ALLY McCOIST reckons the Rangers support has been the highlight of the year as the Light Blue legions prepare to flock to Hampden today.
Gers fans have shown incredible loyalty to their club and the aggregate attendance at Ibrox this season is about to break the 600,000 mark – despite the team playing in the Irn-Bru Third Division.
Crowds in Govan have regularly been among some of the highest in Britain so far this term and with another bumper backing expected for their derby duel with Queen's Park, the Light Blues gaffer admits he has been blown away by the level of goodwill.
He said: "Our support have been the highlight of the year for us. They will want to finish on a high themselves so I would fully expect 30,000-plus to be there at Hampden – which is astounding really, absolutely astounding.
"I don't want to sound disrespectful to the supporters by saying they have surprised me.
"But they have amazed us actually, with the extent of their support.
"I know people who talk about it, not just in this country, but all over the world.
"I wasn't sure [if the attendances would tail off]. I could have understood if they had. But I remained reasonably open-minded about it.
"I'm just thrilled, absolutely thrilled, that they have stayed.
"One of the biggest things for me was the 42,000 against Annan exactly a week before Christmas. I thought that was astounding, to be honest with you.
"So we were never sure. But for me the supporters have been the story of the year really – they have been sensational."
With Ibrox crowds regularly smashing through the 40,000 barrier this season, it is easy to see why stars such as Dean Shiels, Fran Sandaza and Ian Black turned their back on the Scottish Premier League this summer to drop down through the leagues.
McCoist can start speaking to the next batch of potential arrivals in January and the Gers boss insists no stone will be left unturned in the hunt for fresh recruits.
He said: "Everywhere, absolutely everywhere. We'll look abroad, we'll look at the SPL, I'm not going to confine it just by saying only players from the SPL, we want to get the best players we can and continue building.
"If we want to go and look at players, then we go and do it and scout Neil Murray is always very thorough and good."