RICHARD MacDonald is an integral part of our Everyone Anyone diversity and inclusion campaign and the lifelong Rangers fan is immensely proud of the fact his club has taken a lead role by creating such a worthy initiative.
The 52-year-old, who lives in Stirling and works for a Glasgow architectural practice, has been a devout follower of Rangers for more than four decades and has been involved in the campaign from the very beginning.
Richard joined a diverse range of fans at Ibrox last summer taking part in a photoshoot to prepare Everyone Anyone visuals. He then attended the high-profile media launch last July and was also at the training ground in February when he helped promote the new Fans Charter.
Reflecting on the impact the campaign has made so far, he said: “My observations and thoughts on the Everyone Anyone campaign are that it is pioneering and progressive and is making a genuine attempt to effect positive change to football and society, particularly in the West of Scotland but also further afield.
“Any campaign that promotes a policy of zero tolerance and where, age, gender, race and religion should not be a barrier is a really positive step. It is, in my opinion, an honest attempt by Rangers to put its house in order and look forward in an inclusive way to ensure future generations of supporters, investors, staff and players feel comfortable and respected regardless of their background.
“The campaign is unique to Rangers and follows the great traditions of the club, always striving to make improvements where possible and leading the way.
“As a mixed race supporter of Rangers for over 40 years, I am extremely proud to help the campaign. I feel now is the right time for the club to step up and have a more positive image in society. We live in a world of increased scrutiny with more cameras and microphones in stadia together with intense social media coverage.
“Therefore, it is important that we create the right atmosphere and environment at matches, so as not to attract negative coverage from media and punishment from the football authorities – especially UEFA, who are not slow sometimes in imposing sanctions.
“That doesn’t mean fans can’t be noisy and partisan at Ibrox but we do have to support the team in the correct way. The fans have been phenomenal in their support over the years turning up in huge numbers. I believe they are the most loyal supporters in the world. If I can help an any way to spread the message that Rangers are also extremely diverse and inclusive then I am delighted as it will also make me, and other supporters from diverse backgrounds feel more at home at our club.
“I also believe, in the long to medium term, it will help Rangers get back to the top where they deserve to be, as more investors and sponsors will want to be associated with a new, fresh Rangers brand open to all.
“Rangers is a unique club with a rich history and heritage and being a founding member of the league there will be a lot of excitement when the club celebrates its 150th anniversary soon.
“Everyone who has participated in the campaign shares a massive passion for the club. When we met up as group with the players and manager attending you could see joy and excitement on everyone’s faces when they rubbed shoulders with them (Including me!).
“There was great banter with James Tavernier, Steven Gerrard, Andy Halliday. Derek Johnstone and big Mark Hateley, which was good to see. I have also noticed many of the participants at recent matches and can see the enthusiasm they have for the Red White and Blue. I come from a diverse background and sometimes find it difficult to celebrate my own ethnicity but actually I feel I can now do this with pride at Ibrox which, selfishly, is a brilliant thing and perhaps it was something I was not fully able to do in the past.
“I am sure there are other participants from the campaign who probably also now feel the same way. None of the participants are actors, they are all fans of the club and everything Rangers, which is obvious when you meet them all.
“For example, Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie is a fascinating man who never misses a match and has conducted funerals, weddings and many other ceremonies at Ibrox – giving up a lot his time to the club.
“Club 1872 Board member Laura Fawkes has also donated a huge amount of her time to Rangers and Lt. Commander Gary Farmer is another proud supporter, who has led several diversity programmes within the Royal Navy and has worked with the Rangers Charity Foundation on a number of initiatives.
“Chander Singh is a lifelong Rangers supporter who has given a lot of his time to the campaign and actually sports a Rangers scarf that is older than most Rangers fans. For me, meeting Everyone Anyone campaigner Scott Cunningham helped raise my own awareness of blindness when Scott kindly requested that I describe to him at one of the photoshoots the layout and settings and in particular which players and Rangers staff were in attendance – which I was only too pleased to do.
“I am merely a fan with a mixed race background and cannot really match any of the many impressive acts that others in the campaign have achieved, such as sponsored runs of thousands of miles, but I do follow the club when I can and when my family and job commitments allow me to do so. I am very happy to donate some of my time to the campaign and the Rangers family.
“It’s been a worthwhile campaign and its really convincing to see the airtime the campaign has been given on all Rangers platforms, such as the website, RTV and matchday advertising and programmes. In fact, I have been receiving a lot of good feedback and a bit of light-hearted banter from my pals who know me especially from the construction industry. The posters and screenshots are really powerful and I think all fans are beginning to absorb the important messages.
“The Fans Charter is another important step so that all fans can have clear guidance as to how to conduct themselves at Ibrox and away from home.
“We are seeing gradual, yet positive signs in fan behaviour which is good, although it is probably fair to say there is still room for improvement. One of my ideas is that the club could perhaps hire a songwriter to produce some new fan chants that encourage an even more positive celebration of Rangers.”
Richard, who attends games with his sons Elliott and Joe, was a huge football fan from an early age and his love for Rangers started when he was just five-years old.
He continued: “I do love the game and I tried to be a footballer, playing with Alloa, Dunfermline and Forfar reserves, but instead trained to become an architect. My father Derek played with Aberdeen and Arsenal but didn’t quite make it due to an horrific ankle break. My dad met my Jamaican mum, Theda, whilst down south therefore I have a really mixed cultural background.
“Everyone on my dad’s side of the family are, my mum, brothers (Mark and Neil) are Aberdeen fans so it was expected that I would become one also. But when I was 5, one of the boys at Polmont Primary School was wearing a Rangers top (under his shirt) and I asked him what the distinct badge was. From that moment I became intrigued and despite the old man buying me an Aberdeen top for my next birthday, I was a Rangers fan. I still however have a soft spot for Arsenal but definitely not for Aberdeen.
“My dad used to take me to matches at Ibrox in the 70’s which generally involved Aberdeen and I remember being able move around the ground and sometimes getting a stand upgrade if we could afford it. Often Rangers would get the better of Aberdeen but it was always a tight affair. John Greig MBE was the captain back then and he used to bully every team who came to Ibrox with the two Dereks (Johnstone and Parlane) up front scoring goals supported by Tommy McLean and Davie Cooper on the wings.
“Bobby Russell had great vision and energy in midfield and with the elegant Sandy Jardine at the back, Rangers had a brilliant team in the late 70’s winning trebles and halting Celtics dominance.
“I vividly remember going to matches with ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” bellowing out of the Centenary Stand tannoy, this is still one of my favourite songs to this day.
“I moved house to Stirling in the early 80’s and my new pals John, James, Kenny, Brian and Scott all supported Rangers. We used to skip onto the local supporter’s bus and go to matches, sometimes without telling our parents and returning late from midweek matches.
“I still attend matches with some of the guys to this day 35 years later.
“I’ve also really enjoyed going to games with my sons Joe (26) and Elliott (21) as nothing can bring father and sons together like going to watch the Rangers. I’ve taken them since they were infants and being with them at the recent wins at Ibrox over European opposition and Celtic has been priceless.
“I have so many great Rangers memories and I’m really spoilt in that regard. I attended the treble clinching cup final in ’78 against Aberdeen and was fortunate to be at Pittodrie in 1987 when Graeme Souness won his first championship.
“I was present for Gazza’s hat-trick performance and Hateley’s championship winning double again against Aberdeen. I watched the final day 6-1 win over Dunfermline together with title wins at Tannadice, Kilmarnock and Easter Road, all Helicopter Sundays, and the latter title win was just amazing. I witnessed so many great European nights, especially the Champions League wins over Dynamo Kiev and Leeds, which were very special for different reasons.
“My favourite Rangers moment however was the 2008 UEFA Cup Final in Manchester. I know we didn’t win the tournament, but Manchester truly witnessed the power and energy of the club. We had not been to a European final in 36 years, but an estimated 200,000 Rangers fans descended on the city and myself and my boys were fortunate enough to get tickets.
“As we travelled South with my pal’s son David in my car I will never forget the amazing scenes. The motorways were log-jammed with supporter’s cars and buses and each service stations we stopped at was packed with at least 5,000 or so fans, some of them hitching lifts to Manchester as their cars or vans had broken down.
“Motorway bridges and verges were adorned with Rangers flags and scarfs all the way down the M6 and when we finally arrived in the city – after checking into our Warrington Hotel (as all hotels in Manchester were full) – there was a huge tower crane with a Rangers flag on its arm almost defiantly signifying that the Rangers army were in town.
“The sheer weight of numbers, singing and carnival atmosphere will always remain with me. It was like a massive military manoeuvre with a vast army of fans. Now we all know there were a couple of skirmishes in the evening, but the vast majority of over 200,000 fans behaved impeccably despite the defeat, and for me this just shows the power, pull and unbelievable support for Glasgow Rangers.
“There have been so many brilliant players to have worn the famous blue jersey that I have had the privilege to watch. These include Ian Durrant, Jorg Albertz, Brian Laudrup, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, Bobby Russell, Derek Johnstone and of course Paul Gascoigne and many more such as Graeme Souness, Ray Wilkins, Nikica Jelavic, Mikel Arteta and Pedro Mendes – all hugely talented and entertaining footballers.
“I obviously had a soft spot for Mark Walters who was the first prominent black player to play for the club that I can remember making such an impact, I really connected with him. But my favourite player and boyhood hero was simply Davie Cooper, who had a swagger and gallusness about him.
“He was super cool and, as we all know, what a left foot he possessed. I met him only once, he was very quiet and unassuming but he was the top man for me. His goals were never straight forward, always spectacular and memorable and some of his free kicks were simply bullets.
“The Cooper free kick against Aberdeen was the sweetest strike I have ever seen. As Jim Leighton, the Dons keeper, dived the ball had already rebounded off the net and was in the 6 yard box by the time he hit the ground. I really think Cooper should have played more matches for Scotland as he was easily Scotland’s most talented player for about 5/6 years and almost single-handedly guided them to the Mexico World Cup Finals. My wife will also testify that I cried my eyes out the day he passed away.
“Right now, like most fans, I am stuck in my house during this lockdown period, which of course is extremely frustrating but many people have lost their lives to Covid-19 and if Terry Waite can survive solitary confinement for 1763 days then surely we can all endure this for 100 or so days in the comfort of our own homes.
“I’m lucky to have the company of my adult sons and my wife Fiona and we are all getting on with it. Like everyone else we are doing all those odd jobs that were needing to be completed. I miss going to the office, as well as golfing, playing 5-a-side football, having a meal in a restaurant, travelling overseas and watching matches at Ibrox – in fact watching matches anywhere. I will stop and watch any game, as Fiona will verify!
“I’m sure all supporters feel the same way but we just need to be patient and see if we can beat this awful virus. My message to all fans out there is to take this time to savour the great memories they have of Rangers triumphs and look forward to many more in the future as the club continues to rebuild itself towards the 150th year celebrations – and please back the club in a respectful, inclusive manner, supporting the Everyone Anyone ethos.”
CLICK HERE for more information on the Everyone Anyone campaign.
CLICK HERE for more information on the new Rangers Fans Charter.