Rangers FC's Canadian Connection

Everyone in the (English speaking) football world has likely heard of the historic announcement that Rangers FC has gone into administration. I know very little about the economy of Scottish football and situation of Rangers FC; but it is a storied club and one of the most famous in the world. Such a story draws attention.

Growing up in Burlington playing recreational soccer, it was hard to avoid mention of Rangers FC. BYSC had its fair-share of Scottish descendents and one of my coaches was a fanatic. Coincidentally, it was the same coach who provided me with my favourite football mantra, to be yelled with the necessary Scottish growl, "GOOO FUR GOALS!" It was his 'tactical advice' to any player on our team who happened to have the ball at their feet in the final third.

Myself, with nothing against my youth coach, chose to align myself in "The Old Firm" with the boys in green and white. My allegiance had more to do with my 'local pub' - it was the fish and chips and not beer and conversations with 'the regulars' - Tommy O'Toole's (or dolittles, memories fade). An Irish pub, which was a small foothold, till it closed, for supporters of Celtic FC. Such is the rationality of how I pick my teams.

Interest in Rangers FC has also led to random searching into the club's history, such as this find by the Guardian blog, a video from the 1930 tour of Rangers FC in Canada:

Toronto Ulster United playing Rangers FC at May 21, 1930 at Ulster Stadium in Toronto, Ontario.

It is interesting  to see that Canada was at one point a small, but notable stop for international clubs. On this particular tour, Rangers played 8 games in Canada and 6 in the US. Playing in front of between 8000 and 10 000 Canadian fans, the match between Toronto Ulster United and Rangers ended 3 - 4 for the visitors, a respectable result against a team whom had recently dominated the Scottish championship. Ulster United, recognized by the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, had won the Canadian championship in 1925 (going on to win in '46 and '51), as well the Ontario Cup in 1927 and 1929. Their home grounds, Ulster Stadium was a "soccer specific stadium" before the MLS invented the term decades later.

Coincidentally, the news of Rangers FC's administration comes at the same time that international 'football' is beginning its revival in Canada. In 1963, Toronto Ulster United folded. Of course there was the professional NASL, with its high priced superstars and crazy rules for a brief period in the 1970s. This year, however, after five financially successful - if relatively unsuccessful years on the pitch - Toronto FC is going to be joined by 'neighbouring' Montreal Impact (measurable distances are relative in the football world) this year. Vancouver Whitecaps joined last year. Soccer specific stadiums have been built in both Toronto and Montreal. Major League Soccer still lags behind the competitive level of the Scottish Premier League's top clubs, the financial parity, size of potential markets, and increasing revenues of the MLS will likely allow the Canadian clubs surpass on-the-pitch quality of the SPL in the near future. Such a fall and rise of Canadian soccer probably was not on the minds of the Ulster players in 1930 when they went ahead of the Scottish giants 2-1 in the second half, nor to the near 10 000 who packed Ulster Stadium. The match was a celebration of Scottish (protestant) heritage and of the growing globalization of the beautiful game.

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