Nervous, scared, excited, and proud.
It’s Saturday, 31 March 2007 and half time in the SPL league tie between Rangers and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. The supporters are fraught and nervous too. Rangers have lost the last two matches against Caley this season and need to get themselves back on track in the league.
Deep intakes of breath, standing in the tunnel in Ibrox—home of the famous Glasgow Rangers. The atmosphere is muted now, a muffled noise of 50,000 people discussing the first half events.
A first half sending off for ICT and a penalty converted to give us some leeway, some breathing space; other than that, it’s been a dire first half. Drab and dreich, filled with missed chances and slack play. The crowd need a lift.
Nervous, scared, excited and proud. Together, we can give them that lift.
Growing up in the shadow of the stadium, living and breathing the club for as long as is possible to remember; this day is the culmination of over ten years hard work.
Hours of practice, numerous injuries, buckets of sweat and plenty of grit and determination has led to this day. At 18 years old, this is going to be the first time representing the club and team that mean the world.
Standing in the tunnel, ready to tread onto the famous pitch in front of 50,000 Bears and Bearettes for the first time. Swimming in the back of the brain is the knowledge that close family and friends are there to watch.
Ready to bask in the glow of pride at seeing all the work and dedication pay off. Willing to give everything on the pitch for the club and for the fans.
And then it is time.
Slowly starting to filter out of the tunnel and the announcer booms over the tannoy system...
“...would you please welcome onto the park...the girls get active dancers sponsored by OP Marine....your Rangers Cheerleaders!”
This article is an interview with one of our superb Rangers Cheerleaders, Gail McCarthy. The squad itself has been running for several years now and been entertaining the masses at halftime at Ibrox regularly.
The squad is involved in numerous charitable works and is very integrated in representing the club though many means in Scotland and further afield.
Promoting a healthy lifestyle and acting as role models for younger Bearettes and for us all, they are always on hand to help out the club. These are a group of girls that need to be celebrated for the work they do in our clubs great name.
But less of me talking about them; let’s let Gail tell you all about it herself.
So introduce yourself, who are you and what’s your position in the squad?
I’m Gail. We don’t really have "titles" as such. I deal with all the wages and invoicing for the squad and when our manager isn’t there I’m usually the point of contact on a match day. If for any reason something has changed in the match day running order then they will inform me.
When did you start your career as a cheerleader/dancer?
I started dancing when I was 8 or 9—late on compared to others. I did Irish dancing but gave it up after a few months. I then joined my local dance class and did tap, disco, majorette, line dance and cheerdance. However, I had to leave when I got accepted at the auditions for Rangers.
How exactly did you stumble upon the Rangers auditions?
I knew a girl who was setting up the auditions but I never thought I would stand a chance getting into the squad as I had only turned 18 and had never danced at a professional level. I’d only attended dance class every Saturday morning.
Is there a large step-up in class and expectancy to go to a pro level?
It’s a massive step up! I remember our first few training sessions well. I couldn’t move for weeks, I was in so much pain! We used to do a massive work out for an hour and then dance for an hour. It was really hard going.
Is that still part of training every week? As much about your fitness as it is about dancing?
Yeah, we do a lot of muscle strengthening and toning too. Our manager is very into fitness and gives us "killer warm ups" which never get any easier! But it is all part of the job, fitness is a major aspect in what we do and without a high fitness level half of us wouldn’t be able to last three minutes of full on dancing! It’s a lot harder than it looks—trust me.
Who comes up with the routines? Where do you get inspiration from? The music? Is that your own choice?
Our manager comes up with all the routines. God knows how she does it, my brain would be fried. She’s fab though, I’ve never seen anyone like her! Unfortunately the music isn’t always our choice. We are requested to stick to rock songs or the occasional dance track but the final decision sits with Rangers.
Do you ever have to change things very last minute? Routines, music and stuff all can change...
Yeah, it can all change. I have seen us redo a whole routine the night before a game because the song has changed or our positions have changed on the park such as changing to dance on the sideline instead of centre circle.
I suppose being able to change like that comes with experience?
We are professionals and no task is too difficult. Like I said, our squad manager is fantastic. She has a lot of dance experience and is good at keeping everyone motivated. The average person would go into a state of panic if they had to change at such short notice, but she keeps us calm and keeps us working hard!
How many girls are in the squad, how many nights training a week do you do? How many hours a go? What kind of ages of girls?
There are currently 28 members in the squad all aging from 18-27. We train two, sometimes three nights a week—two hours per session (later if required). However only 18 can dance a match day so everyone is kept on their toes and is fighting for a place to dance in the next game
Why is it that only 18 girls can dance?
It’s a mixture of things—mostly formations though. It’s difficult to choreograph for a large group, especially over such a wide area.
You said earlier that you handle the wages and invoices. What does that entail and do you also do work for charity?
We get paid to dance a match day and are contracted to 10 home games a season, however we went over the limit last season and we did 16. The squad do a lot for free such as charity events such as for Sports Relief, Rangers Charity Ball amongst other things.
Where does your finance come from? Do the club help you out?
We are currently financed from our sponsor (OP Marine and Broadwood Leisure Centre). However, our sponsorship ends this season unfortunately so we are on the lookout for someone else.
OP Marine pay for our 10 contracted games and Rangers invite us to preform at other promotions such as the kids AGM Meeting, Champions League Fanzones, handing out leaflets
To read the rest of the interview and see more pictures, you can come to the RangersMedia website at the following link: http://home.rangersmedia.co.uk/
Many thanks to Gail for giving us this interview as an insight to exactly what it is that the girls do for Rangers and for the community. If anyone would like to contact the squad directly, then they can do so by contacting any staff on RangersMedia and we will forward your details, the club itself, or through the Bebo page as Gail mentioned within the interview.
Also, as mentioned, you or your company can get involved in sponsoring the girls for the upcoming season too. They are currently looking for new partnerships and having your companies name adorned on the tops of 18 athletic girls that are the centre of attention for 50,000 fans every home match, might be a rather worthwhile investment. Again, if you are interested please do contact the girls (please mention RM if you do).
I’m sure we are all looking forward to the rest of the season, especially now as we sit astride the top of the SPL; welcoming the chase. However, the next time we are all feeling a little edgy at half time, look to the centre circle and you will now hopefully be inspired by the work and dedication of the Rangers Dance Squad.
They cheer for us, we should cheer for them.