Third-class Rangers in small step back to big time

31 March 2013 05:17

Rangers completed the first part of their long journey back to the top of Scottish football as they clinched the Third Division title.

The fallen Glasgow giants were held to a drab goalless draw away at Montrose, but Queen's Park's 1-0 defeat to Elgin City later in the day allowed Rangers to clinch the championship.

Second-placed Queen's Park are now 22 points behind with seven matches left to play as Ally McCoist secured his first piece of silverware as Rangers manager.

McCoist was manager when the then reigning Scottish Premier League champions Rangers entered administration in February 2012 over an unpaid tax bill.

Liquidation followed in June to cap an amazing fall from grace for Scotland's most successful club, who have won a record 54 championships.

A consortium headed by former Sheffield United chief executive Charles Green bought the club's assets and following heated discussions their fellow SPL clubs voted 10 to 1 against allowing Rangers newco's application to join the league, forcing them to start life in the country's bottom tier.

With a squad containing several experienced SPL players mixed with youth players, Rangers had been expected to win a division consisting solely of part-time teams at a canter.

However, McCoist's side have looked unconvincing at times with embarrassing defeats coming at the hands of Stirling Albion away while Annan Athletic secured a historic victory at Ibrox.

But after a stuttering start, Rangers gradually built up a commanding lead at the top of the league and have won the title with five matches remaining.

Despite their inconsistent form McCoist was full of praise for his players.

"It's a big congratulations to everybody involved, none more so than the players. It's a great achievement," McCoist said on the Rangers website.

"When you look back over the journey we've been on in the last 18 months, it has been quite incredible in many ways.

"There were times when we weren't sure if we would have a team to play or if we would be allowed to play and we only got a licence to play 36 hours before the season started.

"In my opinion, it has been the most traumatic time in the club's history and it has been a bumpy ride.

"There have been times when it has been very tough but it's very much a case of job done and we've taken the first step forward now.

"We've been the best side in the league. The fact we're sitting 22 points ahead would indicate we are thoroughly-deserving champions. There's no doubt about that.

"The boys all deserve massive credit for that. The young lads deserve enormous credit, as do the older lads such as Neil Alexander, Lee Wallace and Lee McCulloch.

"It has been an incredibly difficult situation for people in many ways. Some people won't give them any congratulations but that's certainly not the case from myself and the staff."

Veteran midfielder Lee McCulloch was one of only a hand full of players who stayed at the club following liquidation.

"I've been lucky enough to win three titles before but I think this is my favourite one," McCulloch said.

"I think the low points this season, the hard times, have made the boys stronger for next season, that's the way I look at it anyway."

Source: AFP