Halfway there

© 2014 Willie Vass

Fifty six matches of lower league football down and, all being well, another fifty two to go before we get back to the top flight. We've seen the odd few glimpses of quality play, but by and large, it's been a slog. With no real competition, nor any real rivalry, the endurance shown by the supporters is quite something to behold.

An average of 44,365 devotees have flocked to Ibrox to cheer on the team through the divisions.  The support has barely wavered.

Despite this loyalty having been abused by those in charge (board remuneration totalling at least over £3 million, as well as 8 million shares sold a 1p a pop), it is a solace that the tag of 'gloryhunter' can no longer be attached to those who regularly head down Ibrox way.

There are also positives on the pitch.

Consider the contrasting fortunes of Rhys McCabe (b.1992) and Lewis Macleod (b.1994).  After a few first team games for the club, McCabe refused to transfer his contract over.  Having impressed for Rangers, he had also managed three caps for the Scotland under 21 squad.  Many bluenoses were particularly disappointed that McCabe, at the age of 19, was not willing to stay to develop his football at Ibrox.  A move to the English Championship with Sheffield Wednesday beckoned, and young McCabe took his money and left.

Lewis Macleod, on the other hand, had not played his first game for the club until relegation to the Third Division.  In that time, the 19 year old has racked up fifty three games in the royal blue, scoring eight goals.  He has also been capped six times by the Scotland under 21 side.  That's six more times than his former teammate, Rhys McCabe, has been capped since choosing life in the English second tier to Third Division football.

Fraser Aird, 18, and Barrie McKay, 19, have also been given time to impress, with both chalking up seventy first team appearances for Rangers between them.  Fraser Aird was called up by the Canadian national team in June, whilst McKay made his first appearance for the Scottish under 21 side at the age of 17.

There's a long road to go for these three teenagers, but in hindsight, they may turn out to be the silver lining that accompany these years in the club's history.

However, there are also plenty of areas to work on between now and the summer of 2015.

On the field, the coaching staff must do more to implement an attractive style of football.  Of course, there's only so much you can do against guys who are willing to use karate kicks masquerading as tackles against our players.  Nevertheless, the type of football you play is different to how well you play that type of football.  We're doing well at an efficient style of football, but at nearly twenty points clear in League 1, you would think that the months ahead are the time to develop a better style of play.

Off the field, us fans must brace ourselves for short term cuts at least.  Costs needs controlled, and I'm sure we all want Graham Wallace to implement a stringent business review that results in a healthy club over the next few months.  Additionally, with shares now as low as 24p, the time has never been better for the fans to mobilise and pick up a significant shareholding in the club.  Issues regarding trust and organisation remain, but it is certainly something that could be developed in the medium term.

Having said that, overall, we're doing ok.  The support we've shown will be a huge draw for sponsors and players in the years ahead, we've developed some young talent, and it looks likely that we'll achieve three promotions in three years without too much hassle.  On the other hand, the style of football needs improved, and worries about the state of play off the field persist.


However, as Struth said, this club has a prolonged history of success.  Bad times are inevitably followed by great ones.  There is the potential for top flight football and European football at Ibrox in just sixteen short months.  Let's stick at it.