As we enter the final stages of a turbulent year, now seemed as good a time as any to reflect on the troublesome months that have passed and to take stock of just where Rangers Football Club finds itself today.
The early stages of 2012 witnessed the continuation of a decline in form that left us trailing in the race for the SPL championship. Complete and utter domination had given way to a baffling uncertainty and severe lack of confidence. Winning the title at that point always looked a difficult task but it soon became impossible when, on 14th February, Craig Whyte took the decision to place the company into administration.
The days and weeks that followed were certainly the darkest I can remember as a Rangers supporter and are surpassed in our entire history perhaps only by the tragedies of the Ibrox disasters. The very existence of our proud institution was put at risk by the negligence of two now former owners as an ominous cloud loomed menacingly over our stadium.
The Rangers support of course rallied and a passionate and highly emotional game against Kilmarnock played host to a venting of anger, frustration, defiance, loyalty and sheer love for the Club which may have been playing its final games. The atmosphere was electric; the result not so much. But the players, the staff and the management knew that the Rangers Family were right behind them, ready to stand shoulder to shoulder in our fight for survival.At this point I would like to take the opportunity to pay immense tribute to Alistair Murdoch McCoist MBE, the man who did more than any other in the fight to keep Rangers alive. Super Ally has served this Club as well as anyone in our history and, as the banner stated at the end of last season, his loyalty and sacrifice will never be forgotten. I can only apologise for the failure to adequately do justice to the contribution the manager has made over the course of the last year. Where would be without him?
After much uncertainty the clouds began to clear as Charles Green and his consortium emerged as the proud new owners of Rangers Football Club. This was only the beginning of the hard work that had to be completed however as Green set about winning over the supporters and putting in place the foundations required to restore our Club back to its former glory.
The early stages of this process were however marred by a somewhat distasteful and bitter side to Scottish football as the relentless bile and hatred shown towards Rangers in our darkest hour continued. We were banished from the SPL and subsequently entered into the fourth-tier of Scottish football, but not before the authorities of course attempted to blackmail and bully the SFL into unprecedentedly parachuting our Club into Division One for their own benefit.
Rangers and its supporters however accepted our fate and season tickets began to sell in their thousands as fans queued for hours to secure their seat for the season that lay ahead. From there on in I’m glad to report that the story has been nothing but positive as we took the first tentative steps on the long and winding road to recovery.
On the park things have been going rather well for Rangers, despite some shaky away performance in the league, and we now find ourselves with a healthy lead at the top of the Third Division and with some emerging talents leading the way in our quest for the title and the first promotion in our illustrious history.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this season and have been pleasantly surprised by our opponents in the fourth-tier who have no doubt relished the opportunity to pit their wits against the biggest Club in Scotland in front of nearly fifty-thousand supporters at Ibrox Stadium. Some of the football has been a joy to behold and recent games against Montrose and Elgin have typified the positives so far this campaign.
Off the park and into the boardroom things are also looking extremely bright for Rangers Football Club as Charles Green has set about implementing a structure which will drive the business forward while also earning his investors a healthy return. None of us should really have any issues with that.Speaking of investors it would be negligent to ignore the hugely successful Initial Public Offering where Rangers raised a mightily impressive £22M from institutional investors and loyal supporters. Given our league status and limited revenue streams, that is a remarkable achievement and huge credit should go to our Chief Executive and fellow board members who made it happen. My cap is doffed.
In the stands the supporters are also more united than at any time in recent memory and it has been hugely heartening to witness such togetherness as recent tribulations have served only to galvanise our fans.
At this point I must confess that, before the season started, I pictured our stadium being little more than half-full and with attendances dwindling as the cold, harsh winter weather came into play. I’ve never been more delighted to be proved wrong and the story of Rangers and our fans has reached far and wide as foreign journalists have descended upon Ibrox for their opportunity to cover our truly remarkable tale.The immortal Bill Struth once warned us of days of anxiety but also stated that the glory of the Rangers lies not in never failing but in returning stronger than ever before. Throughout our history we have overcame difficulties and risen back to the top of Scottish football and now we must do so again, albeit in completely unique circumstances.
We may still be in the early stages of our rebuilding process but the signs are certainly positive. Thankfully we look set to end the year on a high, despite 2012 being more likely to be remembered for many lows, and long may it continue.
Finally, I’d like to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the Rangers family and to everyone who has visited The Copland Road Organization in 2012. It has been hugely encouraging to receive so much positive feedback throughout the year.
As for Rangers Football Club, its path is very clear: Onwards and Upwards.