THE top flight didn’t have the monopoly on debatable omissions among its players’ player of the year nominees. The Third Division quartet, unlike its Celtic-devoid SPL equivalent, did contain two players from the runaway title winners with resources to dwarf all opponents: Rangers.
But one of those, David Templeton, considered himself unworthy when the fellow Rangers Lee in the top four was Wallace and not McCulloch.
“It is strange,” the winger admitted of the failure of Rangers’ captain to gain such recognition. “Obviously he’s scored 26 goals and played most games. I thought he should have been in there instead of me as I’ve only played 24 games and so I was quite surprised.”
Yet, Templeton, who has bagged a creditable 15 goals, considers he has enjoyed a “great” season. “I’ve just won my first medal as a professional footballer,” he said. “No matter what level it’s at it’s something I’ll always remember so I’ve been happy that we did win it and when I do get my medal I’ll be delighted.”
It is curious to think back now that the campaign began for Templeton with a goal for Hearts against Liverpool at Anfield in a heroic, if futile, draw in the Europa League qualifiers. A couple of weeks later, he made a £750,000 move to a Third Division side with whom he has no chance of playing in Europe probably until 2016, at best.
At the age of 17, Templeton was cutting his teeth in the fourth tier of Scottish football with Stenhousemuir. Returning there six years later with a club engulfed in off-field travails he refuses to frame in the negative. Maybe that is to be expected considering he moved there from the model of footballing stability and sustainability down Gorgie way. “I don’t let it faze me now,” he said of boardroom uncertainty at Ibrox. “I had enough of it at Hearts and I learned to deal with it and blank it out and just prepare for every game and as long as I’m doing well on the park then I can only look after myself.”
Templeton doesn’t think about what might have been if he had stayed at Tynecastle in August, because that would have merely delayed the inevitable. “I’d probably have been away in January anyway as they needed the money badly. So it would a case of having another six months, five months there and then I would have been sold somewhere else probably.”
A somewhere else where he might have played at a higher level but would not have earned a higher wage or necessarily experienced such high-maintenance as he now enjoys. As with Wallace, it is the environment behind the scenes, if not the league assignments, that leads Templeton to concur with his team-mate that it has been possible to become a better player at Rangers this past year.
“We’ve got the best of facilities and I’m learning a lot from the gaffer, who’s obviously got a lot of experience,” he said.
Despite his previous first-hand experience of football at the lowest senior level, Templeton was surprised at just how rough and tumble some of the football proved to be. “I knew it would be physical. I’m used to getting kicked because of where I play and it’s just part and parcel of being a winger, but it’s definitely been a lot worse than I thought it would be.
“One game against Stirling Albion four boys got booked in the same game for tackles on me. It’s a bit surprising when you get kicked that much but as I said it’s part and parcel of football and I don’t mind if the ref gives a foul.”