‘A long time ago in a galaxy, far, far away…’
Well that’s quite enough lines from the George Lucas Space Opera but the line nevertheless serves as an appropriate introduction to one of the more bizarre, grotesque and ludicrous inmates of the crypt.
At time of writing this piece Jabba Traynor had not been – officially – employed by The Rangers or the company with a similar name which went into liquidation in the summer of 2012 but you’d never have guessed it.
Though perhaps not the most shamelessly biased apologist for the worst Ibrox had to offer – a title held previously by Willie Allison and then, probably, by David Leggat – he had been the most persistently high profile and, superficially, articulate. Rumour had it that Ol’ Jabbs is set to become Head of Public Relations (or some similarly pompous title) at Sevco. Neither Traynor nor I believe all that much of what we read on internet websites and blogs and I have to say that this story really strikes me as being too convenient to be true but if it is it will be the final step in a long journey to his spiritual home for Jabba.
One that began a long time ago in a North Lanarkshire, far, far, away.
Born in 1953 in the Lanarkshire town of Airdrie Traynor was a keen and, one assumes, thinner version of his later self. He was lithe enough to be offered schoolboy forms to sign for his local club but instead Jabba chose to enter the fourth estate and had become a sports journalist by his early twenties.
By the late eighties he had become the chief football writer on what was then known as the Glasgow Herald. That newspaper had had a few decent writers in its recent past such as Ian Archer and Jim Reynolds and initially Traynor seemed a worthy enough columnist and pundit. Perhaps a bit too purple in the prose and, as I discovered when he phoned me up in response to a letter I had written to his paper in which very mild criticism of one of his columns appeared, somewhat thin skinned, but far from totally objectionable.
The early nineties was a dark time for Celtic as well as being, by all accounts legitimately, a successful one for Rangers. Traynor wrote several articles which were critical of Celtic’s failing board – not dissimilar in feel to contemporaneous articles in NTV in fact – and he backed the winning horse by supporting Fergus McCann and the rebels as they sought to take over Celtic.
Although few would have felt that Jabbs – by 1994 already significantly portlier than in his playing days – was much of a Celtic sympathiser he seemed a million miles away from the slavish sycophancy towards Rangers adopted by his peers such as Chick Young, Ken Gallacher and the aforementioned Leggat. And then, because they paid him better, he joined the Daily ‘Getworse’ Express – at that time still a big seller though very much a low quality title which had seen much better days. For Traynor the once idealistic reporter the rot and cliches set in.
And he was getting fatter.
Traynor’s articles for the Getsworse were much more slackly written than in his Herald Days and it was clear that he yearned not to be the new Hugh McIlvanney but the next Alex Cameron and so inevitably after less than a year he joined Scotland’s then most widely read – and the world’s crappiest – daily newspaper the Daily Record or, as it has also been known, the Rectum and, more pertinently, the Daily Ranger.
Celtic won their first league title in a decade in Jabbs’ first season on his new paper but there was little that was congratulatory towards the club in Traynor’s pieces.
When Celtic played dreadfully in Zagreb in the second leg of a Champions’ League qualifier his assessment of the game seemed unusually personal in its criticism.
And then came a trip to the Channel Islands and an article which appeared in the Record on Thursday 19 November 1998 – two days before a Celtic versus Rangers match curiously enough*.
The piece is one long toadying apologia masquerading as an interview with the then Rangers chairman and main shareholder David Murray. The article itself can still be found in its servile entirety on the Internet but is remembered best for two words- ’succulent’ and ’lamb’.
A new career as the unofficial chief propagandist for Murray and Rangers- coupled with frequently vituperatively anti- Celtic articles such as one which appeared a couple of days after the infamous match of May 1999 refereed by Hugh Dallas – had begun.
And he was getting fatter.
I have to admit that over the fourteen years that have elapsed since the Succulent Lamb tribfest I have tried to avoid Traynor. As Radio Shortbread was marginally and arguably preferable to Radio Clyde in this period I tended to hear him pontificate on the phone-in show Your Call rather than read his prose in the Rectum but with the rise of Facebook and the regular regurgitation of parts of his by now dismal hack prose on various Celtic sympathising websites he became difficult to avoid.
Whatever the issue – whether it be the slavish adherence to Murray or the tolerance of the Famine Song as mere banter – he always seemed to be wrong.
When Rangers went first into Administration and then Liquidation Traynor was still steadfastly refusing to acknowledge that their downfall had had much to do with the stewardship of the club by David Murray whilst simultaneously propagating the myth that it was all that Craig Whyte’s fault, even though initially Jabba had been as welcoming to the one-time Billionaire as any fully paid up member of the Laptop Loyal could have been.
When in November of this year it was announced that the First Tax Tier Tribunal had deemed that though the Employee Benefit Scheme had been an aggressive attempt at tax avoidance it was not strictly speaking illegal this ‘glowing’ endorsement of Rangers in the first decade of this century was seen by Traynor as vindication of Murray and his club.
One wondered what, beyond some fine comestibles, Murray gave Traynor all those years ago.
On Monday the third of December 2012 Traynor’s last article appeared in the Record. The first half – an affectionate time looking back on his career in journalism – is pretty saccharine but for the second he dips his pen in vitriol and lambasts those ‘bilious types [that] have been allowed to emerge from the shadows and spew invective that sadly became regarded as fact’.
I’m not such an unqualified fan of the Internet Bampots myself but they revealed more of what was relevant about the conduct and morality of Rangers and David Murray since 1998 that Jabba Traynor was.
As a sign off piece overall it was the most self aggrandising, flatulently, pompous drivel since Dave Lee Travis resigned ‘on-air’ from Radio 1 in 1993.
What Jabba – now heftier than his cinematic namesake – does now he has hung up his laptop is mere speculation. That he is a worthy admission to the Crypt is not in question though.
* Celtic won this match 5-1
STOP PRESS : The internet bampots strike again- Jabba became the new Director of Communications at The Rangers.