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RANGERS HISTORY...

FOUNDING FATHERS:

FOUR young men shared a dream – to start a football club. They had no money, no kit – not even a ball.

Yet from such humble beginnings emerged the most famous of all Scottish football clubs – Rangers FC.

None of those four men could have foreseen what was to happen when they met in 1872.

They cared only for having their own team, never daring to think that more than a century later their club would have won so many glittering prizes and would be followed by millions throughout the world.

All those championships and cups would never have found their way into the Ibrox Trophy Room but for that encounter between Peter McNeil, his brother Moses, Peter Campbell and William McBeath.

Their first match was an unlikely affair against Callander FC at Flesher’s Haugh on Glasgow Green.

The pitch was open to all-comers, so to claim it for your game you had to make sure you were there first. The home team played in street clothes, with the exception of four “guests” who, as they were members of other clubs, already had their own strips. The ball was second-hand.

The result was 0-0, but that didn’t matter. Rangers had been born.

The name Rangers was adopted from an English rugby club. By their second fixture – the only other they played that first year – they had donned the light blue. It must have done the trick – Rangers beat Clyde 11-0.

Despite this promising start, as every fan knows the official founding of the club did not take place until the following year.

The date of 1873 is recognised because that was the year when the club had their first annual meeting and officers were elected. Rangers were becoming businesslike.

The players had formal training sessions and a fixture list was drawn up.

The fixtures during that first full season were friendlies. Rangers had left it too late to apply for membership of the Scottish Football Association and were not eligible to play in the inaugural Scottish Cup, won by Queen’s Park.

The team was very much a family affair. The McNeils were joined by a third brother, Hugh and there were two more Campbell brothers and two Vallances.

By 1876 Rangers had their first international, Moses McNeil one of the four founders, who made his Scotland debut in a 4-0 victory over Wales.

The following year Rangers made the breakthrough reaching their first Scottish Cup Final. It took three matches to find a winner, and sadly it was their opponents Vale of Leven. After two drawn games, 0-0 and 1-1, Rangers finally succumbed 3-2 in the second replay.

Two years later in 1879 they were back in the Final with a chance of revenge, for they were facing the same opponents. The match ended 1-1, but Rangers were so incensed by a disallowed goal that they refused to turn up for the replay and Vale of Leven were awarded the Cup.

Rangers were to wait a decade before they could celebrate their first senior honours, though they came pretty close to winning the FA Cup – yes, the ENGLISH FA Cup. In 1887 they reached the semi-final of that competition only to lose to eventual Cup winners Aston Villa.

The series of fixtures that were to become known as the Old Firm games began the next year. Rangers met Celtic in a friendly in May 1888 – and lost 5-2.

Season 1890-91 saw the start of the Scottish League Championship. By then Rangers had arrived at Ibrox, via Burnbank and Kinning Park.

What a season it was. Rangers first League game was played on August 16 1890 and resulted in a 5-2 victory over Hearts. By the end of that first season, Rangers had played 18 games, winning 13, drawing three and losing just two. There had been crushing victories (8-2 and 7-3 over St Mirren and 6-2 over Cambuslang).

But one of their defeats had been against Celtic (2-1 away) and the other was at Dumbarton (5-1) with whom they shared top place with 29 points each.

A play-off took place at Cathkin to decide the title. Rangers took a 2-0 lead, but allowed Dumbarton back into the game. It was 2-2 as the final whistle went and the Championship was shared for the only time in its history.

In those early days, Rangers were becoming the nearly men, finishing runners-up in the League in 1892-93, 1895-96 and 1896-97.

But at least they had made it third time lucky in the Scottish Cup Final in 1894. And how sweet a victory it was – a 3-1 defeat of Celtic.

Two more Cup Final triumphs followed, Rangers hammering Dumbarton 5-1 in 1897 and retaining the trophy by beating Kilmarnock 2-0 the next year.

Rangers were on their way to pre-eminence in Scottish football.



THE BEGINNING OF GLORY:

SINCE they shared the first League Championship with Dumbarton in 1890-91, Rangers had never finished lower than fifth in the table. Now they stood on the threshold of greatness.

For not only were they to win their first Championship outright. They were also to achieve a feat which has been beyond every other club side in the world.

Rangers, under the watchful eye of their match secretary William Wilton, uniquely won every single League game in the 1898-99 season.

Eighteen games, eighteen victories, a maximum 36 points. They scored 79 goals at an average of more than four a game, conceding just 18.

Runners-up Hearts were 10 points adrift in the days when a victory was worth only two.

Rangers began with a 6-2 annihilation of Partick Thistle. The captain Robert Hamilton, who still holds the club record for Old Firm matches with 32 goals against Celtic, scored a hat-trick.

Hamilton, a schoolmaster, was to find the net a further 18 times that season.

With 10 straight victories under their belt, Rangers’ away game at Hibernian was the crunch. Hibs were being touted as the only serious rivals for the title and looked like it when they took a 2-0 lead.

Rangers squared the game in the second-half then conceded another goal. As the match see-sawed, Hamilton came to the rescue to make it 3-3.

With just seconds to go, Rangers were awarded a penalty. Up stepped Neil to ram the ball home. They had won with the last kick of the match.

Rangers inflicted some devastating scorelines on their opponents. Clyde were beaten 8-0 and the Championship was wrapped up with a 7-0 humiliation of Dundee.

With four games left, the only question was could Rangers continue to be invincible? Next up were Hibernian at Ibrox on Christmas Eve.

There were to be no Christmas gifts from Rangers. Hibs, the team who had been spoken of as title rivals and who had run them so close at Easter Road, were demolished 10-0, still their record defeat.

In the end, everything hung on the last match away to Clyde in January. Conditions were icy, but Rangers won 3-0 to achieve an incredible perfect League season.

However Celtic, who finished third and had been polished off with 4-0 and 4-1 defeats, were to thwart Rangers’ dreams of the Cup.

In the Scottish Cup Final, Rangers had an early goal disallowed for offside and Celtic took the trophy 2-0. Rangers would have to wait 29 years to do the League and Cup Double.

Wilton was rewarded with his appointment as the Club’s first Manager as Rangers formally became a business company. Rangers Football Club Limited was established in March 1899 and appointed its first board of directors under the chairmanship of James Henderson.

Later that year they moved to New Ibrox – site of the present stadium – just up the road from the old ground where they had played since 1887.

This increasingly professional approach by the club paid handsome dividends. Rangers retained the title for the next three seasons making it Four-In-A-Row.

These momentous times were marred, though, by the first of Ibrox’s tragedies. A section of the western terracing collapsed during a Scotland v England match in 1902. Twenty five people died and 500 were injured.



THE DOMINANT FORCE:

THE season of 1919-20 was a golden one for Rangers. The previous term they had been pipped for the title by just one point by Celtic. Now they were ready to reassert themselves.

They won 31 of their 42 League games, drawing nine and losing just two. But it was the manner of those victories that impressed. Rangers scored 106 goals and conceded just 25.

A vital factor had been the emergence of a man who had joined the club in 1914 as trainer. His name was William Struth.

Together, manager William Wilton and right-hand man Struth began a period of Rangers domination that was to last until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

Sadly, Wilton was not to enjoy this extraordinary success which saw Rangers take the title 15 times in 21 seasons.

With the Championship back at Ibrox, Wilton – the club’s first manager – died the day after the last game of the season in May 1920, drowning in a boating accident.

Struth, who was appointed his successor, lived to become a legend. He managed the club for 34 years, winning a glittering array of trophies – 18 League Championships, 10 Scottish Cups and two League Cups. And one player in his squad created a curious record. James Gordon, who was with Rangers from 1910 until 1930, became the only player ever in British football to appear for his club in all positions from goalkeeper to the old-fashioned outside left.

By the time the 1927-28 season came round, Rangers had already won the title five times during the seven seasons that Struth had been in the hot seat. And this was to be their best yet. The year they won their first Double.

Rangers, the current Champions, showed their mettle from the start, winning their first six League games. Some victories were sweeter than others. Rangers shared the spoils with Celtic – each team winning at home 1-0 – but their 7-2 triumph at Airdrie was their first success there in six years.

Rangers set themselves a new League goals record, finishing with 109 as they won 28 of their 36 games, drawing eight and losing four.

Meanwhile, Rangers were making confident progress in the Cup which they hadn’t won since 1903.

They cruised through the first round, winning 6-0 at East Stirling. Home victories followed over Cowdenbeath (4-2) and King’s Park (3-1). Then a 1-0 defeat of Albion Rovers away put them into the semi-finals against Hibernian.

The match, played at Tynecastle, was a comfortable 3-0 victory for Rangers with goals from Archibald and Fleming plus an own goal by Hibernian’s Wiseman.

A record crowd of 118,115 packed into Hampden for the Final against Celtic and a goalless first-half gave no clue to the drama that was to come.

Early in the second-half a Rangers shot was punched off the line by Celtic defender Willie McStay. Penalty!

Skipper Davie Meiklejohn – not a normal penalty taker – stepped up and made it 1-0. Bob McPhail scored the second and Sandy Archibald made it three with a blistering long-range shot.

With five minutes to go, Archibald drove the final nail into Celtic’s coffin. Rangers’ arch-rivals had been vanquished 4-0 and the Scottish Cup was back at Ibrox for the first time in a quarter of a century.

There was no rest for the heroic boys in blue. Within three days they were facing Kilmarnock in the League. It was a walkover. The score was 5-1, the title was theirs. Rangers had achieved the Double at last.

It didn’t stop there. Rangers retained the Championship for the next three seasons making it Five-In-A-Row and won four more titles (1932-33, 1933-34, 1936-37 and 1938-39) before the outbreak of war.

By now Rangers were making up for lost time in the Cup. Having gone so long without leaving much of an impression, they were to lift it six times in nine years.

There were further Final victories in 1930 (Partick 2-1 after a 0-0 draw), 1932 (Kilmarnock 3-0 after a 1-1 draw), 1934 (a 5-0 thrashing of St Mirren), 1935 (Hamilton 2-1) and 1936 (Third Lanark 1-0).

Even the Double, which had eluded them for so long, was becoming easy for Rangers with the victorious teams of 1930 and 1934 making it three in seven years.

There were a few disappointments, perhaps the strangest being in the 1931-32 season when Rangers scored their record number of League goals – 118 in 38 matches – yet finished runners-up in the Championship to Motherwell.

Soon they were to score 118 in a season again – but this time it was in that Double year of 1933-34.

The Thirties provided an almost unbroken period of fabulous success for Rangers, highlighted by yet another record in the last Old Firm League match at Ibrox before the war.

On January 2nd 1939, the biggest crowd ever to watch a League football match in the British Isles turned out for the traditional holiday fixture with Celtic.Ibrox was bursting at the seams as 118,567 fans crammed in to watch Dave Kinnear and Alex Venters give Rangers a 2-1 win.

Within months, however, players and fans would be uniting to face a common enemy, fighting against Hitler’s Germany. The Scottish Championship was suspended, though clubs continued to play in regional leagues.

Rangers won all their wartime competitions in the Southern Regional League – including one match in which they gave Celtic an 8-1 beating.

When Scottish League football returned in the winter of 1946, William Struth would still be in command at Ibrox and Rangers would maintain their winning ways.



THE WAR YEARS:

WARTIME football was described as unofficial following the suspension of the Scottish League but it was a dominant period for Rangers.

Although constricted like many other clubs, they still had a fantastic team and won seven out of seven Southern League Championships.

They also won four Southeren League Cups – the predecessor to the current League Cup – they lifted the Glasgow Cup seven times and the Charity Cup six times.

There were other successes too like the Summer Cup, the Scottish Emergency War Cup in 1940 and the Victory Cup in 1946.

Of course Rangers players were involved in active service during the War and none more so than Willie Thornton who won the Military Medal for his efforts for the Army in Sicily.

Other Rangers to fight for their country were Davie Kinnear, Tom McKillop, James Galloway, Ian McPherson, Chis McNee, Eddie Rutherford, Billy Williamson, Alastair McKillop, David Marshall, Willie Paton and Jimmy Parlane (father of Derek).

The unfortunate aspect of the war years was that the careers of greats like Jerry Dawson, Dougie Gray and Jimmy Smith were effectively over when peacetime resumed.

Gray would be the all-time Rangers appearance holder but his 385 appearances during the war are unofficial. Simiarly Smith scored over 100 goals during this period but, again, they were not official.

There were some strange and wonderful results, not least Rangers 8, Celtic 1 on January 1, 1943.

Before the league was started up again, there was a special match at Ibrox in November 1945 when Moscow Dynamo came to Ibrox as part of a British tour which included matches against Arsenal, Chelsea and Cardiff City.

A massive 95,000 crowd watched the game – which was played midweek in the afternoon – with Torry Gillick and a George Young penalty securing a 2-2 with the Russians.



BLUE STEEL:

THE IMMEDIATE post-war era was most famous for the formidable Iron Curtain defence and the first Treble in Scottish football.

When normal League football returned to Scotland in the winter of 1946-47, it was with a difference. A new competition had been devised, the Scottish League Cup.

Rangers, still under the guidance of long-serving manager William Struth, won the first Final, beating Aberdeen 4-0. They also picked up where they had left off in 1939 by winning the first post-war Championship.

It was as if nothing had changed, and yet there was better to come. A 1-0 victory in a replayed Scottish Cup Final against Morton in 1948 was followed by the greatest season up to then in Rangers’ history.

In 1948-49, Rangers became the first team to win the League, the Scottish Cup, and the League Cup in one season. It was the first glorious treble in Scottish football.

In those days, the early stage of the League Cup was played in sections and it looked odds on that Celtic, in the same group as Rangers, would come out on top. That is until Celtic, amazingly, contrived to let in six goals at home to Clyde.

The upshot was that Rangers’ final section game against Celtic would decide who would go through. A crowd of 105,000 packed into Ibrox to watch the cliffhanger. Goals from Billy Williamson and Waddell gave Rangers a 2-1 win and pitted them against St Mirren in the quarter-final.

A 1-0 victory and a 4-1 romp over Dundee in the semi set Rangers up for a League Cup Final appearance against Raith Rovers in the Spring. A 2-0 win meant Rangers had completed the first leg.

Rangers path in the Scottish Cup was much more comfortable. They reached the Final with easy victories over Elgin, Motherwell, Partick and then East Fife in the semi, scoring 17 goals and conceding just one.

The Final itself proved no difficulty, Rangers seeing off Clyde 4-1. One curiosity emerged from the match. Williamson, who had scored the winning goal in the previous season’s Final, again found the net, giving him the remarkable record of having played in only two Scottish Cup games, both of them Finals, and scoring on both occasions.

The second leg of the treble was now safely at Ibrox, but the odds on them winning the Championship seemed stacked against Rangers. The race for the title had been a titanic struggle between Rangers and Dundee. Rangers had enjoyed an unbeaten run of 12 games but couldn’t shake off their rivals.

It was going down to the wire and, on the last day of the season, Dundee needed a draw at Falkirk to seal it. Surely they wouldn’t slip up?

Rangers did all that they could with Willie Thornton scoring a hat-trick as they won 4-1 at Albion Rovers. But the news from Brockville Park was astonishing.

Dundee had crashed 4-1. The title and the Treble belonged to Rangers. History had been made.

Much of Rangers success in the post-war years was based on the quality of their defence which was known as “The Iron Curtain”.

Bobby Brown didn’t miss a game in goal from the start of the 1946-47 season until April 1952. Full backs George Young and Jock Shaw stood behind an uncompromising half-back line of Ian McColl, Willie Woodburn and Sammy Cox.

Rangers saw off Hibs again in 1950 but Struth’s health was deteriorating and two trophyless seasons then followed as a famous era drew to a close.

Gers rallied to lift the title one more time under the legendary manager when they dramatically clinched the flag on the last matchday of 1952/53, on goal average from Hibs.

After helping Rangers to 18 league titles, Struth stood down the following year but was highly instrumental in choosing his successor as manager.

Both he and ambitious incoming chairman John Lawrence decided Scot Symon was the man to lead the club into a new era.

Saddled with an ageing team, Symon knew he had to rebuild and players like Jimmy Millar, Alex Scott, Sammy Baird and Max Murray were all brought in.



A CLASSIC TEAM:

SCOT SYMON, who had become just the third man to manage Rangers, needed time to mould a new team and essentially built two in his time at Ibrox.

Symon, incidentally, was the first man to play both football and cricket for Scotland, a feat matched by future Rangers goalie Andy Goram in 1989.

He won six titles as manager and the Treble in 1963/64 was the crowning glory when a side that still trips off the tongue conquered all: Ritchie; Shearer, Caldow; Greig, McKinnon, Baxter; Henderson, McMillan, Millar, Brand & Wilson.

Rangers won 25 of their 34 League games during that Treble year, losing just four. They achieved the double over Celtic, but surprisingly lost at home and away to St Johnstone.

The League Cup was secured with a 5-0 victory over Morton in the Final and Rangers beat Dundee in a thrilling final 3-1 to lift the Scottish Cup.

It was to be 11 seasons before Rangers would be Champions again. Worse still, Celtic were to win nine consecutive titles during that time.

Symon’s start had been tough and he had to move George Young to centre half following the brutal life ban on Willie Woodburn

Rangers won the title in 1956, though, when new players like Jimmy Millar, Alex Scott and Sammy Baird made a real impact – Scott scoring the goal against Aberdeen that won the title.

The Light Bues retained the crown the following season when a terrific 16-game run at the end of the season pipped Hearts by two points.

Remarkably, it was rivals Celtic who helped Rangers win the Championship in 1958/59 on a dramatic final day. Rangers went into their final match with Aberdeen two points ahead of Hearts who were facing Celtic at Parkhead.

When Rangers lost 2-1 they were booed from the field as the fans thought they had blown the title but Celtic beat Hearts by the same scoreline and Rangers were champs for the 31st time.

The following season was tough in the championship, won by Hearts, but Rangers finished the season in style and it was a great moment for a loyal servant, Ian McColl.

Rangers reached the Scottish Cup final against Kilmarnock by virtue of a 4-1 replay win over Celtic and McColl was brought back in for what was his swansong. He was oustanding as Jimmy Millar goals either side of half-time won the match.

That summer Symon sanctioned a Scottish record £17,500 move for a certain Jim Baxter from Raith Rovers and Rangers went on to enjoy a golden period in their history.

In his first season Rangers romped to the League Cup – their first win since 1949 – when Killie, then managed by Willie Waddell, were beaten again this time with goals from Ralph Brand and Alex Scott.

Kilmarnock were also their main rivals for the title. Indeed Rangers only pipped Waddell’s men by one point. One of the main highlights of the campaign was a 5-1 drubbing of Celtic at Parkhead.

Rangers also made history this season by becoming the first British club to reach a European final when they were beaten 4-1 on aggregate in the Cup Winners’ Cup Final by Fiorentina.

The League Cup was retained in 1961/62 when Hearts were beaten 3-1 in a replay after a 1-1 draw with goas from Brand. Davie Wilsom and Ian McMillan.

Rangers also won the Scottish Cup back when St Mirren were beaten 2-0 in the final with Brand and Wilson again on target but the title was lost in the final three matches when the great Dundee side of the period came through to win their only Scottish crown.

Rangers, though, showed their class the following season when the team really clicked, winning the title by eight points from Kilmarnock, even although they had to play 12 matches in the final two months due to severe winter which caused a flood of postponements.

The Double was completed and it was sweetness personified as Celtic were swept aside 3-0 in a replay after a 1-1 draw. Once more Brand and Wilson were kings with the former scoring twice.

As detailed earlier 1963/64 was the zenith of this side with a clean swep of the honours but the following season was the beginning of the end.

The League Cup was won when two Jim Forrest goals beat Celtic 2-1 but Rangers finished 5th in the table and at the end of the season Baxter got his wish of a move to England and more money when he signed for Sunderland.



TESTING TIME:

THEY say that football is cyclical and as the great Rangers team of the early 1960s began to break up Celtic emerged to enjoy the greatest period in their history.

Rangers only missed out on the 1965/66 title by two points from Celtic, who won the championship for the first time in 12 years, but there was momentum gaining under Jock Stein.

The Light Blues, however, did have the last laugh in the Scottish Cup Final when Kai Johansen’s thunderbolt beat Celtic 1-0 in a replay. It was to be the last trophy Rangers would win for four years.

Rangers should have won the the League Cup Final against their old rivals the following season but missed out, losing 1-0. They chased again all the way in the championship and won their last seven matches but fell short by three points.

However, there were two colossal situations which signalled the end for Scot Symon. Second Division Berwick Rangers, with Jock Wallace as player-coach, beat Rangers 1-0 in the Scottish Cup and the shockwaves were huge.

Scapegoats were sought and the strikers Jim Forrest and George McLean were the men to pay, never playing for the club again and sold that summer.

Remarkably Rangers reached their second European final but lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the Cup Winners’ Cup. Ironically, if they had kept both or either striker they might have won.

Of course, this was exacerbated by the fact that Celtic had won the European Cup the week before.

In November the Ibrox board panicked. With Celtic playing in the World Club Championship in Argentina, they sacked Symon and replaced him with Davie White who had only joined the club five months earlier as his assistant.

White was only 34 and he was thrust in at the deep end. He very nearly won the title in his first season. Rangers only lost one game all seasn, but it was the last one against Aberdeen and with Celtic winning at Dunfermline they held onto the crown by two points.

Colin Stein was signed for a Scottish record £100,000 from Hibs and he did well but Rangers could not find consistency and they were runners-up again in 1968/69, losing out by five points. Worse than that they were thumped 4-0 in the Scottish Cup Final by Celtic.

Alex Ferguson, playing in place of the suspended Stein, was blamed as he didn’t pick up Billy McNeill for Celtic’s first goal and he was sold to Falkirk later that year – just a week before White was dismissed.

Rangers then turned to Willie Waddell as their fifth manager and clearly he had some work to do. He could not make any impact on Celtic’s league dominance but he brought success back gto Rangers in the League Cup of 1970/71.

Waddell surprised many when he called up a 16-year-old kid called Derek Johnstone and he famously scored the only goal to beat Celtic.

But Waddell also had to endure the gravest event in Rangers’ history which was about to engulf the Club – the Ibrox Disaster.



GLORY IN EUROPE:

It was the greatest challenge of manager Willie Waddell’s life – how to lead Rangers out of the shadows cast by the Ibrox disaster in which 66 fans died?

The early signs were not good for Waddell and his coach Jock Wallace as they strove to overcome the Club’s tragic loss.

Rangers had won the League Cup and finished only fourth in Division One in that fateful 1970-71 season. Now the new season had begun disappointingly.

The side lost four of their five opening games, including a 3-2 home defeat by Celtic. They had also been beaten twice by Celtic in August in the section games of the League Cup.

In fact, the Championship was to offer no consolation to Rangers. They lost 11 of their 34 games, ending in third place.

It was in Europe, however, that Rangers would find the stage on which to rediscover themselves. Stade Rennes were their first round opponents in the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Rangers drew the first leg in France 1-1 and went through by winning 1-0 at Ibrox.

In the second round, Rangers took only a 3-2 advantage with them to the away leg at Sporting Lisbon. A dramatic match ended in stalemate. It was 4-3 to Lisbon on the night after extra-time and 6-6 on aggregate.

Lisbon won the penalty shoot-out. Rangers were crestfallen. But the referee had made a mistake. Manager Waddell grabbed the rule book and ran on to the pitch to point out the error. Rangers’ away goals should have counted double, making them the winners, and it should never have gone to penalties. Rangers emotions changed rapidly as they were awarded the tie.

Waddell had begun to experiment with the team, changing around players and positions in the search for a new style.

Sandy Jardine was switched from the front to become a world-class full back which he would demonstrate in the 1974 World Cup. Dave Smith was converted from midfield into a sweeper and became Scotland’s Player of the Year.

Waddell also put the emphasis on youth, building a team for the future. He believed it would take time to find the consistency to win the Championship, but he was sure he had a side good enough to do well in Cup competitions.

His strategy produced mixed results in League games, but it was proving successful against Continental sides.

In the Cup Winners’ quarter-final, Rangers were drawn to play the first leg at Torino. Derek Johnstone moved from centre forward to play in defence but still managed to score as Rangers stunned the Italians by taking the lead. Torino pulled one back in the second-half, to leave them visiting Ibrox all square.

Rangers took the home leg 1-0 through an Alex MacDonald goal to set up a semi-final clash against mighty Bayern Munich led by the great West German captain Franz Beckenbauer.

The first leg was in Munich and it brought out an impressive performance from Rangers. The first-half was all Bayern after Breitner scored for the home team. But Rangers withstood the pressure and got their reward when a Colin Stein cross was turned into the net by Bayern’s Zobel.

At Ibrox, Rangers were much more confident and the Germans were rocked by a first-minute goal from Jardine. Derek Parlane made it 2-0 by half-time and Rangers were through to the Cup Winners’ Cup Final for the third time where they would face Moscow Dynamo.

On both previous occasions, Rangers had come home empty handed, losing to Fiorentina in 1961 and going down by the only goal of the game scored in extra time in 1967 to Bayern. This time it would be different.

By half-time in the Final at Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium, Rangers were cock-a-hoop. A shot from Colin Stein and a header from Willie Johnston had given Rangers a 2-0 lead over Dynamo.

Within minutes of the re-start, Johnston had added a third. It was turning into a stroll. Then Rangers’ concentration lapsed and sparked a Russian revival. Dynamo scored with 30 minutes to go. Suddenly, Rangers were on the defensive.

Three minutes left and Dynamo scored again. The tension was unbearable. But Rangers survived and a 3-2 victory had given them their long-desired European prize at last.

Understandably, the army of travelling Rangers fans were overcome with joy. But sadly, they invaded the pitch. Their exuberance met with over zealous policing and resulted in inevitable clashes.

The Cup was not presented in public and Rangers were prevented from defending their hard-won trophy by a one-year ban from Europe.

Within weeks, Waddell had moved on to become General Manager to be succeeded by his coach, Jock Wallace.

Wallace had been player-manager of part-time Berwick when they inflicted an embarrassing 1-0 defeat on Rangers in a Scottish Cup tie in 1967. Five years on, this fitness fanatic was in charge at Ibrox using punishing training methods learned from the great Australian athlete and world mile record holder Herb Elliot.



TREBLE ROUSERS:

RANGERS were a joy to behold in the 1970s as they built on their Barcelona triumph to achieve unprecedented success.

They finally managed to end Celtic’s stranglehold of the Scottish title in 1975 but what happened next was remarkable as Rangers won the Treble twice in three seasons.

Jock Wallace’s first season was also Rangers’ Centenary and they celebrated by winning the Scottish Cup, defeating Celtic 3-2 in a classic Final when Tam Forsyth’s tap-in secured the trophy

But the real rejoicing was saved until season 1974-75 when at last Rangers broke Celtic’s hold on the Championship. The flag was won at Easter Road when Colin Stein scored in a 1-1 draw with Hibs.

It was to be the last Championship of its kind. Scottish football was changing. The old Division One would no longer be the top flight. A new Premier League was being formed of Scotland’s top 10 teams which would play each other four times in the League in a season.

Somehow there was a pattern to it all. Rangers had been co-holders of the first Scottish Division One Championship, were winners of the last . . . and would be the first Champions of the new Scottish Premier League.

The new Scottish Premier League began in the season of 1975-76. Apart from Rangers, the inaugural members of the elite division were Aberdeen, Ayr, Celtic, Dundee, Dundee United, Hearts, Hibernian, Motherwell and St Johnstone.

Compare those names with the teams who played in the very first Scottish Championship back in 1890-91. Only Rangers, Celtic and Hearts were still there. Others had long gone, such as Abercorn, Cambuslang, Cowlairs and Vale of Leven.

Of the remainder, Dumbarton and St Mirren were in lower divisions and Third Lanark had dropped out of the Scottish League in 1967.

So the brave new world consisted of 10 teams, the same number as the original. The difference was that now clubs would play each other four times a season.

Under Jock Wallace’s management, Rangers won 23 of their 36 Championship games that season, drawing eight and losing five. They won both games at home against Celtic and drew the away games. Their defeats were at Aberdeen, soon to become a major force in Scottish football, and at Ayr, Hearts, Hibs and Motherwell.

Rangers won the first Scottish Premier title by six points (when a win was still two points) from runners-up Celtic.

But it wasn’t just that title win that made it an historic year. Rangers won the League Cup, beating Celtic 1-0 in the Final, and also lifted the Scottish Cup with a 3-1 victory over Hearts. Rangers had achieved the Treble for the third time.

And then euphoria was replaced by disappointment. The next season the cupboard was bare. But it wasn’t empty for long. Within 12 months, Rangers had pulled off their fourth Treble, pipping Aberdeen in the Premier League, defeating Celtic 2-1 in the League Cup Final and beating Aberdeen again 2-1 in the Scottish Cup Final.

Wallace had achieved the Treble twice in three seasons – and then he quit abruptly after a disagreement with Willie Waddell and the Rangers board



JOHN AND JOCK:

RANGERS turned to one of their European Cup Winners’ Cup heroes, John Greig, to be their seventh manager and he came desperately close to winning the Treble in his first season in charge.

berdeen were beaten 2-1 in the League Cup Final and Hibernian were overcome 3-2 at the third attempt in the Scottish Cup Final. But Rangers, who led the table, came unstuck near the end of the 1978-79 season at Parkhead going down 4-2 to Celtic. With just eight minutes to go it had been 2-2. The lapse was enough to hand the title to Celtic.

After such an encouraging start, the honours dried up although the main problem that Greig had was that he had to change a lot of the old guard.

While he was doing this both Aberdeen and Dundee United emerged to enjoy the best spells in their history with success at home and in Europe.

In fairness to Greig the European Cup run of 1978/79 was also memorable as Rangers knocked out Juventus and PSV Eindhoven before losing out to Cologne in the quarter-finals.

There is definitely a feeling among the players that had they progressed against the Germans they would have had an excellent opportunity of defeating Cologne’s subsequent opponents Nottingham Forest and going all the way.

The following season, 1979/80, was a poor one as Rangers finished 5th in the league and failed to qualify for Europe. They reached the Scottish Cup Final for a fifth successive season but it went down in history for all the wrong reasons.

The Light Blues were the better team but Celtic won the game when George McCluskey stuck out a boot to divert Danny McGrain’s ball into the net in extra time.

The aftermath was alarming. Celtic fans began spilling onto the pitch at the Celtic end and gradually encroached onto the field. A few become dozens which in turn became hundreds.

Rangers supporters spilled on at the other end and a pitched battle ensued which had to be cleared by mounted policmen.

Many suffered injuries from bottles thrown from both sets of fans, including Daily Record photographer Eric Craig who was incapacitated for a year as a result.

The upshot was a radical change in the law with the implementation fo the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act which banned alcohol from all football grounds.

Season 1980/81 started promisingly and after 12 games Rangers were in good shape but they fell away and finished third behind Celtc and Aberdeen.

Always a good Cup team in this period, Rangers reclaimed the Scottish Cup when, in a replay, they defeated Dundee United 4-1 with Davie Cooper imperious.

Inconsistency afflicted Rangers again in 1981/82 as they finished a distant third again in the league but reached both Cup finals. United were victims again as Ian Redford’s looping shot sealed a 2-1 win in the League Cup Final but the Scottish Cup Final was a miserable experience as Aberdeen won 4-1 in extra time.

It was another season of disappointment in 1982/83 when Rangers lost both cup finals – to Celtic in the League Cup and Aberdeen again in the Scottish – and were nowhere in the league.

The situation took its toll on October 28, 1983 when Greig resigned. Aberdeen’s Alex Ferguson was approached but he turned it down and then Jim McLean at Dundee United rejected Rangers’ advances.

Jock Wallace then returned but his second spell was infinitely less successful than the first.

He won the League Cup in his first two seasons, the first of which was an exhilirarting 3-2 win over Celtic in which Ally McCoist scored a hat-trick.

Iain Ferguson scored the only against Dundee United the following season but these were fleeting moments of success.

In the league Rangers could not break into the top three and in 1985-86 Rangers slumped to fifth, finishing with less than a point a game – a total of 35 from 36 games. It had never happened in Rangers’ history and it was a record they would want to forget.

Wallace, previously the man with the golden touch and the only one to manage Rangers twice at that point, could not survive.

He was gone before the campaign was over and his replacement sent shockwaves through football. It was Graeme Souness.



THE SOUNESS REVOLUTION:

THE EXCITEMENT surrounding the appointment of Graeme Souness as player-manager in 1986 was palpable but the Rangers fans had no idea just how good life would become.

A fiery competitor with an illustrious career at Liverpool and Sampdoria and with Scotland, he appointed Walter Smith, who had been No 2 at Dundee United, as his assistant and began a policy of bringing in big name players from England.

For 80 years, Scotland had seen some of its best football talent drain away over the border. Now Souness reversed it with the likes of England internationals Terry Butcher, Chris Woods and Trevor Steven heading north.

Souness, however, made a controversial start. As player-manager, he was sent off after a flare-up at Hibernian in his first game for the club in August 1986. Souness received a three-match ban and Rangers were fined £5,000.

But at the end of his first full season, Souness had brought the Championship back to Ibrox for the first time ine nine long years. Rangers also won the League Cup, beating Celtic 2-1 in the Final witn Davie Cooper scoring a penalty to clinch the win.

Souness was on the brink of returning Rangers to greatness, but first it would take a revolution that came with the arrival in the boardroom of David Murray.

Murray, a successful businessman and friend of Souness, became the new owner of Rangers in November 1988, though he did not take over as chairman from David Holmes until June the following year.

He began investing in the team and in the stadium – a process which saw £90

million spent on players and £52 million on ground developments in Murray’s first 10 years.

That first season with Murray and Souness together at the helm brought the first of a record-equalling run of Nine-In-A-Row Championships.

They also did something which hadn’t happened at Rangers for more than 70 years. They signed a high-profile Catholic player.

In the early days of Scottish football, it was not unusual for players to turn out for both Rangers and Celtic. It was only around the time of the First World War, when Belfast shipyard workers moved to the Clyde, that sectarian attitudes began to harden.

Now with the signing of Mo Johnston, a former Celtic player, for £1.5 million from French club Nantes, Murray was announcing that old prejudices had no place in the modern game.

After a second successive League title in 1989-90, Souness left to manage Liverpool in April 1991. Murray gave him credit for “turning the big ship round.”

Walter Smith stepped up as Rangers’ ninth manager and the club would win seven League Championships, three Scottish Cups and three League Cups in the space of seven magnificent seasons. No previous Rangers’ manager had won so many honours in such a short time.

By season 1992-93, Rangers had won their fifth Treble in awesome fashion. They lost only one of their first 23 League games and, of the other four defeats, three came after the Championship had been won. The margin was still nine points over second-placed Aberdeen.

In all, Rangers went a remarkable 44 games without defeat in all competitions. For the record the sequence was 29 League games, four League Cup, three Scottish Cup

and eight matches in the European Champions’ League.

It was Rangers’ finest run in Europe since winning the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972. In the first round, Rangers beat Lyngby of Copenhagen 3-0 on aggregate then faced English Champions Leeds United in a “Battle of Britain” second round tie.

Scotland and Leeds captain Gary McAllister stunned Ibrox with a goal in the first minute of the first leg. Rangers won 2-1 thanks to Ally McCoist and an own goal from the Leeds keeper John Lukic.

In the away leg, Mark Hateley scored with a scorcher from 25 yards and a McCoist header made it 2-0. Leeds pulled one back at the end of the game, but Rangers had become the first British club to qualify for the league stage of the competition.

Rangers’ opponents in their group were Olympique Marseille, FC Bruges and CSKA Moscow. It was always going to be tough. Rangers had key players missing through injury and were limited at that time by the rule which allowed a club to field only three foreign players in the Champions’ League.

They won 1-0 away in Moscow and beat Bruges 2-1 at Ibrox. All the other matches were drawn, including a memorable clash with Marseille in Glasgow where Rangers came from behind to score twice in the last 10 minutes. It was not enough for them to progress to the final, but Rangers had played 10 games in Europe without losing.

They beat Aberdeen 2-1 to win the League Cup and wrapped up the Championship with another 2-1 victory over the Dons.

Once again, Rangers were Simply The Best in Scottish football – and it was to get even better.



NINE IN A ROW:

IT was on Wednesday May 7 1997, that Rangers achieved the incredible feat of securing a ninth successive Championship.

A flying header from Brian Laudrup from Charlie Miller’s cross completed the remarkable odyssey which began at Douglas Park, Hamilton in 1988 and ended at Tannadice.

No 1: 1988-89

The glory road had begun in August 1988 when Gary Stevens, a £1million Summer signing, scored the first goal in a 2-0 win over Hamilton.

Two weeks later, Rangers set their record League win over Celtic with a 5-1 victory at Ibrox after the visitors had scored first. Rangers beat Celtic in three out of their four League games, including their first victory at Parkhead in nine years.

The Championship was settled with a comfortable defeat of Hearts at Ibrox at the end of April when Kevin Drinkell scored twice in a 4-0 win. Rangers had won 14 out of their last 16 matches, including a run of nine victories, and finished six points clear of runners-up Aberdeen.

No 2: 1989-90

Mo Johnston, Rangers’ controversial signing, repaid the club by scoring a dramatic last-minute winner against his former team Celtic at Ibrox in November. Johnston was to finish as the club’s leading marksman for the season.

Rangers also won their first New Year Old Firm match at Parkhead since 1964. But by Spring they had gone off the boil and went five games without a win. Any nerves about the title disappeared, however, at Ibrox on April Fools’ Day.

The turning point came with a 3-0 defeat of Celtic, again making it three victories out of four for Rangers.

A Trevor Steven header sealed the Championship with a 1-0 victory over Dundee United at Tannadice with two games to spare. Despite that wobble in March, Rangers defence had conceded just 19 goals in 36 games and they finished seven points ahead of second-place Aberdeen.

No 3: 1990-91

The closest title race of the nine. Mark Hateley had been signed for £1 million from AC Milan, but captain Terry Butcher was left out of the side in September and would soon be on his way to Coventry.

Rangers chalked up a run of 15 matches without defeat, but with five matches left to play and Aberdeen breathing down their necks, manager Graeme Souness sprung a shock by announcing that he was leaving for Liverpool.

Walter Smith took over and on the last day of the season, Rangers faced Aberdeen at Ibrox with the Dons needing only a draw to win the title. The pressure was intense, but two goals from Hateley retained the Championship for Rangers by two points.

No 4: 1991-92

Smith’s first full season in charge and he did the Cup and League Double. One of his first signings was goalkeeper Andy Goram from Hibernian for £1 million.

Rangers opened their season with a 6-0 humiliation of St Johnstone in which Hateley scored a hat-trick. Hateley also scored both goals in the Old Firm victory over Celtic in August.

But it was Ally McCoist who would end as the League’s leading scorer with 34 goals. McCoist had often been kept on the bench by Souness the previous season. Now he was rampant, inspired by the confidence shown in him by Smith.

Aberden were beaten 3-2 at Pittodrie in December and Rangers won 3-1 at Celtic in the New Year. Hearts were mounting a title challenge, but McCoist killed off their chances with the only goal of the game at Tynecastle in February.

On the run-in, Rangers lost just once in 24 matches and clinched the title with three games to spare with a 4-0 home victory over St Mirren. They scored more than a century of goals for the first time since 1939 and left runners-up Hearts nine points adrift in the table.

No 5: 1992-93

The season of Rangers’ fifth Treble. One of the great teams which also came with 90 minutes of the European Cup Final. After drawing with Celtic 1-1 at Ibrox in August they did not lose for seven months, stringing together a run of 44 games in all competitions.

By February they were already five points clear of Aberdeen when they went to Pittodrie and won 1-0.

The Championship was won with four games to go at Broomfield Park where Rangers beat Airdrie 1-0. McCoist was again the Premier League’s leading marksman with 34 goals.

In winning the title by nine points from Aberdeen, much was made of Rangers’ fantastic team spirit.

As David Murray has said: “Everybody played hard for each other and that pulled us through. I think that was probably our greatest era.”

No 6: 1993-94

The hardest won title. Rangers suffered an appalling catalogue of injuries yet only missed out on an historic back-to-back treble through a 1-0 defeat by Dundee United in the Scottish Cup Final.

No fewer than 11 players required surgery and Smith was rarely able to field his chosen team. Despite a 2-1 victory over Hearts on the opening day of the season, Rangers struggled early on. It took a 3-1 defeat of Dundee United at Tannadice in October to end a run of just one win in eight games.

Gordon Durie arrived for £1.2 million from Tottenham in November and Rangers luck began to change. But they still went to Celtic for the New Year clash beset by injuries and as underdogs. Hateley, the club’s leading scorer that season, made it 1-0 after 58 seconds and Rangers took the game 4-2.

Rangers now went 17 games undefeated, including seven straight wins between February and April. Despite taking only two points from their last five games, an exhausted Rangers picked up their sixth successive title by three points from runners-up Aberdeen.

No 7: 1994-95

The season that the Scottish Premier League adopted the now familiar three points for a win saw the great Dane Brian Laudrup arrive at Ibrox from Fiorentina for £2.25 million.

On the opening day against Motherwell, he first supplied the cross for Hateley to score and then, picking up the ball on the edge of the Rangers penalty area, started a long run

to just outside the Motherwell box where he provided the pass from which Duncan Ferguson found the net.

This was a player with immense natural gifts and Rangers’ fans whooped with delight when he scored in a 3-1 victory against Celtic.

Rangers set up a run of 14 games without defeat, including a 3-0 victory at Dundee United. But in March 1995, the club was saddened by the tragic death of former star Davie Cooper at the age of 39.

With the title within touching distance, Rangers beat Aberdeen 3-2 in April and eight days later conquered Hibernian 3-1 at Ibrox. Laudrup was named Scotland’s Player of the Year and Rangers had won the title by 15 points from Motherwell.

No 8: 1995-96

Paul Gascoigne had joined Rangers from Lazio for £4.3 million during the Summer and was to play a decisive part in the Championship.

Celtic were a major threat to Rangers title ambitions and lost only one game all season – at home to Rangers. The other Old Firm games were drawn, including a pulsating 3-3 thriller at Ibrox.

Hibernian were slaughtered 7-0, but Rangers struggled at Raith and were trailing 2-1 until two late goals from McCoist grabbed the points.

But the final glory was Gazza’s. Aberdeen took the lead in the crunch match at Ibrox before the Geordie genius, Scotland’s Player of the Year, took the game by the scruff of the neck. In a virtuoso performance, Gascoigne scored two golden goals before completing his hat-trick from the penalty spot.

Despite losing two games more than Celtic, Rangers beat them to the title by four points.

No 9: 1996-97

The race for the Championship revolved around the four Old Firm games with Celtic. In the first, at Ibrox in September, Rangers won 2-0 with goals from Captain Colossus Richard Gough – the man Walter Smith called “my cornerstone” – and Gascoigne.

Five games later – only one of which Rangers had won – they met again. This time Brian Laudrup scored the only goal of the game with a thundering strike.

Back at Ibrox in January Rangers won 3-1, Jorg Albertz getting the first with a blistering free kick and substitute Erik Bo Andersen coming on and scoring twice.

Then in March, Rangers made it played four won four, the first clean sweep they had achieved over Celtic in the Premier League. The only goal was a scrappy affair, a lob from Ian Durrant going in after a mix-up in the Celtic goalmouth.

And so it came down to that Spring evening at Tannadice. Laudrup rarely scored with his head. But the goal which made it Nine-In-A-Row went in like a bullet. Rangers had earned their place in the history books.

There was a five point gap between them and runners-up Celtic, the team whose record they had equalled.

It was the early hours of the morning when the players arrived back at Ibrox from Dundee. But the streets around the ground were packed with celebrating fans.

Triumphant manager Walter Smith was overwhelmed: “The feeling at the end of the game was relief,” he said. “Knowing how much it meant to Rangers supporters, it is something we will never forget.”

Or as departing captain Richard Gough, soon to leave for America, put it: “The boys are legends now.”

The clamour for a 10th title was enormous, but it was a bridge too far. Rangers could finish season 1997-98 only second when Celtic won the title on the final day.

Smith had announced in the February that he would be stepping down regardless at the end of the season and then Gazza left the club, moving to Middlesbrough in the March,

Laudrup was kept on even although he would be a free agent in the summer but Rangers could just not close out the final matches to make history.

The Scottish Cup Final defeat by Hearts the week after the league dream had died was a sad way for an incredible era to end.

It was the break-up of an astonishing team that will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest – perhaps THE greatest – in Rangers’ history.

Men like Goram, Gough, Brown, Ferguson, McCall, Hateley, Durrant and McCoist truly were legends – as was the manager Walter Smith.



ORANJEBOOM:

DICK ADVOCAAT became only the tenth manager in the history of Rangers when he succeeded Walter Smith on June 1, 1998.

The former PSV Eindhoven boss arrived with a fearsome reputation. He knew that he would be losing many of the Rangers legends that had graced the Ibrox turf during nine-in-a-row and immediately set about creating his own squad of players.

In total, 15 players from the Smith era were to leave the club during Advocaat’s first season in charge so it was imperative that the new manager made several signings of his own.

His trusted skipper at PSV, Arthur Numan, joined the club along with fellow Dutchman Giovanni Van Bronckorst. Former Manchester United and Everton winger Andrei Kanchelskis also signed along with keeper Lionel Chabonnier, striker Rod Wallace and Argentinian striker Gabriel Amato.

Colin Hendry also came in to join the backlne and formed a great partnership with Lorenzo Amoruso in a fantastic first season for Advocaat.

The immediate transformation in the squad under Advocaat can be seen in the Ibrox side’s line-up on the last day of Smith’s era and the first domestic game of the Dutchman’s reign.

Smith’s team on Scottish Cup Final day on May 16 1998 read: Goram; Porrini, Amoruso, Gough, Bjorkland, Stensaas; Gattuso, I. Ferguson, McCall; Durie, Laudrup.

Advocaat’s starting eleven against Hearts in the SPL on August 2, 1998 was Niemi: Gattuso, Porrini, Moore, Numan; Thern, I. Ferguson, van Bronckhorst, Albertz; Durie, Wallace.

To say that Dick’s first few games in charge were nail-biting would be an understatement. His new-look Rangers team had to travel to Tranmere to take on Shelbourne in an UEFA Cup qualifier and, unbelievably, went three goals behind, leaving the Gers support stunned.

The Ibrox faithful had seen some poor European results in recent times but a debut defeat at the hands of the Irish part-timers would have been a truly catastrophic start to the new manager’s reign.

Advocaat introduced new-boy Gabriel Amato and Finn Jonatan Johansson and this sparked the team in to life. In what proved to be a frantic second half, goals from Albertz (2), van Bronckhorst and Amato (2) gave the team a comfortable 5-2 advantage to take back to Ibrox, much to the relief of every Light Blue supporter.

During his first season at the helm, Advocaat continued to bring in new players to the club such as Neil McCann, French World Cup winner Stephane Guivarc’h, German keeper Stefan Klos and American Claudio Reyna. In total he would spend £36.5m rebuilding his squad in his first year but the club would instantly reap the rewards.

Although Rangers were to go out of the UEFA Cup in the third round against Italian giants Parma, the Little General led the team to a remarkable domestic treble. This was no mean feat considering players like Ian Durrant, Ally McCoist, Richard Gough, Brian Laudrup, Andy Goram and Stuart McCall had all left the club.

Advocaat managed to get his hands on his first piece of silverware when Rangers beat St. Johnstone 2-1 in the Coca-Cola Cup Final at Hampden thanks to goals from Guivarc’h and Albertz.

The Dutchman then led the team to Celtic Park to clinch his first SPL title on May 2 1999 and two goals from Neil McCann and a penalty from Jorg Albertz sealed the victory in front of 7,000 joyous away supporters.

The treble was then completed when Rangers again beat their Old Firm rivals 1-0 in the Scottish Cup final thanks to a 49th minute goal from Rod Wallace.

Following the triumphant treble no fewer than eight players would leave the club the following season including Guivarc’h to Auxerre, Amato to Gremio and Colin Hendry to Coventry.

Advocaat again dipped in to the transfer market in time for the start of the following season and immediately snapped up defender Dariuz Adamczuk and Dutch striker Michael Mols. Billy Dodds and Turkish playmaker Tugay would also be brought in throughout the course of the season.

Success under Advocaat continued and the Gers secured a domestic double in season 1999/00 beating Celtic to the title by a record 21 points and crushing Aberdeen 4-0 in the Scottish Cup Final.

However, Martin O’Neill arrived at Parkhead the following season and halted Rangers’ dominance.

Advocaat signed Dutch Internationalists Ronald de Boer, Bert Konterman and Fernando Ricksen for the 2000/01 season along with strikers Peter Lovenkrands and Kenny Miller.

These signings, however, were overshadowed by the £12m spent on Norwegian striker Tore Andre Flo in November 2000, a Scottish record transfers fee that is unlikely to ever be matched in football’s current climate.

However, even with these big name signings, Celtic went on to win a domestic treble although Rangers had a great chance to progress past the group stages of the Champions League after being drawn to face Bayern Munich, Galatasaray, and Sturm Graz.

The Light Blues got off to a flyer by beating Austrian side Sturm Graz 5-0 at Ibrox and then travelled to the south of France to record a memorable 1-0 victory against Monaco thanks to a 30-yard strike from van Bronckhorst.

Advocaat’s side were then beaten 3-2 at Galatasay’s famous Ali Sami Yen Stadium and could only draw 0-0 at home against the Turkish side. Things went from bad to worse when the Gers were then beaten 2-0 by Graz in Austria.

Rangers still had a slim chance of qualifying from the group if they could have beaten Monaco but Advocaat’s side agonisingly lost a late equaliser, scored by Marco Simone, when they had been leading 2-1 with goals from Miller and Mols.

The disappointment in not qualifying from the Champions League group stages and Celtic winning the domestic treble meant that Advocaat found himself under severe pressure.

Struggling in the league the next season, Advocaat announced he was quitting after a penalty shoot-out win over Paris Saint-Germain gave Ranger post-Christmas European football

The Dutchman would stay on as Director of Football and was instrumental in the appointment of Alex McLeish in December 2001, but Dick’s legacy is the creation of Murray Park which opened on July 2001.



AN ECK OF A RIDE:

THE END was fitting. The Rangers fans warmly applauded Alex McLeish as he bowed out as manager on May 7, 2006 after four and a half remarkable years and brought the curtain down on his reign.

He left with dignity, with his head held high and he left a wealth of great memories which will be forever etched in the club’s history.

Alex McLeish was the right man at the right time to take the Rangers job in December 2001 and he defied the odds to bring seven major honours during his time as well as a journey into unchartered territory in the Champions League.

Of course, there were disappointing times. Much of the 03/04 season was hard to bear as a team which started so brightly fizzled out quickly and lost the title by the length of Copland Road.

Some of the domestic form in the 2005/06season was also poor. However, reaching the Round of 16 in the Champions League was something special and that was what drove McLeish on.

Of course, much of McLeish’s early success was built on the team that Dick Advocaat left behind – a team that was left standing by Martin O’Neill’s Celtic.

McLeish found ways to motivate them and he delivered the CIS Cup and the Tennent’s Scottish Cup in the first six months of his reign.

He recalled: “There was great quality in the Dick Advocaat side – fantastic quality. We all know how much it cost to assemble that squad.

“I think I used everybody – even guys who had been frozen out – and we got the early success that we needed.

“There is no doubt the CIS Cup semi-final win over Celtic when Bert Konterman scored that amazing goal was pivotal. It cemented my relationship with the Rangers fans and allowed us to go on and gain success early.

“I know that I had to make my mark in the early days because success is everything at Rangers.

“Of course, the Cup Final with Celtic was even better. It was fairytale stuff as we won 3-2 in the final seconds with Peter Lovenkrands heading the winner.

“That gave us a platform to work from, but we had to start the pruning then.

“It was clear that a few had to leave the club due to the finances.

“A few did go and the fact that we went on to lift all three trophies in 2002/03 was a terrific achievement.”

Andrei Kanchelskis was let go and Tore Andre Flo was moved on to Sunderland, but Rangers remarkably won all three trophies with O’Neill’s side as strong as it ever was.

The play of Barry Ferguson and Ronald de Boer was key while players like Arthur Numan, Lorenzo Amoruso, Neil McCann and Claudio Caniggia made huge contributions.

When the new campaign got going, only de Boer remained as McLeish was forced into a major re-organisation of the finances.

He had to gamble in the transfer market to sign people like Emerson, Capucho and Ostenstad. Unfortunately, the gamble did not pay off.

He said: “The following season was the real demise of the Dick Advocaat era as a number of the players he had worked with left the club.

“Only Ronald stayed and really he was shot to pieces with injuries in that season and hardly featured.

“Shota Arveladze was a mainstay but he suffered from niggling injuries in that campaign too.

“That was obviously a very tough season and people were maybe looking for me to go at that time but the chairman kept faith in me.

“He realised the deck of cards I had been dealt were not that tremendous. He understood that the situation was a difficult one and gave me the chance to continue.”

It was an astute move by David Murray for although Rangers suffered disappointment in Europe in 2004/05 by losing at home to Auxerre in the UEFA Cup, they only lost two league matches after that to take the title on the final day at Easter Road by virtue of Celtic’s defeat at Fir Park and their win over Hibs.

McLeish said: “It was an amazing finish to win the championship on the final day again – especially in the dramatic way that it happened.

“Of course, from a manager’s perspective I would have loved to have won it with 10 games to go.

“It was a nervous day but we showed our mettle and had the mental strength to go all the way.”

It is fair to say that McLeish could have walked away a hero at that point, but there was a burning sensation in his gut that he had to achieve on the European stage.

He said: “I could have left in the summer of 2005 having delivered the title but Europe was something that rankled with me.

“Over the years the critics had said that I couldn’t cut it in Europe and that I didn’t have the tactical nous to compete at that level.

“I had this desire to do something and that was one of the main reasons that drove me in 05/06.”

He got his wish by firstly taking Rangers into the group phase by negotiating the awkward Cypriots Anorthosis Famagusta and then guiding Rangers into the last 16.

Ranngers enjoyed some fantastic nights, most notably the 3-2 win over Porto at home and the gutsty draw in Portugal with the culmination being a 1-1 draw with Inter at Ibrox which took them through.

Indeed, McLeish came within a whisker of leading the Light Blues into the quarter-finals only losing out to Villarreal on away goals.

He said: “When you consider the players we were missing in a lot of the European games, I think we should get even more credit for what we did.

“We only lost one game in the group phase of the Champions League and overall it was the only defeat in 10 European matches so I think that shows that myself, Andy and Jan have some tactical awareness.

“Our points tally may have been less than some Rangers teams before and some other teams that season that did not get through.

“However, the objective was to qualify for the last 16 and that’s what we did.

“My coaching staff have been tremendously loyal. In football things can get a little bit bitchy and it is the same in any walk of life.

“However, I was lucky that I had two great men in Andy Watson and Jan Wouters who would have taken bullets for me. Their loyalty was a massively important thing.

“I also had a terrific rapport with the medical staff. I trusted their judgment and it was a good working relationship.”

Of course, all managers are heavily scrutinised in the transfer market and as already mentioned McLeish had the problem of losing expensive, high earners and replacing them with cheaper options.

Remarkably, McLeish MADE £13.6million in his transfer dealings.

He said: “It’s difficult to get every one right, especially when you are working in the Bosman market.

“You then take risks and you hope that you can get the best out of someone. You hope that you are able to find something better from a player than he has been showing.

“When it doesn’t materialise then you take the flak for that,

“However, when you consider we sold Boumsong for £8million and got him for nothing and the success of Prso in his first two seasons and Boyd in the second half of the 2005/06 season then we have had major successes too.

“It was a great privilege to have worked at this great football club and I wish Rangers every success in the future.

“I still get the tingle when I climb the marble staircase or drive past stadium and that will never change.”



WALTER’S RETURN:

THERE is little doubt that season 2007/08 will go down as one of the most eventful in Rangers’ history but for many fans it still holds a bitter-sweet taste.

It was a fantastic achievement for Rangers to reach their fourth European final. They played 18 matches in Europe which led them to the City of Manchester Stadium and the UEFA Cup Final on May 14.

Sadly they lost 2-0 to Zenit St Petersburg who, ironically, were coached by former Rangers manager Dick Advocaat.

Rangers won both domestic cup competitions that season but they missed out on the League title on the final day when the sheer volume of matches caught up with them.

Overall it was incredible that a club in some disarray only 18 months earlier could recover in such a fashion.

On March 11, 2006 it was announed that Paul Le Guen, who had been highly successful as Lyon manager in France, was to take over from Alex McLeish at the end of the season.

Everyone was excited at the appointment given that Le Guen had delivered three consecutive titles at the Stade Gerland and achieved some excellent results in the Champions League.

However, it was a move that did not work for whatever reason. Domestically, Rangers trailed Celtic and suffered the ignominy of losing at home to St Johnstone in the League Cup.

Le Guen led Rangers into post-European football from the UEFA Cup group phase,

but there was internal wranglking and a very public falling out with captain Barry Ferguson. It all ended in January 07.

Sir David Murray knew there was only one man for the job of resurrecting Rangers’ fortunes and it was Walter Smith who came back as manager, bringing Ibrox leged Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall with him.

He immediately stabilised the situation, signing experienced defenders Davie Weir and Ugo Ehiogu and Hibs midfielder Kevin Thomson. Rangers won 11 of their next 13 matches, drawing the other two, and secured consecutive league wins over Celtic.

That summer Smith began to build his team. He signed Jean-Claude Darcheville, Daniel Cousin, DaMarcus Beasley, Lee McCulloch, Steven Whittaker, Steven Naismith and Carlos Cuellar having already secured Kirk Broadfoot.

Rangers qualified for the Champions League, seeing off FK Zeta and then Red Star Belgrade, and in the league they showed they were a match for Celtic.

In the group phase they got off to a flyer, beating Stuttgart at home thumping Lyon 3-0 in their own back yard and then securing a creditable draw at home with Barcelona.

They parachuted into the UEFA Cup and this where the story really warms up.

In an incredible run, Rangers defeated Panathinaikos, Werder Bremen, Sporting Lisbon and then won a place in the final after an electrifying penalty shoot-out win over Fiorentina in Florence with Nacho Novo scoring the clinching kick.

By this time Steve Davis was on board and the delirious Ibrox fans were dreaming of a Quadruple.

The League Cup had been won in March in dramatic fasion when two Kris Boyd goals gave Rangers a 2-2 draw with Dundee United, who were beaten on penalties with Boyd scoring the one that mattered.

However, fixture congestion and an unwilligness of the football authrorities to help ease the situation took its toll in an agonising way.

Incredibly, Rangers played 38 matches – an entire SPL season – from January 5 to May 24 and they just could not fall over the finish line in the SPL.

They actually played Celtic in the league three times in four matches, beating them at Ibrox but losing both Parkhead matches. In the final six SPL matches they only won three and Celtic took the title in the final day.

They were forced to play nine matches of huge intensity in 25 days at the end of the season including the UEFA Cup Final, all of the post-split fixtures and the Scottish Cup Final.

Remarkably, having lost out on the title at Pittodrie on Thursday May 22 they returned to Glasgow, prepared on the Friday and managed to beat Queen of the South 3-2 the next day to win the Cup.

It was an unprecedented run of matches and there is no doubt that everyone involved will look back with some anger and resentment at the way the club was treated during this period.

Rangers had to regroup but they suffered the

trauma of going out of Europe at the first hurdle in 2008/09 when they were eliminated completely by Lithuanian side FBK Kaunas.

Carlos Cuellar also invoked a clause in his contract and was sold to Aston Villa for 10 millione Euros and the fans were restless.

Madjid Bougherra came in, Pedro Mendes was signed from Portsmouth and a permanent deal was done with Steve Davis but it took Rangers a bit of time to get going.

A stunning 4-2 win at Parkhead – with Kenny Miller scoring twice – was just the tonic but Rangers were inconsistent until the turn of the year when they really kicked on.

They did lose the Co-operative Insurance Cup Final to Celtic in extra time, but they were excellent in the Championship and the race went down to the final day.

Rangers needed a win at Tannadice to secure their first title since 2005 and they did so in style with a fantastic 3-0 victory. They followed that up a week later by clinching the Double when Nacho Novo’s wonder goal beat Falkirk 1-0.

It was a triumph for Smith and his players who had finally come through when it mattered.

Remarkably, despite being unable to bring in any players from January 2009 until the summer of 2010 Rangers won the 2009/10 championship with some ease – Mo Edu’s last-gasp winner in the February 28 Old Firm game effectively ending Celtic’s challenge.

They had been consistent for most of the campaign whereas Celtic under Tony Mowbray were sporadic and he paid for that with his job before the season was over.

Rangers clinched the crown at Easter Road on April 25 when Lafferty scored the only goal to spark fantastic celebrations both in Edinburgh and again back at Ibrox.

The European campaign was a poor one with only two draws from the six Champions League group games and that hurt Smith and his players. There was also carelessness in the Scottish Cup when Rangers frittered away a 3-1 lead over Dundee United in the quarter-final and then lost the replay at Tannadice.

However, the League Cup was something quite extraordinary when Rangers had both Kevin Thomson and Danny Wilson sent off and yet prevailed against St Mirren in the March 21 final thanks to Kenny Miller’s winning goal.

Smith was planning on leaving in the summer of 2010 but was convinced to remain and the 2010/11 season was a joy to behold with Rangers clinching the title on the final day and defeating their great rivals in the League Cup final.

There were big changes in the summer of 2010 with Kris Boyd and Kevin Thomson off to Middlesbrough, Danny Wilson went to Liverpool while Stevie Smith and DaMarcus Beasleu cut their ties.

The big signing was Nikica Jelavic who arrived from Rapid Vienna for £4million while James Beattie came in from Stoke City and Vladimir Weiss joined on loan from Manchester City while Richard Foster had a similar arrangement from Aberdeen.

It was a remarkable campain as Rangers clinched the League Cup again with a 2-1 extra time win over Celtic and then won three in a row on the final day of the season.

They hammererd Kilmarnock 5-1 to pip Celtic by a point and Smith left in the perfect way to hand over the reins to Ally McCoist.



HONOURS:

European Cup Winners’ Cup: Winners 1972; Runners-up 1961, 1967

UEFA Cup: Runners-up 2008

Scottish League Champions (54)

*1891, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1918, 1920, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1939, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011 *In 1891 the championship was shared with Dumbarton

Scottish Cup Winners (33)

1894, 1897, 1898, 1903, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1953, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1973, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009

Scottish League Cup Winners (27)

Season Starting: 1946, 1948, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1970, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010.

Scottish Professional Football League One Winners (1) 2014

Scottish Third Division Winners (1) 2013

Record Ibrox attendance: 118,730 v Celtic, Division One, January 2nd, 1939

Record Victory: 13-0 v Possilpark, Scottish Cup, October 6, 1877, v Uddingston, Scottish Cup, November 10, 1877 and v Kelvinside, Scottish Cup, September 28, 1889.

Most goals in a game: 14-2 Blairgowrie, Scottish Cup, 1934

Record Defeat: 1-7 v Celtic, League Cup Final, October 19, 1957.

Record League victory: 10-0 v Hibs, December 24, 1898.

Record League defeat: 0-6 v Dumbarton, May 4, 1892.

Record appearances: John Greig, 755, 1960-78.

*Dougie Gray made 940 appearances between 1925 and 1947 but 385 of them were during World War II and these games are considered unofficial.

Record League appearances: Sandy Archibald, 513, 1917-34.

Record Scottish Cup appearances: Alec Smith, 74.

Record League Cup appearances: John Greig, 121.

Record European appearances: Barry Ferguson 82 (up to May 14, 2008)

Record scorer: Ally McCoist 355 goals, 1983-98.

Highest number of goals in a season: Jim Forrest, 57 goals in 1964/65

Highest number of League goals in a season: Sam English, 44 goals in 1931/32

Most League goals: Ally McCoist, 251.

Most Scottish Cup goals: Jimmy Fleming, 44.

Most League Cup goals: Ally McCoist, 54.

Most European goals: Ally McCoist, 21.

Most capped player: Ally McCoist (60 caps for Scotland)

Record transfer fee received: £8.5million from Arsenal for Giovanni van Bronckhorst, July 2001.

Record transfer fee paid: £12.5million to Chelsea for Tore Andre Flo.



IBROX DISASTERS:

IT was the afternoon of the Old Firm game, Rangers v Celtic at Ibrox, Saturday January 2 1971.

The match was heading for a 0-0 draw when Jimmy Johnstone broke the deadlock to give Celtic the lead in the 89th minute.

Then, with just seconds left on the clock, Colin Stein snatched a dramatic equaliser for Rangers.

The blue section of the 80,000 all-ticket crowd went wild with delight. The green was thrown into despair.

Two goals in a minute. What a finish! Yet, unseen amid this sea of emotions, a disaster was beginning to unfold at the Rangers end of the ground over on the East terrace at Staircase 13.

As the fans swayed away from the heaving mass, some stumbled halfway down the steep steps. Those around didn’t see them fall and continued their descent.

Suddenly a tidal wave of fans was engulfed in a terrifying crush. Steel barriers crumpled under the impact.

When the carnage cleared, 66 people had lost their lives and more than 140 lay injured.

Among the dead were 31 teenagers. The youngest victim was a boy of nine, Nigel Pickup, who had travelled to the game from Liverpool.

One woman was among the fatalities. Margaret Ferguson, an 18-year-old from Maddiston near Falkirk, had made a doll for the baby daughter of Rangers centre-forward Stein – the man who scored the late equaliser – and had delivered it to his home just before Christmas.

Five schoolboy pals, four of whom lived in the same street, had gone to the game together from the small town of Markinch in Fife. The five, all members of Glenrothes Rangers Supporters Club, never returned.

There were so many harrowing tales. Eye-witness John Dawson was among the injured. He said: “When the barrier gave way I was carried along a passageway for 20 yards with three people on top of me and at least three underneath.”

Another survivor of Staircase 13 was Robert Black. He said: “There was so much pressure from behind me that I was tossed down on top of others. People were on the ground and I was tossed over them. I was just carried forward by the surge.”

Both sides of the Old Firm put aside their rivalries and came together to play a game to raise funds for the victims’ families. A combined Rangers and Celtic team took on a Scotland XI at Hampden watched by 81,405 fans.

The club and their fans were in mourning. It was the blackest day in the history of Scottish football.

On the 30th anniversary of the tragedy a special service was held at Ibrox and a bronze statue of John Greig was unveiled on top of a memorial to those who had been killed.

Every year at the home game closest to the anniversary, the club pays its respects to those lost by laying a special wreath at the Memorial which was built in honour of those who died and other victims at the stadium in previous years.



THE 66 WHO DIED:

Bryan Todd, Robert McAdam, Peter Wright, John Gardiner, Richard Bark, William Thomson Summerhill, George Adams, John Neill, James Trainer.

Richard Douglas Morrison, James Whyte Rae, David Douglas McGee, Robert Colquhoun Mulholland, David Ronald Paton, George McFarlane Irwin, Ian Frew, John Crawford, Brian Hutchison.

Duncan McIsaac McBrearty, Charles John Griffiths Livingstone, Adam Henderson, Richard McLeay, David Cummings Duff, David Fraser McPherson, Robert Lockerbie Rae, Robert Campbell Grant, John McNeil McLeay.

David Anderson, John Buchanan, John McInnes Semple, John Jeffrey, Robert Maxwell, Matthew Reid, Alexander McIntyre, Peter Gilchrist Farries, Thomas Melville.

John James McGovern, George Wilson, Robert Charles Cairns, Hugh McGregor Addie, James Yuille Mair, Margaret Oliver Ferguson, Robert Turner Carrigan, George Alexander Smith, Walter Robert Raeburn.

Andrew Jackson Lindsay, Charles Dougan, William Mason Philip, Russell Morgan, Peter Gordon Easton, George Crockett Findlay, Charles Stirling, Thomas Dickson, James Graham Gray.

Thomas McRobbie, Ian Scott Hunter, Nigel Patrick Pickup, Russell Malcolm, Alexander Paterson Orr, Thomas Walker Stirling, James William Sibbald, Frankie Dover, Walter Shields, Thomas Grant, William Duncan Shaw, Donald Robert Sutherland.

Sadly, the 1971 disaster was not the first time that tragedy had struck at Ibrox.

Ten years earlier, two people died on Stairway 13 and 44 were injured and there were two other incidents in the intervening years, although thankfully no fatalities.

In 1902 horror struck when the old wooden terracing collapsed under the weight of too many spectators when Ibrox hosted the Scotland v England international match.

A gaping hole opened up and people plunged below. A total of 25 people died and 587 were injured but remarkably the game continued with many people crammed into other areas of the ground unaware of what was happening.

The match was replayed at Villa Park a month later, finishing 2-2. The proceeds, £1000, went to the Ibrox Disaster Relief Funds.

The tragedy reinforced the belief that football grounds had to be designed differently and Rangers employed the services of renowned construction engineer Archibald Leitch who re-designed a safer Ibrox which began holding international matches again in 1909.








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