Scottish sports comment: Thursday marks a year since the fabric of Scottish football was ripped asunder by the gravest crisis in its long history when Rangers crashed into administration.
Since Valentine’s Day 2012 the noise has barely subsided. The story of their subsequent liquidation, reformation and entry into the Third Division is one which we are still living through, with the dust yet to settle.
It is only now 12 months on from the nuclear button being pressed by HMRC — to halt the non-payment of tax by, ahem, maverick owner Craig Whyte — that we begin to get a full sense of the epoch making events which unfolded.
So what have we learned in a year? Well, for one thing the Ibrox support is now less likely to be quite so blithe about who’s running the show.
No-one could say they’ve ever been an instinctively rebellious bunch, but surely they will never again be so slow to question the powers that be?
Fans will be have been pleased to see that the SFA intend to pursue the man once once described as a “Motherwell-born billionaire” through the courts over an unpaid fine of £200,000. They would do well to also consider what led to his taking control of their club for £1.
There will also have been genuine concern about Singaporean company Orlit Enterprises considering a winding-up order against Rangers for an outstanding debt of £400,000.
OK, Rangers sought to downplay this, calling the claim “not legitimate,” but that’s to be expected because any hint of financial weakness could yet be ruinous to Charles Green’s group of investors.
Dismissing the matter as a mere trifle no longer works though, with the media unlikely to cool their interest in the club’s affairs.
Perhaps Ally McCoist strikes the right note in saying: “I’m actually delighted the finances of the club are being scrutinised ... I would hope the fans would think it is a good thing.”
Scottish football at large now sees a diminished power in Govan. Certainly there has been a loosening of the old ties which held the Light Blues as a major social and economic force. Rangers are still a wounded animal, but are unlikely to remain so forever.
As for the future? Well, I doubt there can be any sniff of detente until the findings of the SPL investigation into dual contracts are released and the HMRC appeal over the “big tax case” is concluded.
For the moment we are living through an entrenched PR battle akin to having the phoney war after the armistice.
This sees regular tub-thumping pronouncements from Ibrox about possible moves to England, vendettas against the club, and its global potential as a brand.
Meanwhile Celtic fans and others routinely mock their old rivals as Sevco, Zombies or The Rangers — each label a nod to the liquidation process of last summer.
To friends they remain simply Rangers with an untouched history stretching back a full 140 years.
This stuff is of no little importance for boiled down it is about writing the lasting and authoritative account of this tumultuous period.
Who will win? I’d give it another year, at least.
It was a shock to learn that Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon thinks his career could well be over at the tender age of 30.
Gordon, who seemed to break into the Heart of Midlothian side as a skinny youth just five minutes ago — though it was actually 11 years back — has said he’s unsure whether he will play again and is therefore keen to try his hand at coaching.
This is the result of serious knee and arm injuries while with Sunderland, who released him last May.
He’s been without a club since, but seems to be enjoying a new role helping out behind the scenes at Dumbarton.
It should not be so. Goalies are expected to perform between the sticks well into middle age in the manner of Italian great Dino Zoff, Peter Shilton and Ronnie Simpson, who won the European Cup with Celtic aged 36.
Gordon has much to offer and has also suggested he is “not throwing the towel in yet.” That is gratifying to hear of course.
Still, evidence suggests that getting into coaching at an early age can make for a distinguished managerial career.
One hopes that will come only in the fullness of time.
Small steps can lead to great bounds forward, but it would be foolish to get carried away at Scotland’s 34-10 win over Italy.
Yes, victory, with four tries along the way, was most welcome given it was no forgone conclusion since the Italians had already beaten France.
Scotland have the immense benefit of playing their next two games at home — to Ireland and Wales — and they should seek to make the most of such advantage.
Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw hit the nail on the head after the Murrayfield victory, saying: “We need to go away and think about why we won this game.”
Absolutely right, for the frustration is that for far too long the Scots have been only a team of promise.
Scotland interim coach Scott Johnson (right) and his staff now have their target — one which is certainly achievable — and that is to emerge with credit from the Six Nations.
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