Tangled Up In Blue: From The Pioneers To The Pall Bearers

Stephen O’Donnell has written about Rangers. From their inception to their demise. 

He has meticulously searched beyond the mainstream to find all the bits you never knew about the club, but thought you did. 

Guess what. 

You were wrong. 

These are the bits they didn’t want you to know, and the bits they’d rather you’d forget.

Ralph Malph gives his thoughts on the story of the blues…


Image result for tangled up in blue book rangers

How much do you really know about Rangers ?

Well, they died. In 2012.

But if you got your information from the media alone, you’d be excused for thinking they didn’t die after all. They somehow survived liquidation, and carry on as before, the same brand, the same location and the same “history “.

Except that up until they lost their history, which went with their club, supporters and historians weren’t that keen on letting several skeletons out of their closets.

For example, as a club that won their only European trophy in their centenary year, they didn’t make -and haven’t made-too much of a fuss about what was, or should have been, a memorable occasion for them.

A historic one , in fact.

But , as Stephen O’Donnell explains, there isn’t too much in their history to shout about.

In previous works, O’Donnell has dealt in humour and fiction, but with a cutting edge that reflects modern Scottish society. Described by one reviewer as “Scotland’s Roddy Doyle ” , his style is almost conversational and reflects the great storytellers of many a bar room, interspersed with lines that occasionally jolt the reader out of the room he shares with the narrator, to reminding him that he is reading a book, and not sitting in the bar with him.

In that sense, O’Donnell can make sure the important points in the theme of the story get across.

A previous book, “Scotball “, dealt with a fictional talk radio show about football. whilst entertaining for what it was, there was the sinister undercurrent of media manipulation running through the work, which reflected how the news and views are presented in Scotland.

Scotball, whilst  a light hearted story,  became a serious work on just how the mainstream works in Scotland, especially where one club in particular is concerned, and the way in which the establishment protects it, in the early part of the 21st century.


Scotball led the author to look a little more deeply into the life and times of Rangers, and those institutions connected with it, and the results are surprising.

If you think Rangers are getting favours now, you should have been around at the beginning and the middle as well as the end.

There are several themes touched on this book, racism, fraud, bigotry, theft and so on,  but the word “cheats” is the one that would best describe what runs through their history from start to finish.

You won’t find that in the media, which is why this book is an essential read for anyone who has an interest in Scottish football.

It is also , perhaps more importantly, an important read for anyone with an interest in sporting integrity.

What happened to Rangers is not for the local audience alone, it should serve as a warning for all fans of all football clubs of what can happen when secret societies take control and influence over a large part of any industry, which is what the sport has become.

And , as the book shows, it’s not a recent thing.

It’s been going on for a while. Which is why honest appraisals of the club from neutrals are very hard to find.

O’Donnell had to spend a lot of time getting to the information in the book, and one does fear for his security when it is out there in the world.

He’s not only drawn attention to an entity that openly practiced racism and sectarianism, as well as fraud, theft and latterly massive tax evasion but shows how and why it happened.

I never understood why there was virulent anti-catholicism amnd anti Irish racism at the club, which was happy enough to go along with the Auld Firm tag as it suited both Rangers and Celtic  to make money and live in a symbiotic relationship.

This book is the first work that explains how the change came about, and pinpoints exactly when and how it happened.

For that alone, it’s worth the purchase price.


The first part of the book deals with what Rangers began as, and how they developed into a huge brand.

The sort of information the media kept from the public in pre internet days

The second part deals with how they threw it all away and slid into oblivion. which, of course, was widely reported on the internet

Look at the first part as the book of Revelations, and the second as a book of Collation.

When chronologically laid out in the text, the reckless nature of Murrays ego driven spending cannot be seen as anything other than self destructive.

The sheer number of players and amount of money spent when written down is astonishing.

Follow that with his imaginative salary scheme, and their demise was assured.


Yet none of it was played out in the media. no one asked questions, no one issued warnings, and above all, the authorities and banks turned a blind eye to all of it.


Tangled Up In Blue does ask these questions, it reminds us of what happened and it should serve as a warning to all supporters all over the world of what can happen when a governing body allows one club to flaunt the rules.

The answers to the questions posed in the final years of the club can be found in the annals of the early years.

It’s just that no one else has bothered to look for them.


O’Donnell deserves praise for tackling an issue that seasoned journalists have refused to touch, and his reward is the definitive work on Rangers, all the way from the pioneers right through to the pall bearers.

It’s not just about Rangers, in fact , it’s not just about football.

this book should appeal to anyone who has a sense of honesty and decency about them, because it shows what can happen when both qualities are absent, from either a person or an organisation.

It’s about the much wider issue of allowing unhealthy influence in society to grow unchecked to such an extent that it very nearly brought the whole edifice crashing down around itself.

Indeed, as the story continues beyond the book with the new “rangers “, it still might.




Available to pre order on amazon now, Tangled Up In Blue will be released on August 19.

Which will be about a week before the author is forced into hiding…






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1 year ago

As we speak, no doubt the hunnish hordes are on their web forums, conducting polls about what he should be referred to, along the lines of “Ill Phil, Phil Three Names, etc”, and attempts to discredit the guy and his publication – without even having read his works!

Unfortunately, people have decided that they no longer have any relevance in our modern society, and will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century, or ostracised for their aggressive resistance.

Rob O'Keeffe
1 year ago

Hold the press!-Scotland and their “establishment ” club is and for a long time has been,run my Freemasons who detest Celtic and Irish immigrants.Strangely,other types of immigrant are welcome.If Nicola and her scumbag cohorts ever manage to achieve “independence “,Celtic would not last long as many within the SNP(boak) have gleefully informed me……RC schools would also go…so be careful how you tread…these peepul are determined but Resistance Beats Persistance! SMH

1 year ago
Reply to  Rob O'Keeffe

so can you explain how Rangers prospered under the UK? most Rangers fans are completely opposed to independence for Scotland as they wish to remain poor.

what is your answer if both the SNP and the UK are not the answer to scotlands future?

1 year ago
Reply to  Rob O'Keeffe

Scumbags you say ! I,m afraid your political education is sadly lacking in any sort of “nous” with that antediluvian attitude Dino.Thinking for yourself seems to be difficult for you to comprehend.

John mccloy in Tasmania
1 year ago

Flout the rules ffs,not flaunt which is what the knuckledraggers do on the 12th.

D'Fhinnein Mick
1 year ago


Sounds like a fantastic read,mate!

Re winning their European title in their Centenary Season,I always understood their foundation to be in 1873. That was always the case AFAIK,and Rangers fans of my acquaintance also. Hence The Centenary Stand and various functions around that time. In fact,their tainted nine was completed in 1997,with no mention of them achieving it in 125 as I expect they were saving that for the following year.

The 1872 thing,in my experience,only arrived with Craig White. Like-Here’s 140 years,lads. Enjoy it while you can.

1 year ago

Smashing Precis CS, saves me from ordering & reading the book.


1 year ago

I often wondered, how, when and where Murray met Masterton at the BOS, at how easily he raised the six million pounds to purchase the den of iniquity. I often wondered at how he and his family was allowed to cherry pick the best part of his liquidised empire at knockdown prices from a bank that had a representative sitting on the board, or how he kept his knighthood. All this despite accumulating debts to all his business of around One billion pounds. Mind you I often wondered at how Fred the shred kept hold of his half million pension pot when he had a big part in creating a world wide recession.
A governing body that recently appointed as its supreme and absolute ruler, someone who dismissed the voices of 13,000 Hibernian supporters who wanted action taken against the cheats, having lost their manager EBT McLeish and their captain Murray to them. He is in good company at the SFA and at boardrooms throughout Scottish football, who jointly decided to ignore fan concerns and told them all to “move on”. Hibs suggested that they had lost £3.00 million pounds, possible trophies to the cheats, move on Milne at the Dandies, even Hearts supporters wanted action. They reckon that 13 trophies was won by cheating during the EBT years, of course Celtic lost titles, trophies and many, many millions of pounds and yet, nothing is done, nothing is said. Is it the all seeing eye, or the third eye, no, I think its the evil eye. If Stephen O’Donnell the player is half as good as Stephen O’Donnell the author then sign him up straight away.
Still enjoy the diary, no one else comes close….

1 year ago

Amazon here I come– Roll on August.

Do you think I’ll have to have it covered in plain brown paper so I can read it in peace on the bus. Or should I cover it in wall paper like we used to do with the school Books n Jotters.


Stevie D
1 year ago
Reply to  jimboh

Irvine Smith was a right wee bundle of fun. A vicious, ruthless bastard as a sheriff.

Stevie D
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie D

I was waiting to go up in front of him once and there was a wee guy about 17 or 18 before me for a daft breach or something and J Irvine Smith fined him about £100 payable at a tenner a week. His ma shouted from the back of the court ‘He cannae afford £10 a week, he’s on YTS.’ Irvine Smith goes ‘OK, £5 a week then.’ The wee ma says ‘I told you he’s on YTS wages . . .’ and before she was finished speaking and without even looking in her direction he went ‘Ach detention; 3 months!’ and sent the boy to Glenochil ruining his life just cos he’d lost patience with the boy’s mammy. The guy was a dog. Arbitrary, tyrannical, brutal bastard. I’m only thankful he hadn’t the power to hang anybody. He’d’ve came in his pants.

1 year ago

C S… That’s their history in one sentence HAHAHA

1 year ago

Must be a pretty slim volume that one.
Nought funny about the Laws of this corrupt land.


1 year ago


Many thanks for the critique. It sounds like a fascinating read and I will order a copy. Pity it is not out sooner. It would have made for excellent reading on my holiday at the end of the month. With the weather as it is, I think I will need a library, especially since there is no internet at our paradise resort. I will need another break to get through the missed Dairies but I will find the time somehow. I ought to start visiting the in-laws in Tahiti for a change. I am not short of invites as they too dress in skirts.

Back to the book. Call me an old cynic – and I know you wont but instead, a fucking miserable old cynic – but for all the excellent revelations of the book’s content and the exposition of writer’s investigations, it will be like the proverbial water off a duck’s back or, in more appropriate terminology, embarrassment off authorities’ brass necks. The nefarious history of a “football” club – or a physical (how can one use sporting about that lot)-right-wing-of-a-secret-society-social club – will be buried in the same sands that contain the heads of everyone with influence in the football world, particularly in Scotland – mostly at Gullane. In the final analysis, the only real kick in the goolies we can give these people is to keep the money out of their pockets. But, that likely will mean cutting our noses off to spite our faces because Scottish Football, including our own beloved club, would not survive an out and out boycott.

Meantime, I can take great delight in at least knowing the truth in spite of its impotence. In my day, even those crumbs were not available to the common man. So, my sincere thanks to Stephen and his ilk for all their efforts to bring us the facts even if they are ignored by those that matter and to writers like yourself who lead horses like us to these refreshing waters and tempt us to quench our thirst.


1 year ago


I hope reading this book goes down better with the moderator than making a comment about the article.


1 year ago
Reply to  Pensionerbhoy

Now there’s one for the archivist, Ralph. I have just had a brief look to check recent comments on yesterday’s diary and low and behold I am listed as having commented on Stephen’s book even before you wrote yesterday’s critique. That moderator is either on something unique or spends too much time in the spirit world. His obsession with spam borders on obesity. One way or another he should seriously think about rehab so we can all comment without interference.


1 year ago
Reply to  Pensionerbhoy

Pensioner Bhoy don’t get me started on the Moderator’s judgements. I think that only 1 in 6 get through in my case.
More than likely this will be binned as well HH

1 year ago
Reply to  Tommy Bhoy67

Just to be clear ( again )

Comments get put into Spam or trash bins by the WordPress erratic filter.
if you ( and often even our) comments disappear, its usually always just WordPress being manic.

No one sits and administers comments on a regular basis, we actually have lives, even Ralph.

The occasional fuckwit will get edited or binned as needed but only on a very rare occasion.

1 year ago

We all know that the managers and the referees that`ll sit after a game at Celtic Park do look down on us. The knowing that there`s nothing they can do is a doing in itself.
Seasonal beginnings is each and every season.

Is destroy a harsh word? No.
Destroy their lazy mentality towards those outwith their own.

1 year ago

…who`ll go fund me for a pair of NB 997 Trainers?
Show off your £85.00 Celtic FC spirit.In the name of the wee-man.

You mad about ETims or just plain mad? Why not buy the t-shirt at http://etims.spreadshirt.co.uk/