ALLY McCoist savoured Rangers’ League 1 success last night and insisted that his team are entitled to celebrate it with as much fervour as has marked any achievement in the Ibrox club’s history.
A 3-0 home win over Airdrie saw Rangers secure the third tier title with eight games to spare and book their place in the Championship next season.
It was a positive response from McCoist’s players to their 1-1 draw against Albion Rovers in the Scottish Cup quarter-final on Sunday after which they were subjected to severe criticism from both their own supporters and the media.
“I don’t think it was that important to win tonight because of Sunday,” said the Rangers manager. “We’ve gone over what happened on Sunday. We just wanted to win it as quickly as we could for the players and supporters. We were obviously coming off the back of a disappointing performance on Sunday. But we played a lot of good football tonight. That aspect was really pleasing.
“It feels the same as it did last year when we won the League 2 title. It’s fantastic. Winning is a wonderful feeling, no matter where it is. These are all championships we have to win to get back to where we want to be.
“These are the first stages of the recovery which have to be met. I think it’s only fair they should be celebrated and enjoyed as you would winning any league. For a lot of boys in our dressing room, they are winning their first league tonight. Good on them for doing it and they are well within their rights to enjoy it.
“We are delighted. Not only to wrap the title up, but to do it in the manner we did. The first half was particularly pleasing. We are thrilled for the players, staff and supporters. It’s been a terrific league campaign and I thought we finished it well tonight.
“It’s certainly an achievement to win the title, although I wouldn’t be qualified to say how big an achievement it is.
“It is one we set out to do and which we needed to do as part of the journey back to the top flight. I think 26 wins and two draws from 28 games is a good achievement. You have to say that Dunfermline have done well in second place behind us, because you might expect to clinch it earlier with statistics like that.
“The players deserve an enormous amount of credit. It’s been a great night for them and the supporters.
“We start planning for the Championship now. It should be a great league next season with some of the teams who will be in it. Hopefully, we can look forward to it and strengthen, not only for the Championship but for the following year and years after that.”
Captain Lee McCulloch scored a first-half hat-trick, two of them from the penalty spot, and took his goals tally for the season to 17 as Rangers extended their unbeaten run in all competitions this season to 35 matches.
“I said to Lee after the game that the last person to score a hat-trick here to clinch the title was Paul Gascoigne against Aberdeen in 1996,” smiled McCoist. “I drew the line at saying they were similar players! But it’s an unbelievable achievement for Lee to score a title-clinching hat-trick from centre-half, Roy of the Rovers stuff. He has epitomised the spirit within the club that has been required at the beginning of the journey back and I’m thrilled for him.”
The first-round League Cup exit to Forfar Athletic back in August remains Rangers’ only defeat so far of a campaign which still offers them the possibility of further silverware in the Ramsdens Cup and Scottish Cup. The only sour note for McCoist last night were injuries sustained by Andy Little (thigh) and David Templeton (groin) which will be assessed today.
Airdrie manager Gary Bollan had no complaint with either the penalty awards but did feel the officials missed an infringement against his team shortly before the opening goal.
“Our gameplan went out the window in the first few minutes,” said Bollan. “There was no doubt there was going to be a backlash from Rangers. They were a wounded animal tonight and were well worth their win.”