Rangers: Ibrox flak not new for Ally McCoist

Manager recalls personal abuse brought by dire results in the bleak early 1980s. Picture: SNS
Manager recalls personal abuse brought by dire results in the bleak early 1980s. Picture: SNS
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Rangers manager Ally McCoist has become accustomed to attending pre-match conferences where the game about to be played is usually the last item on the agendas of those present.

This week has been no exception, with yet more unappetising revelations surrounding the people who have run the club and those who would wish to do so.

Tomorrow night Rangers travel to Kirkcaldy to face Raith Rovers, who can leapfrog them with a home win. McCoist, though, insists that the non-stop barrage of rumours surrounding his financially-challenged club is not getting to the players. And he should know.

McCoist first joined Rangers from Sunderland as a 20-year-old in 1983 but he was hardly a fans’ favourite. Supporters who recalled how he had twice before rejected the chance to play for the club were unforgiving when he took time to find his feet at Ibrox.

He was hardly helped by the team floundering badly under manager John Greig, a state of affairs which improved only slightly under his successor, Jock Wallace.

It was a period when McCoist received personal abuse, whilst protests against the management and the team were commonplace.

“There were some serious protests back in ’83, regarding the team and what was happening,” McCoist recalled.

“I remember it being a shock to the system, to be honest with you. It was a shock to all the players.

“That said, you just have to handle it and get on with it 
because supporters have every right to voice their opinion in whatever way they feel regarding the team and the club.

“At the time I was a fairly young player but I remember we just tried to knuckle down and get better results. That’s all we did.

“Obviously, history will tell you we won a couple of League Cups in that period but the real change came when Graeme Souness arrived in 1986.

“But the important thing back in that difficult period was for the players to knuckle down, work hard and try to get good results on the park.

“With the greatest of respect, that hasn’t really changed. That is still the best philosophy for players because producing 
results is the greatest influence they can have on the club and supporters.

“But it is very important that we have a level-headed group of older professionals who 
assist and have a great bearing on 
matters in the dressing room. That goes from there out on to the park as well.

“In 1983, the guys who helped me where people like big Colin McAdam – God rest him – and Gregor Stevens.

“We were toiling in that particular period. I always remember the first piece of advice I got from Gregor, who told me the one thing I’d need at this club was to be thick-skinned. If I was like that, I had a chance.

“To a certain degree, I think that still applies – whether you are a manager, a coach, a player or, indeed, a supporter. I think you need a thick skin to get through it all.”

McCoist certainly has nothing but praise for the attitude displayed by his squad during the latest forecasts of impending doom for the current incarnation of the club.

“The boys have been doing really well,” he explained. “They are just focusing on their job as football players and trying to get results.

“Hand on heart, we have been absolutely thrilled with the training in the past ten days or so. It has been fantastic. They have gone about their work 
really well.

“I have to congratulate them on concentrating on what could be seen as the most important job at the club – getting us out of this division.

“No-one has mentioned [the prospect of not receiving their wages] at all, I promise you. No-one has actually mentioned any of the off-field stuff to me.”

On a less positive note, veteran striker Kenny Miller is likely to be sidelined for several weeks. The 34-year-old, who rejoined the club for a second time after leaving Vancouver Whitecaps in the summer, has a picked up a calf injury.