Hamburg Rangers Supporters Club.
have always fancied the famous Glasgow Rangers. It became clear
that there is a deep-rooted love among the travelling Bears for a country
on the far western margin of Europe, a country I then only knew as a
rather backward, religion-ridden region. I simply had to find out myself.
Going to Belfast, after having made friends with some of the Ulster-based
Rangers men, was just the logical consequence, as it always seems to be
better to make use of ones own eyes before passing judgement.
I was eagerly awaiting the
12th of July. I understood roughly what was going to be celebrated. King
William fought a battle close to a river known as the Boyne and defeated
his opponent James II (or Jakob der Zweite, as the German authors
have it). But it took me ages to get the historical background: What was
the situation like in Europe at that time? Why was it that a Dutch king
crossed the channel to support the English and Scottish Protestants? And
where was the link between Protestantism and a quarrel that was obviously
succession-related? I did not have a clue, and frankly, I do not think I
really have today! All I know was that on the 12th, people in
Belfast would celebrate the victory of "their King Billy".
I was picked up by my
friends on the 11th night and driven all over East Belfast to
see those mighty bonfires. The 11th night really sticks in my
mind. Fragments of impressions are still in my head: that huge flickering
bonfire, cans of beer, techno music, short hair, tattooed forearms
displaying the Red Hand, balaclavas, salutes and shots fired in the air.
It was an atmosphere that was both thrilling and deeply frightening, an
atmosphere in which you are glad to be part of it all and accepted as a
The 12th, however, was
different. The male, tough mood of East Belfast had been left behind, and
Shaftesbury Square was crowded with families, old people and kids. What a
joy it was for me to see that the Krauts are not the only nation who enjoy
marching! What a sight it was. All those bands with their different
colours and flags, those young boys in front of them hurling around their
sticks, not to forget members of the audience who were actually clad like
the celebrated king himself! It was enjoyable, it was fun. But there was a
certain ‘stoutness’, a strange determination beneath the obvious
celebrations, a ‘will’ to be proud which made the whole event
completely different to the shooters` marches which I am used to in
Germany. This was fun, but there was more to it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed
myself, because I felt part of it.