When Rangers’ penalty king past met the club’s penalty king present at Ibrox yesterday the advice dispensed was of the refreshing variety. Martyn Waghorn, who boasts a faultless record from seven spot-kicks this season, was the perfect current performer to help launch the autobiography of Johnny Hubbard, the 1950s Rangers winger who notched 60 goals from 63 penalty attempts.
The 25-year-old Englishman was reverential about the record from 12 yards that belongs to the 84-year-old South African whose tome, entitled The Penalty King, has a foreword written by Alex Ferguson in which he describes a goal the forward scored against Celtic as “easily the best I’ve ever seen”.
Waghorn was all the more in awe of Hubbard after being treated to his ability, even now, to ping in the penalties on the Rangers pitch in the afternoon sunshine. Yet Hubbard no doubt also won Waghorn’s admiration for the mantra he expressed to his young successor.
“I’ve given the Rangers penalty taker advice,” said the octogenarian. “I told him if you’re good at something you don’t need any advice from anybody. I think he has started brilliantly but if you give someone advice he’s got to change certain things.
“I don’t think that’s a good thing. I never took advice from anybody. I didn’t practise penalties. If you’re good at something you don’t have to. If I’d have been bad at something I would have practised and I practised at plenty of things.”
Waghorn admitted that he did not feel so blessed as to be able to forgo practising penalties, and instead did so “all the time”. “ I do work on Thursdays and Fridays with David Weir and the keepers,” he added. “I always want to improve my game as much as I can. I practise them and it’s paying off at the minute.”
Waghorn is fresh from a hat-trick in a 4-0 success over Morton on Sunday that took his tally for the season to 14 – which tops the former Sunderland, Leicester City and Wigan striker’s best total for an entire campaign and moves him near his target of 20. “If I get to 20 I will move onto the next target,” he said. “I am just enjoying playing games and scoring goals is a real bonus.”
Rangers’ eight straight wins in the Championship has been shaded in a slightly different light since last Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at home to St Johnstone in the League Cup. Manager Mark Warburton spoke of “disrespectful” comments in the wake of that defeat but Waghorn maintained that, what the squad perceived as “criticism” after their solitary loss in 12 games,wasn’t an “eye-opener”. “But it was a shock to get negative press after one defeat, especially after the start we have had,” he said. “But you have to expect that at a club of this size. But the way the boys bounced back on Sunday at Morton was really professional. We didn’t silence anyone or shut anyone up. We just had an off day against St Johnstone and it was there for everyone to see. But we’ve analysed it, learned from it and it will make us better. We will improve.”