9 black eyes suffered by Rangers on the lower league journey

John Baird celebrates winning the Challenge Cup final for Raith Rovers. Picture: Neil Doig

John Baird celebrates winning the Challenge Cup final for Raith Rovers. Picture: Neil Doig

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Rangers will be in the top flight next season and those who got their knickers in a twist over “armageddon” will finally get back what they hold so dear - the Old Firm, together once more, in the top flight. It will just be like old times.

For a number of clubs it’s the end of an era. Call it bitterness, call it schadenfreude, call it the underdogs having their day, regardless of how you would describe it, fans of every club have enjoyed such a powerhouse not only coming down to their level, but even dropping further below in many cases.

The status quo will soon resume with Rangers rocking up to sides in the top flight grounds and comfortably leaving with all three points. Perhaps it won’t happen next season, perhaps it won’t happen the season after, but it will happen.

When that time comes, these prior memories will become more cherished. Here is a handy collection to look back on throughout the years to come.

And before any Rangers fans start, here is a more positive look at the past 12 months as Mark Warburton transformed the team from a laughing stock into a side bursting with flowing, attacking football. Take comfort in that link and don’t read anything further if you’re minus one sense of humour.

Peterhead 2 - 2 Rangers (11 August 2012)

Prior to this game there was a serious suggestion of Rangers winning every single game in the bottom tier. After all, they had a huge budget compared to the rest of the division, while hundreds of cup victories through the years against lower league opponents, often with reserve sides, was enough evidence to give such claims credence. However, in the very first game they needed a 90th minute equaliser to save a point away to Peterhead. It was a prelude for what was to come in terms of Rangers struggling more than they should in the lower leagues.

Stirling Albion 1 - 0 Rangers (6 October 2012)

Though Rangers shook off the opening day scare to begin dominating opponents, as they should, the draw with Peterhead was enough to raise expectations that at least one said would earn themselves an unforgettable victory against the Glasgow giants. It duly arrived in early October with Stirling Albion netting early and holding on against a pedestrian opponent. The game was notable for a shocking tackle on Ian Black that drew zero sympathy from the majority of Scottish football onlookers who mocked the irony of Black complaining over some rough treatment on the field of play.

Rangers 0 - 3 Inverness CT (31 October 2012)

A 2-0 victory over Motherwell in the League Cup (tut tut, Motherwell) kept alive the argument that Rangers were the second best team in the country and some of their sub-par league performances were down to a lack of motivation playing against plumbers and brickies. That was blown out of the water when Inverness CT pitched up at Ibrox, played with none of the fear Motherwell had shown in a previous round and handed out a 3-0 drubbing.

Rangers 1 - 2 Annan Athletic (9 March 2013)

The first defeat Rangers would sustain at Ibrox against lower league opponents. Among the starting XI that day were Chris Hegarty and Anestis Argyriou. Nope, me either.

Rangers 1 - 1 Albion Rovers (9 March 2014)

It’s fair to say Rangers negotiated the League One table with much greater ease than they had the level below, ending the campaign on 103 points with three draws their only blemishes from an unbeaten league season. However, they would still suffer a couple of hiccups in the cup competitions. The first of which came in a home Scottish Cup match against plucky Albion Rovers. McCoist’s side avoided embarrassment when, trailing 1-0 late in the game, the manager threw Bilel Mohsni up front and instructed the team to lump long balls towards the volatile centre back. The move summed up the lack of tactical acumen which so frustrated the Ibrox faithful. On this occasion it did work, with Mohsni playing a (possible rule-breaking) part in the equaliser, but a team with Rangers’ resources shouldn’t have had to resort to such primitiveness. They went on to win the replay.

Raith Rovers 1 - 0 Rangers (6 April 2014)

At this point in time, Rangers have failed to so far lift the Challenge Cup. When they first entered the lower divisions, such a scenario seemed almost unimaginable, and only the additional year spent outside the top flight has granted them the chance to right such a glaring wrong. John Baird’s extra-time goal, winning the competition for Raith, wasn’t even the most scarring defeat. There was worse to come.

Alloa Athletic 3 - 2 Rangers (3 December 2014)

Two goals up to Alloa and cruising to victory with only 18 minutes remaining, McCoist’s men somehow conspired to not only lose their advantage but the match itself inside 90 minutes. Greig Spence netted the injury-time winner and before the end of the month McCoist would be out of the door as manager.

Hibs 4 - 0 Rangers (27 December 2014)

Be careful what you wish for. McCoist went on gardening leave and the board responded by pushing Kenny McDowall in as the interim boss. The club was a complete mess at this point off the field and it affected performances on the park. At Easter Road just after Christmas, McDowall was powerless to stop the side being battered by a Scott Allan-inspired Hibs.

Motherwell 3 - 0 Rangers (31 May 2015)

The final, and likely to be last, lower league humiliation. An additional season outside the top tier was confirmed when Motherwell took a 3-1 lead into the second leg of the play-off final and saw it out without too much fuss. Cammy Bell’s horrendous error got Motherwell on their way that day, before Mohsni made the abomination even worse by lamping opposing striker Lee Erwin.

It was an action many of the Rangers supporters wished they could commit on their players - they were at the end of their tether with the group. The contrast in the relationship between fans and the team this season to last is quite something. Rangers fans are often accused of talking up some of their current stars with exaggerated praise, though you can hardly blame them when considering what they were forced into witnessing the three years prior.

READ MORE - Rumour Mill: Rangers eye McDonald | David Moyes odds on to be new Celtic boss | Dons keen on Harry Smith

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