LEE McCulloch has led by example both on and off the park as Rangers have successfully negotiated the first and second stages of "The Journey".

It has not always been pretty. Heck, at times it has been downright awful. And the abuse the team has received, from critics and fans alike, has often been vitriolic. But throughout it all, through good times and bad, in defeat and in victory, Light Blues captain McCulloch has been there driving his team on.

But it is not just what McCulloch brings to the side on the field as a player that is important for the Ibrox club. His passion and his presence are also vital. The 35-year-old has helped youngsters, of whom there have been many, and new players, deal with the huge demands of representing the Glasgow giants. Had it not been for the former Motherwell, Wigan and Scotland man in Ally McCoist's starting line-up who knows how they would have fared in the lower leagues.

But for the boyhood Gers fan from Hamilton it has been a labour of love and he has, with a few obvious exceptions, enjoyed every minute of it.

He said: "It has been a far more enjoyable campaign than last season when we had no idea what to expect and had little time to prepare properly.

"We had to go with a lot of the young players and at times our consistency suffered as a result of that. It can be hard for a youngster at this club.

"I actually think the young boys have done superbly well all things considered. They have risen to the challenge of playing for a club of this size well.

"Now we have a lot more experience than before. But the youngsters have still been very much a part of things. We have got a great blend of experience and youth. We can look forward to the future with confidence."

McCulloch has been a key player, arguably THE key player, for manager McCoist since Rangers dropped down to the bottom tier of Scottish football two years ago. The versatile star has been pleased to deliver success for one of his childhood heroes.

"The criticism of the manager has, in my opinion, been over the top at times this season. He knows it comes with the territory. But he has come in for a lot of criticism recently.

"It is fantastic that we managed to deliver his second consecutive title as he has to put up with a lot more than other guys in his position at other clubs. I am sure it will not be the last he secures."

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