Supporting Rangers and Scottish Independence

Being a Rangers fan and a Scottish nationalist has been quite an unfortunate mix over the past few years. My football club’s gone through quite a remarkable series of unfortunate events, while politically I’ve been on the losing side of two life changing referendums. Excellent.


Nevertheless, it is clear that many in Scottish society believe that being a Rangers supporting nationalist must involve some serious “doublethink”. How can a nationalist support a club whose fans sign off every game with a rendition of God Save the Queen? How can a supporter of the “quintessentially British club” vote for a party who aim to break up Britain?


To understand my thinking, I guess it’s a good idea to go back to the start.


Everyone is a product of their environment. There is no such thing as a self-made man. You’re shaped by parents, teachers, co-workers, friends and siblings. Especially in your formative years, their beliefs become your beliefs.


My father is a nominal Rangers fan. Far more interested in rugby than he is football, but nevertheless that blue nosed connection carried on.


I was born in the early 90s, so my boyhood fortunately coincided with some of the best Rangers teams in history. With formative memories of Laudrup, McCoist and titles, Rangers was quite frankly an easy sell.

Brian Laudrup and teammates Hugh Dallas

Brian Laudrup and teammate Hugh Dallas

The addiction progressed as I grew up. Teletext articles and games on Setanta Sports turned into the real thing, first at Ibrox, and then beyond.


In your teenage years, everybody searches for an identity, and I was no different.


I was on the supporters’ buses, singing the songs and having a great time. In my head, my support for Rangers and my support for the union went hand in hand.


Then I went to university to study politics.


Turning politics from a part of my identity to a field of academic study opened my eyes. Beliefs I thought I held dearly were broken down into thousands of smaller issues. I realised that the basis for my opinions was shaky at best.

Former Rangers player Richard Foster voted Yes

Former Rangers player Richard Foster voted Yes

Scottish independence is a pretty complex issue. To hold a strong opinion on it involves all sorts of forecasting. Sure, you can look at precedent in various other countries, but there’s no set manual on how it would all unfold. What would businesses do? What would the central bank look like? Would we keep the Scottish Parliament as it is, or add in extra chamber?


I don’t believe Scots are superior, nor that independence should be sought at any cost. However, I believe that the closer you are to your government the better. Why can the government of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland better govern Scotland than the government of Scotland? I believe that power should be closer to the people, and as such, Scotland should be independent.


Within a few months, I realised that I would vote Yes in the referendum. At the same time, it became clear that my opinion on the constitutional status of Scotland had nothing to do with my boyhood football team.


If you look across Twitter or message boards, you see plenty of people who claim that if you voted Yes, you’re not a Rangers fan. There are even Rangers supporters buses out there who refuse to give a seat to Scottish nationalists. I suppose it hurts that some elements of your own support consider you less of a fan due to political opinions you hold.


However, the world is bigger than the internet and a couple of supporters’ buses. I certainly don’t attend games wearing a Yes badge, but nor do I hide my political beliefs if challenged. I’ve had disagreements, but in every case, the disagreement stays political, not personal. As it should be.


Sure, I don’t agree with a lot of the songs. And I do believe some Rangers fans base their political views mainly on their choice of football team.


However, none of this is unique. People love their football teams, and it’s quite natural for this support to manifest itself politically. The AC Milan support played a huge part in Silvio Berlusconi’s rise to the Italian presidency. On the other hand, there are bound to be plenty of Celtic supporters who support the union, and plenty of Barcelona and Bilbao followers who would prefer Spain to stay as it is.


As long as the songs stay on the right side of the law, they can sing what they like. Who am I to deny them their freedom of expression just because I personally disagree with it?


This column wasn’t written to speak for all Rangers supporting nationalists, nor indeed all political minorities at any football clubs. I can only speak for myself in this case. If you leave this article with just one thing, let it be this: you pick your football team well before you pick your politics. And trust me, you don’t celebrate a goal, nor mourn a defeat, any differently because of them.




90 Minute Cynic is a football website covering the important issues in the modern game. We follow European football with a distinct focus on the Scottish & English Premier Leagues. As part of the Hail Hail Media network, we cover Glasgow Celtic on our very popular podcast. We also seek out interesting and funny stories from all corners of the globe, bringing an analytical yet enjoyable spin on football podcasting.

'Supporting Rangers and Scottish Independence' have 5 comments

  1. August 12, 2017 @ 12:59 pm Martin F

    Good article.


  2. September 23, 2017 @ 6:38 am G

    Thanks for your article xx I think many I know now agree with you, but are afraid to speak out :'(


  3. October 20, 2017 @ 2:12 pm David Murray

    It is really good to hear someone espousing this paradox. I’m sure the writer is acquainted with excellent novels of Alan Bissett. I discovered, probably, his most prominent novel Pack Men through his input to Willy Maley and Kirsty Lusk’s publication on Scotland and the Easter Rising. This novel accentuated that although Celtic and Rangers fans claim to be different, in reality, they have many similarities. The writer’s emphasis on bigotry on Rangers’ buses should make make fans of all clubs especially Celtic being just as introspective. I have suffered similar experiences on Celtic vehicles. For example, try explaining to some folk who support Celtic that Ireland was always going to be partitioned because of Carson’s sabre-rattling in the North or criticising the Catholic Church for its patriarchy and its paedophilia. Furthermore, try stating that aggressive Rebel songs are a low form of propaganda that only brainwashes those of a low rank in society. You will be given short shrift. Ultimately, if the Celtic Support wants to be more tolerant they have to put the books before the ballads similar to the scribe who wrote this article. Fair play to him for putting his head above the Paradise.


  4. July 15, 2018 @ 12:14 pm James smith

    Excellent article. Many feeling the same way, the world is a very different place now than when that union was formed and by the law of nature either evolve or die out. I feer that those lashing out at us yes voters in blue are hanging on to ideology’s that just are not relevant anymore and becoming desperate to hold on to them. I no longer attend games sadly


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