1. Tell us all about NARSA and what is your role?
The North American Rangers Supporters Association (NARSA) is an umbrella supporters organisation comprising of 30+ supporters clubs situated all over North America (Canada and the USA). We’ve formally been in existence since 1992 when Tam Plunkett, David Murray (no, not that one) and other Bluenoses got together to formulate the Association. The main reasons for existence, as set forth in our constitution area:
a) Secure live coverage of the maximum number of Rangers games as possible.
b) Promote social harmony with its own membership and within the Rangers global family.
c) Provide information about NARSA to interested parties and to encourage new membership.
You’ll notice the above doesn’t specifically mention our annual conventions. Our first annual convention was held in 1993 in Detroit, Michigan, USA and has grown in stature and reputation to be a staple fixture in Bluenoses’ calendars for annual trips to the various destinations we’ve hosted in since then.
My role in the Association is President. I served as Vice President from 2012-14, President from 2014-16, Past President from 2016-18 and am again President from 2018-present.
2. How has Covid affected Narsa?
The main and most public effect that Covid has had on NARSA thus far was the cancellation of the 2020 Convention, scheduled to be held in San Francisco, California. Almost two years of planning went into the event only for us to be forced to cancel in March 2020. Lots of blood, sweat and tears went into the event from both the San Francisco RSC and NARSA Executive, but for the first time in over 25 years there would be no NARSA Convention. Disappointing to say the leat.
Covid has also negatively affected our supporters club’s abilities to operate as normal, with restrictions on individual clubs ranging from complete premises closure to restricted viewing capacities to ‘regular’ view experience with appropriate social distancing, face mask wearing and hand sanitising in effect.
During the close season we worked very closely with RTV to provide flexibility in viewing options for clubs affected by Covid, which has helped us both bring the games to our members and continue our Rangers community ethos in North America.
3. What now for NARSA?
There are other operational areas that we manage on a day-to-day basis, but at the most visible level we continue our work in three main areas:
- Through our partnership with RTV, continue to ensure seamless broadcast experiences for our membership, whether they’re at home or able to visit their club.
- Planning for 2021 NARSA Convention, hosted by Bramalea RSC, to be held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on June 3-6, 2021.
- Work to expand our partnership with 5 Stars to explore areas of common interest and to provide unique user experiences for North American Bluenoses.
4. How do we find information about you and NARSA?
If anyone needs to reach me directly they can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org or @gazzagillan on Twitter.
5. Best NARSA moments?
Most of the best moments have come at the Conventions where everyone gets to let loose a little and revel in the glory of being a Rangers supporter. Personal highlights for me would be the friendships I’ve made during my involvement with NARSA (from even before I was formally involved). Also meeting and spending time with numerous RFC legends that have given their time to be with us over the years. For example, sitting with Ally McCoist for dinner at the Grand Banquest in San Francisco in 2013, talking shop and strategy with Dave King and Paul Murray in Las Vegas in 2017, a standing ovation from Willie Henderson when I won the Presidential election in Calgary in 2018, working common strategies with Mark Hateley and spending the day golfing with Andy Gray in Windsor in 2019 and getting to talk all things Rangers with Walter Smith, Alex McLeish and Graeme Souness as if we’re old pals! Those are a few of the recent highlights that spring to mind.
The family feel to the NARSA Conventions has been another big highlight. My dad, Ronnie, attended his first NARSA Convention in San Francisco 2013 at the age of 75, has attended every one since and was planning to attend San Francisco this year at the ripe old age of 83!
6. Your memories of supporting Rangers?
I don’t really remember much about my first game but I know that I was 10, it was midweek, and we won. Ever since then I was hooked. I was fortunate to visit many stadia around the country and enjoy the hilarity that accompanied away days on the Castle Street Loyal supporters’ bus from Paisley. I grew up on that bus and there was never a dull moment. Football wise, my favourite memory was Mark Hateley’s double in the title decide in May, 1991. THAT first goal that Hateley scored was incredible and I don’t remember many louder roars at Ibrox than that one. It was a catalyst for a sterling career for Hateley, and an amazing way to end the season. We had our supporters bus player of the year dance that night in the Edmiston Club, so it all transpired to be one of the best days ever for me.
I’d never have thought that over 35 years after my first game that I’d be living in Canada and still able to support the club from afar and genuinely still feel part of the Rangers community. Thanks to social media and other platforms for making that happen.
7. What are your thoughts for this year?
This year feels different (in a good way). We’ve progressively eradicated the frustrating inconsistencies, in-game lapses and lacks of confidence, and have brought to the fore a genuine winning mentality. Steven Gerrard has grown in stature and maturity in the manager’s seat, and with football operations being tightly and expertly managed by Ross Wilson it feels like we have a genuine full package now. The results and performances are speaking for themselves and our start to the season, Livingston aside, has been incredible. The strength in depth and variety of options now at the manager’s disposal, coupled with his deeper understanding of his role and how best to execute game plans I’m sure will see us to our long-awaited 55th title.