DEREK JOHNSTONE: Fans realise that losing a game is not end of the world

TODAY is the first anniversary of the darkest day in Rangers' history when the club was placed into administration.

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Rangers assistant Kenny McDowall promotes tonight's RangersTV special on the club's resurgence after administration
Rangers assistant Kenny McDowall promotes tonight's RangersTV special on the club's resurgence after administration

The feeling at that time was one of disbelief. It was one of those bizarre situations where eventhough you knew it was happening it was almost as if you were refusing to believe it. It was almost impossible to comprehend what had just happened.

Outside the main stand at Ibrox there were supporters walking around in a daze. All the TV stations had cameras at the scenes as more and more fans gathered to comfort one another and also try and demand answers. Inside, Craig Whyte was preparing to feed us all even more lies.

And then, of course, came the anger at how mismanagement at the highest level had led to one of the most famous football clubs in world football being placed in that position.

Football clubs going into administration wasn't something new, even in Scotland where the likes of Motherwell and Gretna had done so while playing in the top flight. But, with all due respect, Rangers are night and day compared to them.

And then there was all the concern and fears over jobs as the administrators were called in and the players eventually agreed to take wage cuts to ensure the non-playing staff at the club did not lose their jobs.

In truth, the whole situation was a complete and utter mess. The biggest fear for the ordinary fan was that they wouldn't have a football club to support. There were fears Rangers were going to die and it would have been the end.

My own feeling is that, because the club has managed to move forward, a lot of people have perhaps forgotten just how bad it was back then.

I remember standing outside Ibrox doing an interview for Sky Sports and looking over towards the stadium and wondering if it was going to remain or become a shopping complex. At that time, no one could provide any guarantees that Rangers would still be there a year down the line.

It was a horrible, horrible situation. I admit it took a few days for it to properly sink in. I think most people were the same. And it was the start of what was a very uncertain time for the football club.

The championship was handed to Celtic on a plate because of the 10-point deduction but, for the first time ever, what was happening on the field was of no real importance to the fans. It was what was going on off the field that most interested them.

Then there was the battle to try and gain control of the football club and all the drama that produced – more often than not it wasn't good news – before Charles Green finally gained control and had to change from the oldco to the newco.

Then there were the players who decided to jump ship. I've gone on record previously saying I was completely against their actions and nothing has changed.

At least some of them allowed the club to bank some money as part of a transfer fee, but a lot of them have short memories. That just made what was already a very difficult task even harder.

But what saved Rangers was the supporters. Without them, I don't think the club would be here today. I honestly mean that. I'm not sure the outside world believed they would follow in their numbers to places like Peterhead and Berwick. But they have.

Ibrox has been packed out for just about every home game in the Third Division and I don't see that changing in the coming years. The Rangers fans are in this for the long haul and that is why I now believe the club will eventually return to the top.

It is, without doubt, going to be a long, challenging road. It already looks as though league reconstruction will mean the fans will find themselves visiting the same grounds again next year. It isn't ideal but such setbacks haven't deterred the Rangers support.

I do believe Ally McCoist has a very difficult job, though. He has a team good enough to win the Third Division and they will win the title. I'd suggest they also have a team good enough to win the next league up.

But as Rangers get closer and closer to returning to the Premier League they will need to sign better players. The defeats in the cup competitions to Inverness and Dundee United prove this current team isn't ready for top flight football.

There have been a few disappointments along the way in the Third Division, but that was to be expected. And when fans find themselves especially frustrated at a defeat then I'm sure they think back to how they felt this time last year and it no longer feels like the end of the world.

Not being sure if you will have a team to support really does feel like the end of the world. Losing a game of football doesn't.

The highlight of my playing career with Rangers was lifting the Cup-Winners' Cup and it remains one of the most important moments in the club's history. So does administration though. No one will ever forget what happened.

We are a year on now though and progress has been made. I also think Green has been fantastic for the club. He is a bit outspoken at times but he is helping steer Gers back to safer waters.

For me, the last year has been a really long one. I know a lot of fans will tell you it has flown in, but I don't feel like it has. It has been packed with incident and so many disappointments it feels like such an arduous 12 months.

There is a long, long way before Rangers can get back to where they belong – winning major trophies and playing in Europe. I now believe those days will return.

Put it this way, they are so much closer today then they were a year ago.

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