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Game for a laugh: Rangers fan and comic Andy Cameron can still look on the funny side

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Game for a laugh: In a lifetime of following Rangers, he's seen the incredible highs and the devastating lows... but comic Andy Cameron can still look on the funny sideAndy Cameron is a Rangers fan and has endured a tough time following the clubCameron was at the eye of the storm since the early days of ‘The Journey’He is a veteran of European Cup matches but watched them at their lowest pointThe fact the club sold 33,000 season tickets in 2012 makes him proud to be a fan

Comedy is all in the timing. This interview was arranged when Rangers were top of the league. It was conducted 24 hours later when they were not.

‘I saw on social media we’re releasing a DVD to commemorate the achievement. It’s called Three Days at the Top,’ says Andy Cameron, a comedian by vocation and, perhaps, necessity given the trials endured as a Rangers fan since the financial meltdown at the club.

Cameron has been at the eye of the storm since the early days of what has been described as ‘The Journey’.

Comic Andy Cameron is a Rangers fan and has endured a tough time following the club

From the hedge at Brechin and the manager standing in a bush in Luxembourg, to the top of the tree, if only for days... the 78-year-old has seen it all. And more.

‘It’s been a lifetime of experience. There’s nothing like being at a game,’ he says, even if his most recent visit to Ibrox ended in a defeat to Aberdeen, leaving the entertainer less than chuffed with Alfredo Morelos and concerned over his team’s defending at set-pieces.

But he knows that struggles at the top of the Premiership are a long way from the tribulations of 2012 when Rangers entered the lowest tier of Scottish professional football.

Cameron, a writer of programme notes, a conductor of charity nights and an interviewer of players in the hospitality areas, never took money for these duties but was granted a seat in the directors’ box.

It gave him a perfect view of the new world for Rangers.

Steven Gerrard's side were top of the Scottish Premiership... but it lasted only three days

Cameron has been less than impressed by Alfredo Morelos (No 20) and his ill-discipline  

‘In one of the early games, we were at Annan,’ he recalls. ‘We walked into the ground and there was an artificial pitch and a cabin for the directors to have a cup of tea.

‘There was a picture in there of an old guy clearing the lines of snow. It was captioned: “This is our new sweeper”.’

Reality was loud and unavoidable. ‘Going into the ground, Charlie Green (former Rangers chief executive) was about ten yards in front of me. This big bear shouts: “Mr Green, can you give me a good reason why I should buy a season ticket?”

‘Without breaking stride, Charlie says: “Because we are the people.”

‘The bear replies: “I’ll be in on Monday morning, Mr Green”.’

The immersion in lower league football was a revelation for Cameron.

‘The first game was at Peterhead and we equalised in the last minute. We went in for a cup of tea after the match and were presented with a silver salver. That happened a lot.

‘Many clubs were grateful for the support we brought. I much enjoyed going to these games, meeting these people.’

He adds: ‘And the hedge at Brechin? They must have some collection of balls up there.

‘There were at least three went in there and didn’t come out. We were 3-1 down and we won 4-3. The roar was as if we’d won a cup final.’

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His Rangers journey, of course, started much earlier than 2012. ‘I’ve been following Rangers since I was five.

‘There is a photograph somewhere of my Uncle Joe in his Navy uniform and me on his shoulders. That was my first game. Dynamo Moscow, 1945. I can’t remember it, though.’

He recalls with some lyricism his days as a young fan: ‘I used to sneak on the train at Rutherglen and get off at White City and run down to the stadium where somebody would lift me over.

‘On the way back from the game, the carriages would seat six on each side but there would be 20 in it. Kids would be up in the luggage rack.

‘There was a fog of Woodbine smoke and I would listen to the men all talking about the football. I remember as a teenager travelling on the Rutherglen East supporters’ club bus. Great laughs.’

He’s also a veteran of three European finals.

‘Manchester? How did we get there? For example, we got blootered in Bremen yet got through,’ he says of the club’s journey to the 2008 UEFA Cup final, where they were beaten by Zenit St Petersburg

‘People forget we played really well in Nuremberg against a top-class Bayern Munich and lost by the only goal after extra-time,’ he says of the 1967 European Cup Winners’ Cup final.

‘Barcelona in 1972? We ran a bus from the pub, The Viking. The organiser kept telling us we needed to behave ourselves over there. He told us if there was any trouble we were on our own.

‘Of course, we were in a bar in Calella and were told he had got the jail. We managed to get him out.’

Rangers won the European Cup Winners’ Cup 3-2 against Dynamo Moscow but a pitch invasion led to bloody clashes with police.

‘I really didn’t enjoy that week,’ says Cameron. ‘The police were heavy-handed in the lead-up.’

His favourite European match, though, is not a final.

‘It was when we beat PSV Eindhoven 3-2 in 1978 in Holland. They scored after 23 seconds. In the toilet at half-time, a wee guy covered in badges comes in and mutters: “Cheating b******s. They started before we were ready”.’

Amid the laughs, there is genuine dismay and some incomprehension at the events leading to the liquidation process in 2012.

‘I still haven’t an answer to the question: Why did David Murray hand Rangers Football Club over to a guy for a pound? I believe there is much the ordinary supporter does not know or understand and that includes me.’

When Rangers were thrown back down the leagues, they played teams like Annan (above)

There is, though, praise for the way supporters rallied around. ‘We had a stadium that housed European ties and big games in Scotland for more than a century and all of a sudden we’re in the bottom tier.

‘We faced a season watching Peterhead, Annan, Stirling Albion. Yet Rangers supporters bought 33,000 season tickets. That is astonishing and it makes me proud to be a Rangers supporter.’

Cameron has survived what many call the banter years. ‘I love all that. There’s nothing better than winning an Old Firm game and nothing worse than losing one,’ he adds.

‘If you win, celebrate with your mates and family. When we lose, I hide under the bed for a couple of days.’

He adds: ‘It’s not always rosy. People forget that Bill Struth, the legendary and highly successful manager, lost 6-0 in 1954 in a cup semi-final to Aberdeen.

‘Scot Symon, another legendary manager, lost 7-1 to Celtic in the 1957 League Cup final. I worked in Arrol’s, the engineers, and when I went in on the Monday my workmates painted my toolbox green and white. You have to accept that with a laugh. You take the banter and you give it out.’

The wee boy carried shoulder high into Ibrox is now the head of three generations of fans. ‘My two sons lived through nine-in-a-row and they ask: “Are we ever going to get that back?”

‘Then I have two grandsons who are asking: “Are we ever going to see a Rangers team win anything?” I tell them: “We will be back”.’

‘We faced a season watching Peterhead, Annan, Stirling Albion. Yet Rangers supporters bought 33,000 season tickets and it makes me proud to be a supporter,' said Cameron

He’s been impressed by what Steven Gerrard has achieved in a short space of time.

‘Okay, we were only top of the league for three days but it’s December, we are competitive and we are one match away from the last 32 of a European competition. That is progress,’ he says.

Football has been the constant in a life that has witnessed Cameron working in an engineering factory, as a conductor on the buses and then rising as a comedian and actor. ‘I love it,’ he says simply.

He embraces it with all his might. At shortly after 6pm on Wednesday, one might have witnessed a 78-year-old scarpering through the chilled rain to his seat in Ibrox.

It is a journey he has made in various guises since the end of the Second World War.

‘I still have great hopes,’ he says of future Rangers success. He is, though, braced for the odd dunt. But he’s ready for the next laugh. It’s what makes him Andy Cameron. It’s what makes him a football supporter.

 




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