ‘fans’ turned up to protest. There were more folk in the taxi rank waiting on a Black Cab than those protesting.

The so-called dossier they referred to within their statement was littered with paranoid rants and ramblings. The BBC and the vast majority of Rangers fans & groups treated this ‘dossier’ a list of about 50 points with contempt. Just says it well when they stated it took them a week to draw up their ‘dossier’.

The statement ended that the group was ‘set up for one reason and one reason only… “To Defend Our Traditions” Defend them we will. To that end we have notified the Joint Working Group this evening that our involvement is now at an end as we vehemently disagree with their inaction and reluctance to engage our enemies head on.’

All this coming from a group who are now in the very very small minority of Rangers fans, who called on Rangers fans to start singing The Billy Boys again, a song that saw the club hammered with fines and a ban by UEFA. The so-called Rangers supporters group who have also attacked the Rangers Supporters Assembly for and I quote:

Surrender Monkeys, Cowards and the Rangers Supporters Invertebrates Assembly.”

Hopefully all the decent Rangers fans now see what the Vanguard Bears are all about. A group that cares for no one and nothing except for their OWN beliefs and woe betide anyone – even Rangers fans – who get in their way or who do not follow their agendas.


About Author


Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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