This piece is a response to those who had said “show us the evidence” when I had stated earlier that Rangers were unique in British football in that they were, for some reason, unable or unwilling to sign a player from the Republic of Ireland .
This reality of an RoI free team at Ibrox could be seen over many years.
In comparison the ubiquity of RoI players in all other clubs in Britain is striking.
Here I look at professional soccer clubs on the island of Britain and whether or not they have had an RoI player in their first team since the start of this decade.
The criteria for inclusion is:
Full Ireland internationalists and clubs they have played for since 2000 in competitive fixtures.
There are more Republic of Ireland players, either full or under 21 internationalists who have played for many of these clubs.
However, only one RoI player, at either full or U21 level is required to make sure that Rangers are in a category of one.
One the island of Britain there is truly is no team like the Glasgow Rangers.
All 92 English clubs from the top 4 Leagues in 2008/2009 are represented.
Premier League 2008/2009
Arsenal – Anthony Stokes
Aston Villa – Mark Kinsella
Blackburn Rovers – Steven Reid
Bolton Wanderers – Joey O’Brien
Chelsea – Damien Duff
Everton – Lee Carsley
Fulham – Steve Finnan
Hull City – Caleb Folan
Liverpool – Robbie Keane
Man City – Richard Dunne
Man Utd – Roy Keane
Middlesbrough – Keith O’Neill
Newcastle – Shay Given
Portsmouth – Andy O’Brien
Stoke City – Glenn Whelan
Sunderland – Phil Babb
Spurs – Stephen Carr
WBA – Dean Kiely
West Ham – Gary Breen
Wigan – Kevin Kilbane
Coca Cola Championship 2008/2009
Barnsley – Stephen McPhail
Birmingham City – Kenny Cunningham
Blackpool – Alan Mahon
Burnley – Alan Moore
Cardiff City – Alan Lee
Charlton Athletic – Andy Reid
Coventry City – Clinton Morrison
C Palace – Mark Kennedy
Derby County – Rory Delap
Ipswich Town – Matt Holland
Norwich City – Gary Docherty
Notts Forest – Andy Reid
Plymouth Argyle – Mickey Evans
Preston North End – Wayne Henderson
QPR – Liam Miller
Reading – Kevin Doyle
Sheffield United – Paddy Kenny
Sheffield Wednesday – Graham Kavanagh
Southampton – Darren Potter
Swansea City – Stephen O’Halloran
Watford – Stephen Kelly
Wolves – Andy Keogh
Coca Cola League 1 2008/2009
Brighton – Paul McShane
Bristol Rovers – Dave Savage
Carlisle – Ian Harte
Colchester United – Graham Barrett
Crewe Alexandra – Graham Barrett
Hartlepool United – Thomas Butler
Hereford United – Stephen Gleeson
Huddersfield United – Damien Delaney
Leeds United – Gary Kelly
Leicester City – David Connolly
Millwall – Colin Doyle
MK Dons – Keith Andrews
Northampton Town – Dave Savage
Oldham Athletic – Alex Bruce
Peterborough United – Sean St Ledger
Scunthorpe United – Joe Murphy
Southend United – Dominic Foley
Stockport County – Nick Colgan
Swindon Town – Dominic Foley
Tranmere Rovers – Jason McAteer
Walsall – Steve Staunton
Yeovil Town – Leon Best
Coca Cola League Two
AFC Bournemouth – John O’Shea
Barnet – Gary Breen
Bradford City – Colin Healy
Brentford – Stephen Hunt
Bury – Andy Keogh
Chester City – Paul Butler
Chesterfield – Jonathan Douglas
Darlington – Curtis Fleming
Gillingham – Johnathan Douglas
Grimsby Town – Wayne Henderson
Luton – Dean Kiely
Notts County – Wayne Henderson
Rochdale – Alan McLaughlin
Rotherham United – Alan Lee
Non-League clubs 2008/2009 – Some of the English non-League clubs who have had Full Ireland internationalists since 2000
Havant and Waterlooville
Rushden and Diamonds
Under 21 Ireland internationalists and clubs they have played for since 2000 in competitive fixtures
Coca Cola Championship
Bristol City – Scott Henderson
Doncaster Rovers – Sean Thornton
Coca Cola League One
Cheltenham Town – JJ Melligan
Leyton Orient – Sean Thornton
Coca Cola League Two
Accrington Stanley – John Ryan
Aldershot Town – Owen Coll
Exeter City – Glenn Cronin
Dag and Red – Peter Gain
Lincoln City – Colin Cryan
Macclesfield – Dean Delaney
Morecambe – Henry McStay
Port Vale – Dean Delaney
Shrewsbury Town – Sean Thornton
Wycombe Wanderers – Paul McCarthy
SPL clubs in 2008/2009 who have had Republic of Ireland internationalists since 2000 –
Aberdeen – Richie Byrne – Under 21
Celtic – Aiden McGeady – Full
Dundee United – Noel Hunt – Full
Falkirk – Graham Barrett – Full
Hamilton Accies – David Elebert – Under 21
Hibernian – Alan O’Brien – Full
Hearts – Alan Maybury – Full
Inverness Caley – Richie Foran – Under 21
Kilmarnock – Conor Sammon – Under 21
Motherwell – David Kelly – Full
St Mirren – Billy Mehmet – Under 21
As can be seen all SPL clubs since 2000 have had an RoI player either full or U21 international except Rangers.
Other Scottish clubs with full Ireland internationalists since 2000.
Most Scottish lower league clubs have almost an exclusive compliment of Scottish players. Many are part time and Irish players would not, for the most part, relocate for part time football in another country.
Sine 1985 Republic of Ireland players have also in mainland Europe played for, amongst others –
Ajax – Frank Stapletoin
Sporting Lisbon – Phil Babb
Feyenoord – David Connolly
Marseille – Tony Cascarino
Inter Milan – Robbie Keane
Levante – Ian Harte
Real Sociedad – John Aldridge
Red Star (France) – Tony Cascarino
Lyon – Mick McCarthy
Le Havre – John Byrne
Ajax – Frank Stapleton
This list of RoI players has been drawn up to highlight the glaring omission from the list.
All SPL clubs since 2000 have a RoI player-all except one.
All 92 clubs in England have been able to source a RoI player good enough for their first team.
In fact signing RoI players would seem to be quintessentially British.
It is a bit puzzling that Rangers seem to be out of step with all the other British clubs.
The connection between the anti-Irish racism of some Rangers fans and the club’s inability to source a suitable player who wears the green of the Republic must now be taken on board by the appropriate public agencies.
It has been established in the High Court in Edinburgh that the “Famine song” is a manifestation of anti-Irish racism.
Rangers have, within their support, an anti-Irish racism problem that much is forensically established.
Much was made of the change in Rangers anti-catholic signing policy twenty years ago. The club’s first catholic captain in modern times (first ever?) Lorenzo Amoruso was taken into the hearts of the Rangers supporters.
Like clubs in England who had an anti-black racism problem in the 1970s signing black players through the 1980s did, in time, silence the racists on the terraces.
If the “Famine Song” and other manifestations of anti-Irish racism are to become a thing of the past at Ibrox along with the signing ban on Catholics then Rangers must learn to love players from the Irish Republic.
The “Famine Song” is merely a symptom of a problem. Those who sing this racist song, perhaps, feel they have some official permission from the club itself because they never have to cheer on a player from the Irish Republic in the light blue of Rangers.
That reality, like the Catholic ban pre-1989, must come to an end.
One day the Rangers supporters might not want the Irish in their team to “go home”.
When that happens Rangers, finally, will become a normal football club.