Those of you who take even a passing interest in Scottish football will know that Rangers have been an extremely busy side in the transfer window this year. Whilst the old guard of Carlos Bocanegra, Dorin Goian and Neil Alexander have departed, new signings have arrived to replace them and to promote a more positive brand of football this season. Cammy Bell, Steven Smith, Richard Foster, Arnold Peralta, Nicky Law, Nicky Clark and Jon Daly will certainly fulfil that promise, and with Belil Mohsni also currently in talks to sign the season ahead looks like an enjoyable one for the Gers.
There is one of these transfers however, that has provoked more outrage and sensationalism in the press than most. That is of course, the free transfer signing of Jon Daly from Dundee United. Dalys signing is not considered controversial by the media classes due to the circumstance of the transfer, or due to his age, his injury history or Rangers’ registration embargo. It is considered controversial because he is, and I quote from one Scottish paper “The first high-profile modern-day Irish Catholic from Dublin to play for Rangers.”
It is a tag that I’m sure you’ll agree hardly rolls off the tongue. And it is a tag worthy of discussion, because it has been invented to create controversy where controversy does not belong or exist. The year is 2013, not 1913. I can categorically state that as a Rangers fan myself, and speaking on behalf of the Rangers support, nobody cares about Jon Daly’s religion or background. Nobody cares about his nationality. Nobody could care if his phone ringtone was the Fields of Athenry. The Rangers support have moved on from this and care only about Rangers.
This tag also ignores the fact that there are Irish players currently playing at Rangers. Goalkeeper Alan Smith has been the Republic of Ireland’s first choice keeper in the under 19 age group since he was sixteen years old. He shows a lot of promise and is highly thought of in Glasgow. I’m sure that the Dublin Loyal Rangers Supporters Club would put these hacks right on this anti-Irish bias rubbish. And as for Catholics playing at Rangers, it is now 25 years this week since Maurice Johnston famously signed for the Rangers. He was not the first Catholic to play for Rangers as was reported at the time, with other Catholics including the likes of Neil McCann, Gabriel Amato and Chris Burke. Lorenzo Amoruso, Rangers captain for years, was a Catholic. Paul Le Guen, who was the manager for an ill-fated spell, was a devout Catholic. How could any reasonable, sane person claim that there is a bigoted, anti-Catholic signing culture at Rangers?
When the Jon Daly signing was first mooted around the Ibrox terraces, many were skeptical, but not for any cultural reasons. Many were concerned about his injury history, with his knees being famously unreliable. Many were concerned about his age – having just turned the wrong side of 30, it was felt that Rangers should be looking to sign younger players to develop and sell on at a profit. And there were also concerns raised over his goal scoring record, having scored just 58 in 167 for Dundee United.
However, none of that matters now. Jon Daly has now signed for the Rangers. I personally have high hopes for him. I think his aerial ability is good, his link up play is fantastic, and when coupled with a pacey striker in the 4-1-3-2 system Rangers have adopted, he will tear opposition defences apart. Jon Daly has the full backing of the Rangers support and will be cheered on like any other player. It’s time for these ancient stereotypes and perceptions to be banished to the past where they belong.