ONLY three Rangers players picked up winner's medals during every one of the Nine-in-a-row seasons – Ian Ferguson, Richard Gough and Ally McCoist.

But one other man was an ever-present during that era of unprecedented success in the club's distinguished 140-year history – Walter Smith OBE.

Smith was assistant to Graeme Souness when that period of domestic dominance got under way with victory in the Scottish Premier Division in the 1988/89 campaign.

When Souness departed for former club Liverpool towards the end of the 1990/91 season, he was the surprise choice to take over as manager of the Glasgow giants.

However, he more than justified the faith that then club owner David Murray showed in him by leading the Gers to seven successive Scottish titles and many other notable achievements.

The Scot showed he had not lost any of his expertise when he came back for an unexpected second spell as Rangers boss after the disastrous tenure of Paul Le Guen in 2007.

He transformed the fortunes of the Glasgow giants and led them to three SPL crowns on the bounce and to the Uefa Cup final in Manchester in 2008.

So it is no surprise Ferguson, who worked under the boyhood Rangers supporter for 10 years, believes he is the perfect man to help bring the glory days back to Govan.

Fergie, now living in Australia where he is manager of Perth Glory, was delighted when told Smith had been appointed as a non-executive director of the club board.

He believes his qualities will be invaluable to the new Gers owners as they bid to resurrect the fortunes of the Ibrox club.

"It is a great appointment," said Ferguson. "Look at the amount of time Walter has spent at Rangers and what he has achieved there. He brings massive experience and an in-depth knowledge of football in Scotland and abroad.

"What's more, Rangers fans can relate to Walter. He is an ex-manager and they all know what he has done for the club over a number of years. I am sure the fans will find a lot of comfort in that one of their own is involved at board level.

"He has an expert understanding of youth development, of the transfer market and of the football side of things in general. I am sure his return will be welcomed by Coisty. With the experience and vast knowledge he possesses, it is a great appointment.

He continued: "Mr Green [club chief executive Charles] has made a great decision. Appointing his own man to oversee the football side of things would not have sat well with some. So Mr Green has made a shrewd acquisition in getting Walter on board. Rangers fans know where they are with him.

"They know where his allegiances lie, they know that he is, first and foremost, a supporter and they know he has the best interests of the club at heart.

"There have been well- documented problems with the previous two owners before Mr Green took over so there is some caution towards him. He seems to have steadied the ship, but there are still, understandably I suppose, some doubts about him.

"But, as I say, Rangers fans can relate to Walter. He has been at the club for such a long time. He stood on the terraces alongside them as a boy. They have got trust and admiration for Walter."

Meanwhile, Ferguson, who has spent coaching stints at Central Coast Mariners, North Queensland Fury and Glory since hanging up his boots, has urged Rangers supporters to give the current boss time to succeed.

McCoist has come in for criticism this season as Rangers have struggled away from home in the Irn-Bru Third Division and some fans have even questioned if the legendary striker is the right man to take the Ibrox club forward.

Claiming top spot in the league table, winning on the road for the first time against Clyde and progressing in the William Hill Scottish Cup with a 7-0 thrashing of Alloa has gone a long way towards placating – for the time being at least – many of the Ibrox gaffer's detractors.

But with a transfer ban currently in place, his old team-mate envisages more tough times ahead and has urged the Light Blue support to be more understanding of the conditions McCoist is working under.

He said: "There are so many people who are very judgemental, who are quick to throw stones. But Ally needs time.

"A lot of people expected life in the Third Division to be easy. But that was never going to happen.

"There was no pre-season. Ally had to throw a team together quickly. Players were still haggling over contracts. Things were never going to happen overnight.

"Ally needs everybody firmly behind him. It is going to take a while to turn things around. Results have been getting better and, what's more, the football is getting better.

"But even now, he still needs backing to turn things around. I have every faith that he will.

"We should embrace what he is doing and try to help him as much as possible instead of criticising and sniping."