Blues alive and kicking after their year living dangerously

THEY say you don't realise what you have until it is gone.It was a situation Rangers fans almost found themselves in.

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Dean Shiels was on target for Rangers in the 4-0 win over Queen's Park
Dean Shiels was on target for Rangers in the 4-0 win over Queen's Park

Even although supporters never lost their club, they will surely appreciate it all the more as the most turbulent 12 months in its 140-year-existence prepares to come to a close.

Valentine's Day will forever hold a far different meaning for everyone connected with the Ibrox side, with the day that disgraced former owner Craig Whyte plunged the Gers into administration a serious blot on their proud history.

It was a moment that could have lead to their death but the final nail was never hammered into Rangers' coffin with the club surviving – but only just – to fight another day and set their sights once again on the top of Scottish football.

The idea of their team ever playing in the Irn-Bru Third Division would have been absurd to the overwhelming majority of the Light Blue legions but they have embraced their first step on the road to recovery, with more than 46,000 fans turning out to see Ally McCoist's side open up a 22-point lead with a 4-0 win over nearest challengers Queen's Park.

It was a chance for them to once again focus on football but thoughts would inevitably have turned to last February and the chain of events that had their club dragged through the mire.

McCoist is the first, and surely the last, Rangers manager to say he is happy to see the Ibrox club playing in our bottom tier but it only highlights how far they have fallen and how close they were to going over the edge into oblivion.

It will hardly mark as the greatest achievement in their history when the Gers do eventually lift the Third Division trophy but after enduring the toughest year of his professional career, McCoist is happy with his lot.

"Again, we need to put everything into perspective," he said. "You would have to say, where we are at the moment, we would probably be content with.

"Not delighted, not delirious about the whole situation, but if you look at where we were a year ago, I would have to say we are probably content with where we are at the moment and certainly not underestimating the task ahead."

Having seen his side dumped from the William Hill Scottish Cup by Dundee United, there are few challenges remaining for McCoist and his players between now and the culmination of the Third Division campaign.

Goals can still be scored, points accumulated and even records broken but it remains a matter of when, not if, the champagne can be sprayed and the first box ticked on McCoist's task sheet as he looks to guide the Gers back to the Scottish Premier League.

Far too often this term Gers have flattered to deceive against teams they ought to be beating far more comfortably than they have, with a host of SPL quality stars failing to showcase what they are capable of at a lower level than they are used to operating at.

Saturday then, was, as McCoist said afterwards, just what the doctor ordered after an embarrassing defeat at Tannadice and draws with Elgin and Montrose in recent weeks.

Queen's were brushed aside after the break as Rangers hit their stride and goals from Ian Black, Dean Shiels and an Andy Little brace clinched a deserved three points.

It was a positive, crisp performance and certainly one of their best so far this season, with each goal neatly constructed and well finished to see off a resilient QP in style.

"We kept going in the second half and I was really pleased with the performance and the result and the level of goal was really good," McCoist said.

"Sometimes it concerns me a bit that we don't get scrappy goals. I have been saying for a few weeks that we don't score enough goals but on Saturday the level of goal was very good."

As the fans headed for home, they were able to reflect on one of Rangers' most impressive showings of the campaign, no doubt pleased with the performance of their side and looking forward to the future.

Come Thursday, their thoughts will turn to a dark past, however, with the reflections of what might have been a reminder of what they still have to cherish.

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