Why Are Rangers Called Huns? (Explained)

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So you want to know why are Rangers called Huns?

The answer delves into history, religion and local rivalry.

In fact, if you google ‘What do Celtic fans call Rangers?’ You will find that they have given Rangers fans more than one nickname and we will examine them all in detail here.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Why Are Rangers Called Huns?

There are varying theories behind the allusion to Rangers fans as Huns. These include it being derogatory way to refer to Protestants (the traditional religious denomination of Rangers fans), a slight at the fact many Rangers players avoided fighting in World War One, a simple reference to the enemy and because the club’s supporters developed a notorious reputation for running amok at away games.

Reason #1: Because of Their Religious Denomination

The word ‘Hun’ has caused controversy over the years and plays on the long-established religious differences between Rangers and Celtic.

Traditionally Rangers supporters are Protestant and Celtic fans are Catholic.

Over the years these religious differences, along with the deep-rooted rivalry of being by far the two most successful teams in Scotland and being from the same city, have caused considerable tension between the two sets of fans.

The term Hun has historical and sectarian meanings going right back to the War of Independence when it was used as a derogatory way to refer to Protestants by Catholics.

In short, it is a synonym for religious designation.

Of course, the context in which it is used plays a part as well.

I am certain many younger fans will automatically use it as they simply know it could be considered an offensive way of referring to the opposition fans, without knowing exactly why.

For anyone (like me) who is either agnostic or atheist, it is difficult to imagine that religion can cause such problems between football fans, but it has done in years gone by.

But I do remember the controversy caused in 1989 when Mo Johnston signed for Rangers from Nantes.

Johnston became the first openly Catholic player to sign for Rangers since the First World War.

In the days that followed some Rangers fans were so disgusted, they were pictured burning Rangers scarves and shirts and claimed they would never return to Ibrox.

But the situation also wasn’t helped by the fact that Johnston was a former Celtic player! 

He became just the second player to cross the Old Firm divide since World War II.

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And to make the whole saga even more convoluted Mo Johnston was actually initially unveiled as a Celtic player again, joining the club for £1.2million from Nantes.

On 12 May 1989, he said: “I didn’t want to leave Celtic then [in 1987] and I don’t intend to now.

“There was some rubbish about me wanting to join Manchester United but it never entered my head to play for any other club. In fact, there is no other British club I could play for apart from Celtic.”

Then reports began suggesting Celtic hadn’t met their payments on the deal and all of a sudden the transfer was off.

Two months later he signed for their arch-rivals Rangers…

The whole story is covered in an excellent article on the Football Scotland website.

Reason #2: Because They Refused to Serve During World War I

Another theory is that the name was given to Rangers players as they avoided serving in the First World War by taking jobs in local shipyards.

The story goes that in 1912 German company Harland and Wolff (Belfast) set up a shipyard in Govan, in the heart of Glasgow.

Harland and Wolff had a long-established reputation as a Protestant company, with its headquarters being in Belfast. 

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In the 1920s Catholic workers were routinely expelled from working in the shipyard and as recently as 1970 500 Catholic workers lost their jobs at the Belfast yard.

So when war broke out in 1914 it is said the Rangers players were able to use their Protestant connections to get jobs at the shipyard in Govan and avoid taking part in the conflict.

This led to the claim that they were ‘no better than the Huns’ (Germans).

Reason #3: It Describes the Enemy

Following on from the previous point the word Hun has long been used as a way of describing the enemy.

It became a synonym for the Germans during World War I, being popularised by Rudyard Kipling in his 1914 poem “For All We Have and Are”.

So that has given birth to another theory, that Celtic fans calling Rangers fans Huns, is simply a way of referring to them as the enemy.

Reason #4: Because of the Reputation of Their Fans

Most of us have heard of Attila the Hun right?

To say he has a reputation for not being particularly nice is somewhat of an understatement.

As the leader of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century, it is said he was responsible for the death of around 3million people.

But where do Rangers fans come into this?

Apparently, in the 1950s and 1960s, the club’s supporters began to develop their own reputation for running amok, especially in European matches.

The story goes that after one particularly destructive visit to an English town, the local newspaper referred to Ranger’s fans as “a band of marauding huns”.

Some fans were disgusted by this, whilst others reveled in the notoriety.

Either way, it is another theory as to why Rangers are called Huns.

Rangers Fans Also Used to Call Celtic Fans Huns

From the research I have done on the subject, it appears that at one point the term Hun was also used by Rangers fans against their Celtic compatriots.

As an insult against Celtic fans, it appeared to fall out of use in the 1970s according to many fans’ forums.

However, its use as an insult by Celtic fans against Rangers supporters has continued over the years.

Want to know what else Celtic fans call Rangers? There are a few more nicknames in common use, so let’s take a quick look at them…

Why Are Rangers Fans Called Zombies?

Rangers fans have faced the zombie jibes since 2012.

This was when the club went into liquidation. The liquidated assets were sold to a consortium company, Sevco Scotland Ltd, which was later renamed as The Rangers Football Club Ltd.

Rangers started again in the Scottish Third Division in 2012.

For many diehard Celtic fans the Rangers that is now back in the Scottish Premier League is a completely new club.

Some Celtic fans insinuate Rangers are a re-animated corpse, ie a zombie.

Some will simply refer to them as Sevco, the name of the consortium that bought the liquidated assets of Rangers Football Club in 2012.

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Why Are Rangers Fans Called Teddy Bears?

The reasoning behind the nickname of the Teddy Bears is a little more straightforward.

It is good old-fashioned rhyming slang.

In a typical Glaswegian accent, bears is pronounced ‘Berrs’ to rhyme with ‘Gers’.

And thus the nickname The Teddy Bears as rhyming slang for The Gers came to pass.

Apparently this has also led to a couple of deviations, with Rangers also being called ‘Honey Perrs/Pears’ and even the ‘Dan Derrs/Dares’!

Why Are Rangers Fans Called Orange?

This is another moniker that has religious connotations.

It relates to the Protestant order known as the Orange Order.

Over the years the organisation has roused much controversy for its marches through Irish Catholic neighbourhoods which have often led to violence.

So again it is a reference to Rangers’ traditionally Protestant fanbase, suggesting as they are Protestant they must be a member of the Orange Order.

Many fans find this nickname particularly offensive as it clubs Protestantism and Orange together. Whilst many Rangers fans are Protestant, very few share the views of the Orange Order.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve always wondered why are Rangers called Huns? Then hopefully this article provides you with a few reasons.

In fact, if you want to know what else Celtic fans call Rangers then, as you can see, there are a few nicknames.

The nicknames tend to have religious connections one way or the other, which evidences the strong differences in the supporter base when it comes to the matter.

But some of the nicknames also spring from good old-fashioned inter-city rivalry.

Of course, this works both ways. Rangers fans have come up with some less than flattering nicknames for Celtic, which we will address in a future article.

If you have any of your own alternative theories behind these nicknames then drop me a message in the comments.


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