Eddie fought the law (and the law won)

Normally this feature in NTV would comment on the absurdity or hyperbole of articles in the media concerning deadco. Headlines such as “Calvin Bassey stuns world as Rangers star lands prestigious award and earns ‘massive’ Nigeria verdict” (Daily Record, June 3rd 2022) or “Connor Goldson admits Rangers winning addiction as he makes title vow after signing new contract” (Daily Record, June 1st 2022 – a headline that suggests the writer himself had an addiction problem not exclusively confined to the tribute act winning football games).

These we have come to expect of what passes for sports writing in Scotland and go a long way to explaining the decline of what was once a noble profession in this country.

Occasionally, however, there comes along a story where you do actually have to check the date on it to make sure it’s not April 1st, or verify that the source is not Viz comic. Viz will often parody tabloid news exclusives or stories from the local press. One such involved a man (usually they have made up names like Egbert Scrounger) who won the pools and began living an extravagant lifestyle. As it transpired, the amount of money was miniscule and his lavish spending amounted to such luxuries as, “I bought the wife a new cover for her ironing board.” Eventually the money runs out and he is left to rue his good fortune (“I wish I’d never set eyes on the money”)

The Daily Express and the Daily Record, among others, finally bottomed out and reached its Egbert Scrounger moment last October when its court reporter stopped chasing ambulances for a moment and stumbled upon the case of Eddie McClung.

Describing the case as “a landmark tribunal” (for further evidence of language misuse see ‘Goldson winning addiction’ and ‘Bassey stuns world’) Alan McEwan revealed that, A Rangers fan is suing his former employers for £80,000 after alleging he lost his job due to his support for the Ibrox club.

Eddie McClung claims he was sacked from his role as a subcontractor at a Grangemouth energy site because of his allegiance to the Glasgow club.

He is taking his ex-bosses, energy construction firm Doosan Babcock, to an employment tribunal along with recruitment firm NRL.

Eddie/ Egbert is pictured alongside this dramatic opening paragraph dressed in his court appearance suit looking, not distressed, but quite pleased with himself, as if this case was of the open and shut variety and indeed, to be sacked for simply being a Rangers fan would indeed be grossly unfair and worthy of an 80 grand payout.

According to Egbert/ Eddie, his workplace was a seething hive of discrimination:
The 50-year-old claimed that other Rangers fans at the workplace were also targeted, telling the Daily Record: “They were going after lots of Rangers guys. It was like a war zone.”

And you thought those images on the news from Ukraine actually showed a war zone? look again closely and you’ll see Zelensky’s HR department handing out P45s to Shakhtar Donetsk supporters.

What kind of traumatic abuse were these innocent Rangers fans experiencing? Thankfully Eddie/ Egbert was able to elaborate: He claims a manager told him another senior colleague was “unusually OK for a Rangers fan”.

Eddie said a number of Celtic and Hibs fans worked where he was employed and there was “a lot of banter”.

But he said a toilet at the site was defaced with graffiti mocking the 1971 Ibrox Disaster where 66 people lost their lives.

Oh the humanity! No wonder he must have had worse neurasthenia than a survivor of the Somme, what with the banter flying around like whizzbangs. There was a picture of the offending toilet as well. It must have been provided by Egbert/ Eddie who had thoughtfully flushed it in preparation for his upcoming court case, his teabreak turd floating out to oblivion like the football club 1872 version he would probably claim to support. The graffiti is, to say the least, unconvincing.

In the Viz comic spoofs, having outlined his plight the main character then starts to unwittingly reveal the real reasons for him spilling his story to the papers. In Egbert/ Eddie’s case, it seems that there was more to his employer’s chagrin than him being a bluenose:

Eddie alleges that when the manager twice bawled him out for taking 45-minute lunch breaks, he was being targeted for supporting Rangers.

In other words, fans of every other team could have a leisurely lunch without being chewed out.

He said he was given a week’s notice in May 2019 after these run-ins – and told there wasn’t enough work for him. Eddie told the Daily Record: “Previously I’d never felt anyone went after me because I was a Rangers fan. There would be banter but they wouldn’t sack you for it.

Maybe Doosan Babcock should have started a job creation scheme for sevco supporters?

But lest you think that the £80,000 was a cynical attempt on Eddie/ Egbert’s part to mitigate his own cost of living crisis, there is a higher motivation at work here: Eddie is arguing that his devotion to Rangers was behind him losing his job as project manager with Doosan Babcock. He hopes that the action will help to change the law to give other Rangers fans the same kind of protection as workers who sue over religious or sexual bigotry.

Interesting that Egbert/ Eddie wasn’t too interested in protecting the employment rights of football supporters per se. just ‘Rangers fans’. A bit like wanting the offside law changed because Kyogo is fiendishly exploiting it to score lots of goals.

It didn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that Egbert/ Eddie was representing himself. Even lawyers, it appears, have limits. This was made abundantly clear when Eddie/ Egbert set out the fundamentals of the case; this wasn’t about employment rights – it was a test of philosophical belief.

He believes the importance of the club to his life will win the day at a hearing to decide if being a Rangers fan constitutes a “philosophical belief” worthy of special protection. If he’s successful, the claim will proceed to a full tribunal hearing in what’s believed to be the first case of its kind in the UK.

Other philosophical beliefs in the workplace include pacifism, humanism and atheism.

At which point we have to sit back and wonder why Egbert/ Eddie is not lecturing in philosophy at the University of Glasgow.

Representing himself, Eddie said: “I have to prove my support of Rangers is ‘genuinely held’ which I’ll do with memorabilia and attendance at games.

His legal team (his drinking buddies at the ludge) clearly gave him some sound advice on this one – just turn up wearing your Rangers tap and a sash and wave some ticket stubs at the judge.

“The next test is whether it’s a ‘weighty aspect of human life’. That’s covered by memories like attending matches with my dad. It has to have a ‘level of seriousness’ which being a Rangers fans involves. It takes time, money and effort.

“Next I believe being a Rangers fan is a ‘way of life’. I get up on a Saturday when there’s a game and think ‘great’. I work to pay bills and hope there’s enough left to go to as many games as I can. Rangers keeps me going. It gets you out of a mundane life where you’re sitting at home and depressed.

Absolutely! why sit at home being depressed when you can go to Ibrox, watch your team being horsed and be even more depressed.

“You wake up on a match day and you’re buzzing.

(That might have something to do with the glue.)

Then you get to the game and there’s the energy with the whole stadium bouncing and 50,000 people singing.

“It lifts you to levels you can’t get to in normal life. It’s like being part of something bigger than a football club. I’ll go to games until the day I die. It’s a life commitment.”

He probably went to games until his club died.

Egbert/ Eddie’s ‘I rest my case’ devastating point was this:

“The last one is being ‘worthy of respect in a democratic society’. That’s a doddle. There’s a few idiots but a lot of good people go to the games.”

A doddle indeed.

Judge Wiseman threw Egbert/ Eddie’s case out in December. Although she accepted his ‘belief’ was genuinely held, she decided it did not actually qualify as a true ‘belief’ in the same way as a philosophy such as humanism or atheism.

His belief that sevco is the same club as Rangers 1872 undoubtedly remains staunch.

Hackwatcher

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