THE routine of watching Rangers from afar rather than at Ibrox has been a difficult adjustment for many supporters to make this term.

For Gary Gillan, it is life as normal. Yet the consequences of Coronavirus restrictions have still had an impact on a large section of the Light Blues support after one of the main fixtures in their calendar was cancelled.

Gillan is a past and current president of the North American Rangers Supporters Association and one of the key figures amongst the huge expat community in the States and Canada.

The showpiece event of the NARSA schedule is their annual Convention as hundreds of Gers fans gather to share stories and their love of their club.

Rangers are also regular attenders as directors, executives and legends visit those that cheer on their side from across the Atlantic.

It has provided Gillan with the chance to chew the fat with Graeme Souness, Walter Smith, Ally McCoist and Alex McLeish, play golf with Andy Gray and spend time with Dave King and Paul Murray.

And the lifelong Light Blue hopes fans in America and Canada will get the chance to assemble once again next year to reflect on what could be an historic campaign for Steven Gerrard’s side.

“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,” Gillan told Four Lads Had A Dream.

“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. It was disappointing to say the least.

“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’ viewing experience, with appropriate social distancing, face mask wearing, and hand sanitizing 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.

“There are other operational areas that we manage on a day-to-day basis, but at the more visible level we continue our work in three main areas.

“Through our partnership with RTV, we continue to ensure seamless broadcast experiences for our membership, whether they’re at home or able to visit their club

“Planning for the 2021 NARSA convention, hosted by Bramalea RSC, to be held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in June and work to expand our partnership with 5 Stars to explore areas of common interest and to provide unique experiences for North American Bluenoses.”

At a time when people across the world are feeling an acute sense of loneliness and isolation, the camaraderie between supporters is as important as ever.

Here, fans are still unable to gather at Ibrox. Across the pond, the matchday experience is also very different for those that watch on with loyalty as absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Gillan said: “I don’t really remember much about my first game but 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 most favourite memory was Mark Hateley’s double in the title decider 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 feel part of the Rangers community. Thanks to social media and other platforms for making that happen.”

Whether it is at home or abroad, there is a feeling of renewed optimism amongst supporters at present as Gerrard’s side continue to build some real momentum this term.

The wait for silverware success has been a long one for Rangers but Gillan hopes it could end sooner rather than later as expectation levels rise at Ibrox.

Gillan said: “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.”