When fans fight back as Rangers feud with Club 1872 on Sydney friendly prompts Celtic, Hearts and Hibs reminders


The wording of Rangers’ statement against Club 1872 was enough for a double take.

It’s not every day a top-flight Scottish club accuses anyone of a “propaganda war” but that’s the phrase those at Ibrox used against the supporter group in a heavy rebuttal to criticism over the proposed Sydney Super Cup friendly.

But the latest tiff is just one of a long line of cases in Scottish football that has pitted fans against their club.

There have been several high profile cases this season and last including the aforementioned Gers, rivals Celtic and even Championship Raith Rovers.

Further back Hearts and Hibs supporters launched big challenges to their power structures that started on the terraces and in furious gatherings outside the ground.

Here are five times fans went to war against those running their club.

Sydney, Club 1872 and Rangers

In late 2020, Dave King indicated he was interested in selling his stake in Rangers to fan group Club 1872.

That would have made them the largest shareholder at Ibrox – they currently hold a 4.62 per cent stake – but numerous squabbles have seen Club 1872’s relationship with the Rangers board deteriorate and for now such a situation appears implausible.

Concerns have included past involvement with Sports Direct and the MyGers scheme before the Sydney Super Cup friendly with Celtic blew the lid off as some fans grew furious at being seen as the support act to rival manager Ange Postecoglou’s ‘homecoming’.

Last week a Club 1872 statement welcomed reports the club were considering backing out of the tournament.

Then came another statement on Tuesday morning in which three club figures were called out for showing “contempt” towards the Ibrox fanbase.

Managing director Stewart Robertson, commercial supreme James Bisgrove and head of communications David Graham were all named in the fiery statement and that prompted a furious riposte from Edmiston Drive.

Club 1872, while they went unnamed in the official Rangers response, were branded a “small rump of ‘supporters'” and who were attempt on starting a “propaganda war”, with the club also promising to deal with the matter at the end of the season.

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Unrest at Parkhead

Last season, however, everything appeared rosy in the Ibrox garden as they strolled to an unbeaten league title.

Instead it was Celtic that saw huge unrest across the city when the 10 In A Row dream fell flat on its face.

The first in a series of protests came outside Parkhead after crashing out of the Premier Sports Cup at home to Ross County.

That prompted a statement from the club, which claimed players had been left “shaken” by the abuse they got when the team bus left the ground.

It read: “The club will be investigating these events fully.

“For players and a management team, who have given so much in recent years and have delivered 11 consecutive trophies, to require an escort from Celtic Park while being targeted with missiles, is simply unacceptable.

“While we understand that only a small number of people were involved in this behavior some of the actions this evening, which have obviously left our own players shaken, cannot be condoned in any way.”

The raw fury of those outside was gathered in a more measured way later in the campaign through the Celtic Shared movement, borne through groups including the Green Brigade and the Celtic Trust.

Having been promised “added value” for their season ticket, they demanded shares for those that bought season tickets in 2020-21 and didn’t attend a single game.

That, too, was rejected though fans did receive vouchers for the club shop.

The fans did get their way earlier this season however when a series of messages and protests against the appointment of former Police Scotland chief Bernard Higgins to the club resulted in him confirming he would not be taking up a post at Celtic.

Hands off Hibs

In 1988, Hibs directors David Duff and Jim Gray had a brainwave.

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Sitting second in the league and having just dispatched Celtic on the park, they became the first Scottish club to be floated on the stock market.

Less than two years later, it almost spelled the club’s demise.

It paved the way for Wallace Mercer, the owner of Hearts, to attempt a merger between Edinburgh’s two clubs that would enable them to disrupt the Glasgow duopoly.

Absolutely nobody in Leith was having it as was apparent from the baying mob that turned up at Easter Road to confront chairman Duff. Neither were many Hearts fans with some brave maroon shirts in attendance while more would donate to the campaign christened that day as ‘Hands Off Hibs’.

Everyone from The Proclaimers to the casuals loaned their support with John Robertson – the legendary Jambos striker who smashed a record 27 goals past their rivals – defying club orders and delivering a supportive speech at the city’s Usher Hall.

Eventually Mercer’s attempt failed, despite a late change to promise Hibs would remain a separate club, and Sir Tom Farmer would instead become the savior of Easter Road.

Hearts fans vs ‘The Pieman’

Just over a decade later and it was the turn of the Jambos to rail against ownership.

In late 2003 chief executive Chris Robinson indicated he wanted to sell off Tynecastle, the club’s home for over 120 years, and make the club tenants of the 67,000 seater rugby stadium a few hundred meters away.

“Not Fit for Purpose” read the heading on his infamous mission statement document. Many found that ironic.

Known as ‘The Pieman’ as his catering company supplied the half-time goods at Tynecastle, he wanted to sell the land to Cala Homes, injecting £22m into the club to clear soaring debts.

In the end vociferous protests caused him to relent and instead sell up his stake to Lithuanian moneyman Vladimir Romanov.

That would end up plunging the Edinburgh club into all kinds of other chaos – but Romanov’s refusal to go along with the Cala sale plus two Scottish Cups has ensured his tenure is generally looked back on more fondly than that of Robinson.

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Raith revolted

The Raith Rovers directors were warned.

In a response to rumored interest in signing Clyde striker David Goodwillie at the turn of this year, deemed a rapist in a civil court in 2017, club sponsor Val McDermid Tweeted: “Really? Is this the message @RaithRovers want to send?”

David Goodwillie in the Stark’s Park stands

And in the Stark’s Park boardroom those responsible took a good month stewing over such comments before deciding to act on their interest anyway and signing up Goodwillie in the closing minutes of the January Deadline Day.

Cue a furious response as crime writer McDermid pulled her support before the women’s team ditched the badge and rebranded in her name.

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Former chairman Bill Clark, who opposed the signing, resigned from the board and told his colleagues they’d badly misjudged the situation and the fans voted with their feet when attendances plummeted.

All of this damage, plus an estimated six figure outlay, for a player who will never wear the jersey after Raith eventually relented and pulled an embarrassing U-turn.

The situation still appears no closer to a solution after Clyde had to pull the plug on a return on loan.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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