THE match is in a different competition and at a different venue, but Rangers will still visit Raith Rovers tonight with a desire to set the record straight after April’s Challenge Cup final humiliation at Easter Road.
Without in any way diminishing the achievement of Raith, that 1-0 defeat was one of the most downbeat moments of the season for the Ibrox club, and a result that Ian Black, for one, has no desire to suffer again.
“It was very low,” the midfielder said yesterday. “You want to win finals, and the way we lost it was disappointing. That’s in the past and it’s the first time we’ve met since then. It’s a league game and you have a desire to win every game.”
Having played for Hearts before joining Rangers two years ago, Black has considerable experience of the kind of financial uncertainty that is besetting his current employers. But whatever may be the risk to Rangers’ long-term security, the 29-year-old insisted he had no worries, and that going unpaid for several months at Tynecastle had strengthened him mentally.
“The problems at Hearts matured me a lot. Going through the few months with no wages was the toughest. People expect football players to have loads of money here, there and everywhere, but Scottish football is not like English football. Guys live within their means and I found it tough, but I pulled through it and managed to support the two main people – my daughter and my wife.
“My daughter was young and didn’t know much about it. My wife supported me, and if it wasn’t for her I might have been in a worse place than what I was. I’ve come out a better person.
“It’s tough, because you want to provide for your family, and if you’re told you’re not getting your wages then you have to look elsewhere to make sure you have food on the table. I’ve never had a problem at Rangers and I’m enjoying it.
“It was a low point of my career at Hearts when we weren’t paid. There are ups and downs and it’s about how you bounce back. I moved on and left on a high after winning the Scottish Cup, it’s good to look back at the good times, you don’t look at the bad times because it will always affect you if you do.”
Black insisted that the Rangers squad were unaffected by the uncertainty. “As far as we can see, it’s not affecting anyone. If the young guys need to speak to the experienced players then I’m sure they will. The standard of training and the hunger the guys have shown suggests it’s not affecting us. It’s a big club and no matter what happens we will always come out stronger with the fan base we’ve got. There is no need to worry as far as I’m concerned. Everyone wants to play for Rangers. We always know Rangers will be there.”
• Ian Black was speaking at Ronaq Indian restaurant in Craigleith Road, Edinburgh. Ronaq sponsors Black’s former team, Tynecastle FC.