Downfall An Etims Review
Phil MacGhiollabhans book, on the shelves now for over a month, has been in the headlines for a couple of reasons, which is ironic, because the revelations in it were largely kept out of the headlines for as long as possible by the Scottish mainstream media.
The author faced threats, intimidation, ridicule and even a successful campaign to have the serialisation in a national newspaper stopped. Overall, that probably helped rather than hindered sales, but does show that the press in Scotland are more worried about circulation than they are about getting the truth out there. Which is a shame really, because had they printed the story around the same time as the blogs collected here appeared, the old Rangers may have been saved, and then I wouldn’t have been able to use the cracked crest above.
And thats kind of the thing with this book. If the stuff in it had been read by those it affected at the time, and put into the mainstream media instead of being trashed as the work of a sensationalist attention seeking internet bampot, then the book would have been subtitled “How Rangers nearly died”, which to be fair wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good a read. In fact, its rather a triumph for the “new media” over the old established one.
This volume-you get the feeling there may be a sequel, after all, there is loads more to come, collects all the blogs posted by the author on his own website as the events around Rangers demise unfolded, and divides them into four sections, covering separately and chronologically the financial misdemeanours, the media involvement-or lack of it, as the case may be, , the contributions by the fans of the club and the SFAs role in the farce. At the same time, there is no shortage of comment on the club itself, and its rather unique traditions. Which helps to remove any sympathy the reader may feel for Rangers and its support.
This set up allows for each part to be read in the context of how it happened, and also has a neat introduction to each section, followed by a well thought out postcript at the end, giving it the feel of a nice wee story. Although because the blogs are reproduced faithfully, there is a wee bit of repetition which could have been avoided, but I suppose it keeps it authentic.
Most people will have read some of the blogs when they first appeared, in fact some may have read all of them, and one criticism levelled at the book has been that its only stuff the reader would have known already. But we all love a story with a happy ending, and the promise of more to come, and thats how the collection comes across.
There are some snippets, especially in the introductions, that the reader probably wasn’t aware of before, such as David Murrays father being sentenced to eighteen months years ago for, er tax evasion. You must remember, it was all over the papers. Each introduction explains and contains an analysis of where the failings were, and as you would expect, the SFA and the mainstream press do rather badly here.
When writing these particular parts, it would have been easy for the author to come across as perhaps bitter, or maybe even having a wee gloat, but he does manage to avoid this, although it would be difficult to blame him if he hadn’t. The whole point is that there was a massive story out there, and it was left to an “internet bampot”-his words, not mine, to get it written down and out into the public conscience. Even then, the press didn’t run with it, but to Phils credit, he stuck with it.
Gradually, reporters such as Alex Thomson of Channel Four news got involved, we all know the rest. Sure, a lot of it we do know, but its good to read it all in one place, and I would defy anyone to read it and not have a bloody great grin on their face when they put it down after they are finished. Well, I can think of some people who wouldn’t, and they are the ones that should read it.
The traditions of Woodward and Bernstein are not really ever going to be associated with newspapers such as the Sun, or the Record. There doesn’t seem to be anyone at the BBC or STV who wants to make a name for themselves either.
This book is important because it shows that despite intimidation, despite mockery and despite barriers being placed in front of them, there are still journalists who won’t go away when they think they have something worth chasing. For that alone, the author deserves credit. The subtitle makes it clear that Rangers did it to themselves, not the popular line we hear today, that Craig Whyte did it, or Murray did it, and everyones a victim. Thats not true, and Downfall reinforces the correct version, which is why a book about Rangers won’t appear on too many Rangers supporters shelves this christmas. Although , of course, had they not ignored the blogs first time round, they might not have been in the mess they are in now
Thats the serious issue behind this book, good old fashioned investigative journalism getting stuck into those high fliers whose egos and pride led them to cheat, to lie and to steal. how they got their friends in high places to cover up for them and how they even now are in denial, refusing to accept they did anything wrong.
So get a hold of a copy, open a beer, put on some tunes and chuckle away for a few hours at the story of how a once proud and dignified team made a complete arse of it, and stumbled over the precipice into the great void below.
I do love a story with a happy ending.